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 1, 2, 3 and 4 to guide you in a 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 Level 1: skills_1

Skills Level 2: skills_2

Skills Level 3: skills_3

Skills Level 4: skills_4

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.

signals


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:

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0

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.

by-nc-nd

What people are saying …

“Not only is Rich an expert

but he’s a great teacher as well. He’s patient and explains procedures and techniques clearly. I appreciate that he is willing to do these classes for the community. I’ve been able to attend several of his Meet-ups, but also his 3 day canyon leader course with the Boy Scout group from Salt Lake. He provides a great resource to the community. Thanks, Rich!”

May 28, 2015

“ART of Canyoneering

3-day course was very informative. It included indoor class time & outdoor practical application. Rich is a “true” teacher, very patient and knowledgeable. I concur with others that this course was a bargain & absolutely worth my 8-hour drive to get there! I will be telling others about this course. Thank you, Rich, for your servitude.”

May 28, 2015

All credible professions require formal training and proof of competency. ACA courses and assessments give you that credibility by guiding you through the entire process of becoming a professional canyon guide.

The 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.

The ACA offers professional certification at three levels:

 

Certification - Step by Step

Start by getting out and descending canyons. Lots of canyons. The key to becoming a canyoneering guide is to become accomplished in the sport. Seek instruction from a reputable instructor/guide to learn skills from the ACA's Level 1, 2, 3 and 4 Skills Checklists.

Seek out mentors. Talk to canyon guides. Observe them in the canyons. Check out their gear, their interactions with clients, and the techniques they use that differ from recreational canyoneers. No matter what your skill level is now, there is a big difference between canyoneering recreationally and guiding professionally. To be a pro, learn from a pro!

When you think you are ready, ACA certification at each level follows these steps:

1. Complete the training by any means you desire for each level of assessment. When you have obtained the skills for a desired level of certification you are ready to take an assessment.

2. Pass the required assessments.

3. Create and maintain your member profile on the ACA's website.

4. Submit a canyon resume that reflects the required canyoneering experience.

5. Progress to the next level.

 


How much does it cost to be certified by the ACA?

The answer will vary between providers but you can expect the cost of courses and assessments to be around $100 to $125 per day.

  • Fixed Site / Single Pitch Canyon Guide certification involves a 5-day course and 2-day assessment. You can expect the fees to total $700 to $875.
  • Pro Canyon Guide certification involves a 7-day course and 4-day assessment. You can expect the fees to total $1100 to $1375.
  • Master Canyon Guide certification involves one 7-day course, one 4-day course and a 7-day assessment. You can expect the fees to total $1800 to $2250.

Be sure to add the cost of travel, accommodation and meals to estimate your total investment. The courses above are not required but are highly recommended to pass the assessment. Our assessments are extremely challenging for even the most competent canyoneer.

Is there a first aid requirement for certification?

First aid certification is not a prerequisite for ACA certification. However, you will be expected to obtain the level of first aid certification that is typical for guides in your area. In the United States it is common for guides to hold Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification.

How long does certification last?

Certification is valid for three years, provided you have kept your member profile current on the ACA's website. You can become recertified by any of these methods:

  1. Retake the assessment.
  2. Become certified at a higher level.
  3. Submit a canyon resume that reflects (a) preapproved continuing education and (b) participation in at least two ACA Leader-Guide Rendezvous during the current period of certification.

 

 

What people are saying …

“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

“Just wanted to drop you a quick note

to let you know that I really enjoyed your course. Thanks for your patience. You are a great teacher. I have found in the past that just because one has the knowledge on something, doesn’t mean they have the ability to convey that information to others in a way they can retain it. You actually have the gift. I know I retained more that I thought I would. It was a pleasure spending those three days under your guidance.”

May 28, 2015

“Maybe I shouldn’t say this

since I’m planning to take more courses in the future, but your fees are too low. I learned more in three days than I have in my first six years of canyoneering with friends. The course is worth at least twice what you are charging. Kudos.”

May 28, 2015

“Not only is Rich an expert

but he’s a great teacher as well. He’s patient and explains procedures and techniques clearly. I appreciate that he is willing to do these classes for the community. I’ve been able to attend several of his Meet-ups, but also his 3 day canyon leader course with the Boy Scout group from Salt Lake. He provides a great resource to the community. Thanks, Rich!”

May 28, 2015

“I have been a rock climber for over a decade

and didn’t really expect to learn anything new. Was I ever wrong. I didn’t realize that there were so many specialized systems employed in canyoneering. All of it makes sense. Rock climbing systems are fine for dry rock, but not at all appropriate in a canyon – especially if there is water present.”

May 28, 2015

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May 28, 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

“The knowledge I have gained

in these few days was incredible. My expectations were far exceeded. Thanks to Rich and Stefan for great instruction and smooth improv when needed.”

May 28, 2015

Read More Testimonials