Mountain Hardwear, AMGA Announce LGBTQIA2S+ Climbing Instructor Course

Mountain Hardwear, in collaboration with American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) and guidance from Lila Leatherman at Lamella Consulting, announced a three-day climbing course instructed by and in celebration of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. AMGA has offered the Single Pitch Instructor (SPI) rock climbing courses since 2008, but with financial backing from Mountain Hardwear, this will be the first course with a direct invitation to the LGBTQIA2S+ community.

The course will take place in Joshua Tree, California on October 2 – 4, 2020, offering an opportunity for climbers to learn in a queer- and trans-centered environment, said the hosts. AMGA said it has been working to create more affinity spaces and programs, including the women’s SPI course, and identified a need for this community. From the provider to students, this course aims to create an entry point for future instructors and guides.

“We’re grateful to be partnering with the AMGA to offer this collaborative climbing course,” said Matt Burbach, director of brand marketing at Mountain Hardwear. “Our mission with this course is to increase the visibility and mentorship of LGBTQIA2S+ guides and instructors, while providing a welcoming environment for the LGBTQIA2S+ community.”

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The climbing course will be instructed by AMGA Rock Instructor and SPI Provider, Sean Taft-Morales. This three-day course will not only cover the traditional SPI curriculum but will include a facilitated evening with community partner and MHW Ambassador, Nikki Smith.

“I started climbing in 1992, and went on to build an incredibly well-rounded career despite a tremendous amount of homophobic and transphobic comments from my climbing partners, consonant homophobia in guidebooks and route names, and an underlying sense that I’d never be accepted in the climbing world if I came out,” said Smith. “It’s important to me to try to change things for those who are coming into our sport after me.”

Along with serving as the sole sponsor for the course, Mountain Hardwear will cover fees for all participants in the inaugural program, not including travel expenses. There are four spots available and applications are open now through July 20, 2020. Current AMGA membership and two-part application are required to be considered.

To learn more about the course, visit

To apply for the course, visit: