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Professional Climbing Instructors’ Association: Top Rope Climbing Instructor Course (outdoor)

Dates:          April 3-5, 2020; certification exam options will be provided in the ensuing several weeks.

Location:     Hidden Rocks, in the George Washington National Forest, 30 mins. west of Harrisonburg.

Cost:           $450 for the course (includes 1 year PCIA membership); $150 additional for the exam day, scheduled individually, and subsequent to the course.

Provider:     Lester Zook, WILD GUYde Adventures LLC (lester@wildguyde.com, 540-433-1637)

Lodging Options:  Harrisonburg has the full range of hotel/motel options (Exit 247 off I-81), from Motel 6 to Hampton Inn.  There is also a KOA with showers 30 mins. from the climbing area (540-896-8929), and Hone Quarry Campground in the GWNF (fire-pits, picnic tables, and restrooms; no showers; about $6 per site; 1 mile from the climbing area).

To register:  Go to https://apps.ideal-logic.com/pcia?key=3D9L-YFFKH_K9KH-5PTF_ac70aeea and sign up.  Then go to the Confirmation page and print off the Medical Form/Participant Agreement, and the Skills and Experience Checklist, and mail with the fee to: WGA, 1047 Stuart St., Harrisonburg, VA, 22802.  75% refund up to 7 days prior; no refund thereafter.  Use the topics below as a personal preparation checklist.  You will receive a teaching assignment or two prior to the course.  


·        30-50’ piece of static rope

·        Personal climbing shoes

·        1 full length climbing rope (45m, 50m, or 60m)

·        @ 20’ 1” tubular webbing (can be in cut lengths)

·        Personal harness and helmet              

·        16-18’ perlon cordalette (6 or 7mm)

·        Passive belay device (ATC, Trango Pyramid, etc.)      

·        Personal first aid kit

·        Stream crossing footwear

·        Lunch and ample water (2 qts. minimum)


·        4-6 locking carabiners (1-2 pear-style)

·        Some padding (2 carpet squares, rope bag)

·        Gri-gri                                              

·        2 prussik loops (each 4’ of 6mm perlon cord)

·        Daypack or climbing pack       

·        Weather appropriate clothing (rain protection, warmth, etc.), and hiking footwear

·        Small spiral bound notebook/pens or pencils

·        Any protection gear you have (passive, cams, etc.)             

·        Assortment of slings (24’, 48”) and quickdraws



PCIA Top Rope Climbing Instructor Program Information (see also www.pcia.us)

The PCIA has created a focused course and optional certification exam that addresses both base managed and top managed climbs. The Top Rope Climbing Instructor™ course (TRCI) provides instructors and potential instructors with an in depth and standardized understanding of the skills essential to teaching climbing in an outdoor setting. Like other PCIA courses, the course reinforces the importance of teaching technically accurate information. The emphasis is on refining core skills and improving educational delivery of material. The thirty hour (3 day) course builds upon the existing skills of competent recreational climbers and takes an in depth look at site selection, equipment, knot selection, anchor construction, rope systems, Leave No Trace practices, rescue and assistance skills as well as key instructional skills. Most importantly, the course stresses blending these skills together to form a more seamless and efficient climbing experience for participants. Upon successful completion of all course components participants are considered PCIA Assistant Instructors. Assistant Instructors may elect to take an optional certification exam to achieve Top Rope Climbing Instructor™ Certification. The one day examination stresses efficient site and gear utilization, client and instructor safety, site management and educational delivery. The exam may be taken any time after completing all course components. This course may be taken as stand-alone course or coupled together with the two day Single Pitch Instructor Module.

Top Rope Climbing Instructor™ Course Pre-Requisites

·         You are currently at least age 18.

·         The candidate must show an adequate experience level to the course provider illustrating that they are ready for the course. Examples include regular climbing for 2 – 3 years, a high intensity of climbing in the past few months, etc.

Top Rope Climbing Instructor™ Course Length
The course is 30 hours (3 days) with pre-course study and lesson preparation required.

Top Rope Climbing Instructor™ Component Skills

Professional Skills:

·         Presents oneself with a professional demeanor and appropriate attire.

·         Presents oneself with essential and well-maintained personal equipment.

·         Discusses differences between recreational climbing and climbing instruction and supervision.

·         Continuously practice and illustrate a high level of Leave No Trace understanding.

·         Understands various legal and administrative aspects related to outdoor climbing.

·         Designs and demonstrates professional client greeting and facility introduction.

·         Discusses options for working with youth populations vs. adult populations.

·         Able to discuss professionalism, professional training programs, and the role of organizations such as the PCIA, CWA, ACCT and the AMGA.

·         Appropriately chooses terrain to meet client needs, and matches terrain from a guide book or base of cliff with appropriate anchor at the top of the cliff.

Climbing Ability

·         Demonstrates a variety of basic and intermediate physical climbing movement skills.

·         Models a top rope climb at the 5.6 standard illustrating confident, smooth, and controlled movement.


Technical Understanding

·         Demonstrates ability to correctly identify and discusses (in depth) a selection of basic climbing gear including various carabiners, belay tools, webbing and cordage materials and ropes.

Safety Skills

Educational Ability

Top Rope Climbing Instructor™ Certification
Upon successful completion of the BMCI course components, an individual may elect to take a one day certification exam. A skill consolidation period after the course is recommended but not required. The examination is a one day field exam that evaluates both core technical skills and educational delivery. The target goal for the certification standard is for candidates to be able to generalize learned information - in other words to be able to utilize various principles to create solutions for problems at hand. Generalization is considered the fourth learning stage following memorization, comprehension, and application. Exam pre-requisites:

Exam candidates will be asked to:
1. Present a minimum of two professionally organized lessons chosen by the examiner from a published list of topics.
2. Complete four technical scenarios illustrating full comprehension and application of all technical skills taught in the course. Only one marginal score is allowed within the four exam activities. A candidate who fails the exam may retake the exam at a future date.