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.

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

  • Aspirant
  • Canyon Leader I (Competent Assistant)
  • Canyon Leader II

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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 four levels:

  • Single Site Pro Canyon Guide
  • Assistant Pro Canyon Guide
  • Lead Pro Canyon Guide
  • Master Canyon Guide

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What people are saying …

"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

"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

"The cumulative structure of the course was right on. We had three opportunities to learn each technique - classroom (camp), controlled situation (bridge), then actual application in the canyons."

May 28, 2015

"This was a great opportunity for me to get exposure to a myriad of new techniques for use in future canyoneering exploits. The experience and perspective of the instructors added another dimension and contributed greatly to the value of the course."

May 28, 2015

"Even though I have climbed for 15 years, I learned a lot of new, cool techniques. Wow! Great course."

May 28, 2015

"Rich has a passion for teaching simplicity, efficiency, and most of all, safety while traversing through the beauty of our Colorado Plateau slot canyons. His humility and humor offset his directness in dealing with misconceptions and outright dangerous methodologies."

August 18, 2015

"I learned more in 2 days of class from Rich than I have learned in the last 5 years of canyoneering. His style of teaching makes seemingly complicated ideas extremely simple. My confidence level in my abilities has greatly increased as a result. I will surely be taking future courses from Rich."

May 28, 2015

"Thanks Rich for a fun packed two days of great canyoneering training. New methods, new tricks, new tool, the Totem."

May 28, 2015

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