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 …

"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

"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

"This course will easily become the standard by which any other canyoneering course will be judged. It was amazing that the professional mountaineering guides found a lot to learn, but the pace was such that a neophyte like me could also pick things up quickly."

May 28, 2015

"Rich's­ Anchors, Rigging and Techniques class was excellent, and well worth attending. We learned so much that was useful from this master teacher. Thank you Rich!"

June 6, 2015

"It's unbelievable how much we have learned in one week. Great teaching and patience displayed by all instructors. Great body of knowledge taught. Good hands-on experience. Good pace and sequence of topics."

May 28, 2015

"This was definitely an eye-opening experience into understanding how much there really is to canyoneering. It was a challenging week with tons and tons of information and skills to be learned. Thank you for taking extra time and effort in seeing I understood things clearly. I'm very pleased with the setup of the course. I had so much fun - the canyon trips were excellent. My excitement for canyoneering has greatened even more."

May 28, 2015

"Rich Carlson could be considered the father of American canyoneering because of his influence on style, technique, and ethics. In 1999 Carlson established the American Canyoneering Association to promote safety, responsibility, and ethics in American canyoneering. Rich and the ACA have been critical factors in building national standards that have become the cornerstone of canyoneering at the recreational and professional levels throughout the Americas." --Dave Black

May 28, 2015

"Great course! I learned a lot, and look forward to putting it all into action. Rich was particularly great with doing clean and easy to follow demonstrations, and answering tangential questions."

May 28, 2015

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