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AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Exam




The AMGA Single Pitch Instructor course is the industry standard for individuals looking to instruct rock climbing in a single pitch setting. Many recreational climbers also take this course to bolster their understanding of technical skills, anchoring, and terrain recognition.

This three day program covers topics needed to instruct single pitch rock climbing and was developed to fit perfectly inside the AMGA Rock Program. Assistance skills, instructional techniques, and risk management are just a few of the topics covered.

The Single Pitch Instructor (SPI) Program teaches climbing instructors to proficiently facilitate and instruct the sport of rock climbing in a single pitch setting and is the only internationally recognized single pitch climbing instructor certification program in the United States.


  • It significantly improves the instructor’s skill set and integrates into the AMGA Rock Guide Course and Multi-Pitch Instructor certification

  • The program is for current, active rock climbers who have a real desire to teach rock climbing to novices in a single pitch setting

  • The SPI Course is a 27-hour training course that normally runs as three consecutive nine-hour days or day classes with evening sessions

  • The SPI Assessment is a minimum of 16 hours run over a two-day period

  • 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 regain the SPI certification

  • Taking any higher level AMGA Course also re-certifies the SPI certification for another three years

Price Includes


  • AMGA Certified Guide and SPI Program Provider

Price Excludes


  • Transportation. You will be responsible for your own transportation to and from a designated meeting area

  • Gratuity

  • Personal items such as food, clothing, backpack, etc.

  • Climbing equipment

  • Entrance fees and parking fees (where necessary)

Sample Itinerary


Day 1

  • Session 1: SPI and AMGA Program Overview

  • Session 2: Professionalism

  • Session 3: Equipment

  • Session 4: Knots and Hitches

  • Session 5: Belaying

  • Session 6: Protection and Anchoring

  • Session 7: Teaching

  • End of Day Debriefs

Day 2

  • Session 8: The Climbing Site

  • Session 9: Site Organization and Group Management

  • Session 10: Base Managed Sites

  • Session 11: Assistance Skills – Base Managed Sites

  • Session 12: Programming and Risk Management

  • End of Day Debriefs

Day 3

  • Session 13: Instructor Demo Lead Climb

  • Session 14: Top Managed Sites

  • Session 15: Lowering

  • Session 16: Assistance Skills – Top Managed Sites

  • Session 17: Rappelling

  • Session 18: Climbing Movement

  • Session 19: Review Sessions

  • Final Individual and Group Debriefs

Prerequisites & Policy Updates


  • A genuine interest in rock climbing and instructing novices on single pitch crags

  • At least 18 years old at the time of the course

  • At least 12 months prior climbing experience

  • An active climber with traditional lead climbing experience (leader placing pro)

  • Have trad lead climbed a minimum of 15 graded rock climbing pitches (any grade)

  • Are capable of comfortably climbing 5.8 while on a top rope

  • Must be an active member of the AMGA

The above prerequisites are absolute minimums. Without having at least this amount experience you are unlikely to make best use of the training.

* Important Policy Updates for 2023 *

Three Climbing Instructor Program policies will be updated starting January 1st, 2022 to create clear and consistent procedures for commonly asked questions.

12 month SPI and CWI Certification re-entry period:

  • SPI’s and CWI’s will have 12 months from the date of certification expiration to pursue an exam for recertification. If they do not pass an exam for recertification within the 12 month re-entry period, they will be required to retake the entire SPI Course or CWI Program.

2 Year SPI Course sunset time:

  • The SPI Course will have a two year sunset time. After two years, if the SPI Course graduate has not passed an SPI Exam, they will need to retake the SPI Course prior to pursuing the SPI Exam.

Program make-up guidelines:

  • Make-up options will be available for students/candidates who receive an “incomplete” final mark on any SPI or CWI Program because of factors limiting attendance including but not limited to weather or an emergency.

Dates & Pricing


Course Dates

August 28-29, 2023

September 30-October 1, 2023



Course Length

2 Days

Topics Covered


SPI and AMGA Program Overview​

  • An overview of the American Mountain Guides Association and an introduction to instruction.


  • Discussion on what it means to be a professional instructor.


  • A hands-on review of climbing equipment and materials.

Knots and Hitches

  • A hands-on review of climbing knots and hitches.


  • A hands-on review of belaying from both the top and bottom of a cliff.

Protection and Anchoring

  • A review of anchoring principles and practice with instruction at a single pitch crag. Candidates should already be well-versed in anchor building skills and gear placement.

Teaching Skills

  • Lesson planning, basic learning styles, and teaching methods for various climbing and movement topics.

Selecting the Climbing Site

  • Discussion of the single pitch crag as it relates to commercial use, including an overview of land management and permitting systems, and criteria for selecting the best climbing area and routes for specifically-skilled clients.

Site Organization and Group Management

  • A detailed look at group management considerations and the organization of a single pitch climbing site.

Base Managed Sites

  • A detailed look at base managed sites and the reasons for choosing one versus a top managed site.

Assistance Skills - Base Managed Sites

  • A detailed look at, and practice of, weighted and un-weighted belay take-overs, climber pick-offs, and counter balance assists.

Programming and Risk Management

  • An in depth look at client orientations, comfort and security, instructor responsibilities, legal considerations, and liability insurance.

Instructor Demo - Lead Climbing

  • SPI Course Instructor will demonstrate a lead climb that focuses on considerations when having students belaying a leading instructor.

Top Managed Sites

  • A detailed look at working at the top of a cliff in a single pitch setting and the reasons for doing so.


  • An in depth look at lowering methods, considerations, back-ups, and reasons for lowering clients.

Assistance Skills - Top Managed Sites

  • A detailed look and raising and assistance techniques from the top of the crag.


  • A detailed look at rappelling methods, considerations, back-ups, and when it is appropriate to let clients rappel.

Climbing Movement

  • An in depth look at teaching climbing movement skills on single pitch crags and facilitating safe, effective bouldering sessions for novice climbers.

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