Basic Waterfall Canyoning Course

Basic Waterfall Canyoning Course

This 8-day course will give you the skills to safely descend our aquatic canyons and become a part of one of the fastest growing canyoning communities in the world. It is appropriate for complete novices, as well as desert canyoneers and climbers who are new to an aquatic environment.

New this year!

We are excited to offer a BIPoC canyoning course. We  know that affinity spaces help to create empowering learning environments for historically marginalized and excluded communities. We're proud of the welcoming and inclusive spirit of the PNW Canyoning community, and are excited to offer a BIPoC-led course. See below for dates and registration instructions!


The world-class aquatic canyons of the Pacific Northwest might be our best kept secret. This course will give you the skills to safely descend our aquatic canyons and become a part of one of the fastest growing canyoning communities in the world. It is appropriate for complete novices, as well as desert canyoneers and climbers who are new to an aquatic environment.


This is an 8-day canyoning training course, which encompasses the most up-to-date canyoning skills, knowledge and techniques, developed by highly-experienced instructors with a vast knowledge and experience in international canyon exploration and professional canyoning. Different from skills used in the desert canyons of the Southwest, this course teaches techniques specific to our aquatic canyons in the PNW that also apply internationally. You will be equipped to explore our local canyons as well as in many other areas in the world.


The course also includes a complete online companion course through V7 Academy including videos, pictures, and text, which is accessible at any time. (V7 Levels 1 & 2 are included in the course fee). If a student needs more time to work on a specific skill, the online companion course allows for the student to study and review at their own pace.  Students will have access to the online companion course in perpetuity which allows them to review at the beginning of each future season. As techniques change in this fast-growing sport, students will receive free updates in their online portal, so that they can stay up to date with the newest techniques and equipment without having to pay for a new course.


Ongoing practice is essential in canyoning - not just when you're learning, but throughout your canyoning career. On the first day of the course, we will provide you with a set of magnetic bolts and a short length of rope that you can use to practice rigging techniques, following along with V7, at home.


IMG_0309.JPGGraduates of this course will be eligible to join Mountaineers Basic Canyon trips. You’ll have opportunities throughout the summer to descend canyons with people you trust in this tight-knit community, as well as opportunities throughout the year to attend practice sessions and keep your skills fresh and community strong in the off season.


Proficient canyoneers combine training, experience, and practice to safely descend increasingly difficult canyons. This course is designed to give you the training that you can apply in canyon as you gain experience. A successful graduate of the course will have the technical skills required to participate as contributing teammates on basic Mountaineers canyon trips. The graduate will show a strong comfort in canyon environments, demonstrating excellent anticipatory skills for reducing risk to themselves and teammates. The graduate will understand and implement safe and efficient rigging solutions in a moderate risk environment. 


Fitness Requirements: 

  • You should be able to hike 2 miles with 1000' of gain and a 25lb pack in 90 minutes.
  • You should be able to swim 20 meters without flotation

Complete Online Pre-Learning at levels 1 and 2

  • Level 1 will be required before you can select your Pre-course Seminar
  • Level 2 will be required before the first weekend of the main course

Complete the required 1-day seminar: Waterfall Canyoning Pre-Course: Canyoning Fundamentals

  • This seminar teaches rappelling and knotcraft. Those who have previous experience can optionally test out in the morning. Those who are new to rope work are encouraged to attend multiple days.
  • Additional optional evening and weekend pre-course sessions will be offered, and we encourage you to attend!

Attend all course sessions - no exceptions.

Pass the movement and technical assessments.

  • There will be an opportunity at the end of the course to take the assessments. Those who wish to have more practice can schedule an assessment later in the summer.


Due to the dynamic nature of canyons in the PNW, each day's itinerary is subject to change based on a variety of factors including weather, group size, and water flows. This is a rough guideline of progression but the exact itinerary of the specific days may be shuffled a bit.


Students are invited to optionally participate in pre-course practice sessions. This is a fun way to meet some of your instructors as well as other students, and get a head start on course content. 


Learn how to rappel using a variable friction descender, and you'll also have an opportunity to practice the knots you learned in V7. (Note that V7 Level 1 is a pre-requisite to register for this day). Those who come to the course with some canyoning experience can choose to test out in the morning.


Check out gear that is sized for you and become familiar with the unique equipment we use. Competent canyoners are proficient at moving quickly and efficiently on rope in challenging terrain. This includes ascending, descending, passing knots and obstacles, moving horizontally and on an incline, and transitioning from one rope to another. This day will be spent learning and practicing personal progression on rope. 


A full day of rigging. We'll cover modern techniques specific for  an aquatic canyon environment. Students will learn options for rigging retrievable hand lines, fixed and releasable rappels, guided rappels, and multi-pitch rappels. We'll cover a variety of anchors, how to assess and build anchors, and techniques for managing the anchor as a leader. By the end of this day, students will have learned the skills to rig some of the more technical canyons in the PNW.


We will have a fun descent of a local canyon, focusing on personal movement and practicing the techniques we have learned so far.


We will spend time practicing rigging skills in a canyon environment, followed by a fun descent of one of our local canyons putting our skills to use. The focus will be rigging and rescue  as students will have an opportunity to practice their skills  and receive feedback in a canyon environment.


Half of this day will be spent developing water movement skills specific to a canyon environment. We'll practice swimming in current, ferry angles, as well as aggressive and defensive swimming. We'll discuss the important considerations around flotation and pack management for safe descent in a narrow aquatic canyon environment. The other half of the day we will focus on some common emergency scenarios. Students will learn about managing the unique hazards of an aquatic canyon environment. 


We will learn some very simple rescue techniques for your teammates, as well as rigging for special circumstances. We will then do a review of all of the skills learned and students will have an opportunity to practice before the assessment on the final day.


While instructors will provide ongoing feedback throughout the course, the final day gives students an opportunity to put all that they’ve learned to the test.  A formal assessment by the instructors gives students a clear understanding of what proficiencies they have, as well as specific areas for continued improvement. It's an opportunity to put all of the pieces together and receive specific feedback on your overall proficiency in a canyon environment, and what your next step should be as you progress as a canyoner.  During the in-canyon assessment, your instructors will assess your personal movement in canyon, and will assign you one rappel to rig, manage, and clean independently. Students who would like more practice before doing an in-canyon rigging assessment can choose to postpone their in-canyon rigging assessment and arrange to be assessed on a canyon trip later in the summer.


On an evening during the week following the main course, you will return to the Program Center to demonstrate your knowledge of the core rigging and movement skills taught in the course.


On the Thursday after the course, we'll gather in the evening for a pot-luck BBQ to celebrate the course and your new community! 

how to register

The course has two segments: Pre-course supplemental activities, and the main course.

Pre-course supplemental activities

Most activities (like practice sessions and conditioning hikes) are optional but highly encouraged. 

Required - One day Canyoning Fundamentals seminar. Choose from the following dates:

  • May 11
  • May 18
  • May 19

Register for these after registering for the main course. There is a link in the main course.

main course

There are three scheduling options - register for the one that works for you!


Saturday, June 29
Sunday, June 30
Friday, July 12
Saturday, July 13
Sunday, July 14
Saturday, July 20
Sunday, July 21
Monday, July 22 (6:30-8:30pm)


Saturday, June 22
Sunday, June 23
Sunday, June 30
Saturday, July 12
Sunday, July 14
Saturday, July 20
Sunday, July 21
Tuesday, July 23 (6:30-8:30pm)


All days 7/8am-5/6pm unless noted otherwise
Thursday, July 11
Friday, July 12 
Saturday, July 13
Sunday, July 14
Monday, July 15
Tuesday, July 16
Wednesday, July 17
Thursday, July 18 (6:30-8:30pm)

registration checklist

  1. Register for your preferred schedule
  2. Complete the Participant Questionnaire
  3. Register for and complete Level 1. Send your completion certificate to your instructor.
  4. Register for  the Supplemental Activities, and select your preferred date for Canyon Fundamentals.

fees and cancellations

The fee for the course is $1200 for members, $1275 for non-members. This includes:
  • 8 days of instruction
  • Practice materials (magnetic bolts & practice rope) for you to keep
  • Lifetime access to V7 Academy levels 1 & 2 ($275 value)
  • Access to free canyon trips with Mountaineers leaders throughout the summer
  • All technical gear to borrow during the course and all subsequent Mountaineers trips

Your only required additional costs will be:

  • Wetsuit (ranges from $100 used to $300 new)
  • Neoprene socks ($25)
  • Shoes (old approach shoes work great!)


The Mountaineers is committed to helping make the outdoors accessible to all (in fact, about 25% of our students receive a scholarship!). In addition to providing gear to loan, we aim to reduce financial barriers by providing scholarships. Our scholarships are funded by donors who believe in The Mountaineers mission to help folks get outside, and to preserve our wild landscapes. If your current financial situation limits your access to the outdoors, we encourage you to complete a scholarship application. The link is easy to find in the course header when you select your preferred course schedule. If you're inspired to contribute to making the outdoors more inclusive, we encourage you to make a tax-deductible donation through our website.

Apply for a Scholarship

Donate to our Scholarship Fund


Students can receive a full refund before April 15, 2024. Cancelations between April 15-May 11 are eligible for a 50% refund. Cancelations after May 11 are not eligible for a refund.