Saturday, March 16, 2013

Debrief of the SPI Exam

My AMGA SPI Exam ended late last Sunday afternoon. Ron debriefed the three of us candidates as a group, and then we received our assessments individually. Afterwards, I called Derek to tell him how I did. When he answered the phone, I started crying.


I cried for maybe five minutes before I finally stuttered out, “I p-passed...”

Derek held back a laugh and asked, “Then why are you crying?” He was clearly perplexed.

“I'm crying because I didn't pass good,” I mumbled back.

I struggled with what to share in this post. I had been hoping to gush gleefully about how amazingly I did during my exam thanks to all of my preparations, how I had no doubts or failures along the way. However, as Ron reminded me at the end of my debrief, there is no such thing as a perfect guiding day. And I definitely did not do perfectly on my exam.

My performance wasn't riddled with mistakes (I wouldn't have passed otherwise), but I definitely made mistakes that I should not have. For example, at one point I completely blanked while rigging a 3:1 assisted haul, which is a skill that was strictly review for me during my SPI Course. I should have breezed through that scenario, and I'm disappointed in myself that I didn't. 

Nevertheless, during the exam I remained open to instruction as well as self analysis. For every assignment I completed, I took a moment to think about how I could have done it better... sometimes this practice was accompanied by a nice big *facepalm.* Sometimes it was just a thought of, “oooh, it would be interesting to try [insert action] instead.” 

Ron provided all of us with suggestions for improvement along the way and encouraged us to think critically about how we accomplished our tasks. I feel like I learned even more on this exam than I did during the course last fall, and despite my less than perfect performance, I really did enjoy the process. The course was all about learning specific hard skills, whereas the exam was about using those skills in adaptive, efficient ways while instructing. It was pretty cool. 

Now that it is done and I've had some time to process everything, I am excited instead of disappointed (okay, that's a lie, I'm still a little disappointed in myself). I did pass, and I also have been given great gift – clear and precise feedback on how I can improve. Because of this feedback, I can make a stellar plan on how to become the best damn climbing instructor I can be, which is absolutely crucial since I have also been given an amazing opportunity... 

I am now officially working for Fox Mountain Guides as a full-time climbing instructor! (And so is Derek! WOOHOO TEAM DEBRUIN!!!)  

So, I guess I didn't do too badly on the exam :) Anyway, I'm off to make my rockin' awesome plan. Part of it will definitely involve some physical fitness -- so all my running buddies, pretty please send me advice on how to get up to running 7 mountainous miles in under 70 minutes as fast as I can! Seriously, my cardio needs major help. 


  1. The important thing is that you passed!! Congrats!! Now you know the areas to work on and go from there

    And congrats on the full time position with Fox Mountain Guides

  2. Horray! Focus on the joy of passing for a bit (and the new job!) then get back to improvement. It's just like my recent climbing. Focused on the fact that I finished the climb. Did some celebrating. next trip out worked on why I fell 3 times before finishing :)