PCGI Exam Training at Prospect Point Rampart

Sunlight sneaks in as Amy browses her rack
Sunlight sneaks in as Amy browses her rack

Got up EARLY Tuesday morning to sneak in an efficient anchor session with my friend Amy Climer, who is testing out for her PCGI certification in a few weeks. So nice to be up at the lake at the crack of dawn during the week, when you really have the place to yourself. The trees are just beginning to light up with fall colors, and Devil's Lake had a thin, misty covering which burned away as the sun climbed over the East Bluff. Gorgeous.

Amy and I occasionally work together at the MSCR ropes course in Madison, where she works as the part-time director. She also runs her own consulting business, Climer Consulting, running leadership and team building programs in Wisconsin and across the nation. Amy is thinking about proposing a rock climbing component to the MSCR program, so she's taking the Top Rope Climbing Guide exam in October in preparation. Solid on systems and conservative in approach, I think she has a great chance to pass with flying colors.

Getting things right out over the edge
Getting things right out over the edge

The most difficult thing about a Top Rope exam is you need to build an anchor manageable from both the top OR the bottom. The difficulty isn't technical, but practical, as most climbers don't build anchors this way. When you build a top-or-bottom anchor, you really have to push your anchor points back, or your overall anchor angles will be too wide when you create your top-managed master point. So you have to shift gears in your mind... instead of a nice, tight anchor systems as close to the edge as possible, it's actually better to back up and have some longer lines coming from trees, boulders, and gear set well off the edge. That mental shift is difficult for me, but once you lock into that thinking, following through the anchor set up isn't hard. Add the time pressur of an exam, though, and admittedly everything gets a little bit tougher!