406-920-2808 & 866-535 (OWLS) 6957 The Boars Head Charlottesville, Virginia erik.henyon@owlsinc.com

Open Daily

Year Round


AMGA SPI (Single Pitch Instructor) Course


The program is for current, active rock climbers that have a real desire to teach the rock climbing to novices in a single pitch setting. Candidates should be passionate rock climbers that have their own equipment, regularly climb and have been rock climbing outdoors for at least 12 months. Candidates could be current University Professors that teach climbing, Climbing Instructors, Scout Leaders, Summer Camp Professionals or climbers that wish to achieve additional training, experience and certification to gain employment as a Climbing Instructor in the Outdoor Industry.


The SPI will be able to proficiently facilitate and instruct the sport of rock climbing in a single pitch setting. For the purpose of the SPI Program a single pitch climb is one which:


Is climbed without intermediate belays presents no difficulties on approach or retreat, such as route finding, scrambling or navigating


AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course


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. After three years current SPI’s can re-take the SPI Assessment to re-gain the SPI certification. Taking any higher level AMGA Course also re-certifies the SPI certification for another three years.

Single Pitch Instructor (SPI) Course Description


In 1998 the AMGA created the Top Rope Site Manager Program specifically to address the needs of professionals that teach climbing in the single pitch environment. After three years of curriculum development and input from climbing instructors across the country and from Climbing Instructor Associations overseas we have upgraded the program to become the AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Program in 2008. The Single Pitch Instructor Program better suites the needs of today’s climbing instructors and is designed to enable instructors to ‘proficiently facilitate and instruct the sport of rock climbing in a single pitch setting’. The three day SPI course module covers all the required skills sets for managing a single pitch site from the base or top of the cliff where candidates can either access the top by non technical terrain or by leading.


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 Course revisits and improves existing personal recreational climbing skills and introduce guide specific skills. Topics include expanding your repertoire of belay systems, knots, harness choices, and rappelling methods; exploring and practicing methods of teaching and modeling these skills; coaching participants effectively, noting external and internal hazards; and sorting through the equipment, administrative, legal and ethical expectations and responsibilities associated with being a climbing instructor; developing quick and effective anchoring techniques using natural, artificial and bolt anchors; practicing a variety of anchor configurations and learning many subtleties about anchoring; establishing and managing re-directed and traditional top rope climbing sites including various belays and backup methods, extending anchors, negotiating the edge when rappelling, general site management, environmental concerns, coaching, belay transfers; assisting and rescuing climbers; promoting Leave No Trace, and understanding the experiential education model along with briefing and debriefing processes and learning and teaching styles.

Target Audience


Outward Bound and NOLS staff, outdoor instructors, aspiring guides, climbers who facilitate top rope climbing programs, summer camp climbing staff, the military, Outdoor Education Majors from colleges and Universities, and recreational climbers wanting to get to the next level of skills.


Course Dates Appalachian 2011:


Mar 25-27  KY Red River Gorge
Apr 15-17  WV New River Gorge
May 20-22 KY Red River Gorge
Sept 02-04 New River Gorge
Sept 30-02 KY Red River Gorge


Tuition: $475.00 Course Only

Exam Dates Appalachian 2011:


Mar 5-6 KY Red River Gorge
Mar 19-20 WV New River Gorge
Apr 9-10 KY Red River Gorge
May 7-8 WV New River Gorge
Oct 9-10 WV New River Gorge
Oct 15-16 KY Red River Gorge


Tuition: $300.00 Exam Only

Deadline for Registration for West Virginia/Kentucky Courses First Come First Serve. Course Fills at 6 Participants.


Course start/end:
Fayetteville, West Virginia

Age: 18 and over

Required Equipment List:
UIAA/CE approved Climbing Helmet
UIAA/CE approved Climbing Harness with belay loop
Climbing shoes or approach shoes you can climb in to 5.8
Standard climbing rack to include:
Stoppers, SLCD’s, Tri-cams, etc.
Assorted 24″ and 48″ runners (must have one 48″ runner)
10 or more non-locking carabineers
3 or more HMS/Pearbiners
6 or more locking carabineers
Belay/rappel device, such as the “Reverso,” “ATC,” etc.
Petzel GriGri belay device
2 Prussic loops (4 ft of 5mm nylon accessory cord)
2 Cordolettes (21 ft. of 7mm nylon accessory cord)
One 165-200 ft “single” rope (9.5-11mm) suitable for top roping
One static or “semi static” (gym line) rope 10-11mm, 80-100ft, for setting up anchors and fixed lines. All gear will be inspected on the first morning of the course and is expected to be in good condition. Mark all your gear.