Professional Climbing Instructors’ Association: Climbing Wall Instructor Course

Dates: Dec. 12-13, 2020

Cost: $275 for the course (includes 1year PCIA membership)

Provider: Lester Zook, WILD GUYde Adventures LLC ([email protected], 540-433-1637)

To register:

After completing the on-line registration, go to the Confirmation page and print out the Medical Form/Participant Agreement, and the Skills and Experience Checklist, and mail with the fee to: WGA, 1047 Stuart St., Harrisonburg, VA, 22802. 75% refund up to 7 days prior; no refund thereafter. Use the topics below as a personal preparation checklist. You will receive confirmation of registration and a teaching assignment or two prior to the course.


  • Personal harness and helmet
  • 16-18’ perlon cordalette (6 or 7mm)
  • Passive belay device (ATC, Trango Pyramid, etc.) and a Gri-gri
  • 4-6 locking carabiners (1-2 pear-style)
  • Personal climbing shoes
  • Small spiral bound notebook/pens or pencils
  • Lunch and ample water
  • 2 prussik loops (each 4’ of 6mm perlon cord)

PCIA Climbing Wall Instructor Program Information

For More Information Visit PCIA Site

Course Length: ~20 hours

Prerequisites: 5.8 Climbing Ability, owns personal climbing equipment, comfortable belaying with both aperture and assisted braking devices.
Certification Duration: 3 years
Re-certification Criteria: 1-day refresher course, 10 hours Continuing Education Credits (CEUs), or obtain a higher level certification.

The course emphasizes the presentation of sound fundamental skills to climbing gym participants, the formation of risk assessment and risk management skills, and basic problem solving skills such as belay transitions and on-wall coaching and assistance techniques. Participants are assessed on both their core knowledge and their ability to effectively teach and coach related skills. Depending on performance, participants will earn 1 of the following certification levels.

Climbing Wall Instructor Course Certification Levels

  • CWI-A: Climbing Wall Instructor Assistant
  • CWI: Climbing Wall Instructor
  • CWI-L: Climbing Wall Instructor with a Lead Climbing endorsement

Climbing Wall Instructor Course Prerequisites:

  • Shows an adequate experience level to the course provider illustrating that he/she is ready for the course; examples include periodic climbing for 2 – 3 years, a high intensity of climbing in the past few months, etc.
  • Has the ability to easily put on a harness and tie in appropriately.
  • Has the ability to belay with an aperture belay device and an assisted locking device in a competent, comfortable and confident manner.
  • Possesses the personal equipment necessary for the course.
  • Is capable of comfortably top roping 5.8 on an artificial climbing wall.


Climbing Wall Instructor Core Component Skills:

Professional Skills

  • Presents her/himself with a professional demeanor and appropriate attire.
  • Presents her/himself with essential and well-maintained personal equipment.
  • Discusses differences between recreational climbing and climbing instruction and supervision.
  • Understands legal and administrative aspects of wall management.
  • Designs and demonstrates professional client greeting and facility introduction
  • Discusses options for working with youth populations vs. adult populations.
  • Discusses professionalism, professional training programs and the role of organizations such as the PCIA, CWA, ACCT and the AMGA.
  • Models a top rope climb at the 5.8 standard, illustrating confident, smooth, and controlled movement.
  • Demonstrates a variety of basic and intermediate physical climbing movement skills.

Technical Understanding

  • Possesses a working knowledge of and an ability to inspect basic climbing gear such as ropes, belay devices, carabiners and climbing shoes.
  • Demonstrates the ability to confidently tie and discuss the use of the following knots: Figure 8, Overhand and Bowline.
  • Demonstrates the ability to confidently belay using a variety of belay methods including aperture devices, assisted locking devices, and the Munter Hitch.

Safety Skills

  • Possesses a working knowledge of fundamental gym set-up and on-going inspection tasks such as the maintenance of holds, landing surfaces, floor areas, bolts, quick draws, and rope set-ups.
  • Discusses the creation of safe climbing routes for varying abilities and styles of climbing.
  • Designs and demonstrates the administration of a basic climbing skill test.
  • Designs and demonstrates the administration of a lead climbing skill test.
  • Demonstrates effective skills intervention and skills remediation.
  • Evaluates and problem-solves the need for back-up belays and the use of anchors.
  • Performs basic assistance and rescue skills such taking over a loaded belay, counter ascending / rappelling, and a climber pick off.
  • Prepares an emergency plan for a sample facility.
  • Demonstrates effective supervision of both bouldering and roped climbing areas.
  • Demonstrates effective spotting techniques.

Educational Ability

  • Designs and demonstrates an appropriate teaching sequence of harness application, knot use, belaying and communication.
  • Designs and demonstrates a lesson showing effective coaching of movement skills through activities, verbal direction and modeling.

Maintaining Certification

PCIA Climbing Wall Instructor certifications can be maintained in multiple ways.

  • A standard one-day re-certification course taken within three years of the last date of certification.
  • Re-certification by continuing education credit. A minimum of five hours focused on technical skills and five hours focused on education skills is required. Courses should be pre-approved by the PCIA, but certified individuals may petition the PCIA for the consideration of activities that have not been pre-approved.
  • Achievement of a higher level PCIA certification. An upper level PCIA certification supersedes the Climbing Wall Instructor Certification and both will remain valid as long as the continuing education requirements of the higher level course are met.