The American Mountain Guides Association – is the premier guide training and certification organization in the US The AMGA offers a variety of courses in rock climbing, alpine climbing and ski mountaineering tours. Throughout each years hundreds of climbers and guides enroll in these training and certification programs which teach new skills and refine their instructing and guiding skills.

In Joshua Tree KC and I met and worked with six new students in this years first Rock Instructor Course. The students were either at the beginning stages of instructing while others were already in the transition from climber to instructor – guide. The RIC course has an extensive curriculum which is covered over a ten day period. Starting with ground school we work to learn,refresh and refine techniques. When climbing we shift the mind set from oneself to thinking of overall risk management for the group. Then we apply efficient techniques to cruise up and down the granite domes.

Transitions are two fold – first is the transition from climber to instructor. The second part of transition is the technical area. Much of the course is focused on practice and refining transitions on multi pitch rock climbs. Examples are 3rd and 4th class movement to 5th class climbing, from climbing to descending, climbing to short rope travel, and single belayed climbing to simul belayed climbing. These are major areas we focus on to execute the right technique and minimize the time the rope is not moving.

After all the goal for the climber is to climb and reach the summit!!!


The desert landscape – Joshua Trees and granite domes.


Marcus – on the Dapple Mare – Lost Horse Wall.

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 Miranda on the wide and Chris liking the finger locks.


Greg giving us the beta in the guano chimney.

Joshua tree has varied climbing, cracks faces slabs and some wide chimneys. A well rounded climber will enjoy sampling any of these routes.

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Jason, Marcus and Chris enjoying the J tree area.


Left hand perfect size for number three camalots – right hand the number two fits fine.

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Techniques – Jason leading the short rope travel, Luke with an extended belay system, and KC demonstrating the 2 to 1 raise.


Practice of rescue skills for all.

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Kiwi coil races – the guys rocked it coiled and tied off in under 1 minute!!!


Thanks to each of the students,KC, and the AMGA – it was a great course, with lots of learning and a fun time meeting and climbing with you all.

Art Mooney