AMGA Programs

We are hand selected and nationally licensed by the American Mountain Guides Association to provide climbing instructor/guide training programs.  We currently offer the AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course (SPI) and Assessment Exam and the AMGA Climbing Wall Instructor Program (CWI). Individual program descriptions are below.  These programs are demanding and have prerequisites.

AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Program

single_pitchThe SPI program is for current, active rock climbers that have a real desire to teach the rock climbing to novices in a single pitch setting. Candidates should be passionate rock climbers that have their own equipment, regularly climb and have been rock climbing outdoors for at least 12 months. Candidates could be current University Professors that teach climbing, Climbing Instructors, Scout Leaders, Summer Camp Professionals or climbers that wish to achieve additional training, experience and certification to gain employment as a Climbing Instructor in the Outdoor Industry. The SPI will be able to proficiently facilitate and instruct the sport of rock climbing in a single pitch setting.

Top Managed Climbing Site    IMG_3751IMG_2609

For the purpose of the SPI Program a single pitch climb is one which:

  • Is climbed without intermediate belays and presents no difficulties on approach or retreat, such as route finding, scrambling or navigating.

*70% of AMGA Rock Guide Course participants have successfully completed the AMGA SPI Course.

Dates are added regularly, please check back frequently.

2020 AMGA SPI Dates

SPI Courses and Assessments for the remainder of 2020 have been paused due to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic.  We are sorry to have to make this decision. We understand the importance of these programs to your work.  However, due to the traveling nature of these programs and AMGA Guidance, we have had no choice.  We look forward to moving forward working with you in the near future.  Stay tuned here and to the AMGA Course and Exam schedule to see our next programs.

The SPI Program is a three-day (27 hour) training course and separate two day (16 hour) assessment. Certification lasts for three years as long as the candidate keeps current AMGA Membership and First Aid Certification. After three years current SPI’s can re-take the SPI Assessment to re-gain the SPI certification. Taking any higher level AMGA Course also re-certifies the SPI certification for another three years.
Munter Madness!

Munter Rigging!

Traprock Sender

Traprock Sender

Instructor Belayed Rappel

Instructor Belayed Rappel

I’ve been a recreational climber for 14+ years and I took the AMGA SPI course with Matt. I learned so many new skills that I now apply in my recreational and professional climbing instruction. I went onto to pass the assessment a few months later. I would recommend Matt’s course to anyone looking to improve their efficiency and bring their skills up to the AMGA standards.” –Adam C.

Exemption from Training

There is no longer an exemption from training.  To participate in the AMGA SPI exam, you must first complete the AMGA SPI Course, or have completed the SPI Course or Top Rope Site Manager Course (TRSM ended in 2007) previously.  Please call ahead if you have not completed your SPI course with us.

SPI Program Hours and Ratios

The SPI Course is:

  1. A minimum of 27 hours, normally run as three consecutive nine hour days or day classes with evening sessions.
  2. SPI Courses will not exceed a ratio of six students to one current SPI Program Provider.
  3. The maximum number of students on any SPI Program will be twelve.

The SPI Assessment is:

  1. A minimum of 16 hours.
  2. The Assessment should be run over a two day period. Candidates that meet the Assessment pre-requisites can take the Assessment directly following the Course if they desire although this is not recommended.
  3. SPI Assessment will not exceed a ratio of six students to one current SPI Program Provider.
  4. The maximum number of students on any SPI Program will be twelve.
Desert Single Pitch Climb

Desert Single Pitch Climb

SPI Course Overview

The following three day outline is the standard progression for the SPI Course. Your course may have a different daily schedule and it is acceptable for Program Providers to do this as long as the entire curriculum is covered in your course. Program Providers may add to the curriculum on your course but must not omit pieces. SPI Program providers must make it clear when they are teaching outside the curriculum and should not evaluate beyond the curriculum. The course is normally run over three consecutive nine hour days but as long as all the curriculum is covered over 27 hours the course could be run over separate weekends or even as a semester class.

Pre-Requisites for Single Pitch Instructor Course

You meet the pre-requisites for the SPI course if you:

  • Have a genuine interest in rock climbing and instructing novices on single pitch crags.
  • Are at least 18 years old at the time of the course.
  • Have at least 12 months prior climbing experience.
  • Are an active climber with traditional lead climbing experience (leader placing pro).
  • Have lead climbed a minimum of 15 graded traditional rock climbing routes (any grade).
  • Are capable of comfortably climbing 5.8 while on a top rope.

The above pre-requisites are absolute minimums and most candidates have way in excess of the above. Without having at least this amount experience you are unlikely to play a constructive part on the course or be able to make best use of the training. If you are unsure of your skill levels we suggest hiring an AMGA/IFMGA certified guide to evaluate and enhance your skills and experience prior to SPI Program enrollment.

SPI Assessment Overview

Instructor Belayed Rappel

Instructor Belayed Rappel

The SPI Assessment is two days in length (minimum of 16 hours assessment time) and will take place at a single pitch climbing area where there are a selection traditional lead routes in the 5.6 range and top roping routes in the 5.8 range. The assessment will examine all aspects of institutional single pitch climbing that the Single Pitch Instructor may encounter. Day one will look at climbing movement and all aspects of technical systems from anchoring to assistance skills and general climbing competence. On day two the examiner may arrange for volunteer novice clients (non-paying) for the candidates to instruct in a group setting. This is not required but is a great benefit to the assessment process as the examiner can see candidates interact with real novice climbers and the examinees do not have to ‘pretend’ to teach novice climbers who are actually other examines on the assessment.

The examiners job is to bring out the best in the candidate, and give the candidate a comfortable and stress-free assessment. The candidate must show the examiner they have the technical and instructional skills to pass the AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Assessment. The SPI Assessment is broken down into four distinct evaluation sessions; climbing movement, technical skills, teaching ability and group management skills and candidate are evaluated by the AMGA marking system categories as explained below.

Assessment Categories

  • Risk Management
  • Client Care
  • Technical Systems
  • Application
  • Terrain Assessment
  • Movement Skills
  • Mountain Sense
  • Professionalism
  • Instructional Technique

In the AMGA SPI Program the same nine categories are used as for the rest of the AMGA assessments in the guide programs. This is for uniformity throughout the AMGA programs as they are all applicable to single pitch instruction and will help the candidate as they move onto higher level assessments.

Pre-Requisites for SPI Assessment (these are minimum standards)

IMG_4686The SPI Assessment can be taken directly following the SPI Course if the candidate successfully completed the course and meets the Assessment pre-requisites. However, it is highly recommended that the SPI Course candidate takes time practicing and consolidating the skills learned on the course before assessment (6-12 months).

You meet the SPI Assessment Pre-requisites if:

  • You have successfully completed an AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course or AMGA Top Rope Site Manager Course.
  • You have trad lead climbed a minimum of 40 rock climbing routes. A large number of these should be at 5.6 grade and hopefully on a variety of rock types.
  • You are capable of comfortably lead climbing 5.6 traditional routes (leader placing protection). You will demonstrate your leading ability on a variety of routes on the assessment.
  • You are capable of comfortably climbing 5.8 while on a top rope.

Gaining SPI Certification

To gain SPI Certification candidates must:

  • Successfully pass the SPI Assessment
  • Hold current AMGA Membership at Professional Level
  • Hold current First Aid Certification (see SPI Certification First Aid Requirements)
Maine SPI Course

Maine SPI Course


AMGA Climbing Wall Instructor Program:


CWI Belay Test

CWI Belay Test

The course is two and one half days in length, a minimum of 20 hours of instruction, skills demonstration, and evaluation.

The course addresses the basic technical skills necessary to manage an instructional program at a climbing facility, and will address the following general topic areas:

  • Client orientation and instruction
  • Teaching general climbing skills including movement
  • Teaching top-rope and lead belaying techniques
  • Equipment and facility use
  • Rescue and emergency procedures

At a minimum, training for candidates shall occur in each of the following technical competency areas. Candidates shall possess sufficient knowledge, demonstrate skills, and/or demonstrate teaching ability in each competency area (if appropriate to the topic) in order to successfully complete the course.

2011 CWI-01 027

Certification Program Goals

  • To increase the level of professionalism in indoor climbing in the USA
  • To improve the level of climbing wall instruction in the USA
  • To develop a more consistent standard of care for climbing instructors in the USA in the following areas:
    • client orientation and instruction
    • teaching general climbing skills including movement
    • teaching proper belaying techniques
    • teaching proper leading techniques
    • teaching proper rappel techniques
    • teaching proper equipment care and use
    • proper facility use, care, and inspection
    • rescue and emergency procedures
  • To evaluate the skills of climbing instructors in the USA
  • To provide guidance for further professional development

  Next CWI Course:


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