Hats off to Dustin, Derrek, Grant and Will for their dedication, performance and excellence in guiding!!!

 For each of these Gents this AMGA Rock Instructor Exam in North Conway was the culmination of many years of education, training, and mentorship. The finale being a week long assessment of guiding skills and expertise while leading teams up multi pitch rock climbs.

Any exam can be a stressful experience, to pass or to fail runs through one mind. The ego can set in, the nerves get racked both which alter ones performance. As an AMGA examiner it is my job to manage and mitigate the overall risk, critique and grade ones performance and at the same time develop a positive learning environment that will allow each student to perform at their peak level of guiding.

Sound easy its not – for me or the students.

This group of Gents worked long hours, they trained on difficult climbs and learned how to balance the soft client skills. This was a key factor during their preparation for this week long examination process. It showed and was noted on the exam. Alain and I were both highly impressed with the top quality of technical guiding skills and the solid professionalism brought forward.


Dustin on the tricky final pitch of Inferno – Whitehorse Ledge.


Will running two ropes on the sparsely protected Sea of Holes.


Scenic NH – Mt Washington Valley.


“Guides Guiding Guides”

My Experiences with the AMGA Rock Instructor Exam

I had been considering doing the Rock Instructor exam for quite a while, and this year I finally decided to commit and go through with it.  I know quite a few people who skipped the RIE and went straight into the guide program, and that was what my original plan was.  Having just finished the instructor exam, I am certainly glad that I went through with it.  I think that I may have learned more on the exam than I did during the course, and I also think that I will be able to better and more confidently serve clients now that I have completed it.

After signing up for the exam, I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially since I do not know that many people who have done it.   I got quite a bit of exceptionally vague advice, and my imagination ran wild with expectations of obscure routes, girdle traverses, heinous descents, and examiners that were going to be constantly trying to untie their knots or undo their harness buckles.  Needless to say, none of that ever happened.  The examiners work to minimize guide stress and bring out the best in folks, the routes are guide routes, and there were few tricks thrown at us.  Having completed the exam, I have the same vague advice to offer to others as was given to me:  Wait until you are ready—the exam shouldn’t be a test, but rather a chance for you to show the world what you can do.  Be able to climb the grade comfortably, you should be able to focus entirely on guiding and not have to worry about crux moves.  Lastly, keep it simple.  Rock instructor terrain is straightforward and doesn’t require any guide tricks or rope work.  The routes are short and there is plenty of time; take advantage of it and think through everything you do.  Guide confidently, give the examiners the same experience you give paying clients, and believe in yourself.

 Thanks to Will for the extra effort in providing this fine critique of his experience.


Dustin instructing us on the jam crack moves – Funhouse Cathedral Ledge.


 Derrek – demonstrating solid, steady moves on the classic crack climb – Retaliation

Overall, the AMGA Rock Instructor Exam met or exceeded my expectations. I was very impressed with both the professionalism of the examiners as well as the examinees. This certainly aided in creating a less stressful atmosphere throughout the entire process. The feedback I received from the examiners during the exam was pertinent to my success and will help me continue cultivating my guiding technique.  It is apparent the exam is designed both as an educational piece as well as a standard for certification.

Thanks to Derrek for his review of the RIE. 


Grant finding solid hand jambs on Inferno.

Thanks to everyone for an amazing week of guidance in New Hampshire.

It was a pleasure to meet up with each of you again.

Art Mooney