Development of the ACA's training and certification programs began in 1999. Since then, they have been continually refined to insure we always present the most current skills and techniques, while adhering to the highest standards. The cornerstones of the programs include training, mentoring, experience and practice, assessment and certification.

Training for Canyoneers of All Skill Levels

Canyoneering is not a new sport; it has been around for decades. It has, however, enjoyed a tremendous surge in popularity over the past several years. Unfortunately, many of the people who are discovering this exciting sport remain unaware of the inherent risks and the complex technical skills required to enjoy it safely. The rope skills learned from rock climbing and rappelling are a good start, but will prove to be inefficient, and sometimes dangerous, in an aquatic or semi-aquatic canyon environment.

Since 1999, the American Canyoneering Association (ACA) has been the premier source for training, technical information and services for recreational canyoneers, canyon leaders, guides and rescue professionals in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia and around the globe.

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Canyon Leader Certification

The ACA's Canyon Leader certification is intended as a recreational designation for those who facilitate canyoneering programs in group settings such as Boy Scouts, universities, camps, schools, clubs, and our own canyoneering meetup group. The mission of the Canyon Leader program is to improve canyoneering safety by developing qualified mentors, thereby reducing the number of canyon descent parties that have only beginner level skills. Goals of the program include: (1) Provide training and mentoring for beginner canyoneers, and (2) Provide advanced skills and canyon rescue training for experienced canyoneers who volunteer to serve as mentors for beginners.

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The ACA currently offers these 3 certification levels for recreational Leaders:

  • Aspirant
  • Canyon Leader I
  • Canyon Leader II

 

Pro Canyon Guide Certification

ACA-PROThe ACA is the only organization in America to offer a comprehensive certification program for professional canyon guides. Certification from the ACA involves rigorous training and assessment with two key factors in mind: (1) Becoming the best canyon guide possible, and (2) Delivering the greatest reward for your clients. Success in the program indicates that an individual has been assessed to the standard of an internationally recognized, professional body.

Professional Canyon Guide certification is offered in three levels:

  • Fixed Site / Single Pitch Canyon Guide
  • Pro Canyon Guide
  • Master Canyon Guide

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What people are saying …

"This is the place to be... Rich shares his expertise and passion for the sport like no one else. Patient with everyone from beginner to experienced and yes, sometimes the experienced ones require the most patience! Although Rich is headquartered in Utah, he frequently comes back to CA for a workshop... do NOT miss it!"

May 28, 2015

"As always I am much the richer for my time with Rich. An excellent instructor. Always come away with having learned something new."

May 28, 2015

"Absolutely loved the workshop with Rich Carlson. Definitely a fan of the Totem and VT prusik . Every canyoneer needs these versatile tools in their pack. I would recommend this course to anybody wanting to get instruction from one of the best canyoneers in the world. Thanks Rich!"

May 28, 2015

"Rich is a wealth of knowledge in his field. His funny, open-hearted teaching style is welcomed by all students. I felt more prepared going forward in my own canyoneering. I look forward to learning more from him."

May 28, 2015

"I'm so glad I went! I felt like I was learning from the source of knowledge on canyoneering. Really, Rich teaches guides and rescue teams. Instead of me going to a guide, who was probably trained by Rich, I was able to learn from the source! That really shows when he would explain the different techniques/views and how those have changed over time and why. I felt like I was well trained in canyoneering, and also given a depth of understanding that I couldn't get anywhere else. I would highly recommend Rich's classes!"

June 1, 2015

"I wanted to thank you again for the course on technical canyoneering last weekend. It truly was a great course and I am very glad I took it. I learned so much that I think I went into information-overload. So I tried to focus on the main principles you reinforced in the scenarios more than anything else: repetition, repetition, repetition. I guess I am writing because I am so grateful. I have been on the ACA website these last few days and I have noticed how much effort you put into the site, promoting the sport and the proper techniques. Thanks, it has opened up a whole new world for me.”

May 28, 2015

“Learning canyoneering from Rich is like learning religion from the Pope." --Briget Eastep, Southern Utah University

May 28, 2015

"The technical info and application of methods was outstanding. Rich and Stefan provided some great approaches to common canyoneering problems. If Rich had not told me that it was the first [ACA] course, I would not have known. Everything went very smoothly."

May 28, 2015

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