Intermediate Rock Climbing Course

course and assessment

The AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Program is the only nationally recognized single pitch climbing instructor certification program and is recognized by many land managers, insurance companies, other associations and of course the general public. The AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Program has been created to fit in the AMGA Rock Discipline training program, taking off from the AMGA Climbing Wall Instructor Program and greatly improving the instructor’s skill sets and integrating into the next level of training, the AMGA Rock Instructor Course. The SPI Program curriculum has been designed with this in mind and many of the SPI Program Instructors work teaching higher level courses for the AMGA and serve on the AMGA’s Technical Committee so they are actively involved in all levels of instructor and guide training in the AMGA. The SPI will be able to proficiently facilitate and instruct the sport of rock climbing in a single pitch setting.

Just a quick word to say thanks for all you did to make my past several days truly rewarding. – D. Mrozek


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. The course will cover the following material including but not limited to:

  • Top belay and bottom belay site management
  • Raising systems for assisting and rescuing climbers
  • Natural and artificial anchoring techniques
  • Belay transfers
  • Anchor extension
  • Knots and friction hitches
  • Harness selection
  • Belayed rappel techniques for safely teaching students
  • Rappel back-ups for climbing instructors
  • How to teach skills and movement
  • Administrative and legal responsibilities for climbing programs
  • How to promote “Leave No Trace” environmental ethics
  • The experiential education model


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.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

SPI Equipment List

  • Backpack
  • Appropriate clothing
  • Sunscreen
  • Water
  • Food & snacks
  • Rain jacket
  • Climbing Helmet
  • Climbing Harness: with belay loop
  • Climbing shoes or approach shoes: in which you can climb up to 5.7
  • Standard “lead climbing rack”: such as, stoppers/nuts, SLCD’s, tri-cams, etc.
  • Assorted 24” and 48” runners: must have one 48” runner
  • 10 or more non-locking carabiners
  • 3 or more “HMS/Pearbiners”
  • 6 or more locking carabiners: the more, the better
  • Belay/rappel device: such as the “Reverso”, “ATC”, etc.
  • Releasable assisted braking device: such as the Petzl “GriGri” or Trango “Cinch” belay devices
  • Prussic loops: 1m of 5mm Nylon Accessory Cord
  • Cordelettes: 5m of 7mm Nylon Accessory Cord
  • One 50-60m “single” rope: (9.5-10.5mm) suitable for leading and top roping
  • One static or “semi static”: (gym line) rope 10-11mm, 30m+, for setting up anchors and fixed lines

Training & Follow Up Programs

As always, being in good physical shape is an important component of our our programs. A good mixture of cardiovascular fitness, muscular fitness, and especially core strength will help you to maximize the potential rewards that are possible on a great program.

1Before Your Trip

Prerequisites for SPI Course: Candidates must be at least 18 years old at the time of the course,
have at least 12 months prior climbing experience, have trad lead climbed a minimum of 15 graded rock climbing routes (any grade), and are capable of comfortably climbing 5.8 while on a top rope.

Prerequisites for SPI Assessment: 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, you are capable of comfortably lead climbing 5.6 traditional routes, you are capable of comfortably climbing 5.8 while on a top rope.

2Follow Up Programs

If and when I decide to tackle the big mountains I will call you guys for sure. I was very impressed with the guides and the service on my last class. Thanks again! – Chris N.

Durango, Colorado: Getting Here

Durango is located in the SW corner of Colorado, at the intersection of the sandstone towers of the desert, and the jagged, San Juan Mountains. A mecca for climbing, hiking, cycling, and foodies; make sure you plan to spend some time in town before and after your SJMG trip.

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Flights: The best option for flying to the area is to fly into Durango – La Plata County Airport. Multiple airline options exist, and most connections originate from Denver, Phoenix, or Dallas. The airport is a 20 minute drive from our office. Many hotels offer a free shuttle pickup. Buckhorn Limousine offers a shuttle as well.

Driving: Below are some approximate driving times if you’d like to drive to Durango. If you plan on renting a car, please consider the winter weather when selecting your vehicle and at a minimum choose something that offers either front wheel or all-wheel drive.

  • Denver, CO: 6 hours
  • Albuquerque, NM: 3 hours

Hotels: Durango has a number of great hotels, suites, and vacation rentals for you to stay in while you’re in the area. Give our office a call at 800-642-5389 if you have any questions about what would suite you best for this trip! Below are just a few options catering to different lodging styles and preferences.

Additional Information

  • Cost Includes:
  • AMGA instructor and examiner
  • SPI course/assessment certificate

  • Not Included:
  • Hotel costs before, during, or after the trips
  • 3% land use surcharge, trip cancellation insurance
  • Food
  • Guide gratuity

  • Registration and Cancellation:
  • You will need to fill out our Domestic Registration Form, cancellation policy agreement, and liability waiver, and send it to us with a 50% deposit as early as possible prior to the course date. Balance is due on the first day of the course. Please click on our Registration/Travel link to access the required forms.

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