AMGA SPI Course | Single Pitch Instructor Course and Exam 


Trip: AMGA SPI Course

Location: Leavenworth, WA

2022 Course Dates:
  • May 20-22, 2022 (2 spots)
  • Custom Dates Also Available

2022 Exam Dates:
  • June 4-5, 2022 (Full)
  • Call to be on waitlist.
  • Custom Dates Also Available

Cost: $650 (Course) $450 (Exam)

Cost Includes
AMGA Certified Rock Guide, AMGA SPI Course Handbook (Digital)
Cost Does Not Include
Transportation to/from the course area, personal food, personal climbing equipment, trailhead parking pass fees, AMGA Single Pitch Manual (How to Climb Series) by Bob Gaines and Jason Martin (Loaner available or you can purchase this from NMS or Amazon)

Client to Guide Ratio: Up to 6:1
This is a 3-day course that includes 27 hours of training and instruction focused on giving climbing instructors the skills needed to instruct rock climbs in a single-pitch environment. Successful completion of the course is a prerequisite for a 2-day assessment exam in pursuit of the SPI Instructor certification. There is a huge difference between being an accomplished climber and a solid climbing instructor and this course is designed to help you bridge that gap. Many SPI graduates find that this training improves their personal climbing skill set in addition to their teaching skills.

Typical participants include outdoor instructors such as camp counselors, youth climbing program instructors, scout leaders, and others tasked with managing the risks surrounding climbing instruction. The SPI is also one possible starting point for those seeking their AMGA Rock Guide’s certification, albeit not a requirement to enter the AMGA rock discipline. The SPI is designed to lay a good foundation for those moving on to the AMGA rock guide course.

If you successfully complete the AMGA SPI Course, you can then be tested in the 2-day SPI assessment to receive your actual AMGA SPI Certification. We plan to offer an assessment in the Fall following our spring course.

Our courses are all run by Travis Weil, an AMGA Certified Rock guide and NMS employee with experience conducting several dozen SPI courses. Travis is a talented climber, guide and instructor and will serve as the AMGA SPI Provider while NMS is considered the “host” organization for these courses.

Topics Covered on SPI Course 

SPI and AMGA Program Overview
  • Learn to articulate an understanding of the SPI program, AMGA Organization, programs, certification levels, history and mission.
  • Learn to describe the traits of a professional instructor and embody those traits as an instructor
  • Develop a comprehensive knowledge of equipment and materials used in single-pitch climbing instruction, and will be familiar with its use, care, applications, and storage.
Knots and Hitches
  • Gain proficiency in tying and understanding the application of the following knots and hitches: Figure 8 family, Overhand family, Double overhand on a bight (BHK), Ring Bend, Clove Hitch, FGirth Hitch, Bowlines, Munter Hitch, Munter Mule, Friction Hitches (Autoblock, Prusik, Kelmheist), Double Fisherman's Bend, Flat Overhand.
  • Gain a thorough understanding of belay devices, techniques and communication. Candidates must also exhibit the ability to teach belaying clearly.
Protecting and Anchoring
  • Develop a comprehensive understanding of anchoring principles and risk management strategies for single pitch crags.
Teaching Skills
  • Gain an understanding of different learning styles and proficiency in both instructing in a group setting and coaching on an individual basis.
Selecting the Climbing Site
  • Learn to research climbing areas and interpret guidebooks, typos and climbing web sites in order to select appropriate sites for institutional climbing. Candidates will be familiar with the various land management structures in the US and their varying permitting requirements.
Site Organization and Group Management
  • Achieve proficiency in site organization and group management in both top and bottom-managed situations. Candidates will demonstrate an understanding of both the environmental and social issues involved in commercial guiding in single-pitch settings.
Base-Managed Sites
  • Form an understanding of the rationale for working at the bottom ofd single-pitch crags and proficiency in the skills required to operate in this setting.
Assistance Skills - Base-Managed Sites
  • Learn to perform a variety of assistance skills that may be required when working at the base of a single-pitch crag.
Programming and Risk Management
  • Develop an understanding of programming and risk management issues involved in single-pitch instruction.
Instructor Lead Climbing Demo
  • Observe the course leader in a single-pitch trad lead climb demonstrating sound leading practices and considerations for student belaying of lead climbs. Note: This is not a lead climbing course, but if time allows there may be some training aimed at improving your lead-climbing skill set.
Top-Managed Sites
  • Learn to understand the rationale for choosing to operate from the tops of crags and display proficiency in the skills needed to execute these systems.
  • Gain proficiency at lowering clients and the use of appropriate back-ups.
Assistance skills: Top-Managed Sites
  • Develop the skills to assist climbers from the top of the crag in a single-pitch setting.
  • Learn to set up and manage institutional rappels, employ appropriate back-ups and execute assistance/rescue techniques.
Climbing Movement
  • Learn the principles of climbing movement and learn techniques in teaching climbing movement skills in a group setting and coaching individual clients.

SPI Course Prerequites:* 

  • Currently a professional member of the AMGA.
  • Possess a genuine interest in rock climbing and instructing novices on single pitch crags.
  • Be at least 18 years old at the time of the course.
  • Have at least 12 months prior climbing experience.
  • Be an active climber with traditional lead climbing experience (leader placing pro)
  • Have led a minimum of 15 traditional rock climbing routes (any grade).
  • Be comfortable climbing 5.8 while on a top rope.

*Note that these are the minimum course prerequisites. For the best experience and education is is highly recommended that your have more experience than listed above.

SPI Course Venue 

The area surrounding Leavenworth is ideal for conducting SPI Courses and Exams. We utilize a variety of locations including Icicle Creek Canyon, Tumwater Canyon, and Peshastin Pinnacles to give you the best possible course. There is plenty of local camping, grocery stores, hotels, and world-class climbing, bouldering, white-water boating, mountain biking, and trail running if you want to extend your stay.

Getting to/from Leavenworth:  

Driving your car is still unfortunately the best way to get to Leavenworth, but it is possible to get here by bus, shuttle, or AmTrack. During the course itself, the group will meet each morning at our office and then car pool to the training areas each day in an effort to reduce our impact at the local crags.

Registration Process: 

  1. Before you register make sure that your AMGA Professional Membership is current. You must be current no later than the course start to participate and no refund can be given if you omit this step.
  2. Complete the online registration form here.
  3. Make your online deposit payment (25% of the course total) here
All space is first-come, first-serve with participation subject to approval by the course provider, in this case Travis Weil. If you have questions before registering, feel free to e-mail our office or give us a call at 509-548-5823. We are here to make the registration process as easy as possible. You may also reserve your space by calling our office and making your deposit payment by phone.

More details on the AMGA SPI program