ACA’s Spring 2018 Guide, Leader, and Aspirant Rondy

Howdy Canyoneers!

I hope everyone is well and getting into the fun of Spring “Rondy” Season!!! We wanted to send everyone a quick update on some of the ACA’s latest “happenings.” Pardon me that this is a little late in coming, the double-whammy of Spring Break and Easter hitting together has really had us chasing our tails, I must admit. The west is full of lots of nice folks wanting to see these beautiful canyons.


Circle of trust!
(photo: Nathan Smith)

The ACA’s Spring 2018 Guide, Leader, and Aspirant Rondy (GLAR) in Escalante was well attended with an enthusiastic group of canyoneers. The cool weather proceeding did not dampen spirits, and as the skies cleared the smiles showed that we were ready for work. Everyone arrived well prepared for a safe and smooth weekend, giving us lots of time to focus on important training as well as some quality time to spend with old friends and to make some new ones. The primary training objective was for us to begin mastering skills and techniques used as competent canyon leaders. Members worked for three days fine-tuning their canyoneering leadership skills to include: trip preparation, training on instruction and coaching, individual and team spotting techniques, and the art of “sequencing” people, equipment, and skill sets in and around a canyon environment. Described as the “soft skills,” the challenges and rewards of being a competent canyon leader and team member reminds us that canyoneering is as much or more about the people as it is about the technical aspects. Just sayin’ people are cool. For an “extra-scoop,” we challenged everyone to ascend Beau Beau (Egypt 1.5), including the 20 ft drop. I witnessed people sharing incredible teamwork, problem solving, and a pot-shot toss that I would have given a .5% chance of success, . . . and it was done perfectly on the third shot. What an effort and what great teamwork everybody. Learning can be so fun! Still smiling thinking about it.


Potshot toss!
(photo: Nathan Smith)

(photo: Nathan Smith)

Our first Aspirant Assessment under the updated skills checklist has been successfully completed! Congratulations to our canyoneers listed below, who arrived well prepared and eager to demonstrate their technical competence. It was obvious to our assessors that a good effort had gone into their preparation, and thusly the ACA wants to thank them personally as well as thank the generous members who helped in preparing them for this challenging set of tasks. Bravo! Super strong group. The ACA recognizes the importance of our Training and Assessments Programs and the positive effect it has on our sports safety. Offering training sooner than later is important to our mission, but getting it correct is obviously much more so. We needed clarity and consistency for our training paths, and completing the new Aspirant Assessment was a particularly important step in that direction. We have now established the model for evaluating and updating our current skills lists and assessment. Going forward we will be able to move thru the L1 and L2 (Leader 1 and Leader 2) programs and assessments rather quickly. Since the consistency of this training is critical to the safety of many canyoneers, we are arranging for assessors to visit the varying regions to certify leaders and Pro’s on becoming qualified in the assessment process. It is relatively simple to run a very solid assessment, but important that we are all using the same techniques. It would be great to see assessment opportunities a few times a year in all the regions we are active in. Regional training, regional assessment. Side note, are you interested in becoming an instructor? Separate from our Recreational and Professional “paths,” I would like to create a rigorous training program for those who are passionate about instruction. ACA Certified Instruction is back.

The Advisory Committee will be having their third meeting April 10. As they continue to prioritize and strategize ways of helping us reach toward our objectives, I have asked them to look into one matter right away. The ACA has a shortage of women in our ranks. It goes without saying that we are best served as an association and as canyoneers when we have a more mixed and balanced set of viewpoints and backgrounds to seek answers from. The ACA has many super strong women, but something tells me we could be doing much more to include them in every aspect of what the ACA does. Based on this, I have asked the Advisory Committee to begin reaching out to the various women’s groups and community leaders to ask if they might give us insight into a way of improving our understanding on this very important topic. I believe it is possible that with ideas and input from our own valued female Membership as well as from other groups and Leaders, we can shed light on a way to a more inclusive and safe American Canyoneering Association.

Well that’s about it for now. Everybody keep in mind that we are always looking for new ideas and are open to suggestions. Until that formal pathway of communication is established, feel free to send me any questions ACA related and I will do my best. Stop by Escalante to say hi if you are down in this part of Earth’s sandstone playground!

Congratulations ACA’s 2018 Spring Aspirants Class:

Vyonne Mincberg

 Kelly Dobitz

 Brent Diggz

Adam Crenshaw

Noah Landrell




ACA President

New ACA Committee Members

Elisha Matthys

The ACA has added our fourth Advisory Committee Member, Elisha Matthys. She has become not only an experienced canyoneer, but also an active member in the community teaming up in top rated canyons like Kolob and Imlay, becoming an ACA Leader 1, and participating in initiatives to promote the advancement of women canyoneers. She is smart, enthusiastic, and a pleasure to canyoneer with. Elisha and her husband Scott are assets to the ACA. We very much appreciate her offer to give us a hand. Looking forward to fun times ahead.


Scott Barlow

The ACA has a new Secretary! Scott Barlow has volunteered to help with organization and management of details associated with our programs. Scott and his wife Saori are known in the Utah canyoneering community for their love and enthusiasm for the sport. Calm, cool, and motivated, Scott will not only assist with our tasks, but will also give us a fresh perspective. We look forward to working with and learning from Scott.

ACA Goals

At our Fall 2017 Guide/Leader/Aspirant Rendezvous, I asked our group of 17 canyoneers some basic questions about their involvement with the ACA. It was in the form of a questionnaire with the usual stuff like “What do you like about the ACA? What would you like to see more of / less of?”, etc. I understand that this is a very small sample group, but their time and commitment to canyoneering gave us some valuable insight into the ACA experience. I have combined their information with what I have learned through emails, phone calls, and “trail talks” to compile a short but important list of goals to begin working toward. A special thanks to all who shared your ideas, suggestions, and opinions. We all benefit from your knowledge and experience.

I present to you the ACA’s initial list of goals as “guidelines,” for us to use until such time that an Advisory Board (AB) is created. Once established, the AB can gather more information from our Membership and make adjustments and changes to short- and long-term planning as necessary. Here are the initial goals:


  • Promote an environment of openness and inclusiveness that stimulates the growth of new ideas, innovations, and techniques for canyoneers now and in the future.
  • Open channels of communication with membership via the establishment of an Advisory Board (AB). The AB will be the mechanism by which ACA goals and strategies are managed.
  • Follow up work to standardize techniques and instructional methods used to teach, practice, and experience canyoneering. Reinstate accredited trainers and training centers programs.
  • Honor the ACA’s philanthropic role, nobly performed by Rich Carlson. It is both a privilege and an imperative that we continue the promotion of good will and good and safe canyoneering techniques.
  • Initiate outreach to other canyoneering organizations, coalitions, etc. This is part of our effort to better understand the community, to help us focus the ACA’s role, and to improve effectiveness.


If you are interested in helping the ACA with its mission, please email me directly for more information. Currently we are looking for one Advisory Committee member. We also would like help getting representation for the Colorado/Rockies and the Pacific Northwest regions. If you are interested, let me know! The Committee will be in place shortly and begin organizing our tasks. I will keep everyone posted with developments as things get moving forward.

Safe travels to all,
Rick Green

Advisory Committee


As president of the ACA, one of my first objectives is to get help. I wanted to set up an Advisory Committee that could help us establish short-term goals, some longer-term ideals to aim for, and strategies to get us moving forward. I would like to introduce my first three picks for the committee:


Adolfo Isassi

If you have not met Adolfo, you should. An extremely talented individual who generously offers his time and insight, Adolfo makes it all looks so easy. In the canyon or on a conference call, I listen to Adolfo.
Adolfo Isassi Profile

Dean Kirchner

This person is on point. His approach to problems is calm, methodical, and confident. His focus and follow through is outstanding. He’s strong in the canyon and a great listener, an awesome combo.
Dean Kirchner Profile

Bruce Shapiro

I have not known Bruce very long, yet I think of him right away when seeking advice on certain issues regarding the ACA. His solid commitment to making good, safe choices while still having a lot of fun has made me a big fan of his. He’s an attorney too, bonus!
Bruce Shapiro Profile


Thanks for your support and stay tuned, more fun ahead!

Rick Green
ACA President

Rick Green’s Introduction

Rick deals with pounding flow in Ouray CO
photo by A. Isassi


Hello ACA Members, my name is Rick Green and I absolutely love canyoneering. After finishing up the Army and College, I opened a small canyoneering guide service in Escalante Utah, which begins it’s 19th season this year. I began formally training with the ACA in 2003 and have trained under Rich Carlson and worked with him on various projects ever since. Over the years there have some interesting canyoneering experiences. I have had the opportunity to explore remote areas with many of the legends of our sport. I have come through my share of firsts descents, X and XX canyons included. Unscathed, minus a little skin maybe. And for over a decade  I have had  the honor of helping folks as a volunteer for Escalante Search and Rescue. There have been some outstanding adventures indeed. Yet for me the fondest canyoneering memories I hold are of being with great people in a beautiful environment. Focusing, relaxing, and having fun. It doesn’t matter if we are 60 feet off the deck or if we are doing our 60th trip through Neon. If we have planned well, have the right gear and have a good group put together, I’m having a blast every time. Like I said, I love canyoneering.

My goals with the ACA are primarily focused on continuing the tradition of helping others. We want to ease access to standardized canyoneering training as well as expand opportunities to practice and experience the critical skills required to safely participate in this “activity”. I want to have fun too, of course. Safe travels, Rick Green.

In the next few days, I will introduce our Advisory Committee, and we will lay out the short term and a little longer term ACA goals and objectives for all to review.

Welcome to the ACA

Howdy ACA Members and Friends


The 2018 Season is here and it’s time to prepare for some canyoneering fun! My name is Rick Green and I am the current President of our American Canyoneering Association. This week, a hardy group of volunteers and I would like to announce the 2018 ACA Calendar, present our Mission Statement and roll-out the new Regional Facebook Canyoneering Groups program.

We also have a Secretary and an Advisory Committee that has written and reviewed countless texts and emails getting us ready for this day. I want to thank each of them personally for their efforts and it will be my honor to introduce them to you later this week.

Finally, a special acknowledgement and “thanks” must go out to the three people who sat down years ago and formulated a plan to build/create something that has served us all very well. Thank you Rich Carlson, Dave Black and Charlie Oliver for your guidance, patience and perseverance. We hope to continue your tradition of excellence in serving others.

Without further ado, I’ll quit yappin’ and let the work of many begin to shine.   Be safe and have fun out there. More cool stuff ahead!


ACA’s Mission Statement

With ambitious purpose, the American Canyoneering Association will strive to establish and maintain the highest standards for a safe, environmentally responsible and fun canyoneering experience. In our efforts towards these ideals, we work in cooperation to create training, certification and community events that provide public access to education and experience in the sport of canyoneering.

1 2 3 4 5 6