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Professional Climbing Instructors Association (PCIA)

The PCIA began in 2007 to fill a niche in the climbing community with courses that provide comprehensive exposure to fundamental climbing knowledge and instructional skills for individuals who teach in climbing gyms, top-rope, and single pitch environments. The curriculum includes training and credentialing designed to help new climbers and climbing instructors gain access to accurate and consistent information, and to utilize safer, more efficient techniques that are environmentally friendly.

About the PCIA – History and Mission

There are four levels of programs offered by the PCIA and a separate Site Verification process:

Climbing Site Belayer                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The PCIA Climbing Site Belayer course curriculum helps participants develop good personal and professional climbing habits at the very beginning of their climbing instructor development and resolves several common climbing myths. The core curriculum is approximately ten hours. Participants who demonstrate competency in core skills are granted a one year Climbing Site Belayer certification.

Climbing Wall Instructor Course
The PCIA Climbing Wall Instructor (CWI) Course lasts two days and provides in-depth, standardized training of the skills essential to teaching climbing in an indoor or other artificial rock climbing setting. Participants will be assessed on both their core knowledge and their ability to effectively teach and coach related skills.

Top Rope Climbing Instructor
The PCIA Base Managed Climbing Instructor (BMCI) module is the entry-level outdoor course lasting three days, with the option of an additional exam day for individuals seeking the BMCI Certification. This course provides the skills and knowledge for recreational climbers to transition into a professional role as a climbing instructor.

Top Managed Instructor/ Single Pitch Instructor
The PCIA Top Managed Climbing Instructor (TMCI) course is a one day add-on module that extends one’s capabilities to sites that are managed from the top to avoid the impact of bringing a group to the base, or for other site specific reasons. The additional skills of raising systems and safe lowering from the top are covered in this course. Participants in this module may attain TMCI Certification, or individuals who demonstrate a lead climbing ability at a 5.6 level will be awarded the PCIA Single Pitch Climbing Instructor (SPCI) certificate.

Lead Climbing Instructor
The PCIA Lead Climbing Instructor (LCI) course is an intensive two-day training designed for individuals who are proficient single pitch climbers with a desire to learn the more critical skills associated with lead climbing and teaching to lead. The course enhances fundamental instructional skills and goes well beyond all single pitch courses, requiring participants to demonstrate that they can comfortably lead 5.8 routes using artificial gear to protect a climb and to construct anchors.

Site Verification
The site verification process is intended for specialized programs such as summer camps or other organizations that offer limited climbing instruction at a single site with the same staff. These programs facilitate climbing experiences in which the staff typically belays participants and does not teach rock climbing skills such as belaying, anchor construction, etc. A Site Verification provides training focused on the specific climbing activities being done and is not comprehensive in nature.

Who can benefit from PCIA Training and Certification?

PCIA programs are intended for individuals who already do or desire to instruct climbing skills, facilitate climbing experiences, or monitor climbing activities. Typical participants include climbing school instructors, climbing gym staff, camp staff, leaders of scouting groups, and university and school adventure program leaders. Many recreational climbers take courses simply to benefit from exposure to current research and new techniques, becoming a more knowledgeable and safer climber. For individuals aspiring to be professional mountain guides, the PCIA curriculum provides the focused and sequential instruction and credentialing in the art and science of climbing instruction that will prove invaluable for future entry into more advanced guide training programs.

Where are the PCIA Courses offered?

PCIA programs are offered in various areas across the U.S. Rock Dimensions provides PCIA courses in Pisgah National Forest, areas of the Blue Ridge Parkway (NPS), and several NC state parks. Consult the Rock Dimensions course calendar (coming soon)  for a listing of upcoming programs. Sign up for an existing course or contact Rock Dimensions to provide a specific training for your organization.

Spring 2018 Course Dates: May 14-18, June 4-8

Who are the PCIA Course Instructors?

PCIA instructor trainers are professionals in the field with years of experience climbing and teaching climbing, and who demonstrate a performance level well above the PCIA exam level. They are passionate about furthering the professionalism of climbing instructors and committed to the consistent and high quality delivery of courses and exams. Each instructor trainer has undergone a selective process that includes co-instruction with a lead instructor trainer, along with an individual review by the PCIA Technical Committee and evaluation on the merits of their background.

Ryan Beasley
has been involved with the PCIA almost since it’s beginning, and has been instrumental in bringing the PCIA to the southeast. Ryan is an Instructor Trainer for all four levels of PCIA programs (Climbing Wall, Base Managed, Top Managed/Single Pitch, and Lead Climbing), as well as a provider of specific Site Verification. Prior to the PCIA,  Ryan completed the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Rock Instructor Course in 1999. From 2000-2010 he maintained  AMGA Top-rope certification, and AMGA Single Pitch since 2007.  Ryan is the founder and owner of Rock Dimensions Climbing Guides (1998), beginning his professional climbing career as a Recreation Management student at Appalachian State University in 1990. He currently teaches Rock Climbing through the P.E. Department at  Appalachian State University.