ACA Canyon Rating System

Explanation of the ACA Canyon Rating System, including technical terrain, rope work and water classifications.

ACA Skills Checklists

Skills Checklists covering recreational canyoneering skill levels:  Level 1 = 'Core'; Level 2 = 'Aspirant'; Level 3 = 'Canyon Leader 1'; Level 4 = 'Canyon Leader 2'

This Skills Checklist will guide you through the sequence of skills acquisition. Seek out training that will provide you with those skills in roughly the order recommended in the checklists. Consider our Skills Checklists as your road map to becoming a more competent, safe and self-reliant canyoneer.

Skills Checklists

Skills Checklists also provide you with a useful objective tool for evaluating potential canyoneering partners. Experience does not necessarily equate to competence. Stories are all too common about a beginner who trusted a partner who claimed to be an expert because he/she had descended 20, 50 or 100 canyons, but when things went wrong, the "expert" didn't have the technical skills required to deal with the situation. Instead of being impressed (and trusting) by the number of canyons your prospective partner claims to have descended, use the skills checklists to quiz them about their actual technical competence.

ACA Canyon Resume

Spreadsheet you can use to record your canyoneering adventures and keep track of your training progression.

Canyoneering Signals

Common whistle and hand signals for canyoneering. Trim and laminate the sheet to take it with you on all of your canyoneering adventures. Be sure to make extra copies for your canyoneering partners, too.


Canyons • Canyoneering Primer

Created as a joint effort by many members of the canyoneering community, this informative 24-page booklet addresses canyoneering safety, trip planning, style and ethics. More than 40,000 copies in circulation.

Cañones • Fondo de Cañonismo

La versión en Español de nuestra popular Folleto Cañones.

Mechanical Advantage Primer

An introduction to mechanical advantage systems used in technical rescue.


Copyright Notice

A substantial portion of the material available on these pages was created by Rich Carlson. Some rights reserved. Rich's work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. For more information, visit:

Rich offers this material to you in the spirit of a gift. He chose a Creative Commons copyright, which allows you to freely share this material for any non-commercial purpose. That means you can make photocopies, put it on your own blog, and so forth, as long as you don’t sell it or use it to carry advertising. You must also provide attribution so that people who want to find more of Rich's work can do so.


What people are saying …

"I learned more ropework in 6 days with Rich than I learned in 25 years of climbing. Thank you for introducing me to the world of canyoneering." --Tom Jones

May 28, 2015

"Super helpful class - I learned a lot of rappelling and rappel set up techniques that I can't wait to use on my next trip. In the meantime, I have A LOT to practice."

May 28, 2015

"The class was fun and loaded with so much useful information. Thanks Rich and Judy for providing a warm and relaxed environment to learn and practice the ART of canyoneering I also found it to be another opportunity to meet great people and network to get out and have fun!"

May 28, 2015

"In all my years of guiding I've learned to use many varied anchor systems. In just one day of the course I learned three new and efficient ones specially adapted to canyoneering."

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

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