Intermediate Canyon Skills Course - The Mountaineers - 2024

Canyoning Course

Intermediate Canyon Skills Course

A 2-day course focused on problem-solving and efficiency in a canyon.

The main dates of this course are April 27-28, with assessments the evening of April 26, and optional practice sessions in March & April.

This course  focuses on technical skills that build upon those learned in the Waterfall Canyoning Course, and are also applicable to those in a leadership role on a canyon trip. Course content includes intermediate-level personal movement, rigging, rescue techniques, anchors, group management and efficiency, and problem solving. 

Students who enter this course are expected to have enough canyon experience and enough proficiency with basic canyon skills that they can begin to understand more nuanced skills. While you will learn specific techniques, our hope is that graduates will leave this course with an ability to think critically about their rigging and movement decisions, and have a depth of understanding of their gear that allows them to make safe and efficient decisions. Graduates will be invited to attend free practice sessions throughout the year, and we hope that graduates will leave with an appreciation for speed and proficiency of execution, and will commit to ongoing practice.


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Understand the rigging hierarchy
  • Understand how pulley systems work, and begin to be able to quickly assemble and adjust mechanical advantage based on the situation
  • Quickly convert and release a fixed system
  • Perform a pick-off quickly and efficiently
  • Rig simple twin systems that are suitable to the situation, and execute a rescue on these systems
  • Move safely and efficiently on a double-rope system
  • Rig guided rappels that anticipate rescue

This course covers a lot of material in a short timeframe. Students will need to practice these techniques on their own both in and out of canyon after the course to be able to effectively use what you learn when you need it.  



Students must have descended 8 unique aquatic canyons, and have had a total of 12 canyon descents. 

Students must either:

  • Have graduated from The Mountaineers Basic Waterfall Canyoning Course -OR-
  • Complete Basic Equivalency (application and assessment is incorporated in Intermediate application and entrance assessment)


In late March/early April, a short eLearning will be sent out to students. This will have some skills and concepts that will prepare you to learn in the course, as well as videos of the technical assessments. The eLearning is due no later than 11:59pm on Sunday, April 23rd. Plan to spend 3-5 hours on the eLearning.


Purpose: Those capable of passing this assessment have the proficiency in a variety of essential skills needed to be able to effectively learn Intermediate Canyon Skills. Without this baseline, students will struggle in the course.

Assessment Objectives:  Students 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.

  1. Single-Strand Timed Conversion Test - 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 when using ascenders. Methods of passing a knot such as passing the rope through a rappel device or using a VT prusik are not acceptable in this assessment. 
  2. Timed Anchor Management Test (max time will be based on 1.4x instructor time)
    1. Rig a retrievable traverse line to access an unlinked bolted anchor
    2. Rig an MMO on unlinked bolts, setting the rope length to 0-1' above the ground
    3. Clean the anchor, rappel, and pull the rope

These pre-requisites are non-negotiable, and are designed to set everyone up for success. Those who meet these pre-requisites have the experience and proficiency with basic systems needed to be able to effectively learn in this course. Those who cannot meet these pre-requisites will not be allowed to take the course, and will either receive a refund or can roll their course fees forward to the next intermediate course.

Please contact the leader with questions. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF PRACTICING.

We encourage you to connect with your fellow students to meet up and practice. Instructors will be available on some of the dates as well to help.

If you do not have the prerequisite badges but otherwise meet the stated prerequisites above, please contact the leader who can add you to the course.



The skills taught in this course are extremely perishable. You will need to practice them both in-canyon and out to become proficient and to retain muscle memory. Completion of this course will allow you to join Intermediate Canyon trips. Get as much mileage as you can in more technical advanced environments (Intermediate canyons) and attend as many practice sessions as you can. 


We hope you'll consider becoming an Assistant Leader for The Mountaineers! This is an important role that supports our Leaders with student mentorship and problem solving. To become an assistant Leader, you must have descended 15 unique aquatic canyons, be current in Wilderness First Aid, and pass the Assistant Leader Assessment, which is a test of your ability to demonstrate proficiency in most of the skills taught in the Intermediate Canyon Skills Course.

Badges you will earn:

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Required Equipment
  • Harness
  • Helmet
  • Adjustable Friction Canyon Descender
  • 4 working Carabiners
  • Alpine Canyon Draw 
  • VT Prusik
  • Figure-eight Descender 
  • Footloop
  • Mechanical hand ascender
  • Mechanical harness ascender/chest ascender
  • Progress-capture Pulley
  • Petzl Tibloc (optional but recommended)
  • Rollclip Carabiner (optional)

The Mountaineers has gear to loan - please contact the leader

Course Materials

There are no materials for this course.