Climbing Wall Instructor (CWI) Certifications

Hello! I’m an educator working through the American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA) which is a non-profit focused on industry wide certifications, education and opportunities. The Climbing Wall Instructor (CWI) program gives legally recognized certifications to instructors looking to have the highest possible certification recognized worldwide.  It’s a strenuous program that expects high standards in things such as professionalism, technical skills and teaching ability.

As a Climbing Wall Instructor (CWI) Provider Trainer, I both host certification courses and certify others to host CWI courses. These programs are one of a kind in the USA and have been endorsed by the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association (IFMGA) and the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA).  The CWI program is recognized around the world; having more standardized expectations around safety and skill can help create a safer climbing experience for all.

“It was fantastic! Educational, applicable, interesting, challenging, and fun!” -anonymous review

“Caleb was an amazing instructor with an incredible wealth of climbing knowledge, and did an excellent job of making it accessible for both newer and more experienced climbers in the course.” -anonymous review

Why get certified?

Having an independent certification is an asset to someone’s professional career in the important task of managing risk in a climbing environment.  This is useful for many different climbing professionals.  I’ve certified all types of climbing professionals from instruction, route setting, youth, managers, education professionals, outdoor program leaders, general managers, commercial gym owners or just passionate climbers wishing to have the tools to share the love of their sport responsibly. Whether you are a gym manager looking to learn skills to increase your team’s safety standards, a climbing professional working to increase their skill level and help ensure their ability to get hired, or climber looking to learn more about their favorite sport, the CWI program can bring you to a new level.

“I was consistently impressed with the extent and quality of the knowledge shared during the program. The instruction was amazing and I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to go through it.” -anonymous review

Looking to take a course? They are hosted regularly in Boston, New York and Chicago.
Looking to host a course at your location? I travel to host courses and can tailor a program to best fit your staffs certification needs.

Who am I?

I strongly care about each individual’s personal and professional growth.  My goal is to work as hard as possible to provide as many opportunities for this with all candidates I teach.

I’ve been in the climbing industry as an instructor, outdoor guide or manager for 20+ years.  

I’ve been an outdoor guide in 9 different states throughout my career.  I have robust experience in the industry, a long history of hands-on experience in the skills I’m teaching, and a passion to provide opportunities for individuals to have the knowledge, skill and confidence to be successful.

I enjoy what I do and strive to have fun while teaching all! I love meeting so many interesting individuals with unique histories and perspectives, and take the time to connect with each candidate to ensure their success.

“I was impressed with Caleb’s strong communication skills. He was never judgmental of anyone if they failed to know something that would be deemed obvious. He was always willing to take the time to make sure each student fully comprehended the material!” -anonymous review

Not only do I have a strong industry experience but I’m a passionate instructor who holds the high standard to myself as well.

“Caleb teaches in a way that provokes action. He knows what he speaks about and how to articulate points that may seem confusing. His attitude was always positive and he was helpful with providing feedback while simultaneously keeping you accountable for the information you were learning (and ultimately teaching) and conscious that teaching climbing skills is important and should be treated as such. He was firm but fair, as any climbing instructor should be as the sport is inherently dangerous.” -anonymous review

“AMAZING!!!! He works hard for the students. On time and always ready to take action. He knew when to step in. Letting us struggle for a moment before explaining why we should do things a certain way.” -anonymous review


For multiple years in a row I’ve certified more climbing instructor candidates in the USA than any other provider.

  • Certifying instructors since March 2013 for the AMGA
  • 103 courses taught
  • 724 total students 
  • 30 GM’s or owners
  • 20 unique climbing gyms
  • 10+ states and in multiple countries

“Caleb helps his students to pass as much as he can, while understanding that the standard must be upheld. He demands a certain level of proficiency and makes working towards it enjoyable.” -anonymous review

Looking to take a course? They are hosted regularly in Boston, New York and Chicago.
Looking to host a course at your location? I travel to host courses and can tailor a program to best fit your staffs certification needs.

What do people think about the course?

I strongly care about individuals personal and professional growth.  My goal is to work as hard as possible to provide as many opportunities for this with all candidates I teach.

96.6% reviewers say the course exceeded their expectations.

*when asked “Overall, how well did this program meet your expectations” course, 86 out of 89 participants answered “Constantly or sometimes exceeded my expectations”

“Caleb was a great instructor. He exceeded my expectations for the CWI course. He was very detailed about the material and kept the course running smoothly. His experience in the field shows and it allowed for learning several different styles of teaching. He was also very relaxed and kept the course energy positive throughout.” -anonymous review

97.7% reviewers say the instructor (me) exceeded their expectations.

* 87 out of 89 participants answered “During the course the instructor constantly or sometimes exceeded my expectations”

“Caleb is super knowledgeable. I trusted his judgment and his advice, and his teaching methods were clear and direct. He answered questions thoroughly and confidently, and did not hesitate to make himself available when students required clarification on topics.” -anonymous review

98.8% reviewers say the instructional technique exceeded their expectations.

* 88 out of 89 participants answered “During the course the instructional technique constantly or sometimes exceeded my expectations”

“Very relaxed, confident, knowledgeable, and patient.” -anonymous review

Diversity and Inclusion

I care about people being in a supportive learning environment and this is a pillar for everything I do as an instructor.

I live in New York City, the most diverse city in North America and have certified so many unique people from different cultures, preferences or belief systems. 

I constantly strive to uphold AMGA’s code of ethics and expect other candidates to do so as well. 

“He is very professional, open and prepared to listen different opinion from the student. Not a machine but very human, a good person that try to understand and see every person for who he/she is.” -anonymous review

“I especially loved having people in the program from different places and types of job/reason for getting CWI certification. It was helpful to hear people with different climbing experiences and backgrounds share their insights as a complement to the instruction.” -anonymous review

“I immediately noticed Caleb’s strength as an instructor, and his demeanor and professionalism served as a model for my teaching. He met me where I was at, but held me accountable. Ultimately this forced me to take on a leadership role that improved my confidence and allowed me to showcase my abilities as an instructor.” -anonymous review


From both teaching in an international hub to many candidates around the world I also travel to work with many clients.

In 2021 I traveled to Saudi Arabia to help establish the CWI program in the first commercial gym in the country supporting a passionate and diverse climbing community there.

I worked with the Ministry of Sport to host certifications for the first instructors in the country and establish a foundation of climbing awareness.  

The CWI certification is recognized in countries around the world, see more here.

“Very knowledgeable, open to suggestions and other information, willing to accept new ideas, no ego, approachable, fun, confident” -anonymous review


Starting in 2018 I pioneered a program in conjunction with the Brooklyn District Attorney (DA) Youth Diversion program.  Which allowed first time offenders looking at doing time in jail take a multi year program that diverts their energy into positive and community focused activities.

The program not only taught the participants how to climb but assigned them to case worker professionals who are climbers as well and provided counseling based on their experience.  The goal was not to just make climbers but have employment opportunities  in which we successfully matched candidates into programs such as a paid route setting apprenticeship.

“The course was fun and engaging. It involved all of us as a team often, helping me learn quicker from others.” -anonymous review

“Very knowledgeable, even-keeled. Genuinely interested in helping everyone get better.” -anonymous review

Education: Schools and community centers

I teach at multiple colleges, such as Princeton University, for young adults who are in outdoor leadership programs.

I teach at community centers, such as the YM+YWHA in Inwood and the Bronx, helping the staff create a robust climbing program and inspire their community. 

I teach at private schools, such as Spence an all girls school or Lycee Francais a French school in Manhattan, to ensure the full time staff are capable and prepared to provide a quality experience and best minimize risk.

“Caleb. He was incredibly present. He talked to us on our level, and taught us a lot while maintaining the definition of cool, calm, and collected.” -anonymous review

Real experiences and hands on practice

I always provide the opportunity to not just simulate an actual teaching environment and rescue situations but to provide real situations in which to gain experience from.

“Being able to teach real life students under supervision was amazing. We were able to get real time feedback and test our skills in a true learning environment.” -anonymous review

Provider Trainer

I’m fully certified and highly involved in the training of other CWI Providers- allowing them to host their own CWI courses in house or provide the opportunity locally.

I’ve certified many long standing, experienced professionals such as climbing gym owners, general managers or outdoor education program managers.

The high level understanding of risk Managment, new customer conversion, experience and product pathway is essential in any successful climbing venture.

“Caleb did an excellent job of providing instruction in a way that didn’t hurt peoples egos in a class full of experienced climbers! His method of instruction through discussion of important questions lead to deeper thought of the process and allowed for a smooth flow of the class. His feed back was always positive and easy to receive.” -anonymous review

Technical Skills

I work with specialized, highly experienced climbers and professional route setters.  I strive to go beyond the curriculum and provide as many experiences to establish technical climbing skills which reduce risk and make their job more efficient.

“I really enjoyed the rescue portion of this course. It introduced completely new skills that I can now use in a number of scenarios, if necessary. I feel more confident in having well-rounded knowledge of knots, gear, and how to use both.” -anonymous review

I strongly care about individuals personal and professional growth.  My goal is to work as hard as possible to provide as many opportunities for this with all candidates I teach.

Looking to take a course? They are hosted regularly in Boston, New York and Chicago.
Looking to host a course at your location? I travel to host courses and can tailor a program to best fit your staffs certification needs.

Reviews from previous participants…

“Knowledgeable and experienced instructor. Caleb was personable and adapted to different learning styles. He read situations quickly and gave very direct and useful feedback. His stories became my memory tools.”

“I did not think I would have as much fun as I did and I ended up having a great time and learning a ton.”

“It is always a risk taking a class on something that you often teach. I found the class to be incredibly informative. I enjoyed your management of the material and the group. It was seamless instruction even with such a huge contrast in participant experience.”

“Caleb was great! I loved how much he was attentive and great at feedback. He doesn’t miss a thing happening in the class and is able to give you very helpful feedback to improve yourself. He intervened when necessary and that was helpful to be able to step back and learn.”

“I was pleasantly surprised to find that the course was full of much more information than I expected. I walked into it thinking it would consist mostly of info that I already knew but it really challenged me to think about the instructing process differently for my own benefit.”

“Caleb is obviously very knowledgeable and he is a laid-back confident teacher. I think he did an excellent job communicating the skills of the course, giving helpful feedback and being flexible with the flow of the curriculum.”

“Well organized, very smooth, and efficient. There was a ton of info to pack into 3 days, but it felt like we got it all and got it in a proper structure.”

“Caleb was incredible, was available and accessible when necessary, but largely let people solve their own problems. He is a big reason for the confidence I have in my ability to teach”

“Great layout and progression. It teaches skills that even a seasoned climber may learn from.”

“Thought out, well structured, motivating, inspiring, challenging, honest feedback, knowledgeable”

“Caleb was fantastic. He consistently balanced the seriousness of the instruction and material with maintaining a fun and engaging experience. He is very personable and approachable, plus he really knows his stuff. I don’t recall a question that he was unable to answer, no matter how random. I feel lucky to have been put in his course. His group management skills during the course gave me inspiration and ideas for managing my own groups of students in future.”

“I cannot describe the extent of the benefit of the program, it made me reach the level of professionalism, many mistakes became clear and their impact and how I can overcome them and explain them”

“I thought that the progression of the course was very logical, and feel like I learned more over the course of those three days than I did during my entire first year climbing on my own. “

“Risk Management! Whether it was backing up belayers on lead or top rope, we were provided with the skills to confidently support climbers no matter their experience level. Learning how to perform a rescue was also incredibly beneficial. Though I hope I never need to, I feel confident rescuing a stranded climber!”

“The ideas that I met were amazing, and they gave me a new perspective on how I do the things I usually do.”

“The BEST. Knowledgeable and professional without seeming cheesy or disingenuous at any point.”

“Vastly knowledgable, professional, patient, and a fantastic teacher.”

“Excellent instructor, willing to give feedback, but in a very helpful non-critical kind of way. He’s really focused on helping you improve vs. just telling you what you did wrong.”

“I learned so much from Caleb. He answered any question I had. He is a confident and extremely present instructor.”

“Caleb’s teaching style was very relaxing and non stressful which made for a better learning environment for me.”

Confident, and experienced, a master teacher”

“One of the best teachers I have seen in any subject area. He was extremely knowledgeable and capable. Caleb was able to have an eye of everyone so we felt safe. He knew exactly when to push and when to let up. He saw “all” and always gave criticism that was truthful without being hurtful. He was also quick to positively reinforce students when they were doing things well. He scaffolded the course so that it was easier to learn. Caleb is a master educator.”

“I appreciated Caleb’s relaxed and confident teaching style, which helped to calm students as they navigated the learning process”

“It is a very thorough and consistent program. It keeps you engaged and excited to learn many new techniques, and makes you more confident.”

“Impeccable instruction, patient and kind”

“He was fantastic! Extremely knowledgeable, approachable, and fun, while still holding everyone to the highest standards”

“Caleb was extremely knowledgeable and has a high standard. He was welcoming, friendly and chill. He had a good balance with the serious nature of the material and letting use observe our own mistakes and teaching how to do it better. I liked his dog too.”

“Excellent. Great teaching style, preparedness, and knowledge of the material. Effective at identifying student strengths and weaknesses and at correcting mistakes.”

“His laid back yet assertive demeanor was very helpful and encouraging. He allowed me to fail/make small mistakes and give positive feedback later by explaining what i said/did and why it’s better to do it a different way. He was great at managing the various levels of skill/experience within the course participants and never shied away from pointing out dangerous situations as they arose (particularly in the lead climbing portion).

“First of all, I cannot tell you what a great experience this past week has been. It is without question that regardless of who becomes certified or not, everyone feels much more confident and knowledgeable in their skills and content. You are a remarkable teacher…so perceptive and so attuned to each of your students.”

“I had a blast in the course and learned a ton. Caleb was a great instructor and created a learning style that allowed anyone in the class to succeed.”

“Very well organized, easy to understand. I never felt intimidated and felt comfortable to ask questions and receive well thought out answers.”

“Caleb has great instructional and leadership qualities. He exemplified the professionalism he was teaching. His feedback style was very useful and he creates a comfortable learning environment through his demeanor. “

“Caleb was easy-going, yet concise with his teaching. He managed time well and was able to focus on all of us and what each person needed to improve on in order to succeed.”

“Very friendly, approachable, and knowledgeable. Very casual but professional, puts the student at ease.”

“Caleb Freese is an outstanding instructor, who inspires his students to excel.”

“Caleb. He was incredibly present. He talked to us on our level, and taught us a lot while maintaining the definition of cool, calm, and collected.”

“Caleb was extremely knowledgeable, friendly and a great teacher. He really opened the eyes for the City of Henderson and the staff on how we should be operation our wall.”

“This was a great opportunity. As a seasoned (10 year) climber, I’ve been in the sport for a long time. That being said, I’ve made some bad habits along the way and really appreciated having them brought to light. This course showed me efficiency and new ways to run old models. I would highly recommend it (given the right teacher) and definitely feel I learned more than I thought I would.”

“For me, the Lead portion of the course was especially useful. Learning new methods on how to safely and effectively allow clients to take and catch lead falls.”