AMGA SPI Student

AMGA SPI Student

July 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAMGA Courses Guiding Rock Climbing

In Spring 2016 Zach Silberman participated in the AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course with Fox Mountain Guides. Zach was a great student, and he documented much of his experience. Here is rare glimpse into the day to day insights and experiences of an aspiring single pitch instructor:

Day 1

Today we ventured to the base of Looking Glass, South Side. After a long but modest hike, we set up at the base of a slabbed out 5.10, a couple moderate crack climbs, and another climb that Ron selected to demonstrate the difference between leading a lead and instructing a lead.

Lesson 1: Organize the Locker Room

Lesson 1: Organize the Locker Room.

Ron gave us a quick rundown of professionalism at the crag and to make sure clients understand the process.

  • Why wear a helmet?
  • How and where do I poop?
  • How do I belay?
  • What is a back up belay?

After the quick chat, he laced up and talked us through the climb to point out key cruxes and demonstrated proper hand, foot, and cam placement.

ronshoe ronglamourshot

Once setting up a top rope for us to climb, Ron led us through the history of belaying. Beginning with the elusive butt belay, then the Munter Hitch, followed by the Air Traffic Controller (ATC) and concluding with the GriGri.





After this enlightening discussion we all topped out the climb and set up camp about 100 feet off the ground. I wish I had brought my camera up. It was gorgeous. The exposure was amazing! Upon a ledge we practiced securely lowering our teammates down and belaying them back up using the Munter Hitch, ATC, and GriGri.

After a few trials, we all rappelled down off of an ATC and were given a quick lunch break.


After a satisfying meal at the crag, Ron got us back on our feet to practice some anchor building and knot tying. We started with the Bowline Knot, both tying-in and anchor building:




Bowline + Bowline with a Bight + Big Huge Knot (BHK) = Success (Given this Context)

After going over some basics, Derek Debruin met us out to go over some knots, friction hitches, and other basics, including the Double Figure-Eight (Bunny Ears), Prussik, Klemheist and Mule Knot on an ATC.





Day 2

Today we marched into Rumbing Bald. Passing by boulders, I was eager to strap up. That would have to wait. Today, we came to anchor build! I was not very well trained in this subject, so today was quite a challenge. I learned so much! From placing a cam well, to building anchors with natural objects, my mind was blown from moment to moment.

Cam Anchor Cam Anchor


Utilizing trees and highpoints as an elevator. It makes going over the edge so much easier.

After spending a good bit of time on building proper anchors, I learned about governign concepts like redundancy, load distribution, strength, efficiency, and how a climbing instructor uses an anchor to manage explicit and implicit risks. With anchoring skills thoroughly explored, we moved to the base of the major face of the Bald. Here we practiced and honed our skills in lowering participants off ledges and recovering them if unable to ascend back up. Not only did we gain competence in the technical skills, but also the toolset of talking participants through differing challenges (going over the first ledge, bracing with feet, watching for features in the rock, etc)fullsystem

After finishing Day 2. Derek and Ron introduced us to the best extracurricular activity; BOULDERING. Below are the rules

  • 43 Boulder Problems
  • V0-V7
  • No Pads
  • Only Approach Shoes
  • Two Attempts Each
  • Gold= Flash All Problems Silver= Send All Problems
  • Run to From Problem to Problem

This was sick. It was inspiring watching Ron and Derek crush hard lines in just their hiking shoes. Ron was able to get a Silver Medal, falling on only one problem!

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