PCGI Top Rope Guide Course Last Week


Spent last week boning up on rigging, rescue, and climbing education with Zach Schneider from the Professional Climbing Guides Institute (PCGI). I took a similar training/certification with the AMGA in 2007, but my certification had lapsed after our Wisconsin relocation, so it was time to get current again. The great thing about PCGI is they have a flexible and affordable insurance program AND they were willing to come out to Wisconsin for a course. Kudos to PCGI for traveling to the Midwest to help a small group of guides improve and refine our guiding skills and enjoy some great tech time at the Lake.

PCGI is one of several professional climbing instructor training organizations (see also the Professional Climbing Instructors Association) that have emerged in the past decade to offer alternatives to AMGA training. While AMGA courses arguably remain the industry standard, no AMGA course have been offered anywhere in the Upper Midwest (at least as far as I know) since I moved back here in 2010. Competition from upstart organizations has force the AMGA to step up its game, and I think the diversity of options is improving the general landscape of climbing instructor training. Will be interesting to see if the market can sustain a multiplicity of guide training organizations into the future; I suppose that has much to do with how the popularity of climbing trends, and how widely different kinds of guided climbing audiences evolve. For example, will guided bouldering be common in ten years? If so, will existing organizations like the AMGA widen their umbrellas to include bouldering, or will an additional organization spawn to meet the need?