Richard Wachira reflects on what it takes to become a professional rock climbing instructor...
How I started
As a student, I joined an experiential outdoor group that introduced me to among other activities rope techniques and climbing. In the course of my studies, I discovered there was more to the outdoors and a great big world to explore. I pursued opportunities in Australia which exposed me to more structured and instructional delivery of activities, allowing me to gain qualifications in the same. Following my passions, I later found opportunities to run the same activities in Canada over the duration of one summer. By this time, I was persuaded that being an adventure guide was a vocation I was willing to devote to mind body and soul.
In Kenya, I joined Rift Valley Adventures as a field instructor. Activities here include Climbing, Biking, and Canyoning among others. At this time, I had the opportunity to take the Single Pitch Supervisor Award Course in South Africa and attain the SPSA qualification thereafter. This propelled me to lead sessions at our main activity sites which I continue to do.
Where I am
I have worked with a wide variety of groups, each with its own distinguishing attributes.
Adventure Training will by and large have outcomes related to their work environment. Emphasis will be on skills development, competence towards attaining a foundational course in the activity, and personal gains including courage, leadership, character building, and working in a team.
School groups also have similar outcomes but more so on a personal level. Students face their fears, challenge themselves and push their own limits. Climbing to this group is a simulation of many situations they will encounter in life. It’s a neatly wrapped package of life-skills.
Long way to go...
Being a climbing instructor doesn’t put you at the top of the pile. By definition a climbing instructor will find themselves on the ground, with the individuals who are at that moment facing their fears, expressing their doubts and doubting their ability. It is upon you to encourage and support these individuals in a way that helps them achieve their goal. For them, this could mean climbing all the way to the top, and sometimes it doesn’t. The tools you have in your pocket; the technical skills, the element of couching and the drive to motivate, are what build individuals and groups from the ground up. You create a platform to launch them towards building confidence, conquering fears, and developing skills...