Intermediate Canyoning Equivalency

Intermediate Canyoning Equivalency

A process for experienced canyoneers to join The Mountaineers canyoning community.


We welcome canyoneers to our community who learned to canyon elsewhere. Whether to join our trips, help teach our courses, or serve as a volunteer Canyon Leader, we encourage experienced canyoneers to check out our equivalency process. 

A benefit of joining Mountaineers trips is confidence in leader training as well as the training level of your entire team. Our goal is to have a transparent and low-barrier equivalency process, while ensuring the level of proficiency we expect of our participants and leaders. 


Intermediate Equivalency is a good choice for canyoneers who are trained in releasable rigging and have extensive training and experience in aquatic canyons. Those seeking Intermediate Equivalency should have a high level of proficiency in small party self- and team-rescue as well. Those who successfully complete Intermediate Equivalency will be granted the Intermediate Canyon badge, which will allow them to join all Basic and Intermediate Canyon trips.


  • Basic Waterfall Course or Equivalency
  • 20 unique aquatic canyons
  • 25 canyon descents
  • 2 Mounties Canyoning trips that are not part of a course (note that these do not have to be completed before the technical assessment, but they are a requirement to receive the badge)
  • Wilderness First Aid Training
  • Aquatic Requirements: Formal river-based whitewater training or canyon-specific whitewater training within the past 5 years -OR- Equivalent experience and referral from a Mountaineers Canyon Leader
  • Completion of online course and assessment
  • Technical assessment
  • Referral from a Mountaineers Canyon Leader


  1. Complete the application
  2. Pass Basic Equivalency Assessments 1-3, in no more than 7 attempts (Mountaineers Waterfall Canyoning Graduates need only do Assessments 1-2, with 5 attempts to pass)
  3. Pass the Intermediate Technical Assessment
  4. Show proof of Wilderness First Aid
  5. Go on two Mountaineers Canyoning Trips (If you haven’t already)


Assessment Objectives:

Candidates must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the following skills. Proficiency means you are a 4 out of 5 on the Mastery Hierarchy (1=failure, 2=insufficient, 3=sufficient, 4=proficient, 5=mastery). Proficiency = fluid execution, a clear understanding of concepts, quick self-correction, depth of knowledge, and includes application and supporting concepts.

Participants will have a total of five (7) attempts to pass the three assessments. To pass, all must be completed without any major safety errors, and with a maximum of two minor safety errors.

  1. Timed Assessment - Single-Strand Timed Conversion - Using a frog system with mechanical ascenders: ascend, pass a knot, convert to rappel, descend, pass a knot, rappel to ground, disconnect from the rope (5 min or less). Two points of contact must be maintained with the rope at all times. Methods of passing a knot such as passing the knot through a rappel device or using a VT prusik are not acceptable in this assessment. Note for individuals seeking Basic Equivalency only, this is not timed.
  2. Timed Assessment - Anchor Rigging (max time will be based on 1.7x instructor demonstration time) This assessment must be completed without any major safety errors, and with a maximum of two minor safety errors.  Note for individuals seeking Basic Equivalency only, this is not timed.
  1. Time starts when the traverse line rope touches the first bolt. Rig a retrievable traverse line from two unlinked bolts to access an unlinked bolted anchor
  2. Rig the unlinked bolts with an alpine draw. Rig releasable with an MMO, setting the rope length to 0-1' above the ground
  3. Clean the traverse line and anchor, rappel, and retrieve rope (time stops when the end of the rope hits the ground)
  1. Gear Management & Communication Assessment
  2. Pack a rope bag with a BFK stopper knot tied at the bottom
  3. As anchor manager, rig a rappel with an EMO (eight mule overhand) style releasable 8 block & send a teammate down 
  4. Communicate the following using only whistle and hand signals that you would like to:
    1. Send packs down on a zipline
  5. Work with a teammate to zip a bag down
  6. Clean, descend, and pull the rope


Assessment Objectives

Students must be able to demonstrate, at minimum, sufficiency in the skills being assessed, without any input from assessors.

Sufficiency = 3 on the Mastery Hierarchy:  (1=failure, 2=insufficient, 3=sufficient, 4=proficient, 5=mastery). 

These skills are not expected to be done quickly or perfectly, but rather showcase that students are able to demonstrate the required technical skills, without any major safety errors. Sufficiency means a student is at a suitable level of skill for independence.


Candidates may use any piece of equipment on their harness to complete the techniques being assessed. Additional equipment will be provided by the assessors if necessary for specific techniques.

How to Pass Each Assessment

  1. Complete the task independently without any major safety errors (errors that have a high probability of leading to serious injury or death), and with 2 or fewer minor errors (errors that are not best practice because they could lead to serious injury or death)
  2. In the event that you commit a critical safety error, you will be asked to meet 1x1 with a different assessor at the end of the day (after assessments are complete), and correctly demonstrate the skill where you committed the error, and explain to the assessor the error you made, and why it’s a critical safety error. If you cannot do this, you will need to take the entire assessment again another day.
  3. In the event that you commit 3 or more major errors in a single assessment, you will need to re-take the entire assessment at the end of the day (after assessments are complete). If you do not pass, you’ll need to take the assessment again another day.


As the anchor manager, cut the primary rope and lower a teammate with a rescue rope. Students must approach the system with their harnesses racked as they would be normally. Time starts as soon as the student clips their lanyard into the anchor. Any safe method is acceptable (1 min. 30 sec. or under) Maximum 3 attempts.


Ascend and convert to descent using a VT and Italian 8 on a single rope system


Provide a belay from the top, and then from the bottom, to protect a rappeller


Rig, manage & clean a guided rappel

  • Rig using an Italian 8
  • Use a conveyor belt system to lower a stuck rappeller


Build a series of natural anchors, including building and managing a cairn anchor

  • Redundant Basket Hitch around a rock pinch
  • Single strand around a tree
  • Build & manage a cairn anchor




Use a VT Prusik as a pickoff strap


As the anchor manager, respond to a teammate communicating that there’s a core shot, manage the anchor for the remainder of the team, and manage abrasion as the last person down.

  • Tie two ropes together with EDK or other safe method
  • Creep the rope with ropes tied together
  • Isolate  a core shot with a safe clip-in point
  • De-rig and descend double strand to mitigate abrasion
  • Passing a knot double strand on descent
  • Manage ropes to keep them from twisting


Rig a rebelay, and anchor-manage at the rebelay


Rig and retrieve both twin static and twin releasable systems

  • Special rigging plates (eg. Totem, double-8, etc…) are not acceptable for this assessment


While lowering a teammate, safely transfer two ropes joined together past the anchor to continue lowering.