American Mountain Guides Association

Single Pitch Instructor Assessment

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 is a selection of 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 and assistance skills to general climbing competence. On day two, we will arrange for volunteer novice clients (non-paying) in order for the candidates to be able to instruct in a group setting. This 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 examiner’s job is to bring out the best in the candidate, and to 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. The candidates are evaluated in nine different categories as defined by the AMGA marking system.

Price Includes

  • AMGA Certified Rock Guide and SPI Program Provider as your lead examiner

Price Does Not Include

  • Travel to the course/ exam site form your location
  • 5% federal land use surcharge
  • Items of personal nature
  • Individual travel costs, delays, etc.
  • Excess baggage fees
  • Personal clothing or gear
  • Alcoholic drinks and personal snacks
  • Hotels before and after trip
  • Recommended Travel/trip cancelation insurance
  • Guide/ Staff gratuity


  • UIAA/Ce approved climbing helmet
  • UIAA/CE approved climbing harness with belay loop
  • Climbing shoes or approach should that you can climb up to 5.7 in
  • Standard “lead climbing rack” such as stoppers/nuts, SLCD’s, tri-cams, etc
  • Assorted 24″ and 48″ runners. (must have at least one 48″)
  • 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 ATC Guide, Reverso, B52
  • Releasable locking belay device such as the Petzl GriGri or Trango Cinch belay
  • devices
  • 2 prussic loops (1m of 5 mm nylon accessory cord)
  • 2 cordelettes (5 m of 7 mm nylon accessory cord
  • One 50-60m “single” rope. (9.5-10.5mm) suitable for lead climbing and top roping
  • One static or “semi static (gym line) rope 10-11 mm, 30m+ for setting up anchors and fixed lines.


  • You have a current AMGA membership
  • You have successfully completed an AMGA  Single Pitch Instructor Course or AMGA Top Ripe 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 comfortable climbing 5.8 while on a top rope.

Maintaining Certification:

  • Certification last for three years from date of exam. There are two options for renewal
  • SPI Certification is only valid with current AMGA Membership and valid current First Aid Certification. If you let your either of these lapse your SPI Certification is invalid until you rectify this by updating your AMGA Membership or First Aid Certification. It is your professional responsibility to ensure you have current AMGA Membership and First Aid Certification.
  • To keep SPI Certification current SPI’s should seek out recertification before the expiration date of their certification. Candidates that let their certification lapse can take part in the SPI Assessment but they will not hold any certification between their SPI expiration date and successfully passing an SPI Assessment. From a professional standpoint this is not advisable.


  • Certification last for three years from date of exam. There are two options for renewal.
  • Certified Single Pitch Instructors can take the two day SPI Assessment to renew their certification.
  • Certified Single Pitch Instructors who successfully complete any higher level AMGA course is granted SPI certification for three years from the course end date. After completing a course please contact the AMGA so they can update your records.


  • Day 1: 
    • SPI Assessment orientation and overview:  To introduce everyone and get an idea of how much personal and professional experience candidates have had since the SPI Course. At this time, examiners can review candidates’ updated resumes.
    • Lead climbing and top rope sessions: Two-four hours of relaxed climbing time where candidates will be asked to top rope various single-pitch climbs up to a 5.8 grade and trad lead to a 5.6 grade.
    • Technical Components:
      • Base-managed Site:
        • Rappelling over an edge to the base of the crag
        • Weighted and un-weighted take-over of belays
        • Counter-ascend to a stuck climber
        • Counter-balanced lower with a climber
      • Top-Managed Site:
        • 3:1 Raise using Assisted Braking Device
        • 3:1 Assisted raise using Assisted Braking Device
        • Releasable rappel set-up, fixing problems on rappel such as stuck rappel device
        • Lowering clients
  • Day 2:
    • Group management: Candidates must display the proficient instructional and organizational techniques for running a group single pitch climbing session.
      • Morning client orientations, briefings
      • Paperwork, waivers
      • Equipment selection, fitting, explanations
      • Client safety, comfort and communication
      • Group management
      • Overseeing multiple climbers in a base-managed site
      • Running a rappel site
    • Teaching Techniques: Candidates should display proficient teaching ability of various climbing related topics.
      • Interpreting guide books, topos and climbing grades
      • Belaying
      • Equipment types, care and storage
      • Helmets and harness: types, selection and fitting
      • Rope dynamics and care
      • Knots and friction hitches
      • Rappelling
      • Climbing movement
      • Leave No trace
      • Bouldering
      • Communication in climbing

Registration and cancelation:

  • To reserve your spot on an AMGA SPI course or exam please fill out our SPI program application and return it to us along with a 50% deposit if applying more than 60 days out. If your trip/ course starts in less than 60 days please submit full payment
  • Program registrations are non-transferable.
  • If notice of cancellation is given in writing at least 60 days prior to the trip start date, you will be refunded your full deposit except for a $50 processing fee.
  • If notice of cancellation is given in writing within 59 – 30 days prior to the trip start date, a cancellation fee equal to the deposit amount will be charged.
  • If notice of cancellation is given in writing less than 30 days prior to the trip start date, a cancellation fee equal to 100% of the program fee will be charged.

All AMGA SPI programs will be run on a private and custom basis.  Please inquire for details.

2 days

Durango, CO

KMG Assessments: $350

Student to Instructor Ratio
Up to 6:1 students to instructor ratio


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