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Top-Rope Guide Training

The Top Rope Guide Course is perfect for current professional guides or instructors working primarily in top rope terrain. There is no requirement for leading in this course; all anchors are accessible via 4th class or easier approaches.


The course teaches a variety of skills, strategies, and methods for both the technical top rope environment as well as creating a strong base for technical instruction, teaching techniques, group management, and other important concerns.

The top rope course is specifically developed to primarily address ” top and bottom managed” top rope guiding. The training encompass certain key top managed techniques that are commonly used such as belayed rappels and top-managed belays for areas such as lake and sea cliffs.

The training days focus on technical skills, common guide and instruction techniques, managing clients, teaching, and pertinent rescue techniques. Classes are very hands on with active discussions and student involvement.


Top-Rope guide
$450 (3 days)
$200 (1 day)
Private Mentoring/Continuing Education
Please Note: Completing a PCGI training course does not constitute certification. In order to obtain PCGI certification individuals must pass a separate assessment for certification.

Course Pre-Requisites

Comfortable With Climbing

Prior top rope climbing experience, comfortable with top roping 5.7 climbs


Prior knowledge of, experience with and ability to build appropriate top rope anchor systems using traditional climbing gear, i.e. stoppers, cams, etc


Top rope climbing experience of at least one year/12 months


Working knowledge of the following knots and hitches

  • clove hitch
  • figure 8 family of knots (including figure 8 on a bight, figure 8 follow through, etc)
  • friction hitches
  • double fisherman
  • overhand
  • bowline

Suggested Gear List

·         Climbing harness with belay loop

·         Climbing helmet

·         Standard free climbing rack, which should include at minimum a set of wired nuts and a range of camming units. Tri-cams, hexes, and other types of gear are optional.

·         10-12 shoulder-length (24″) runners with carabiners

·         50-60-meter climbing rope (may be static for TRG)

·         Sticky rubber approach shoes

·         Climbing shoes comfortable enough to wear all day

·         Five Pear shaped locking carabiners

·         Two 18-21 foot long 7mm nylon cordalettes

·         Belay device (gri-gri (strongly recommended), ATC/Plate, reverso, or other)

·         50-100 ft. of 10-10.5 mm static line for extending anchors

How Book a Cliffhanger Guides Joshua Tree Rock Climbing Courses

We at Cliffhanger Guides very intentionally do NOT have a system for online bookings.

We apologize for any inconvenience, however we feel it is imperative that we get a chance to know a little about one another so that we can build your ideal trip and send you out with the perfect guide for your skill sets and interests. We believe in quality of experience above all else at Cliffhanger Guides.
We are dedicated to providing you with an intimate, personalized, and unforgettable experience, and frankly, there are no robots for that yet.

For reservations…


    Top-Rope guideSingle-pitch guideLead guideMulti-pitch guideRescue Training

    CourseAssessmentPrivate Mentoring/Continuing Education

    What Our Customers Are Saying

    Don’t just take it from us, let our customers do the talking!

    Where do I begin?! I can’t imagine finding a better guiding service in JTree – or anywhere else for that matter!

    My girlfriend and I spent 3 full days with Seth, who co-owns Cliffhanger guides with his wife, Sabra, and had a complete blast!

    There’s a lifetime of climbing at Joshua Tree and Seth knew every little nook and cranny of the park – that’s what 20 years of guiding will do for you! With my girlfriend and I being the typical urban gym topropers with little outdoor experience, I knew that our Trad Climbing course would be a tall order in 3 days.

    Seth laid out the perfect curriculum that fit in the technically intensive instruction we needed but still provided plenty of time to just get on some fun routes and have a blast.

    On the first day I was nervous to lean back on a perfectly good anchor but by the end of day 3 I was confidently top belaying my girlfriend on an anchor I built after leading the route.

    Seth made my girlfriend and I feel 100% safe the entire time. Not once did I feel that I was ever put in danger.

    Cliffhanger guides is a top notch service and I’d be crazy not to mention the awesome lunches that they provide as well. Just sitting here and typing this is making me crave some wine soaked cheese and artichoke hearts!  “

    Joe K. Philadelphia, PA

    Yelp Review

    Cliffhanger Guides Rock! Pun intended, but really they’re awesome.

    I was able to book Seth for a PCGI instruction course to take an assessment at a later date. He was patient, thorough and very quick to adjust to my learning style.

    If you are ever in the area from October through March- this is the guide service you want to use!”

    Matt C. Santa Ana, CA

    Yelp Review

    “Took a class with Seth this weekend. Was totally tired and he offered up his OWN cup of coffee.

    Now that is good service!

    Met his wife Sabra and she seems totally rad… my girlfriends and I want to plan a weekend trip and book her to take us out.

    JTree is the place to be and Seth and Sabra will only add to the experience. “

    Katy L. Lawndale, CA

    Yelp Review

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Are there Pre-Requisites for these rock climbing courses?
    Yes, please see the page for the course you are intending to enroll in and you will see a list of pre-requisites.
    Should I bring my own gear?
    Yes. We do have gear if you forget something, but we feel it is better for you to train with your own gear that you can become more comfortable with.
    Does this training ensure me a certificate?


    Please Note: Completing a PCGI training course does not constitute certification. In order to obtain PCGI certification individuals must pass a separate assessment for certification

    Should I sign up online?
    You can use our online form, or call us, to reserve a course.  We will then set up a course time and guide you the rest of the way.

    Don't Be Shy

    If we didn’t answer all of your questions, feel free to drop us a line anytime.