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AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Exam

  • Price: $539.00
  • Duration: 2 Days
(2 customer reviews)

Gaining certification through an AMGA SPI Exam is a great first step to becoming a climbing guide or instructor.

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Don’t see a date and location that works for you? We offer custom guiding 365 days a year. 


The AMGA Single Pitch Instructor (SPI) Exam and certification is the quintessential training course for aspiring rock climbing guides. AMGA SPI certification is recognized internationally as the gold standard for single pitch climbing instructors.

Colorado Mountain School is a leader in guide training and certification, with a large portion of our guides instructing for the AMGA.  Our AMGA SPI Exams bring out the best in each candidate – providing aspiring climbing instructors with a comfortable and stress-free assessment is our objective. AMGA SPI Exams are based in sunny Boulder and Denver, Colorado.  As a result, Colorado Mountain School offers AMGA SPI Exams nearly year-round.

The Single Pitch Instructor Program teaches climbing instructors to proficiently facilitate and instruct the sport of rock climbing in a single pitch setting. The SPI is the only internationally recognized single pitch climbing instructor certification program in the United States. It was developed to fit in the AMGA Rock program.  More companies, institutions, and agencies are requiring that their instructors have some American Mountain Guide Association training and certification.


  • It significantly improves the instructor’s skill sets and integrates into the next level of training, the AMGA Rock Instructor Course.
  • The program is for current, active rock climbers who have a real desire to teach rock climbing to novices in a single pitch setting.
  • The SPI Course is a 27-hour training course that normally runs as three consecutive nine-hour days or day classes with evening sessions.
  • The SPI Assessment is a minimum of 16 hours run over a two-day period.
  • 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 regain the SPI certification.
  • Taking any higher level AMGA Course also recertifies the SPI certification for another three years.



During the exam, the candidate must show the examiner they have the technical and instructional skills to pass the AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Exam.  The SPI Exam is broken down into four distinct evaluation sessions; climbing movement, technical skills, teaching ability and group management skills. Candidates are evaluated by the AMGA marking system categories as explained below.

Exam Categories:

  1. Risk Management
  2. Client Care
  3. Technical Systems
  4. Application
  5. Terrain Assessment
  6. Movement Skills
  7. Mountain Sense
  8. Professionalism
  9. Instructional Technique

To gain SPI Certification candidates must:

  1. Successfully pass the SPI Exam
  2. Hold current AMGA Membership at Associate level or higher
  3. You do not need First Aid training to take the assessment. However, it is your responsibility to hold appropriate medical certification for the location that you are working in.

For more information about the AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Program, click here.

There is a minimum of 2 participants required per exam date. Please contact our office to confirm enrollment prior to making travel arrangements.

All of our courses can be run as custom outings.  If you’re interested in a course, but it doesn’t fit into your schedule, please check out our custom guiding options.

Sample Itinerary:

Day 1:

  • SPI Assessment Orientation
    • Introduction of candidates and examiners, detailing candidates’ climbing and instructing
      experience since completion of an SPI Course, expectations and the assessment process.
  • Lead Climbing and Top Rope Session
    • Candidates will demonstrate their climbing movement skills by comfortably top roping 5.8 and leading 5.6 traditional climbs.
  • Technical Components
    • Candidates will demonstrate proficiency in executing technical systems used in single pitch climbing.
  • End-of-Day Debriefs

Day 2:

  • Group Management
    • Candidates will demonstrate their group management skills.
  • Teaching Components
    • Candidates will demonstrate their instructional and coaching skills.
  • End-of-Assessment Group and Individual Debriefs

Meeting location:

Colorado Mountain School
633 S Broadway St.
Boulder, CO 80305


COVID-19 Contingency:
We believe that your training is best taught by combining theoretical concepts and experiential learning. Some topics are best learned in a comfortable classroom setting and others in the mountains, moving through terrain. You’ll have both.

The first portion of your course will be conducted in a classroom setting. In the interest of health and safety for our students and instructors, classroom format for the 2020/21 season may include e-learning and/or group video discussions in an effort to limit close contact in closed spaces.

The majority of your course will take place in the mountains where we will learn in an open-air environment. You should be prepared, mentally and physically, to stay immersed in the backcountry for up to eight hours. You will be assigned to a small pod consisting of one Instructor and a maximum of six students to allow intimate instruction and physical distancing.The nature of this pandemic requires us to be flexible and adaptable in how we deliver a quality training experience. Rest assured, from the moment you enroll all the way up to your course field day(s) and beyond, our instructors will be a part of your learning progression and will provide you with the tools and resources you need to best prepare for your training. If you’d like to learn more about what we are doing to manage COVID-19 risk for our students and guides, please view our FAQ page.


All Upcoming Dates and Locations:

  • July 27, 2024 - July 28, 2024 - AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Exam - Boulder, Colorado
  • August 31, 2024 - September 1, 2024 - AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Exam - Boulder, Colorado
  • October 19, 2024 - October 20, 2024 - AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Exam - Boulder, Colorado

SPI candidates must demonstrate that their technical and instructional skills meet the standards of AMGA Single Pitch Instructor certification. The AMGA SPI Exam is organized into four distinct evaluation sessions: climbing movement, technical skills, teaching ability and group management skills. Candidates are evaluated by the following AMGA SPI marking system categories:

  • Risk Management
  • Client Care
  • Technical Systems
  • Application
  • Terrain Assessment
  • Movement Skills
  • Mountain Sense
  • Professionalism
  • Instructional Technique


1) You have successfully completed an AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course or AMGA Top Rope Site Manager Course.
2) 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.
3) 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.
4) You are capable of comfortably climbing 5.8 while on a top rope.

2022 Climbing Instructor Program Policy Updates

12 month SPI and CWI Certification re-entry period:

SPI’s and CWI’s will have 12 months from the date of certification expiration to pursue an exam for recertification. If they do not pass an exam for recertification within the 12 month re-entry period, they will be required to retake the entire SPI Course or CWI Program.

2 Year SPI Course sunset time:

Starting January 1, 2022 the SPI Course will have a two year sunset time. After two years, if the SPI Course graduate has not passed an SPI Exam, they will need to retake the SPI Course prior to pursuing the SPI Exam.

SPI Program make-up guidelines:

Make-up options will be available for students/candidates who receive an “incomplete” final mark on any SPI or CWI Program because of factors limiting attendance including but not limited to weather or an emergency.


8:00am - 5:00pm


2 Days

Maximum Ratio:


Minimum Age:

Experience Level


Activity Level



Rock Climbing



Price Includes:

  • AMGA Certified Guide and Program Provider
  • Digital AMGA SPI Course Manual

Price Excludes:

  • Climbing Equipment
  • Park Entrance Fees (where applicable)
  • Food
  • Lodging
  • Transportation
  • Gratuity
  • Misc. Charges
    • Rescue Fees
    • Helicopter Rides
    • Trip Insurance
  • Expenses due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of Colorado Mountain School

Item Description Quantity Example Purchase At Rent At Equipment Type
60m Dynamic Rope

9.5-10.5mm; suitable for leading and top roping


Sterling Evolution

Neptune Mountaineering

Alpine Quickdraws

24” (shoulder-length) runners with 2 non-locking carabiners per runner (Alpine Draws).


CAMP 11mm Express Dyneema

Neptune Mountaineering

Approach Shoes

These are “hiking” shoes specifically made for approaching and descending from a climbing venue where scrambling is necessary, or even for climbing an entire route. They have sticky climbing rubber on the bottom and a formed fit to influence better climbing abilities while scrambling. Consider high-tops for additional ankles support if needed. Regular hiking boots or athletic shoes may be acceptable for many climbs.


Men: La Sportiva TX3 Men
Women: La Sportiva TX3 Wmn

Neptune Mountaineering

Auto Block

This is a small sewn loop to assist in rappelling. The #1 choice on the market is the Sterling Hollowblock, or the Sterling Autoblock.


Sterling Auto Block

Neptune Mountaineering

Belay and Rappel Device

Plaquette style devices with auto-block mode are ideal.


CAMP Piu 2

Neptune Mountaineering

Belay Gloves

Leather gloves, either full fingered or fingerless. These protect your hands from rope wear when belaying or rappelling and keep your hands warm at belays.


CAMP Axion

Neptune Mountaineering

Chalk Bag

Holds climbing chalk, which is usually made from Magnesium Carbonate. This is the same compound that gymnasts, weightlifters, and other athletes will put on their hands in order to improve friction and grip.


CAMP Patabang

Neptune Mountaineering

Climbing Harness

UIAA or CE approved; With belay loop and gear loops. The waist belt should fit over multiple layers of clothing.



Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School

Climbing Pants, Shorts or Capris

For all seasons, cotton, loose-fitting (or tight, stretchy) pants are usually acceptable for rock climbing. Shorts are acceptable during the summer – though shorts expose the knees and shins to abrasions. New climbers are encouraged to wear pants or capris. A synthetic material (like in softshell pants) may be required by your guide due to potential rain storms.


Men: Rab Sawtooth
Women: Rab Womens Sawtooth

Rab Stores

Climbing Rack

1-2 sets of cams, 1 set stoppers.


Black Diamond Camalot, CAMP Pro Nuts

Neptune Mountaineering


5m section of 7mm diameter nylon cord. 7mm nylon is the standard for rock climbing, while 6mm cord is acceptable for certain applications in alpine climbing and ski mountaineering due to the lower forces involved.


Sterling Cordelette

Neptune Mountaineering

Double-length Sewn Runner

48″ or 120cm. Used for rappelling, making leashes, and improvised rescue.


CAMP 11mm Express Dyneema

Neptune Mountaineering

Face Mask – PPE

Optional; Look for a mask with a bendable border at the top so you can mold the mask to fit the bridge of your nose and prevent your glasses from fogging.

1 Clothing
First Aid Kit

Your guide will have an emergency First Aid Kit. You should bring a small kit including blister prevention and care products such as a role of athletic tape and Moleskin. Your kit should also contain a few Band-aids, some Tylenol and Ibuprofen.


Neptune Mountaineering


Proper lunches that are prepared ahead of time are recommended (sandwich, burrito, leftover pizza, etc), along with an assortment of snack bars, gels, or trail mixes. Feeze-dried meals are acceptable on overnight trips, but not day trips.


Made in Nature, Thrive Tribe

Neptune Mountaineering


Load with fresh batteries. Critical for hiking before sunrise and great to have in the pack in case you are caught out after dark.


Neptune Mountaineering

Lightweight Baselayer Top

Synthetic or Merino Wool; Worn against the skin and is considered a “wicking” layer that facilitates the movement of moisture away from the skin and through the layers. Hooded base layers add extra versatility.


Men: Rab Syncrino Base LS Tee
Women: Rab Syncrino Base LS Tee


Lip ScreenSPF 15 or higher.

Non-SPF rated lip balms can actually increase your chances of getting burned.


Rocky Mountain Sunscreen Lip Balm

Neptune Mountaineering

Locking Carabiners

Pear shaped carabiners are most versatile – screwgates or twist locks are acceptable.


CAMP Guide Lock

Neptune Mountaineering

Long and Short Sleeve T-shirt

Cotton or Synthetic and Merino Wool; Bring a variety of short-sleeve or tank tops, and a few long-sleeve. Synthetic shirts are not required, but many prefer the feel and quick-dry performance. If your program includes crack climbing, a long sleeve cotton shirt adds a layer of comfort.


Rab Mantle Tee

Rab Store

Mechanical Pencil

Great for taking notes in the field.

1 Optional
Midweight Baselayer Top

Synthetic or Merino Wool; Adds extra warmth and protection from the cold and wind without creating a moisture barrier as a jacket would. Having at least one base layer that is hooded adds versatility, protecting the neck and ears from cold winds.


Men: Rab Ascendor Light Hoodie
Women: Rab Ascendor Light Hoodie


Non-locking Carabiners

Most climbers prefer wire-gated carabiners due to their light weight, among other useful characteristics.


CAMP Nano 22

Neptune Mountaineering

Nut Tool

For removing rock protection.


CAMP Nut Tool

Neptune Mountaineering

Prussik Cord

1m of 6mm nylon accessory cord. Tech cord (kevlar, spectra) is not acceptable.


Sterling HollowBlock

Neptune Mountaineering

Releasable Assisted Breaking Device

Belay and rappel device that applies force to the rope to assist with breaking.


Petzl Gri-Gri, Trango Cinch

Neptune Mountaineering

Rock Climbing Helmet

UIAA/CE approved; Should be large enough to fit over a beanie. Plastic helmets are more durable, but heavier. Foam helmets are lighter, but more easily damaged when carried in a pack.


CAMP Titan

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School

Rock Climbing Shoes

Technical rock shoes are required. For beginning climbers, having a looser fit is advisable. In this case, loose means that toes are touching the front of the shoes when standing, but are not forced against the front of the shoe. In colder weather, thin socks inside climbing shoes are a great option. On long routes, rock shoes should be comfortable enough to wear for day.


La Sportiva TC Pro

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering


Great for taking photos and videos. Smartphone batteries tend to shut down in freezing temps – keep your phone in a warm inner layer. A tether is ideal in the mountains to protet against dropping your phone.

1 Optional
Softshell and Fleece Jacket

Water-resistant, windproof, yet it “breaths,” which means it allows moisture to move through. Hoods are ideal. There are multiple thicknesses of Softshell jackets. A lightweight or medium-weight jacket is preferred. Fleece jackets are acceptable.


Men: Rab VR Summit Jacket
Women: Rab VR Summit Jacket


Sports Bra

Provides support and allows for full range of motion


North Face Beyond the Wall

Neptune Mountaineering

Static or Semi Static Rope

9-11mm, 30m+, for setting up anchors and fixed lines


Sterling HTP

Neptune Mountaineering

Sun Hat

A billed hat to keep the bright mountain sun at bay.


Rab Trucker Logo Cap



“Wrap-Around” style sunglasses with 100% UV Protection.



Zeal Optics 

Neptune Mountaineering

SunscreenSPF 30 or higher.

Travel size.


Rocky Mountain Sunscreen SPF 50

Neptune Mountaineering

Water Bottles

1 liter bottles are the standard. Bladders such as Camelbacks and Platypus are acceptable for above freezing temps, but only in conjunction with another bottle. Bladders are not acceptable during sub freezing temps. Sports drinks are also acceptable.


Nalgene, Hydro Flask

Neptune Mountaineering

Waterproof Shell Jacket

Non-insulated, Gore-Tex, Dermizax, Event, or other waterproofing system is required. Mostly, this jacket sits in the bottom of your pack and comes out when the weather gets nasty with precipitation. This jacket should fit over all other layers.


Men: Rab Khroma Cirque GORE-TEX Jacket
Women: Rab Women’s Khroma Cirque GORE-TEX Jacket




Q: Will COVID-19 impact my course?

A: 2020 made it clear that running programs while managing the risk of COVID-19 transmission is a challenge. It is a challenge that the Colorado Mountain School team tackled creatively and courageously. We may need to shift our classrooms to virtual settings at a moment’s notice. We may need to put on masks unexpectedly. We may need to go outside and distance ourselves. No matter what though, we are committed to running programs, providing education, and serving our mission, while also maintaining the highest standards of risk management. Please visit our FAQ page or contact us for more information.

2 reviews for AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Exam

  1. 2018 Participant

    I took my exam with CMS because the dates worked the best for me, but I am really glad that I did because I felt there was a greater degree of professionalism and consistency than if I had gone to another SPI provider.

  2. joshuajameslarkin (verified owner)

    I took my exam with Wes Caulkins and I was really glad I did. His professionalism and passion for providing a good example of what a single pitch instructor could and should be was awesome. It’s clear that he really cares about his work and how well he teaches. I received super helpful feedback and great ways to synthesize systems to provide smooth days for yourself and clients. Wes really is a master of his craft and loves to teach this stuff. When the time comes, I will be recerting with CMS.

Only logged in customers who have purchased this product may leave a review.

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