We had the pleasure of speaking to Keith, a lecturer and practitioner in Outdoor Adventure Leadership at The University of Central Lancashire. Keith has 12 years experience in climbing and mountaineering guiding and coaching, so we were excited to learn about his background.
Have you always been drawn to the outdoors?
Yes, but I lived in Bedfordshire as a youth. I started caving around age 16 with a friend. We ventured out to Derbyshire and Somerset, where I discovered rock climbing and remote walking.
How has your Masters in Sports Coaching helped you in terms of being an outdoor instructor?
At first I didn’t want to do a degree in the outdoors, as this was my love and I really didn’t want to work in it at the time of my undergrad. However, by the time it was my masters, I was using outdoor coaching as my themes and had researched mountaineering and climbing in my BA. As well as having a research paper published in the Journal Qualitative Research in Sports Studies. I also became a qualified S&C coach, where I worked with many sports including climbers, paddlers and mountain bikers. My masters research was based around how to coach and the links to qualifications and learning. This gave me a different perspective on how leaders and coaches develop knowledge and use it in their field.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learnt in your Climbing Psychology PhD so far?
That maybe there’s an inherent need for fear, going back to hunter gatherers. I’m not really trying to answer any questions, but rather trying to enhance the knowledge of the need for humans to experience all psychological and physical aspects of climbing.
What do you find most rewarding about being an outdoor instructor?
That’s easy, enjoying the company of people, both clients and instructors who love the outdoors and want to develop their skills in it. It’s so good to see people build their confidence and use the skills you have taught them.
Where are your favourite scenic spots to hike in the UK?
The Lakes for the beauty and Scotland for the remoteness and wildness. The Peaks for the climbing and North Wales for the physical challenges.
Where are the most exciting locations you’ve climbed?
Troll Wall in Norway, The Alps, Yosemite Valley and The Cairngorms in Scotland.
Tell us about your favourite story from being an outdoor instructor…
Taking a group of university outdoor students to Dartmoor. I sent them off to locations to have a solo experience for 24 hours. When they returned we went bouldering and then surfing. They were buzzing and gave a fantastic presentation on their experiences!
Where is next on your list to hike or climb?
Ski touring and remote travel in the UK and hopefully a private trip to The Alps in the new year.
Lastly, what advice would you give to someone who’s wanting to start rock climbing?
Get a good qualified coach or instructor, then practice in a safe environment. I made lots of mistakes and only got away with it by luck!
You can visit Keith’s guide page to view his trips, availability and information here.