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Course Length: ~3 days with pre course preparation required. 

Prerequisites: The candidate should: be at least 18 years old; demonstrate an adequate experience level to the course provider;  have lead climbing experience; have the ability to comfortably top rope climb at the 5.8 standard, illustrating confident, smooth, and controlled movement; own the personal equipment necessary for the course; demonstrate basic technical skills with ease; and be comfortable with multiple styles of belay devices. 
Certification Duration: 3 years.
Re-certification Criteria: There are three re-certification options: (1) take a refresher course; (2) obtain 12 hours of continuing education credits (CEUs); (3) obtain a higher-level certification.

The Top Rope Climbing Instructors (TRCI) course provides students with an in depth and standardized understanding of the skills essential to teaching climbing in an outdoor setting. The TRCI course prepares instructors to set-up and manage groups of climbers on technical terrain with non-technical access.

Top Rope Climbing Instructor Course Curriculum:


  • Professionalism:  Professional demeanor and attire; professional training programs and other outdoor education programs; role modeling; and the principles of Leave No Trace (LNT).

  • Legality: Outdoor emergency action plans and administrative aspects related to outdoor climbing. 

  • Safety:  Lead belaying with a dynamic catch; inspection of bolts, pitons, trad climbing gear and anchors; top-access protection; utilizing ground anchors and back-up belayers in an outdoor setting; climbing site management; risk management; edge protection; and safety briefings.

  • Technical:  Construction of multiple, SERENE, anchors; set-up and operation of releasable rappels; basic rappel rescues; deciding when to  lower vs. rappel; identification, inspection, and selection of climbing gear; climbing knots and hitches; construction and application of improvised harnesses; rope coiling; various belay techniques; inspection and use of natural features; rescues, escapes and transfers; and base managed student belays. 

  • Accessibility:  Working with diverse populations and climbing site and route selection.

  • Instructing/Coaching:  Climbing site orientation; skills remediation in an outdoor setting; teaching basic and intermediate climbing movements; lesson planning for knots, artificial gear placements, climbing gear, cordage, anchor construction, and basic rescue skills. 


Top Rope Climbing Instructor Certification:
Upon successful completion of the course, an individual may elect to take a one-day certification exam.  A skills consolidation period after the course is recommended, but not required.


  • Exam pre-requisites: Candidate must have completed the PCIA TRCI course or must have completed the AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course.


  • Exam Challenges:  The TRCI Exam may be challenged. Experienced candidates, who can provide evidence of formalized instruction in climbing management and significant field experience, are allowed one attempt at a one-day exam that assesses the core skills. 

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