CRUSH The AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Exam

Thinking about taking the Single Pitch Instructor course? Have you taken the course but are putting off the exam? I have taken and passed the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Single Pitch Instructor (SPI) exam on three different occasions. The exam I have outlined below was administered by Ragged Mountain Guides and our examiners were Matt Shove (owner of RMG) and Chuck Boyd of Vertical Realms. Of my three times taking this exam this was by far and away the most organized, professional and complete examination that I have ever been part of. I was truly impressed with Matt and Chuck’s level of professionalism and planning to make this exam of the highest quality for the SPI candidates and guests. Matt had taken us to three different cliffs over two days, each with their own set of challenges.

Below I have outlined how each day went and I also provide my three tips for those who who wish to take the American Mountain Guides Association Single Pitch Instructor Exam.

DAY 1: Single Pitch Instructor Exam

(Top Managed)
• Build an anchor and lower a candidate, put them on belay and have them climb back up.
• Build an anchor and do a belayed rappel, have candidate climb back up.
• Build an anchor and do a belayed rappel – Knot placed 1/2 way down the rappel rope. Do a load transfer, continue belayed rappel. Have climber climb back up and perform a vector pull, 2:1 and 3:1 haul.

(Bottom Managed)
• Perform a unweighted and weighted (including weight transfer) belay take over.
• Perform a pick off.
• Climb 5.8 on top rope; lead a 5.6 on gear.

Day 2: Single Pitch Instructor Exam

• Day two included seven real clients with various climbing experience, most had little to no climbing experience)
• Introductions and gear fitting, lead clients to the crag. Lessons on: Leave No Trace (LNT), Site Safety Briefing, Harness & Helmet Fitting, Belaying with an ATC.
• SPI candidates then set up six different top ropes on climbs ranging from 5.3-5.9 Candidates lowered off instructor tether and transitioned to pre-rigged rappel. Rappel to base of cliff.
• Guests climbed and SPI candidates instructed and supervised
• SPI candidate lesson on: Gear Removal and Climbing Movement
• SPI candidates given one guest each and had to lead a route, bring the client up
• Guests given a lesson on rappelling
• SPI candidates built a new anchor and set up a belayed rappel. SPI candidates performed a belayed rappel with clients.

How To Pass The AMGA SPI exam.

This was my third time re-certifying and I feel like each time I take away something new. Some advice for those looking to take the SPI Exam:

  1. Know Your Knots and Systems Get a Mentor, Hire The Examiner or An Examiner
    Being dialed in on your knots and rope systems is the best way to eliminate stress when an examiner is standing over you taking notes. When I first took my first SPI exam I hired the examiner the week prior for a day to review all the technical systems. This helped build my confidence for the exam he was able to assist me in simplifying my set up. I cannot tell you how big of a difference this made for me. If I can give one piece of advice, this is it!
  2. Be Professional At All Times
    Remember that you are ALWAYS being evaluated. From what you wear to what you say to how you act. Everything is being evaluated. Stay positive, don’t let stuff stress you out, keep smiling and love what your doing! When in doubt, start over and correct your error’s before they compound.
  3. Be Familiar In Various Types of Terrain
    Having the majority of my climbing experience in New Hampshire and New York, I was unfamiliar with much of terrain that CT had to offer. In fact, I had never really worked in an area that possessed such challenges in building top rope anchors. Connecticut has some amazing single pitch terrain, but with that being said, sometimes it can be very difficult to find cracks or trees for building anchors. It isn’t uncommon to use a 200m static line to build one top rope anchor. Learn to be efficient with the static!
Coby Jacobus
Coby Jacobus

Coby Jacobus was diagnosed with IGA Nephropathy in 2007 and received a kidney transplant in 2008, which was donated by his father. In 2010, he participated in the Houston Marathon and completed it in an impressive time of 2 hours, 41 minutes, and 19 seconds. Now, Coby inspires and motivates others who are also suffering from IGA Nephropathy.

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