|By TKHouse |
Jul 9, 2012
I thought I would chime in to this discussion. I took an AMGA single pitch instructor course with Fox Mountain Guides in NC (at the time I worked for a university here in Nashville and the directors liked the idea of someone being AMGA trained).
1. I would say the ability to lead climb well certainly can be a good indicator of overall climbing skills, as you need a lot of skills to lead. I don't think it corresponds to teaching and group management in any way whatsoever.
2. Competent 5.6 displays competency at 5.6 :) . When I took the AMGA SPI course, our instructor said that competently climbing 5.6 should be interpreted as being capable of carrying on a conversation while climbing a 5.6. The instructor should be showing little to no signs of exertion afterward, and there be absolutely zero moments in the climb where the instructor was even hesitant. In other words, a climber displaying 5.6 climbing competently should be, at minimum, climbing 5.8 or 5.9 at their peak. There's a huge amount of routes that can be setup on top rope by climbing up to the 5.8-5.9 range (the same route that's lead need not be what's setup for a client).
With regards to apeman e's comment "Absurd. I suppose where there's a demand and people have cash, inevitably someone (or three) will compete to supply the service."
I would have to say I did at one time agree with you.. top rope site management, are they kidding?
My opinion changed after taking the SPI class with Fox, however. Although the technical aspects of instructing are critical and must be perfect, those are not the focus of the SPI assessment. Assessors look for the ability to manage a group, the ability to watch for the conditions of clients throughout the day, and the professionalism and demeanor of a candidate. The technical aspects in the assessment aren't the focus because, if you do something wrong and would have put yourself or a client in danger, you fail, plain and simple. It's everything nontechnical that becomes so important.
For me, I had very little outdoor education experience before the SPI course. The SPI course was a great way to get a kick start on learning outdoor group management using technical skills I already knew well (climbing). There are sometimes expectations that can contrast between what we as recreational climbers expect and what a client (or gym patron) may expect. These types of items become the focus of the SPI course.
I had done plenty of multipitch trad before taking the SPI course, but I don't think I would have been a great leader and instructor, despite my hard skills. For that reason I think the top rope site manager / climbing wall instructor courses can be valuable. If a person already has taken similar outdoor leadership courses in a different field, I feel as though the course would probably not be as beneficial.