American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA)

Program Description

AMGA & CWI Climbing Wall Instructor

The Climbing Wall Instructors program is intended to certify professionals who teach climbing in an indoor or artificial wall environment. The aim is to; 1) increase the level of professionalism in indoor climbing and to improve the level of climbing wall instruction, 2) develop more consistent standards of care for climbing instructors in the United States, 3) to evaluate the skills of climbing instructors in the United States, and 4) to provide guidance for further professional development in the climbing and guiding industry within the United States.

The AMGA is the nation’s sole representative to the 21-member International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA).  The IFMGA is the international governing body responsible for guiding standards and education. As a member organization within the IFMGA the AMGA’s educational and certification programs (to include the CWI certification) meet international standards.

The course length is a minimum of 20 hours of instruction, skills demonstration and evaluation. The certification is good for three years.

Climbing Wall Instructor – Lead

Lead Climbing Instructors are eligible to teach Top Rope skills as well as lead climbing skills on single pitch indoor and outdoor artificial climbing structures.

Recertification Course

Current CWIs can take a one-day reassessment to renew their three-year certification.


Dr. Clinton Culp in an Assistant Professor in MSUB’s Outdoor Adventure Leadership program. He has over 25 years of experience as a climber and climbing instructor. He is a Professional Member of the AMGA and holds certifications as a Climbing Wall Instructor-Lead and CWI Provider, Single Pitch Instructor, and is on track to receive his Alpine Guide certification. He holds current First Aid/CPR/AED and Wilderness First Responder certifications. He has a M.S. in Recreation and Ph.D. in Education from the University of Idaho.

Who Should Enroll

  • Individuals who are currently working at an indoor climbing gym or at a facility with an outdoor artificial climbing structure and wish to improve their instructing skills.
  • Individuals who are seeking work at an indoor climbing gym or facility with an outdoor artificial climbing structure.
  • Persons who are seeking entry level instruction and certification as a professional climbing instructor within the AMGA.

Eligibility Requirements

  • You are 18 years old.
  • You have at least one year documented personal climbing experience (a minimum of 20 outings climbing indoors and/or outdoors in the last 12 months).
  • Lead Certification – You are able to climb 5.9 on top rope and lead 5.8 on artificial structures. Note, Lead Certification also includes Top Rope Certification.
  • You understand the proper use of personal climbing equipment, including shoes, harness, belay device (i.e., manual and assisted), carabiners, rope, cordage, and slings.
  • You are a Professional Member of the American Mountain Guides Association. This cost is not included with the cost of the curse.

Join the AMGA at the Professional Membership Level here: (

  • You must maintain a current First Aid/CPR certification for your AMGA CWI certification to be valid. You do not need the First Aid/CPR certification at the time of the CWI course.
  • You do not need to be a current member of the AMGA or have a current First Aid/CPR certification for the Preparation Course.
  • You must be approved to register for this course.  Contact Clinton Culp at or 406-657-2372 to obtain an application.

Program Schedule

CWI Course (Lead): February 10-12, 2017
(5 Sessions total – Tuesday evenings 1/23, 1/30, 2/6 and 2/13 5-8 PM and Saturday 2/11 8AM – 5 PM)

CWI Recertification: Contact the instructor for arrangements.

Program Cost

MSUB’s Climbing Gym, located in the Physical Education Building

CWI Tope Lead - $300.00

CWI Recertification - $150.00

For an additional fee, travel and lodging, arraignments can be made to conduct the courses off site at an appropriate artificial climbing facility.