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ACJ


Oct 24, 2011, 5:30 PM
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AMGA Rock Instructor Course
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Anyone out there completed the AMGA Rock Instructor Course? My SPI is up for recertification and it just makes more sense to take the next course instead.

I'm trying to decide on a location and looking for feedback from previous students who can say the pros and cons that they experienced in their courses.

No matter where you took your course, the info would be great. Specifically I am looking at the upcoming courses in Bend and Boulder. If anyone has taken the course at those locations your thoughts would definitely be helpful.

Personally I'm more stoked about Bend. However, I assume Boulder might be a better course location? Never been to either city/climbing area.

Thanks!


guangzhou


Oct 24, 2011, 6:05 PM
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Based on my experience, either location would be fine.

Cheers

Edited to add: mine was in JT


(This post was edited by guangzhou on Oct 24, 2011, 7:14 PM)


habitat


Oct 24, 2011, 6:48 PM
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I'd say Do it. I found the RIC to be really quite informative; and valuable... of course it delves into more multipitch and you are often working with 2:1 client ratio.

As the grigri is the standard in SPI (I am SPI certified) the plaquette is the standard in RIC. You will definitely want to be able to do all the prereqs they lay out in the manual, but they will clarify some of teh rescue stuff.

It's a 10 day course so its a lot to absorb. I would personally do it in Boulder, I think they use Eldorado Canyon as the site and that would be awesome for you in terms of history and if you've never been there. Plus it's a trad mecca of sorts compared to smith. Eli Helmuth might be one of the guides and he's a superb instructor, JMO.

There's also a ton of different rock around boulder whereas near bend you will be climbing on just tuff or maybe basalt at the crooked river (?) something to think about if you can extend your trip a little.

Although I guide single pitch stuff here, I still found the course to be super valuable in a lot of respects, the short roping was pretty awesome and something that we don't do much of. I took mine in J Tree which is like a short roping mecca.

Where are you coming from? Feel free to PM me for other betas about the course or both places, I've climbed a fair amount at Smith and near BoCo.


colatownkid


Oct 24, 2011, 7:33 PM
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Re: [ACJ] AMGA Rock Instructor Course [In reply to]
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My personal recommendation is to take the course somewhere that you do not know well as you will be onsighting everything. This will make the course more challenging, but also a better learning experience. For the exam, I would try to take it someplace with which you are familiar as it stands to make it significantly easier. In other words, stack the odds in your favor.

As for Bend vs. Boulder, I would go with Boulder as the terrain can be much more varied, offering more guiding challenges, and therefore a better learning experience. (Essentially, you're really looking at Smith Rocks vs. Eldorado Canyon.)

I think the course is well worth the money. You get instruction from literally world-class guides (many of the instructors are IFMGA) and you have 10 days to practice and refine skills and systems. However, preparation is critical to success. While it is not technically an exam, it is possible to "fail" your RIC, in which case you are not eligible to take the RIE or RGC without retaking the RIC. There are a few things you can do to ready yourself for the course.

-Get super-dialed with using a plaquette (if you are not already). Raising, lowering (unplanned and planned), bringing up 2 seconds simultaneously (and more importantly managing both of their ropes), etc.

-Climb a lot of multipitch with 2 followers. You want to have your rope management pretty well dialed. Life will be much easier this way.

-Practice the 45 minute drill (described in the course manual). Make sure that you know how to tie all the appropriate knots (particularly the munter-mule, but also the prussik, clove hitch, klemheist, etc.). If you don't at least know your knots, you are definitely not going to make a good impression. Learn the basic components (belay escape, hauls, ascending, etc.) and give the whole thing a dry run once or twice beforehand. In essence, teach it to yourself. That way, on the course, you can focus on refining your systems and learning more efficient techniques than learning how to tie a munter-mule, which you should be able to teach yourself anyway.

-Make sure you are onsighting 5.10 gear lines at exam time. The exam happens on 5.9 terrain, some of which may or may not be pretty sandbagged, depending on the course area. Consequently, it's nice to have a couple letter grades of buffer between your onsight limit and your guiding limit. Your movement should be solid and smooth. Showing up unable to fluidly climb the requested routes is also a good way to make a bad impression.

-Get familiar with the course area before the exam. Go a few days early, climb a few classics, figure out where the meeting locations are, practice the 45 minute drill, do a little short-roping, find a campsite, find some wifi, find the grocery store, etc. Having a couple days to do these things ahead of time just makes life less stressful when it's course time.

-Hire a guide in the instructor pool to help evaluate your skills if you are unsure. Your profile says you're in NC, which means that you should have no trouble finding Adam Fox, who instructs/examines both the RIC and the RIE. While I'm sure it would put a dent in the budget, it's worth getting some feedback if you're unsure of your skills.


gunkiemike


Oct 25, 2011, 3:39 PM
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Re: [ACJ] AMGA Rock Instructor Course [In reply to]
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You probably know this, but you can re-cert your SPI by taking just the RI course. No need to take the RI exam. The RIC is more days than the SPI recert exam, however.

If your longer term plan is to get RI certified, you will need the RIC anyway, in that case it's a no brainer. I think you have two years to take the RIE.

Colatown makes a lot of good points. But my RIC didn't hit anything harder than 5.7, and much of it was a lot easier.


ACJ


Oct 25, 2011, 6:39 PM
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Re: [colatownkid] AMGA Rock Instructor Course [In reply to]
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Sounds like Boulder is the recommended spot for sure. It also seems to be better timing in relation to my current job, hopefully summer work can be found right after the course...

I assume you get the course manual once you sign up? Knowing what all the drills and info is before the course would be amazing! I use the plaquette a lot when climbing and will get up to speed on transitioning to lowering with it. Any good resources to check out about rope management when bringing 2 up? I've got my own system now, but would like to see if others do it better.

Thanks for all the info, super thorough answer!


ACJ


Oct 25, 2011, 6:47 PM
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Re: [gunkiemike] AMGA Rock Instructor Course [In reply to]
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gunkiemike wrote:
You probably know this, but you can re-cert your SPI by taking just the RI course. No need to take the RI exam. The RIC is more days than the SPI recert exam, however.

If your longer term plan is to get RI certified, you will need the RIC anyway, in that case it's a no brainer. I think you have two years to take the RIE.

Colatown makes a lot of good points. But my RIC didn't hit anything harder than 5.7, and much of it was a lot easier.

Yeah I'm stoked to recert the SPI with this course. Not sure if I will go for the exam or not. It kind of depends on what my work looks like and if I transition away from the outdoor industry. I would definitely prefer to take the exam within a year of the course though, it would be sad to take the course and not study hard enough to earn the certification, especially since it's good for life!

I did read a trip report about a guys exam experience. He mentioned only having to do one 5.9 climb and then everything else was 5.7 and under... He failed the 45 minute drill but was allowed to retake it for $150 instead of failing the whole exam. Sounds like they want to work with you and aren't out to fail you with loads of sandbagged 5.9 routes and super strict rules. 5 of 6 people passed his exam.


colatownkid


Oct 25, 2011, 9:00 PM
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Yes, you get the course manual when you sign up, provided you sign up far enough in advance. It should have the breakdown of the 45 minute drill in there, as well as the various stipulations associated with it.

As far as terrain difficulty goes, a good portion of my course was 5.7 and under, but I did climb 2 .9s and a couple .8s ad well. I also know a couple folks who ha fairly chill courses but significantly more difficult exams. I think it all depends on the instructor/examiner. I don't think any of them are out to hose you, I just wanted to make sure you're prepared.

My management system with two ropes is to basically have everything stacked in order from one side of the belay station to the other. For example, say the next pitch goes to the right. I position myself on the right side of the belay and clove in on rope 1. Rope 1 gets stacked at my feet, rope 2 to its left. I ensure that none of the ropes have passes through the bermuda triangle. Rope 1 goes into the plaquette in the right slot, rope 2 in the left. The ropes are stacked separately as the followers climb. Follower 1 arrives. Follower 2 arrives with the gear and clips it to my leash. Both followers get cloves into the anchor immediately behind the plaquette, on the brake side. I pancake flip the ropes and re-rack while follower 1 puts me on belay on rope 1. I remove the clove, clip the anchor, and climb on.

Also useful: the revolving door trick, and transitioning from doubles to caterpillar and/or cowtail and vice versa.


ACJ


Oct 25, 2011, 9:22 PM
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Re: [colatownkid] AMGA Rock Instructor Course [In reply to]
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Oh yeah I definitely hear ya. I don't want to walk onto the course or exam "hoping" I can climb 5.9! Where I live there aren't too many 5.9 routes, kind of a jump from .8 to .10a so I try to onsight 10s on lead, always a toss up right now but I have over 6 months to train. Headed to the Red in 2 weeks to climb sandstone trad, it will be nice to see how that goes.

At a full hanging belay how are you stacking? I typically flake over my rope but occasionally have issues with the rope getting hung up and tangled when I head back out on lead...

Sounds like I have some good stuff to learn. No idea of what the bermuda triangle, revolving door is, or why you would transition to caterpillar... or what a cowtail is!

Thanks again for all the info. I'm turning in all my paperwork this week, hopefully I'll get into the Boulder course no problem, fingers crossed for a scholarship as well.

Another question, if you are guiding with two clients, what diameter rope to you prefer to use? Assuming you are belaying them both up at the same time, do you go as skinny as possible? Concerns about clients handling skinny ropes?


madrasrock


Oct 26, 2011, 1:22 PM
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My friend Travis Weil just finished RIC last month at Smith Rock, here is what we said on his blog

http://travweil.blogspot.com/


colatownkid


Oct 27, 2011, 7:28 AM
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PM sent.


buffalord


Oct 27, 2011, 8:54 AM
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Re: [colatownkid] AMGA Rock Instructor Course [In reply to]
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lots of good info here. Got my RI cert a few years ago when the standard was 5.10a. In my exam I was assigned routes that were 5.10a (2 pitches of 10a and one of 5.8) 5.9+ (one of 5.8, one 9+ and two of 5.7) 5.9 (2 pitches of 9 and two of 8) and then one 4 pitch route of mostly 5.7. My point is be prepared to guide routes at the standard...it probably does depend on the examiners but don't look for a bunch of easy routes on the exam because you might be surprised. The RI course is fantastic...you will love it!


(This post was edited by buffalord on Oct 27, 2011, 8:55 AM)


aprice00


Oct 27, 2011, 1:50 PM
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Re: [ACJ] AMGA Rock Instructor Course [In reply to]
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ACJ wrote:
Oh yeah I definitely hear ya. I don't want to walk onto the course or exam "hoping" I can climb 5.9! Where I live there aren't too many 5.9 routes, kind of a jump from .8 to .10a so I try to onsight 10s on lead, always a toss up right now but I have over 6 months to train. Headed to the Red in 2 weeks to climb sandstone trad, it will be nice to see how that goes.

At a full hanging belay how are you stacking? I typically flake over my rope but occasionally have issues with the rope getting hung up and tangled when I head back out on lead...

Sounds like I have some good stuff to learn. No idea of what the bermuda triangle, revolving door is, or why you would transition to caterpillar... or what a cowtail is!

Thanks again for all the info. I'm turning in all my paperwork this week, hopefully I'll get into the Boulder course no problem, fingers crossed for a scholarship as well.

Another question, if you are guiding with two clients, what diameter rope to you prefer to use? Assuming you are belaying them both up at the same time, do you go as skinny as possible? Concerns about clients handling skinny ropes?

Does anyone have a course manual? Id be interested in reading through one.
Maybe ACJ would be so kind as to scan one to pdf.?


ACJ


Oct 27, 2011, 3:24 PM
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Re: [aprice00] AMGA Rock Instructor Course [In reply to]
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Once I get my materials I'll look into that for sure, no idea how big that will be...


gunkiemike


Oct 27, 2011, 6:46 PM
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aprice00 wrote:
Does anyone have a course manual? Id be interested in reading through one.
Maybe ACJ would be so kind as to scan one to pdf.?

It's 82 pages.


guangzhou


Oct 27, 2011, 8:59 PM
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Re: [gunkiemike] AMGA Rock Instructor Course [In reply to]
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gunkiemike wrote:
aprice00 wrote:
Does anyone have a course manual? Id be interested in reading through one.
Maybe ACJ would be so kind as to scan one to pdf.?

It's 82 pages.

From what I remember, we're not really suppose to share it, it's exclusively for people taking the course. Been over a decade, so I could be wrong.


damienclimber


Oct 28, 2011, 5:23 PM
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Re: [guangzhou] AMGA Rock Instructor Course [In reply to]
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guangzhou wrote:
gunkiemike wrote:
aprice00 wrote:
Does anyone have a course manual? Id be interested in reading through one.
Maybe ACJ would be so kind as to scan one to pdf.?

It's 82 pages.

From what I remember, we're not really suppose to share it, it's exclusively for people taking the course. Been over a decade, so I could be wrong.


SHARE IT ! OR YOU WILL BE SORRY Angelic


aprice00


May 24, 2012, 8:27 AM
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Update?


jp_sucks


May 24, 2012, 1:10 PM
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The AMGA manual was written from the ACMG manual when they AMGA was trying to get their standards up to join the IFMGA. The ACMG manual is definitely available to anyone who wants one, not just those enrolled in a guide exam.

You can order one from here: http://www.acmg.ca/03public/resources/publications.asp


ACJ


May 26, 2012, 7:51 AM
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Working on a "trip report" about the rock instructor course right now. I'll post it up when I am done.


MFC


May 26, 2012, 5:20 PM
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I don't think the referenced ACMG book is the course guide for the AMGA Rock Instructor course.

I have the ACMG Technical Handbook for Professional Mountain Guides. It is very good and runs approx. 300 pages.

Someone earlier said the AMGA manual for the Rock Instructor Course is 82 pages.

The ACMG Handbook covers all aspects of guiding (Alpine, Rock and Ski).

If the AMGA rock instructor manual is available, I would very much be interested in getting a copy.


ACJ


Mar 20, 2013, 2:06 PM
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Why I Will Never Recommend the AMGA Rock Instructor Course [In reply to]
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So this is a long overdue update to this original post.

I took my AMGA Rock Instructor course in Boulder where we climbed in Eldo and Boulder Canyon. I feel strongly that it wasn't worth my time and money and I'll detail why below...

1. Course Content: Nothing magical happens on this course. There aren't any shocking revelations into guiding or speed. I honestly felt like I got 3 days of slow instruction and 5-6 days of climbing in.

2. Professional Development: If you want to work as a guide, the SPI seems to be more than enough for most people. It is possible to work in a multi-pitch setting without the Rock Instructor certification but I only see this as being an important cert if you are fully committed to a long term career of year round guiding.

3. Course Direction: The instructors talked about how the AMGA is going to start advertising this course as being great for recreational climbers as well as guides. This is a huge red flag for me. Again, I feel like the SPI course and a multi-pitch rescue course would be great for the recreational climber who wants formal education. This course however does not provide much beyond that.

4. Instructor Attention: One of my instructors consistently expressed his boredom and could be seen laying his head against the cliff with his eyes closed at a hanging belay. He wasn't teaching, he was just picking up a paycheck. Seeing as how I dropped $2100 on the course I would have to say this is hugely insulting to me.

5. Instructor Skill: I know these people have proven themselves but they should still be expected to keep their skills up. While teaching the 45 minute drill to us an the instructor stood on a ledge which is not the exam setting (you have to do this drill on a vertical face), still made a mistake that would kill the client and auto fail a student, and failed to complete the drill in time.

6. Safety: With close to 700 days on the rock I've never been in a situation where I felt like a specific decision was going to result in my death. Yes I understand risks and that gear and ropes can break but what I am talking about is building bad anchors, messing up rigging, or doing fatal runouts. On this course, if I had listened to the instructor, I believe I would have died. The scenario is written below.

Near Miss: I was acting as a second client and climbing across a traverse and then down into the belay stance on the third pitch of a route in eldorado canyon. The person who was belaying me was a student while an IFMGA guide was supervising. The belay device was reverso 2 set up for auto catch mode and secured to the anchor. By traversing across above and then down to the reverso the device was out of its element. It created a line crossing that prevents the reverso from actually engaging it's auto lock mode and instead allows the rope to run free. I was concerned about the way I was asked to enter that setting and as a result wanted to inspect everything before trusting it. I was not attached to the master point by any form of tether, only by my belay strand. I was immediately told to lean back into my harness by the student but I declined to and said I wanted to check things out. The instructor then told me everything was fine and that I needed to lean back. I disagreed with the instructor and told them that I thought my line was crossed. He told me I was wrong and to lean back. Exasperated I reached over, grabbed my line, yanked on it and showed everyone there that the belay was not in catch mode. Essentially I was connected to a loaded device that had no hand on the break strand. After pulling my line through I firmly told the student and instructor to "fix this now" while I tethered in with a double length sling and locker that I carried over my shoulder. I feel as though if I had leaned back the potential for death was high.


So in summary I can't recommend this course. It's god awful expensive, poorly run (by the instructors I had) and really didn't teach me anything I hadn't learned already.

I can still recommend the AMGA SPI course and do feel as though a multi-pitch rescue course are great for people who want to learn a few new tips and tricks.

Best of luck to you all. Stay safe!


LineoFire


Mar 20, 2013, 4:48 PM
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Nothing monumental to add to this conversation. I think that there have been many many fantastic points made and I would strongly encourage you to move forward with the RIC. As opposed to the SPI course curriculum, the RIC proves to be more involved and works to make you a solid guide.

Can't remember who made the comment about hiring a guide, but being around the Asheville area you should look to work with someone from Fox Mountain Guides. I spent many years working with Ron Funderburke at App State and NCOBS and feel that he is one of the best instructional guides I have come across. Great guy, amazing teacher, provides solid and meaningful feedback, and is one hell of a fun guy. Karsten Delap is another solid teacher who works for Fox. He's also on the AMGA board of directors so could be a great person to chat with about the course structure and intention. Similar positive notions as I mentioned with Ron.

Using one of them could set you up in a fantastic way to have a solid handle on the course before you ever get there much more than chatting on here will. Good luck!!!


ACJ


Mar 20, 2013, 6:17 PM
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I would agree that Ron and Karsten are amazing guides who I've worked with at Fox. To the best of my knowledge they don't teach the RIC though.

I would argue that $2100 invested in lessons with those guys would blow the RIC out of the water. They both teach SPI courses as well as rescue courses (at least when I lived out there).

So yeah, check them out. I'd still advise against the RIC unless you know you will take the RIE because you want to be a career guide at an AMGA accredited guide service.


jmeizis


Mar 20, 2013, 10:52 PM
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Re: [ACJ] Why I Will Never Recommend the AMGA Rock Instructor Course [In reply to]
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Weird, that hasn't reflected my experience with the courses I've taken (took my AGC in June last year). Who were your instructors? They sound like they sucked. Hopefully you mentioned all this in your de-brief and evaluation.


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