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Single Pitch Instructor Course

The single pitch instructor course is the first step to become a rock guide


Single Pitch instructor (spi) Course Overview

The SPI program is a three day (27 hour) training course and separate two day (16 hour) SPI assessment. Certification lasts for three years as long as the candidate keeps current AMGA membership and first aid certification. After three years, current SPIs can re-take the SPI assessment or take any higher level AMGA Program to re-gain the SPI certification.

* San Juan Expeditions offers American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) training and certification programs. The AMGA provides training and the only nationally and internationally recognized certifications in the United States for Climbing Instructors and Rock, Alpine and Ski Mountaineering Guides. The AMGA is the sole representative in the US for the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA) and Climbing Instructor Certifications (endorsed by the UIAA). The AMGA is recognized worldwide as the highest American standard of training and certification for instructors and guides. AMGA certification is the standard in the United States. 

SPI course


spi course beginner difficulty


Duration Scale 3 days v2


spi course location durango,co


550 1

What to expect

The AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Program is designed to enable climbing instructors to “proficiently facilitate and instruct the sport of rock climbing in a single pitch setting.” The SPI Course is not a ‘climbing’ course; it is an instructor training course for current, proficient, and active rock climbers and for climbing instructors who currently teach rock climbing who wish to gain the SPI Certification.

SPI Course Prerequisites

— You must be a Professional Member of the AMGA

— You have a genuine interest in rock climbing and instructing novices on single-pitch crags

— You are at least 18 years old at the time of the course

— You have at least 12 months prior climbing experience

— You are an active climber with traditional lead climbing experience (leader placing pro)

— You have led a minimum of 15 traditional rock climbing routes (any grade).

— You are capable of comfortably climbing 5.8 while on a top rope.


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

spi course schedule

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

Register for SPI course

SPI Exam


spi course beginner difficulty


sspi exam duration 2 days


spi course location durango,co



What to expect

The SPI Exam is a two day (16 hour) assessment. Upon successful completion, the certification lasts for three years as long as the candidate keeps current AMGA membership and First Aid Certification. After three years current SPIs can re-take the SPI assessment or take any higher level AMGA program to re-gain the SPI certification.

SPI Exam Prerequisites

— You are a current member of the AMGA

— You have successfully completed an AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course

— You have led a minimum of 40 traditional routes, most of which should be 5.6 and on a variety of rock types

— You are able to comfortably lead 5.6 traditional routes, which means you place protection

— You are able to comfortably climb 5.8 on top rope.

* The SPI Assessment can be taken directly following the SPI Course if the candidate successfully completed the course and meets the assessment prerequisites. However, it is highly recommended that the SPI Course candidate take time practicing and consolidating the skills learned on the course before assessment (6-12 months).

You do not need First Aid training to take the course or assessment. However, it is your responsibility to hold an appropriate medical certification for the location that you are working in.

Register for SPI exam

What is Included in the cost?

included in trip cost icon

— AMGA SPI Manual

— Training from top-level AMGA Certified Guides

— 27 hours of training

— 16 Hours of assessment (Exam only)

Not Included Icon

— Guide gratuity

— Food/snacks for the day

— Personal clothing/equipment

* If you need to rent or purchase equipment locally visit our friends at Backcountry Experience.

Course Gallery

(Click for full size image)


Anyone participating in our programs must fill out a waiver beforehand. If you are under 18, please have your parent/guardian complete.


Please familiarize yourself with our Booking & Cancellation Policies.


Skiers/riders should be in good physical condition, and confident/comfortable on their method of snow travel (backcountry touring skis or splitboard).