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AMGA Rock Guide

guide_rockTo enter the program you must have a strong technical rock climbing background in a variety of rock types and climbing disciplines.

To get your Rock Guide Certification, you must complete:

  • The 10-day Rock Guide Course (RGC)
  • The 10-day Advanced Rock Guide Course & Aspirant Exam (ARGC/AE)
  • The 6-day Rock Guide Exam (RGE)
  • Current CPR Certification
  • Current Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Certification or higher that meets the Minimum Guidelines and Scope of Practice for a WFR

Program Information

  • Rock Guide Course

    This is the entry-level course for the Rock Guide and Alpine Guide programs and the Rock Instructor Certification. The Rock Guide Course (RGC) was designed for aspiring guides who have a strong rock climbing background and for instructors who are interested in improving their skills and increasing knowledge. The RGC trains aspiring guides on routes up to Grade III and 5.9 while emphasizing risk management and client rewards. You are expected to arrive with a strong recreational climbing background with an acquired knowledge of knots, belaying, anchors, protection strategies, and climbing systems. It is assumed that you can lead the climbs listed on the submitted resume and that you are physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared for a week of outdoor activity.

    Prerequisites:

    • Current AMGA member
    • Current CPR Certification
    • Current Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Certification or higher that meets the Minimum Guidelines and Scope of Practice for a WFR
    • Five years personal rock climbing experience
    • Confidence leading traditional and sport routes up to 5.9, at the time of the course
    • Familiar with basic knots, including: figure 8, bowline, clove hitch, munter hitch, mule hitch, prusik, flat overhand, double fisherman's and klemheist
    • Familiar with multiple types of mechanical and non-mechanical belay devices
    • Familiar with a variety of rappel devices on multi-pitch rappels
    • Familiar with LNT Practices
    • You have led 10 traditional climbs rated 5.10a or harder on various rock types (single or multi-pitch)
    • You have led or shared lead on 50 multi-pitch rock routes (10 of which are Grade III or longer)

    Format:
    The RGC includes indoor and outdoor classroom time, practice sessions, and climbing on a variety of rock routes. Recreational climbing skills and judgment are screened as part of the daily activities. The course is designed to introduce some of the recommended methods common to rock guiding through sessions and practical application.

  • Advanced Rock Guide Course & Aspirant Exam

    The Advanced Rock Guide Course/AE (ARGC/AE) covers the tools used when guiding and instructing multiple clients on longer routes up to Grade V—management of 3rd and 4th class terrain, technical descents, simultaneous multi-client belaying, lowering and rappelling, management of transitions, and short roping and short pitching techniques. It emphasizes effective risk management while maximizing client rewards.

    Prerequisites:

    • Current AMGA member
    • Current CPR Certification
    • Current Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Certification or higher that meets the Minimum Guidelines and Scope of Practice for a WFR
    • Successful completion of the Rock Guide Course
    • You are confident leading traditional and sport routes up to 5.10+/A2, at the time of the course
    • Since completing the Rock Guide Course, you have led 10 different traditional routes rated 5.10+ or harder
    • You have led or shared lead on at least 10 Grade IV or longer rock routes (5 of these have been completed since your Rock Guide Course)
    • Since completing the Rock Guide Course, you have guided or mock guided a minimum of 20 rock routes Grade III or longer

    Format:

    The ARGC/AE is a course and includes instruction, coaching, debriefing, and assessment. The assessment phase is known as the Aspirant Exam. The focus of the course is on principle-based learning, giving you the strategies for problem solving through coaching and practical application in simulated guide/client scenarios. Your guiding and instructional skills will be assessed during the Aspirant Exam portion(s) of the course. A final assessment will be based on your overall performance.

    Aspirant Exam:

    The Aspirant Exam is intended to help determine whether or not your personal skills meet the minimum standards appropriate for guiding. In addition, it serves as preparation for the final certification exam. The standard for the Aspirant Exam is at a level appropriate for guiding clients professionally with only indirect supervision. Finally, your essential skills and abilities as an aspirant guide must be comparable to those of a full guide.

    Assessment Areas:

    • Screening of movement skills in rock terrain;
    • A technical skills assessment that includes a 45-minute rock rescue drill and a five-minute knot-pass drill;
    • Guided days assessment, which includes evaluation in the following nine areas: risk management, client care, technical systems, application, terrain assessment, movement skills, mountain sense, professionalism, and instructional technique.
  • Rock Guide Exam

    The goals of the six-day Rock Guide Exam (RGE) are to assess and certify rock-climbing guides at the AMGA and IFMGA international standards and to further the general education of students.

    Format:

    During the exam you are expected to carry out guiding assignments given by the examiners. You serve as guides to the examiners and to the other participants on routes chosen for their complex guiding challenges. While acting as the guide, you are responsible for route planning, client orientation, risk management, and normal guiding practices. Route assignments and client profiles are usually given the night before. You are responsible for obtaining information about the assigned route as well as alternative routes if the original objective proves infeasible.

    Expectations:

    The longer routes (Grade IV and V) undertaken on the RGE require proficiency with multi-client belaying techniques, strong application skills, efficient climbing and protective systems skills and quick and accurate transitions. A strong emphasis is placed on expertise in short roping clients.

    Assessment Areas:

    • Screening of movement skills in rock terrain;
    • Guided days assessment, which includes evaluation in the following nine areas: risk management, client care, technical systems, application, terrain assessment, movement skills, mountain sense, professionalism, and instructional technique. 

    Prerequisites:

    • Current AMGA member
    • Current CPR Certification
    • Current Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Certification or higher that meets the Minimum Guidelines and Scope of Practice for a WFR
    • Successful completion of the Advanced Rock Guide Course and Aspirant Exam
    • Confidence leading traditional and sport routes up to 5.10+/A2, at the time of the exam
    • Since completing the ARGC/AE, you have led or shared lead on 10 climbs that are rated 5.11a or harder (sport or traditional)
    • Since completing the ARGC/AE, you have guided 20 days on multi-pitch routes. Of these 20 days, 15 can be mock-guided, 7 are Grade III or longer, and 3 are Grade IV or longer

Rock Programs Schedule

Important Notes

  • Applications will open on August 1st, 2018 for all 2019 Mountain Guide programs
  • For information on how to apply to a program and how applications are reviewed, click here
  • For the 2019 application and notification deadlines, click here
  • For the complete AMGA Course Schedule, click here
Program Type Code Location State Dates Tuition Status Apply
Advanced Rock Guide Course/AE R10 ARGC 18 Unaweep Canyon and Black Canyon Colorado 9/5/18 - 9/14/18 $2,750.00 Waitlist Waitlist
Advanced Rock Guide Course/AE R12 ARGC 18 Red Rock Canyon NCA Nevada 9/17/18 - 9/26/18 $2,750.00 Waitlist Waitlist
Advanced Rock Guide Course/AE R18 ARGC 18 Red Rock Canyon NCA Nevada 10/9/18 - 10/18/18 $2,750.00 Waitlist Waitlist
Advanced Rock Guide Course/AE R15 ARGC 19 Red Rock Canyon NCA Nevada 4/9/19 - 4/16/19 $3,600.00 Opens 8/1/18
Advanced Rock Guide Course/AE R16 ARGC 19 Boulder/Black Canyon NP Colorado 9/5/19 - 9/13/19 $3,600.00 Opens 8/1/18
Advanced Rock Guide Course/AE R17 ARGC 19 Red Rock Canyon NCA Nevada 9/17/19 - 9/26/19 $2,850.00 Opens 8/1/18
Advanced Rock Guide Course/AE R18 ARGC 19 Red Rock Canyon NCA Nevada 10/8/19 - 10/17/19 $2,850.00 Opens 8/1/18
Rock Guide Course R9 RGC 18 North Conway New Hampshire 8/6/18 - 8/15/18 $2,750.00 Waitlist Waitlist
Rock Guide Course R11 RGC 18 North Conway New Hampshire 9/11/18 - 9/20/18 $2,750.00 Waitlist Waitlist
Rock Guide Course R13 RGC 18 Boulder Colorado 9/25/18 - 10/4/18 $2,750.00 Waitlist Waitlist
Rock Guide Course R16 RGC 18 Brevard North Carolina 10/9/18 - 10/18/18 $2,750.00 Waitlist Waitlist
Rock Guide Course R17 RGC 18 Smith Rock State Park Oregon 10/9/18 - 10/18/18 $2,750.00 Waitlist Waitlist
Rock Guide Course R20 RGC 18 Joshua Tree California 10/30/18 - 11/8/18 $2,750.00 Waitlist Waitlist
Rock Guide Course R22 RGC 18 Boulder Colorado 10/8/18 - 10/17/18 $2,750.00 Waitlist Waitlist
Rock Guide Course R1 RGC 19 Joshua Tree California 3/12/19 - 3/21/19 $2,850.00 Opens 8/1/18
Rock Guide Course R2 RGC 19 Red Rock Canyon NCA Nevada 3/20/19 - 3/29/19 $2,850.00 Opens 8/1/18
Rock Guide Course R3 RGC 19 Gunks New York 4/23/19 - 5/2/19 $2,850.00 Opens 8/1/18
Rock Guide Course R4 RGC 19 Smith Rock State Park Oregon 4/23/19 - 5/2/19 $2,850.00 Opens 8/1/18
Rock Guide Course R5 RGC 19 Boulder Colorado 6/4/19 - 6/13/19 $2,850.00 Opens 8/1/18
Rock Guide Course R6 RGC 19 North Conway New Hampshire 9/10/19 - 9/19/19 $2,850.00 Opens 8/1/18
Rock Guide Course R7 RGC 19 Boulder Colorado 9/10/19 - 9/19/19 $2,850.00 Opens 8/1/18
Rock Guide Course R8 RGC 19 Boulder Colorado 10/1/19 - 10/10/19 $2,850.00 Opens 8/1/18
Rock Guide Course R10 RGC 19 Seneca Rocks West Virginia 10/8/19 - 10/17/19 $2,850.00 Opens 8/1/18
Rock Guide Course R9 RGC 19 Smith Rock State Park Oregon 10/8/19 - 10/17/19 $2,850.00 Opens 8/1/18
Rock Guide Course R11 RGC 19 Joshua Tree California 11/5/19 - 11/14/19 $2,850.00 Opens 8/1/18
Rock Guide Course R12 RGC 19 Joshua Tree California 11/14/19 - 11/23/19 $2,850.00 Opens 8/1/18
Rock Guide Course R24 VETERANS RGC 19 Leavenworth Washington 10/1/19 - 10/10/19 $2,750.00 Opens 8/1/18
Rock Guide Exam R14 RGE 18 Red Rock Canyon NCA Nevada 9/29/18 - 10/4/18 $2,750.00 Waitlist Waitlist
Rock Guide Exam R19 RGE 18 Red Rock Canyon NCA Nevada 10/30/18 - 11/4/18 $2,750.00 Waitlist Waitlist
Rock Guide Exam R20 RGE 19 Red Rock Canyon NCA Nevada 4/1/19 - 4/6/19 $2,800.00 Opens 8/1/18
Rock Guide Exam R21 RGE 19 Red Rock Canyon NCA Nevada 4/19/19 - 4/24/19 $2,800.00 Opens 8/1/18
Rock Guide Exam R22 RGE 19 Red Rock Canyon NCA Nevada 9/30/19 - 10/5/19 $2,800.00 Opens 8/1/18
Rock Guide Exam R23 RGE 19 Red Rock Canyon NCA Nevada 10/30/19 - 11/4/19 $2,800.00 Opens 8/1/18

This program will begin in Unaweep Canyon, CO and transfer to the Black Canyon. 

The course will start in Unaweep Canyon where there is excellent 1-4/5 pitch cimbing to begin the program. Mid course, the program will transfer to the Black Canyon (less than two hour drive time).

The Black Canyon is noted for big walls, adventurous climbing and epics. While there is no shortage of run outs, loose rock, poison ivy and commitment, there are also mega classics with splitter cracks and solid rock, and these are the routes that we will be seeking on this ARGC. The grades are consistant with every trad area in the country. 

The classic routes are traveled frequently and are free of choss. There are few fixed anchors but there are spacious ledges and abundant protection on the classics. This stated, you are likely to have most routes to yourself, allowing you to focus on your climbing and guiding, and not on the other people vying for the same route. The camping on the North Rim is amazing, and is considered one of the best campgrounds at any climbing area. 

The Black offers a great venue for aspiring guides to dial in their techniques and apply their craft in an area where efficiency, security and skill are paramount. Taking your ARGC in the Boulder/Black venue will help expose you to different venues and rock types in your AMGA progression and help set you up for success during your RGE.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

This is an ARGC that is running at a 2:1 ratio and is only 8 days long. Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

 

Instructor Eric Whewell following the student's lead on the 2016 ARGC in Red Rock Canyon. Photo by Instructor Christian Santelices.

This isn ARGC that is running at a 2:1 ratio and is only 8 days long (plus one additional day for travel/rest from Boulder to the Black).

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Student Karen Hilton works her way up the Bastille Crack in Eldorado Canyon during the 2016 RGC in Boulder. Photo by student Brandon Phillips.

This is a small program limited to 6 students. Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Student Karen Hilton works her way up the Bastille Crack in Eldorado Canyon during the 2016 RGC in Boulder. Photo by student Brandon Phillips.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Student Kate McHugh leading Western Saga during the 2016 RGC in Joshua Tree. Photo by Azissa Singh.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

This is a small program that is limited to 6 students. Conditions and weather dependent, this program may travel to the Adirondacks.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Instructor Geoff Unger coaches a student on belay management from below during the 2016 RGC in the ADKs. Photo by Instructor Silas Rossi. 

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

A student leads the way during the 2016 RGC at Smith Rock. Photo by Instructor Pete Keane.

Weather and condiion dependent, this program may also utilize Lump Ridge in Estes Park, Colorado.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Student Karen Hilton works her way up the Bastille Crack in Eldorado Canyon during the 2016 RGC in Boulder. Photo by student Brandon Phillips.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Student Karen Hilton works her way up the Bastille Crack in Eldorado Canyon during the 2016 RGC in Boulder. Photo by student Brandon Phillips.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Student Karen Hilton works her way up the Bastille Crack in Eldorado Canyon during the 2016 RGC in Boulder. Photo by student Brandon Phillips.

This is a small program that is limited to 6 students. Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Students Arthur and Diane leading with Instructor Angela Hawse below. Photo by Instructor Alain Comeau.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

A student leads the way during the 2016 RGC at Smith Rock. Photo by Instructor Pete Keane.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Student Kate McHugh leading Western Saga during the 2016 RGC in Joshua Tree. Photo by Azissa Singh.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Student Kate McHugh leading Western Saga during the 2016 RGC in Joshua Tree. Photo by Azissa Singh.

This program is only open to VETERANS of the US Military who wish to use their GI Bill funds to pay for the course. This course is run through the American Alpine Institute (an AMGA accredited business), who are accredited and approved to accept GI Bill funding.

In order to participate on this Alpine Guide Course, you must:

1) Be a veteran of the US Military

2) Apply to the program, pay the non-refundable $65.00 application fee, and submit all of the required application materials (resume, WFR/CPR, and AMGA approved avalanche training certs) to show that you meet the prerequisites for the AGC

3) Email Peter Schultz ([email protected]) proof of veteran status

4) Once your materials have been reviewed, you will be eligible to become enrolled in the course if space is available (like all AMGA programs, entrance is competitive and we may receive more applications than we have spaces available - meeting the prerequisites is not a guarantee of enrollment, please review the process for application review here)

5) If accepted into the program, you will be sent a document describing how to complete the enrollment process and use your VA benefits to pay for the program. You cannot be officially enrolled until you have completed the VA Benefits Survey and Enrollment Agreement through the American Alpine Institute.

If you have any questions about this course, the application review/enrollment process, how to use your VA benefits, or anything else related to this program, please contact Peter Schultz ([email protected]). 

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.

Program tuition does not include food, lodging, transportation, or other course expenses unless otherwise noted.