Top Managed Climbing Instructor

Top managed sites hold different risks and require different skills from base managed sites to effectively manage climbing groups. The PCIA Top Managed Climbing Instructor™ Course addresses these needs in a one day course designed to build upon skills acquired in the Top Rope Climbing Instructor™ Course. Like other PCIA courses, the course continues to reinforce the importance of teaching technically accurate information and to debunk many common climbing myths.

There are a number of climbing areas where managing climbs from the top is the best choice. Examples include a site over water or locations where the approach leads to the top and the cliff sides are too difficult to easily hike down or would suffer from impact. Another reality today for many popular crags is a very real concern about gear theft on the top of the cliff, while the climbers are on the bottom. Finally, there are times when the top is the more durable or comfortable surface. All of these are great reasons to top manage climbs with a group.

The emphasis is on refining core skills and improving educational delivery of material. This 10 hour (1 day) module focuses heavily on the use of direct belays by both instructors and students and presents the subtle, but important differences in systems that make life easy on the top. The course also addresses rescue and assistance skills, including raising systems and escaping direct and indirect belays. The basics of mechanical advantage systems are taught and raises are practiced through assisted locking devices, as well as aperture style devices. Top Managed Climbing Instructor™ Certification is earned upon completion of all course components in the 10 hour program. There is no separate exam for this level, unless one is challenging the certification.

Top Managed Climbing Instructor™ Course Pre-Requisites

  • You are currently at least age 18.
  • You are a PCIA Certified Top Rope Climbing Instructor™.
  • You possess the personal equipment necessary for the course.
  • You are capable of comfortably climbing 5.8 terrain, while on a top rope.

Top Managed Climbing Instructor™ Component Skills Professional Skills

  • Appropriately choose terrain to meet client needs.

Climbing Ability

  • Model a top rope climb at the 5.8 standard illustrating confident, smooth, and controlled movement.
  • Demonstrate a variety of basic and intermediate physical climbing movement skills.

Technical Understanding

  • Demonstrate confident and competent belaying using a variety of belay methods including aperture devices, assisted locking devices, and a Munter Hitch with both right and left hand as break hand in a top managed setting.
  • Demonstrate the ability to efficiently build a variety of adequate anchors with artificial gear as well as a mix of natural and artificial gear. Time Limit: 10 minutes / anchor.
  • Demonstrate the set up and use of an instructor belayed rappel utilizing one or two ropes.
  • Demonstrate the set up and use of a releasable instructor belayed rappel with one or two ropes and discuss situations when this set up is warranted.
  • Demonstrate the set up and use of a student belayed rappel using one or two ropes.
  • Demonstrate weighted and unweighted transitions between belay methods.
  • Demonstrate an appropriately placed anchor master point and the set up of a top managed climb with an instructor belay. Time Limit: 15 minutes.
  • Demonstrate an appropriately placed anchor master point and the set up of a top managed climb with a student belay. Time Limit: 15 minutes.
  • Demonstrate the ability to supervise a top managed site with at least two climbs operating.

Safety Skills

  • Present a sample site safety briefing.
  • Be able to discuss selection of safe climbing routes for varying abilities and styles of climbing.
  • Evaluate and problem-solve the need for back-up belays and the use of anchors.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of mechanical advantage systems to include: 1:1, 2:1, 2:1+1, 3:1, 3:1+1 and 5:1.
  • Demonstrate efficient use of at least two mechanical advantage methods to raise a climber at least 3 meters with no more than 1 meter of system slack while instructor belaying.
  • Demonstrate efficient use of at least two mechanical advantage methods to raise a climber at least 3 meters with no more than 1 meter of system slack while a student is belaying.

Educational Ability

  • Design and demonstrate a 45 min lesson on harness application, knot use, belaying and communication.
  • Design and demonstrate a 45 min lesson showing effective coaching of movement skills through activities, verbal direction and modeling.
  • Design and demonstrate a 45 min lesson on artificial gear placement.
  • Design and demonstrate a 45 min lesson illustrating the essential considerations of master point creation with various materials.
  • Facilitate a 10-30 min educational presentation on carabiners, belay tools, climbing grades, reading route topos, webbing and cordage material specs and use, how to select a rope /rope dynamics, Leave No Trace practices.
  • Design and demonstrate a 45 min lesson on knot and hitch tying including figure 8s, overhands, clove hitch, block Munter Hitch and Prussik Hitch.
  • Design and demonstrate a 45 min lesson on escaping the belay.
  • Design and demonstrate a 45 min lesson on simple raising systems for rock climbers.

Top Managed Climbing Instructor™ Exam Challenges The Top Managed Climbing Instructor™ certification may be challenged. Experienced candidates, who can provide evidence of formalized instruction in climbing management and significant field experience, are allowed one attempt to challenge. Candidates will be required to take a one day exam that assesses the core skills of base and top managed instruction as well as educational delivery. The requirements for exam challenges are:

  • Greater than 3 years experience working 40 or more days per year managing rock or ice climbing sites. These sites should include a diversity of areas that include top and base managed sites that utilize both natural and artificial anchors.
OR
  • An individual may petition the PCIA to be allowed to challenge the exam based on a resume showing significant experience and evidence of formalized instruction. (ie. An individual with several years of personal climbing background who instructs rock climbing 20 – 30 days per year and has taken at least seven days of formalized technical courses through highly recognized providers).

Find a course: Click here to go to our calendar.