Elevate your climbing expertise: AMGA SPI Exam - where skills meet assessment. Reach new heights as a certified Single Pitch Instructor!
Spring through Fall
Intermediate and advanced
The SPI Assessment/Exam is two days in length (minimum of 16 hours assessment time) and takes place at a single-pitch climbing area where there is a selection of traditional lead routes of at least 5.6 difficulty and top rope routes of at least 5.8 difficulty. SPI assessments examine all aspects of institutional single-pitch climbing.
The SPI Assessment is organized into four distinct evaluation sessions: climbing movement, technical skills, teaching ability and group management skills. Day one examines candidates’ climbing movement skills and proficiency with technical systems including anchoring and assistance skills. On day two, the examiners may arrange for the participation of volunteer novice clients (non-paying) in order for the candidates to be able to instruct in a group setting. This is not required, but is a great benefit to the assessment process as the examiner can see candidates interact with real novice climbers and the examinees do not have to “pretend” to teach novice climbers who are actually other examinees on the assessment.
SPI examiners are responsible for creating a stress-free environment that brings out the best in candidates. Candidates must demonstrate that their technical and instructional skills meet the standards of AMGA Single Pitch Instructor certification.
Max Lurie - Owner of Alpine to the Max
Max Lurie is an American Mountain Guides Association certified Rock and Alpine Guide, as well as an accomplished alpinist. Max has been climbing since 2004 and traveling to the greater ranges in pursuit of his passion.
As an independently certified climbing guide based in Boulder, CO, Max provides custom education and mountain experiences in the Colorado Front Range and beyond. All of the climbing instruction offered through Alpine to the Max is customized to your goals, objectives, and skill level.
As of 2024, the AMGA has updated the assessment categories to refine the original 9 categories to a simpler and more relevant 5 categories. Elements of the previous assessment categories have been absorbed into the categories that remain. Additionally, there has been the development of a proficiencies list to better define the assessment categories in greater detail. Although the assessment categories are not an exact replica of the higher level AMGA mountain guide programs, they are similar in nature with subtle differences specific to single pitch instruction. For clarity the terms SPI Assessment and SPI Exam are interchangeable.
Candidates’ skills will be evaluated and graded on both days of the Assessment. Examiners will score each candidate at the end of each day, then revisit the scoring at the end of the exam to account for trends, consistency, and any contributing factors that may have affected any of the candidates. An assessment is based on the ability of candidates to provide a well-managed and rewarding experience for their clients. Failing to pass an assessment is typically an issue of risk management. Candidates are graded on their performance in 5 designated skill areas. These skills are divided into subcategories that better define those main skill areas. A summary scorecard will be generated from daily scores to determine whether to pass or fail a candidate. Personal interviews are held at the end of the exam where a verbal assessment will be given by the examiner(s). This is meant to help the candidates assess their own performance. The goal is to notify students of the outcome at the personal debrief. However, it is sometimes needed for the examiner(s) to check with the AMGA Climbing Instructor Program Manager prior to doing so. In these cases a phone call may be scheduled to notify the student of the result.
The AMGA SPI Exam is designed to assess the skills and knowledge of individuals seeking certification as Single Pitch Instructors. It evaluates their ability to effectively instruct clients on single-pitch climbs.
To be eligible for the exam, candidates must have completed the AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course and met the prerequisites.
Two days. The SPI Exam spans two days of evaluation as the provider evaluates your skills and abilities based on the rubric.
Yes, candidates who do not pass the exam have the opportunity to retake it. It is essential to understand the areas of improvement and address them before attempting the exam again. Your examiner will provide through feedback and examples of what you can do to improve for next time.
Achieving AMGA SPI certification demonstrates a high level of proficiency in instructing single-pitch climbing. It opens doors to professional guiding opportunities, enhances safety standards, and provides a recognized qualification in the outdoor industry.
Alpine to the Max is an independent certified guide with more than a decade of experience in a wide variety of terrain. No matter your current skill level, when you climb with us you get a top-notch experience that is fully customized to meet your exact desires.
“I climbed with Max last summer on a couple of couloirs in Rocky Mountain National Park. I’m a complete newbie to technical snow and Max was everything that I was hoping for in a guide. Knowledgeable, patient and passionate about educating his clients. It was a fantastic experience and I cannot wait to go back out with him.”
“Max is easily one of the best guides I have ever taken a course with. Max's knowledge paired with his experience and skill set is unparalleled. I learned so much and I am so grateful to have taken a course with him! Max provided the education and knowledge I needed to continue recreating safely in the mountains.”
“Max was an amazing guide and instructor for our 2-day AIARE 1 course. Funny, affable, deeply knowledgeable, with an excellent approach to instruction and learning. We saw several other AIARE courses out there in the same locations, and in comparison, we were VERY glad we were spending our weekend learning from Max!
Max is awesome! My climbing partner and I booked a day with Max to learn how to ice climb. Between making the meetup spot an easy to find location, to providing in-depth instruction throughout the day, I can't recommend Max enough. Max's instruction was clear, safe, and easy to follow. He's personable and easy to learn from.
What an awesome experience. My friend and I spent four days with Max going through a variety of topics and we couldn't have been happier with the instruction. Max is SO well versed in a multitude of areas. And he's an awesome person to be around and it makes the guiding experience that much better. I would 100% do another session with Max!
We strongly recommend Max as a guide and instructor. Having climbed with Max several times over the past decade, we always come away with a great experience and a smile. His enthusiasm and knowledge, plus a wry sense of humor, make for instructive and fun days of climbing. We hope to get out to CO to climb someday with Max again.
It was awesome. We covered a ton of material in such a short window and I was able to apply everything I learned. I had pretty minimal experience at the start but he delivered everything in a super easy to understand manner that made it a ton of fun and extremely informative. I’ll definitely be coming back for future sessions.
Max was incredibly helpful for our intro to trad course. He not only teaches the information, but makes sure to go over alternative techniques and general climbing philosophy. We were able to customize the class that day to go over things that interested us rather than a set curriculum, which I really enjoyed. I couldn’t recommend Max enough.
I had very limited climbing experience coming into this guided rock climbing experience. Max takes me out and we literally jump right into my introduction to climbing. Max literally inspired me to get out of my comfort zone immediately and go beyond what I thought I was capable of. Thank you Max for an awesome experience in the mountains.
Max is an outstanding guide! I couldn’t have asked for a better day of climbing and learning. I joined Max in hopes of setting a solid foundation of skills and knowledge in my own climbing endeavors to come, and I was beyond satisfied with the day he had prepared for us. An incredible instructor and ideal climbing partner!
Max is adept, knowledgeable, and great to work with all around! He breaks down skills and explains them thoroughly, taking the time to make sure you understand a concept before moving on to something more complex. If you want to up your technical climbing skills and have a darn good time doing it then Max is your guy!
Max was extremely knowledge and encouraging while we were learning and practicing building anchors and hauling for crevasse rescue. He also had a great sense of humor and kept the mood light while we were suffering through brutally cold temperatures during the practice. 10/10 would recommend!
My partner and I hired Max for a day of self rescue skills and we had an absolute blast. Max is super knowledgeable and was more than patient answering all of our questions. We never felt rushed and had time to go through different scenarios and skills. I really enjoyed learning from a professional and would recommend to anyone!
Max was a terrific mountain guide. We did a split-board tour of the Hidden Valley area of Rock Mtn National Park and I couldn’t have had asked for a better guide. He answered all of my questions and expressed great knowledge in snow science as well as mountain geology and avalanche safety. Highly recommend!
I spent a day learning trad/multipitch climbing with Max in a "classroom setting". The dollars I spent on that session have been more valuable than any climbing trip or equipment. The techniques he taught me have stuck with me throughout my climbing career and set me up for success in the mountains.