01690 720214

Introduction To Leading - 5 days

Course Overview

This course is for climbers who already have the basic climbing skills and competent seconds who want to start lead climbing.
You'll cover guidebook interpretation, route selection and grades, protection, clipping and ropework, building belays, single and multi-pitch climbing, climbing technique, abseiling, simple problem solving; retreating off routes, escaping the system, prussiking. You will make the first steps into lead climbing whilst learning the nuts and bolts of climbing including simple ropework and decision making to be a safe lead climber.

Experience Required

must be a proficient second.

Scheduled Dates

Detailed Course Notes

You should be 18 years old to attend this course.

Is it for me?

This five day course is for anyone who feels that some professional coaching will allow them to safely realise their climbing goals.  You need to be a proficient second and understand the principles of leading.

Course Content

We feel it is very important for you to progress at your own pace.  Therefore we carefully select climbs that suit your aspirations and ability.  Our high staff to student ratio allows us to do this.

Each morning the course staff will decide on a venue which is best suited to the weather conditions and the group.  Our programme is flexible, but we intend to visit single pitch crags on the first two days.  For the final three, we split into smaller groups and tackle some of the larger multi pitch crags.

Over the week we intend to look at the following areas:

  • Single and multi pitch climbing

  • Modern ropework, and double rope technique

  • Dynamics of belaying and fall factors

  • Coaching of lead climbing

  • Coaching of technique (movement)

  • Abseiling (with self protection)

  • Improvised crag rescue and problem solving

  • Mental Preparation

  • Use of walls and how to train for climbing

  • Judgement, route choice and route finding

  • The BMC - services and clubs

  • Where do I go from here? - after the course

With a full five days out, we will try to visit a range of venues, from high mountain crags and slate quarries to sea cliffs.  A high staff to student ratio will allow us to meet your needs within the loose programme outline.

Useful Books

  • Rock Climbing by Libby Peter (MLTUK official publication)
  • Sport Climbing+ - Rockfax publication by Adrian Berry
  • Trad Climbing+ - Rockfax publication by Adrian Berry
  • Classic Rock & Hard Rock by Ken Wilson
  • Way Of the Rock Warrior & Espresso Lessons  by Arno Ilgner
  • 9 out of 10 Climbers Make The Same Mistakes by Dave MacCloud
  • How To Climb Harder by Mark Reeves
  • Masterclass Part 1 and 2 by Neil Gresham
  • Get Out On Rock by Libby Peters and Neil Gresham
  • Self Rescue For Climbers by Steve Long and Olly Sanders
  • BMC Summit Magazine
  • Climb Magazine
  • Climber Magazine

What's Included In The Price?

Whether you choose to stay with us or you have alternative accommodation nearby, the following items are included in the total cost.

    Free tea, coffee or selected hot drinks for the duration of your visit
    Afternoon tea & homemade cakes
    Equipment hire
    Free (low-speed) wifi access in the bar & dining room
    In course transport
    Railway station pick up & drop off (please call to arrange)
    Parking with CCTV surveillance
    Free use of climbing wall, gym, MTB skills course & rolling pool

    If you choose to stay with us, these items are also included in the total cost:

    Accommodation the night before your course
    Accommodation during your course
    Breakfast & evening meal
    Bar Lunch/packed lunch

Accommodation For This Course

Plas y Brenin Main House

Your course is based at Plas y Brenin, The National Mountain Sports Centre in Capel Curig, North Wales, LL24 0ET.

If you are staying with us,

If you have chosen to add accommodation onto this course or holiday it is usually in the main house in a comfy en-suite room (normally shared with another guest). Each room has tea and coffee making facilities and all bed linen and towels are provided.

This includes accommodation the night before your first day. Your room will be available from 6pm. On your last day you will need to vacate your room by 10am. It is sometimes possible to arrange to stay an extra night please phone 01690 720214 for availability and cost.

Secure storage facilities, showers and toilets are available for you to use on your departure day once you have checked out of your room should you need them, please ask at reception.

Also included, if you chosen to add accommodation, are all your meals - breakfast, packed lunch, afternoon tea and freshly baked cakes and a three course evening meal. Please bear in mind an evening meal is not provided on the night before your course or on the last day of your course but our bar will be serving meals from 7.00pm until 8.45pm.

If you are are not staying with us but coming in each day,

If you choose to come in daily for your course or holiday you will need to arrive ready for a 9am welcome talk on the first day. For the rest of your course or holiday you will need to be here for 9.15am. We return from a full day of activity, usually in time for tea and cakes at 5pm (included).

There are more activities from 5.30 - 6.30 on some days of your course or holiday, please check on the first day.

For most of our awards and qualification courses there will be further evening sessions on some days which you need to attend, please check on the first day.

There is an 8pm adventure talk by one of our coaches on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday evenings which you are welcome to come to. Find out more about the upcoming talks here.

On the final day you will be finished by 5pm.

For courses based on-site our bar will be serving lunches from 12pm until 2pm or you are welcome to bring a packed lunch.

If your course is based away from the centre then you will need to bring a packed lunch with you. Each evening our bar serves evening meals from 7pm until 8.45pm if you wish to eat here.

You can arrange to have any of the following meals - breakfast, packed lunch and a three course centre dinner, by contacting our customer services team on 01690 720214 or

follow this link for more details

What Equipment Do You Need To Bring?

  • Warm outdoor wear which is comfortable to climb in - at all times of year e.g. walking trousers (shorts in summer), thermal layers/base layers, fleeces which are comfortable to climb in

  • Warm hat, gloves, neck gaiter/buff, sun hat

  • Trainers or approach shoes

  • Day rucksack (approx. 40-50 Litres)

  • Rucksack liner (e.g. rubble bag or dry bag)

  • Small personal first aid kit

  • Drinks bottle

  • Flask

  • Waterproof jacket and trousers

  • Lunch box/bag

  • High factor sunscreen

  • Midge repellant

  • Notebook and pen

If you already have:

  • Rock boots

  • Chalk bag

  • Harness

  • Helmet

  • Belay device

  • Climbing rack

The following items are available for you to borrow from our equipment stores so you don't need to rush out to buy them. Ropes are always provided by Plas y Brenin.

  • Rock boots

  • Chalk bag

  • Harness

  • Helmet

  • Belay device

  • Climbing rack

  • Day rucksack

  • Waterproof jacket and trousers

Customer Reviews For This Course

It is a comprehensive introduction to leading

Paul Kingston

If you've done a previous plas y brenin climbing course e.g. moving outdoor you might be a tiny bit frustrated with the first three days as you likely will not be 'lead climbing' yet. These days are spent refreshing (checking) your ability to climb/belay/be a second/abseil and build a belay anchor - which, to be fair, does include a lot of placing nuts/cams etc and assessing how good they are. The instructors found some amazing rocks for us to climb. Were very good at sharing as much information, tips and tricks as was appropriate. Introduced new skills at a good pace without overwhelming us. Day four was spent doing several multipitch climbs of the instructors choosing, exploring numerous options to exit the rock after the climb. On day five we led a full day's multi pitch climb of our choosing - which was a much more serious undertaking than I had dreamed of before starting the course. On leaving, we were very excited to go out by ourselves, feeling that we could sensibly decide what first trad climbs we could safely lead without overestimating our abilities and still have fun by the bucket load.

Absolutely rockingly fabulous.

Trysha Hunt

I want to say a very big, 'Thank you,' to the instructors, Dave Evans and Mo Barclay, for their amazing instruction and encouragement to the four of us that attended the 5 day trad leading course this September.
I had only done a bit of low grade leading before the course and needed some 'quality' instruction and lots of time on the rock face. This was perfect.
On the first day we did some bouldering and then went to the slate quarries, where we top roped some great climbs. Assessment of our climbing abilities/skills!
The next four days we visited various crags and started off with seconding routes and then quickly moved on to leading single pitched and multi pitched routes, building belays, setting up abseils, escaping the system, improving our techniques .... and all under the watchful eyes and guidance of Dave and Mo.
Their continuous encouragement and instruction was top class!
I would definitely recommend the 5 day course. This way you get intensive training, climb different rock types, and really get into 'the swing of it.'
I loved it.
Now have to consolidate all that I have learnt.

great holiday


Had a great time learning lots about trad climbing in wonderful surroundings. The accommodation was excellent, waking up every morning with a lake view was fantastic. The food was plenty and the variety was good.
The instructors (Simon and Dave) were very knowledgeable, explained everything that we wanted to learn they tailored the course to fit our experience levels, boosted our confidence to climb safely. Went out every day to a different crag with different types of rock different scenery. Even added some self rescue when the rain did not allow us to climb outside which was very handy to learn.
All in all I had a great time, would most definitely go back for more :)

Great Climbing

Neil Williams

Great course, very good climbing, learnt lots of very neat equipment tips and a vast amount of very good climbing advice.

a fantastic course!

Sam Huguet

A really great 5 days!
The instructors are nice and they know how to teach, whilst ensuring that you're safe when on the crag. Also, they seem to give you climbs in accordance with your ability which is good.
I recommend this to everyone!

Really Enjoyed it

Sam Abbey

I really enjoyed the week. The coaching, accomodation and food were all great

Everything I'd hoped for and more!

Alexandra Reuer

Arguably, 5 days of climbing in a heatwave in North Wales was always going to be a pretty amazing experience - but whatever the weather, this course would have been a winner either way!

I had only done a tiny bit of single-pitch trad leading before I came on the course, and when seconding on multi-pitches I had always felt rather dependent on the leader to know what they were doing in terms of ropework etc. I came on the course to become comfortable with ropework, building sound belays and placing solid protection.

Our instructors Dave and Cath achieved this without ever making it feel boring, uncomfortable or terrifying; I felt that they assessed all of our needs and levels really well and built the course around what the participants wanted to get out of it. We started with building belays and rigging abseils and progressed to placing protection while on a top rope, through to leading multi-pitch and sea cliff routes by the end of the week, with some extra fall and rope ascension training thrown in some evenings.

I cannot thank Dave and Cath enough for giving me the confidence to finally progress in trad climbing. Thank you for being fun and encouraging, but also quite no-nonsense where necessary.

Plas y Brenin facilities are also brilliant: fantastic veggie food, clean rooms and bathrooms (not that you'll be spending much time in your room), and beautiful surroundings that allow for a swim in the lake or an evening boulder! 5 stars!

Amazing Course!!!

Dawn Brinkman

Everything about this course was amazing!!

Beforehand PYB was really helpful in deciding what course to do (as I had experience seconding outdoors up to HVS and had led indoors), as well as providing transport from Llandudno Junction Station.
On the first day we met our instructor Dave Rudkin who made everyone feel comfortable and was a dream instructor for the whole week. An experienced and professional climber, and always up for a laugh!
Days 1 and 2 there were 2 instructors for a group of 6 for single pitch climbing and getting familliar with the gear, and days 3, 4 and 5 there was one instructor for each pair to allow multi pitch climbing and leading - thankyou to Dave Evans, Helen and Spike!
The whole group and instructors go on really well and it was made better by how flexible it was so you were climbing at your level and never felt bored or terrified.
Throughout the week we managed to avoid the rain and went all over, such as the Gogarth area and Tremadog. (Apart from the last day when the whole of North Wales was pouring, the team was really flexible and made the best of it and we spent the day alpine style climbing on Idwal Slabs!)
The only thing is it would have been nice to stay out on the crags for longer! Most of the courses including us were back for 5pm tea and cakes but since there were hours of daylight left it felt a bit early.
In the evenings the free lectures were interesting such as Dave E climbing the North Face of the Eiger, the food was great considering they were catering for lots of people, and PYB is situated so you could walk to the shops (and pub although the bar is perfect anyway) or around the lake (avoiding falling in on the stepping stones...).
I have come away from the course after an amazing time! I am now a generally better climber, totally confident at leading, with loads of new friends with whom I have already spent a weekend climbing on Stanage, and would definitely reccomend this course!!!

Don't think twice-book!

Alice du Preez

Looking back on the week I cannot believe what we achieved! I still can't wipe the smile off my face!
I was so nervous about starting the course, and I had questioned whether I was at the right level...but the PYB instructors put you at ease. I phoned up before booking to check whether my level was indeed appropriate and they agreed. (I had seconded mostly Severes and 1 HvS, and lead twice-a diff and v diff). My nerves however did not go! BUT...the course was so well tailored to what us as candidates required throughout the week that we did not have to worry at all! We had 2 days of single pitch skill based cragging-learning about use of gear, placement, setting up belays, and ropework skills (as well as lots of climbing at 2 great venues!). We then progressed to multipitch mountain routes, at a further 3 fantastic venues where we combined pushing our grade climbing and learning to lead, whilst being coached and guided by Dave.

The whole week was an incredible confidence boost and I finally felt like I could call myself a climber. A huge thank you to Helen Teasdale and Dave Evans for being so encouraging and supportive-hopefully will see you at a north wales crag soon!

Also must thank the support staff at the brenin for making the whole week possible, the kitchen staff for being so helpful and for providing our 'fuel' for the week; the office staff for being very friendly; the centre assistants who were always smiling and the domestic staff for providing such comfortable clean rooms. All in all, a superb venue and would highly recommend it for any course.

Rock Improver

Catherine Taylor

Overall a good experience that has given me the impression that I have improved my rock climbing.

The one to two instruction gave plenty of personal challenge, questions, high level technical skills, security.
The two days of larger group work were less focussed and less specific to my own climbing.
My 1:2 instructor, Guy was consistent and thorough.

The structure of the day was good, however it seemed to me that the hour back at the centre could well be varied when the evening light is good so that groups might continue at the crags and have longer outside. The evening sessions seemed less useful than the climbing days.

Assess the group before meeting through checking the application forms, then make some plans to accommodate the inevitable differences that arise in a group of individuals.
For the whole of the first day I was asked to climb with a 17yrs old when I am old enough to be his grandparent. It was unsatisfactory for both of us in terms of physical approach, attitude, questions and interests.

Assessing people on the fist day by using Sports climbing was alright for a morning but it seemed to me to be a waste of my time over a whole day.

Look at developing a more positive approach in all your instructors to women climbing and how they may not want the adrenaline-rush approach. It is a male dominated sport so consider how this may be for women wanting to learn and thrive in such an environment i.e. avoid replicating this male environment in your teaching groups.

Get to the point sooner of allowing people to ask questions that reveal their underlying concerns. In this way the focus may become more specific to the personal climbing needs of each person.

Our co-leader instructor on the day 1 & 2 appeared to be disconnected from the process of bringing his skills to support people. There was far too much chatting at the bottom of the rock and too much personal banter that I found alarmingly unprofessional.
Making jokes has a place but not when people are trying to absorb important information relating to safety and good practice.

Running groups is a skill and Simon, the group leader has this skill. He needed better support in his co-leader, Mark.

Fantastic course that adapts to provide what you want from it.

Matthew Hawes

I was unsure what to expect from both the course and the centre but both were amazing.
At the beginning of the course we were asked what we would like to get out of it and the instructors tailored climbs and instruction to suit. I felt that the methods of teaching were excellent and all instructors were both knowledgeable and friendly. Especially Simon Lake who helped me and my friends to lead at HVS in a week. I had no prior leading experience. The days had a good amount of variety, climbing and rope-work.
The centre was unlike any other centre of its kind, with good quality food, a lively bar and comfy accommodation, although the rooms were a little stuffy at times. The time spend at the centre was filled with after session rope-work instruction and informative general interest lectures. All staff were helpful and accommodating. I would strongly recommend any of their climbing courses

Liz Wakelin

I gained more from this course than I could have hoped for. I had my 'secret' target of leading a VS route but I not only achieved this - I exceeded it beyond my wildest dreams! To top rope an E1 route, to lead Sport 5+ & to suddenly feel as if I'd stepped through a barrier and onto another level was amazing. By the end of the course I had faith in myself, my gear placement and my ability to lead. Big thanks to all my instructors, but especially Mike (I soooo enjoyed the descent into the blow hole!!!!), and Kath for seeing my potential and pointing me higher than I thought I could go. Big thanks too, to James & Theo for positive thought and helpful suggestions for further development.
Also thanks to all who instructed on the 'Touching Stone' for young people the previous week - my daughter, Katie, is still buzzing from her experiences on that!

An excellent course at an excellent price

Richard Howard

I really enjoyed the rock improvers course and would recommend it to anyone. Our main instructors Bruce and James were fantastic. They taught us all new skills in calm, professional way. While the climbing we did was just outside my comfort zone (in a good way), pushing me to improve but at the same time not too much to make the experience unenjoyable. The climbs they selected for us were all fantastic. I was impressed how they tailored the course to meet everyones needs. Defiantly one of the best five days I have spent.

The accommodation in Plas Y Brenin is brilliant. Clean and meet my needs perfectly. All the staff are friendly and helpful. The food is all to a good standard, large portions and there is plenty of choice. I didn't need to supplement the meals with any of my own food during my stay, as I have had to do at other places. The bar is also great and we didn't feel the need to venture out to the the local pub.

With the outstanding quality of the teaching, food, accommodation and free equipment hire. I thought it was six hundred pounds well spent. Also, the free pick up and drop off at the station was a nice touch.

The one thing I thought could be improved was the pack lunch. The food was good but people would not stick to the suggested pack i.e 2 rolls, 1 fruit, 1 cake and 1 pack of biscuits. As a result if you didn't get there early you wouldn't get any fruit. My suggest would be to look at what people actually take and then adjust the ordering to reflect this. Generally I noticed that everyone was taking more fruit, so I would suggest cutting down on the cake and getting more fruit in.

Brought to a different level...

Paolo & Sarah

Course Director Simon Lake 3/5
Very professional, somewhat overly so perhaps, after a day out on the crag, a little too keen to get back to PYB early we felt, and seemed to be a little 'scripted' in his briefings. He didn't seem happy that the group unanimously opted for more leading rather than seconding at Gogarth's sea cliffs on the last day of consolidating our newly found skills.

Course Instructor Luke Brooks 5/5
Luke was outstanding. He coached us on about 4 or 5 leads throughout the trip and showed us tremendous patience, experience, and most of all a knack for teaching climbing in a way that we know we won't forget. We would not have thought that we could have led a 6 pitch HS 5a classic by the end of the course but we did thanks to him.

Course Content 5/5
Very happy with PYB for designing the ideal course to get people confidently leading Trad. It is only due to the weather that we could not visit the sea cliffs on the first few days of our trip. On the last day, we opted for doing more leading although we were given the option to second some VS routes at Castell Helen.

Venue 4/5
Our room was right above the kitchen, which meant it was a little noisy with the aircon running and our room always seemed to smell of fish and chips for reasons out of our control. If you are into your coffee, bring your own, as you will only get a very rather average machine brew at PYB.

Overall 4/5
Brilliant course which does what it says and we were lucky enough to have perfect conditions on all days. We felt a little rushed by the Course Director at times and I would suggest that he cultivated his listening/people skills a bit more. The Course Instructor more than made up for this and we would definetely recommend the course to a friend or go back for further coaching. Thanks to all the other staff including those working in the gear store, kitchen and cleaning for doing a great job. The cakes are duly applauded in past reviews!

A Super Time

Natalie Wilson

I had an absouloutly great time. I was happy with the standard of the room, food and everything. I did my 1st E1 on the first day and if i hadn't gone to Plas y Brenin than i proberblly wouldnt have treid it! It was one of the best things i've done in my life!

Rock Improved

Lucy Baxter

Really worthwhile course for me as it gave me more confidence with rope and protection placement and now I feel equipped to tackle leading easier grade climbs - which is what I wanted to achieve. The instruction was excellent and each of the Instructors for the first two days gave us different nuggets of useful information. All were excellent observers and were able to group us into pairs according to ability - whether moving on the rock, placing gear, rope handling, balance, fitness, agility etc. I'd recommend doing this course with your usual climbing partner though; since it's not a solo sport, it makes sense to progress alongside a known pal. So book it: you won't regret it.

My stay at Plas y Brenin

Dean Baumber

I have just returned from a trip to Plas y Brenin.
The course was rock improver and although I have not been climbing that long I feel that the course has given me so much confidence in both rope techniques and lead climbing.
The instuctors on the course had an amazing depth of knowledge and went about their work with the students in an supportive and positive attitude, and at all times made you feel that you could ask advice about anything you might have concerns with.I had a fantastic trip and the whole centre is amazing, I will coming back as soon as I can, it was great.
I would like to give a special mention to Stuart, Caff and Dave they were a great team and I dont think you could get a better team of instuctors anywhere.
Thanks to everyone at the centre for a great time.
PS. The Lush Summer is a great pint.

Loved every second of it!

Thomas Eldridge

I started the week at PYB quite apprehensive of what it would be like. I knew no-one and had hardly done any outdoor climbing at all!
However, by the end of the first day I loved it. The instructors were extremely friendly, taught us everything we needed to know about on the course and kept us safe all the time. I made several friends at PYB who I keep in touch with, all with similar interests to me, and the climbing that we did towards the end of the week was the best experience I'd ever had. I learned so much in that week that there is now nothing hindering my progress as a climber, and I loved every second of it!

Rock improver review

Helen Wise

Fantastic course!

I attended this course originally to hone my leading skills (was leading Severe comfortably and had lead to HVS) so I could start to push my grade. With a broad spectrum of abilities on the course, this goal was met brilliantly - the instructors were extremely accommodating to everyones needs despite the differences in peoples aspirations for the week, and I think everyone achieved what they wanted to achieve! (I ended up leading an E1 up on Dinas Mot in the Llanberis - beautiful route, beautiful place!)

For me the instructors really made this course; they were really friendly, came up with concise advice on how to meet your goals and stay safe and were a complete inspiration!

The accommodation and food was great, as were the facilities such as the rock wall and bar, generally a great week was had!

Also despite the bad weather on the first two days, the efforts made to dodge the rain were successful in the first case and a great day was had, and the second, the time was still put to good use learning other skills!

A brill course - strongly recommend it!



I havent climbed rock for a while since my younglings arrived. The pyb guys I had the pleasure of climbing with (ruth&paul) reopened my eyes again to this form of exquisite distraction. Fantastic times with brilliant friends. Thanks.

Phil Durrell

Sorry it has taken me some time to get this filled in but I just wanted to say I really enjoyed the course and found Mark to be a very good instructor.



Challenging but rewarding

Doug Hughes

I attended this course because my wife wanted to make sure my leading was as safe as possible, and to consolidate all the ropework techniques to enable us both to handle climbing (and retreating off) multipitch routes safely. My climbing grade is not great (only leading VDiff, managing 5a indoors if I'm lucky), and I'm over 50 with less than two years' climbing experience. As there were only two of us on the course, and the other guy handled HVS happily and was looking to push his grade, some compromises had to be made, I spent quite a lot of time climbing out of my comfort zone - not altogether a bad thing, but there was still plenty of opportunity for me to practice the leading skills I was after. Tim, our instructor, is a great bloke - very laid back, yet adept both at finding lead pitches which were within our respective abilities, and at finding crags which were warm and dry in a pretty indifferent week, weather-wise. The sound of his laughter ringing in my ears as I took my first lead fall (on bomber gear) was strangely soothing! Overall I learned loads, had a great time, and fully met my initial objectives. My one very slight reservation about the severity (no pun intended) of the climbing would probably not have been an issue if I'd been able to take my own climbing partner (of similar ability) with me - something to think about if you want to sign up. Otherwise, rest asured you'll have a whale of a time and emerge a much better climber.

Rock Improved!


Having served a decent apprenticeship seconding routes with my long-suffering climbing partners, I decided it was only fair that I be able to take my share of the leads. Ultimately, I wanted to be able to swing leads on long, multi-pitch climbs on our beautiful mountain crags. All of my climbing partners were more than happy to teach me the basics, but I'm that (health and safety obsessed) type of person, that needs to know that I'm doing things right. For me, Plas y Brenin was the answer.

Firstly, I was very impressed (and grateful) that the instructor managed to seek out sunny, or at least dry crags most days, even when it was lashing down with rain at Capel Curig. The first day, we headed to Tremadog Upper Tier, a fabulous, largely single pitch crag, for my first experience of climbing on dolerite.

The course was structured in a way to gradually ease us into the technical aspects of lead climbing, the first step being building belays, and lowering your climbing partner. In the evening, we headed indoors for a bouldering session, to focus on technique and training methods. This was a good opportunity for us grade chasing horrorbags to improve our climbing.

Tuesday saw the whole of Wales blanketed in grey cloud, and relentless rain. This didn't prove to be a problem, as we headed indoors to a climbing wall to focus on rope work and safety techniques including; escaping the system, prussiking up a rope, and hoists. In addition to this, we had some invaluable technique training on (finger/hand/foot) jamming and lay-backing.

The weather on the third day meant we had to travel a little further (50 mins). It was my first time on limestone, and I loved it! Under the close supervision of our allotted instructor, we did our first lead climb. The day was brilliant for building confidence. Having an instructor jumaring up the rope next to me, meant I could focus on placing the pro, and on the moves, rather than worrying about anything else.

Thursday brought our first multi-pitch climb at Tremadog. My climbing partner and I did the beautiful, inspiring, and slightly scary One Step. Despite the exposed nature of the climb, I felt really safe, and confident enough to go for it on hard (for me) moves. Brilliant!

Even with rain threatening all day, Friday was a perfect end to the week. In the morning we had a brief stop at Llanberis Pass, to give us our first glimpse of Dinas Cromlech and Carreg Wastad et al. Stunning climbs in abundance let me feeling enthused to return. Next, the consensus was that we stop off for some shopping, and I found it incredibly helpful to get some great advice on what to buy for my first rack. Eventually, we got round to some climbing. This time, it was sport climbing in Dali's Hole (that sounds so wrong!). It was a very worthwhile day, as I'd never sport climbed before, and had previously been apprehensive about rethreading at the lower off. The instructors were excellent, and taught techniques for every eventuality.

In summary, if you have very specific aims, in my opinion, then maybe you'd be better spending your money on some one-on-one coaching from one of the many climbers offering this service. If you want to see overall improvement, and become a more well-rounded climber, then I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this course. I'm really glad the instructors encouraged me to lead harder climbs than I anticipated I'd be doing, as it has given me loads of confidence to go out and lead easier climbs with my mates. Had I only led Diff or V Diff routes on the course, then I may well still have some residual anxiety about leading. As it stands, I went out this weekend and led my first ..proper. route, with confidence, and a bloody great big smile on my face :-)

For me, the course was worth every penny. My plan is to get loads of mileage in on easy climbs, build confidence in my gear placements, and then maybe return after a year or so (with climbing partners in tow) for the Performance Climbing Clinic... You have been warned!

I'd like to say a big thank you to Phil, who (besides being incredibly patient with my million and one questions) knew exactly how to get the best out of me, and my climbing partner .. I.e. gentle encouragement for me, and something a bit more extreme for him!

Int climbing brilliant!!!

Cath Sanders

I did this course previously about 6 years ago and it was brilliant. After a 2-3 break from climbing, I have been getting back into it this summer, and thought it would be good to do again to boost my confidence leading.

However, I was really disappointed with the course this time. The poor weather didnt help, but to be fair it was no worse than last time I did the course. There was something really wrong with the whole group dynamic and leadership of the course, with the net result that having started the week feeling pretty confident about both myself and my climbing, I ended it feeling completely useless and demoralised (to the extent that I nearly went home a day early) - the opposite of what I was anticipating getting out of this.

There was an awful lot of posturing and bravado about climbing hard grades (mainly from people in the group with little outdoor experience), and this just seemed to set the scene for the whole week, with the course leader seemingly swept along with all this. As someone only aspiring to improve my leading to Severe standard so that I can do long mountain routes, I felt totally marginalised and largely left out - and found the course leader quite condescending at times. I got the feeling that I was just expected to be a belay bunny for the week as I wasnt prepared to attempt leading at HS or above. Choices of venue also seemed to be dictated by the needs of the harder grade climbers in the group, with little thought as to whether this would enable those with more modest aspirations to lead anything and get what they wanted out of the course - I would have rather just done some Diffs in the wet simply to have the opportunity for some supervised gear placement and tuition.

Out of a whole week's course I only got in two pitches of leading under the supervision of an instructor - very poor value for £500, considering this was the main thing I wanted to get out of the course. Otherwise just largely did stuff I could have done with my regular climbing partners. The exception to this was day of ropework indoors which was very good.

Although the supporting instructors were excellent, and of the standard I'd expect from PYB, there was quite a bit of changing around of instructors during the week, which didnt really enable much building on or consolidation of what had been learnt on previous days. All seemed pretty incoherent and lacking in focus.

I hate to say all this about a PYB course, as all the others I've been on in the past (although several years ago) have all been excellent, and I've always held PYB in very high regard. I am however very disappointed and I wont be recommending it to anyone in my climbing club (despite having raved about it before). I'm not normally the complaining sort, but I am almost beginning to wonder whether I should ask for my money back....

Rock Improver Course

Marion Rourke

This course did everything I wanted it to do for me. Before the course, I had done plenty of seconding and learned the rudiments of leading but I needed to know that what I was doing was right. I needed to know that if I was going to lead my own routes that I was doing it properly and safely. I wanted to feel confident in my own abilities and for others to be confident in my abilities too. The Rock Improver course gave me all this and an insight into self-rescue techniques too. The instructor was always encouraging, reassuring and able to assess the abilities of the students very quickly, adapting activities for each of us accordingly.

I am a steady learner, plodding on and chipping away at things and the instructor showed infinite patience with me, which is what I needed. I have set myself realistic targets as a result of the course and can't wait now to "get on with it"!

In addition to the excellent instruction, fantastic scenery and climbing routes, the excellent facilities cannot pass by without a mention. Great meals and cakes! Comfy en-suite room and helpful staff. I have no doubt Plas-Y-Brenin will see more of me!!

The name fits!

Paul Aston

I travelled from Norway to take part on this course.It followed both the Touching Stone and Intro to lead courses. My goal in coming to PYB was to grow as a climber, build on my basic trad skills and learn multi pitch. I achieved all of this, thanks to the people of PYB.
The name fits..I had as equally positive experiances as on the other two courses. First class people who work in all levels of P.YB, admin, kitchen staff, accomodation staff, equipment providers and of course instructors.10/10.
These dedicated people who work in many different roles other than instructors did everything within their power to ensure that I got delivered just what I came to get..as I did!

Daily our instructors with others battled the weather and won in our favour almost all of the time.And when wet they enthusiastically lead us out on the cliffs in support of our dreams to climb with saftey assured!

Instructors. Expert tuition given by dedicated passionate instructors!Patient people who clearly love their work.

I learned a great deal aware that they truly wanted me to learn,grow and become a better climber.I believe that I have progressed a great deal in this short series of days so definately reccommend this course to you!

This course was found by me to be exaxtly what was advertised!I agree with so much of the other reviewers comments,so I wont list them again but encourage you to read more relating to other courses.

In summing up...Book this course. PYB...proves that you can grow on Rock. Paul Aston Stadsbygd Norway

'n benchwiban cerrynt , 'n ddysgedig choelbrennau

Charles Thornhill

On the first day of the course we were gently eased into the week: some basic movement in the training wall and then off to learn some bouldering techniques outside (while the weather was ok). In the afternoon we then attacked a local crag for some easy and not-so-easy single pitch climbs. This was great as we all started to get to know each other and set-up basic belays and execute our first, safe abseil.
By day two, we were off to the sea cliffs! I was a little nervous of this as I had visions of the great Gogarth climbs and me being stuck at the bottom with the sea swelling around me and being unable to climb (swimming my way back to Treadour Bay!). However, it was nothing like this at all. It was, for me, probably one of the best days of the week. We had glorious weather and the instruction and climbs were fantastic. Sea cliff climbing was thrilling, scary and exciting all at once.
Wednesday was our first multi-pitch day and with some rather inclement weather, we headed over to Tremadog. I had a new partner now and a new instructor. However, I couldn't have asked for a better coach. James "Caff" MacHaffie was brilliant. Under his tutelage we complete 3 multi-pitch climbs, one of which we led and the third was a tough seconding climb!!! That night Caff taught us some safety techniques like escaping the belay system. Really good.
The next day the weather got us - it p*ssed it down all morning. So we were offered some choices and most of us selected the indoor wall for some skills training. Again, my partner and I learned quite a few more techniques from Caff (and also learned that he's a pretty darn good climber himself - e9! - and well respected by his peers!) We also learned more rescuing techniques. In the afternoon we were able to get some slate climbing in. However, because of the weather we felt safer to let Caff lead. But it was another difficult climb for us both - f6a- and the crux required us to put into practice the technique we learned earlier that morning. Spot on!
And so to the last day - again, wet. Damn. But anyway, we went for it and attempted a multi-pitch climb in the drizzle. Not something any of us would have wanted but we cracked-it and made the climb. The scramble down was horrid but the delights of the warm van was most welcomed. Finishing the day off was some more practical exercises with some prussiking - aaargh, this finished me off!!! I hope to never have to do this for real...
So in summary, this was a brilliant week. The tutors were all great (thanks Dave, Paul, Sid, Naomi, Caff and Gareth). All the staff at PyB were great, the food brilliant and the facilities superb. I'll definitely be back for some more next year... I just need to start putting in to practice everything I've learned.

Great course to become self-sufficient trad-leader - Highly recommended

Pascal Heger / Marjolijn Schoemans

We visited the Plas Y Brenin National Mountain Center from The Netherlands. Having experienced climbing in multi-pitch sports venues, we developed an interest in trad-climbing and thankfully decided to take a course for this here before committing ourselves to this aspect of the sport.. We were very impressed with the scale, organisation, and highly professional character of the center even before the course started.
The level of expertise of the instructors and well structured course content only added to this. The instructors took sufficient time to answer all our specific questions and the course was flexible to address aspects we particularly wanted to focus on. (double-rope works and hanging belays).

In summary this has been a very enjoyable educational week and with another week to spend in Wales we were able to enjoy climbing and leading multipitch trad-routes with confidence. (The instructors will recommend routes from personal experience for you if you take your guidebook!)

Special thanks to Dave.. Really enjoyed the Eagle finish on Asahel!

Does exactly what it says on the tin...

Sam Cruickshank

Whether you want to improve your confidence leading, push the grade seconding, or just generally want to improve your technique, this course is for you.
The course is tailored completely around whatever you want to get out of it, and the enthusiatic instructors are great at persuading you to do things that you didn't think you could do, all the time in a safe environment (usually with an instructor dangling from a rope next to you!)
The 1 to 2 ratio towards the end of the week really allowed me to gain confidence in placing gear, and the experienced instructors meant that by the end of the week you can be completely confident that you're doing everything right when you touch the rock!

The brilliant tuition on it's own is enough to make the course a brilliant 5 days, but I can't really stop without mentioning the amazing food (and cakes!).
Oh, and someone had even booked the good weather for us!

A 70th Birthday Present

Roger Garrett

Stacks of good info, encouragement and friendly banter (sandbagging), about all aspects of rock climbing, from cheerful, experienced and enthusiastic instructors.
Pitched at a level to suit all course participants and delivered over five full days of climbing at a range of venues - four of the days bright and sunny and only one wet!
Excellent food and accommodation.
A highly recommended and enjoyable week, which reminded me why I took up the sport all those years ago.
I would like to express my thanks to Lee Roberts and Ibuprofen.

Not found what you were looking for?

You can hire one of our coaches instructors or guides from only £250 per day. They'll tailor the day to suit your aims and aspirations perfectly.
You can enjoy one to one coaching for that cost or if you get together as a group, depending on the activity, you can split that cost between up to 6 of you. If you are a group we can run any of our courses on a date that suits you and your friends. Or you could just write your own agenda for a week or weekend and we'll price it up for you - with or without accommodation. What's more, just like out normal course fees, our private instructor hire charge covers all your equipment too. Click on the link below to fill in a request form and one of our coaches will call you back (or e-mail if you'd prefer) to discuss things in detail with you.

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