The ACA Sovereign Canyoneer is a recreational program intended for individuals who do not wish to enter the Canyon Leader or Pro Guide track, but instead wish to become self sufficient canyoners in their own right. This program is intended for the individual(s) who wants to gain more knowledge and improve their technical skills while becoming a safer canyoneer.

The mission of the Sovereign Canyoneer Program is to improve individual canyoneering safety thereby lifting the sum of the whole. Goals of the program include: (1) Provide training for beginner and intermediate canyoneers, and (2) Provide necessary technical skills and canyon rescue training for the attainment of a Sovereign Canyoneer.

Our Sovereign Canyoneer Program consists of two levels:

    • Core Canyoneer
    • Sovereign Canyoneer


Core Canyoneer

A Core Canyoneer is an individual who has trained on and mastered all of the skills from the ACA's Core Skills Checklists.

These are the basic skills required to descend a canyon with competent leaders.

Note: Core Canyoneers are not Canyon Leaders or Guides and should never act as such.

Core Canyoneer -- Step by Step

1. Download, review, and practice the Core Skills Checklist.

2. Attend the Core Canyoneer Training course.

3. Descend canyons with competent leadership.

4. Don't for get to have fun doing it! - canyoneering is all about seeing beautiful places while doing it safely.

The Core Canyoneer course is a very popular course that helps students develop the skills to be competent as an active participant, when canyoneering. Capable to understand and manage personal safety, to make basic
assessments (weather, time, etc) and assist with some group responsibilities. This course provides students with the basic concepts and critical knowledge to begin seeing these stunning places with confidence and presence while gaining valuable experience.

Sovereign Canyoneer

A Sovereign Canyoneer is an individual who has shown proficiency in the items on the Core & Sovereign Skills Checklists.

These are the necessary skills and knowledge required to be a self sufficient canyoneer.

Note: Sovereign Canyoneers are not ACA Canyon Leaders or Guides and should never represent themselves as such.

Sovereign Canyoneer -- Step by Step

1. Download, review, and practice the Core and Sovereign Skills Checklists.

2. Attend the Sovereign Canyoneer Training course.

3. Descend canyons with competent partners.

4. Don't for get to have fun doing it! - canyoneering is all about seeing beautiful places while doing it safely.

The Sovereign Canyoneer course is tailored for the person seeking to be an informed canyoneering teammate. A “partner” in the assessment of challenges and provider of direct input into the processes of finding solutions. Using a hybrid of Skills from the Aspirant and Assistant Leader skills checklists, we have created a course that will increase canyon awareness, expand on workable solutions and provide options to solving some of the more exceptional challenges.

What people are saying …

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

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."

September 20, 2019

"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

"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

"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

"Your devotion to the sport and your concern for your students was very apparent during the course. The entire canyoneering community is in your debt for the fine work you are doing."

May 28, 2015

"I am really impressed with not only the skills and techniques but the fact that you put together such a great course. You did a great job and I learned a lot."

July 5, 2018