This past weekend First Ascent Mountain School hosted an American Mountain Guides Association Single Pitch Instructor Exam. For those who are unfamiliar with the AMGA, they are the only internationally recognized organization in the U.S. who provide training and certification to rock, alpine, and ski guides. We brought in AMGA SPI provider Josh Kling, owner of Kling Mountain Guides, to administer the exam. This was the second time we had worked with Josh, the first being for an SPI Course earlier in the year, and it was a pleasure as always to have him back at First Ascent.
The Single Pitch Instructor program consists of a 3-day course and a 2-day exam. Candidates are required to complete the course and fulfill a series of prerequisites before being eligible for the exam. For this exam we had 6 students, including myself, and 2 examiners. Candidates were tested and evaluated in 9 categories including Risk Management, Client Care, Technical Systems, Application, Terrain Assessment, Mountain Sense, Movement Skills, Professionalism, and Instructional Techniques.
Day 1 of the exam took place at Castlewood Canyon just south of Denver, Colorado where candidates were tested on their technical skills and traditional leading abilities.
SPI candidates Sam and Jamie take a minute to enjoy the view on a beautiful October weekend.
SPI candidate Shane is demonstrating his rescue skills while performing a counter balance ascension to a stuck climber.
Candidates Ben and Chris construct anchors while co-examiner Ryan looks on.
SPI candidate Sam performing a 3-1 assisted raise.
Day 2 took place at Garden of the Gods as SPI candidates were tested on their group management skills and were required to guide a group of volunteer clients for the day.
Here Chris is teaching a lesson on knots to the days group.
Shane looks on as his volunteer clients, Krista and Tiffany, perform a textbook belay. (Check out the superman socks)
SPI Candidate Ben performs a counter-balance lower with his client as Shane ascends the rope to assist another "stuck" client.
Ben belaying Tiffany from the top of the climb as she learns to rappel.
As a candidate for the exam, having two examiners look over your shoulder all weekend definitely took some getting used but eventually you do stop noticing them. When the exam was over, Josh and Ryan were able to give myself the other candidates some great feedback from the weekend. They also gave me some good tips for moving forward to my Rock Instructor Course. All in all, I could not have asked for a better weekend.
I want to extend a huge thank you to all of our volunteer clients who came out for the exam, without our awesome volunteers it would not have been the same! I also would like to thank our examiners Josh Kling and Ryan Hammes for being true professionals and putting on a great exam. I am already looking forward to hosting our next AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course this spring at First Ascent Mountain School.
- John McDonough
Director of First Ascent Mountain School
First Ascent Mountain School Blog