Waterfall Canyoning - The Mountaineers - 2020

Canyoning Course

Waterfall Canyoning Course

Learn the technical skills needed to explore the aquatic canyons of the PNW

Course Overview

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 course is designed to give students both value and flexibility. With four required days on weekends, a recommended assessment day on a Monday,  and optional technical practice sessions after work during the week, most students can complete the course without asking for much time off from work. For those who have more flexibility, we'll offer a bonus mid-week canyon session as well!

modern techniques recognized internationally

This is an intensive 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.

online companion course

The course also includes a complete online companion course including videos, pictures, and text, which is accessible at any time. 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.

optional assessment

This 5-day course includes an recommended day of skills assessment to an international standard. Students who need more time to study and practice have the option to complete the assessment at a later date.

be part of a community

IMG_0309.JPGGraduates of this course will be eligible to join Mountaineers Basic and Intermediate 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.

Course Objective  

A successful graduate of the course will have the skills to independently run moderate risk canyons. 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. 

Pre-Requisites

  • Completed Online Course Pre-Learning (available 1 month prior to course start)
  • At least one canyon descent*
  • Have a reasonable level of fitness
  • Be able to swim 20m

*note: We ask that students have experienced at least one canyon because it helps to provide context for what you are learning. If you have not met this prerequisite but would like to take the course, please email the course leader! You may still be a good fit for this course.

Itinerary

This course happens over two weekends, with optional practice sessions and canyon experiences mid-week (weather dependent). Note that the optional mid-week activities will be available for registration in the spring.

SATURDAY, JULY 11 - PROGRESSION ON ROPE (REQUIRED)

On Day 1, you'll 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. 

SUNDAY, JULY 12 - MOVEMENT IN WATER & INCIDENT MANAGEMENT (REQUIRED)

Day 2 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. We’ll then discuss common hazards in a canyon, and practice team incident management and evacuation.

MONDAY, JULY 13  OR TUESDAY, JULY 14 - PRACTICE (OPTIONAL)

After work practice session at The Mountaineers. Actual date TBD. A great opportunity to hone the skills you learned and get to know some folks from prior years’ courses.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 15  - CANYON EXPERIENCE (OPTIONAL)

For those able to take a day off work, we'll run one of our classic canyons to put some of your skills to use. If you cannot join us, there will be plenty of future opportunities to run canyons with us after the course and throughout the rest of the summer.

THURSDAY, JULY 16 OR FRIDAY, JULY 17 - PRACTICE (OPTIONAL)

After work practice session at The Mountaineers. Actual date TBD. A great opportunity to hone the skills you learned and get to know some graduates from prior years' courses!

SATURDAY, JULY 18  - RIGGING (REQUIRED)

Day 3 will be 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 Day 3, students will have learned the skills to rig some of the more technical canyons in the PNW.

SUNDAY, JULY 19  - RIGGING & RESCUE ON ROPE (REQUIRED)

Day 4 will focus on more advanced rigging as well as rescue on rope and some common emergency scenarios. Students will learn about managing the unique hazards of an aquatic canyon environment. They will practice rope rescue systems including self-rescue, direct rescue and indirect rescue. 

MONDAY, JULY 20 - IN-CANYON ASSESSMENT (recommended)

Day 5 is the assessment 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. 

Students who wish to have more time to practice may opt to take the assessment at a later date.

Important dates:

This course will happen over two weekends - Saturday-Sunday July 11-12 and July 18-19, plus Monday July 20. 

equipment:

Students who have canyoning gear are encouraged to bring their own gear so that they can learn on their personal gear. However, no gear purchasing is required for the course, as any gear that students do not have will be provided to loan for the course.

Click on the "Required Equipment" tab below for a comprehensive gear list, and to learn about gear available to graduates to use after the course.

Course Requirements
Course Activity Date Availability Leader
Rope Progression
Seattle Program Center
Sat, Jul 11, 2020
Registration closes Jul 9
15 participants
6 instructors
Whitewater & Incident Management
Snoqualmie Powerhouse to Plum Landing
Sun, Jul 12, 2020
Registration closes Jul 10
15 participants
6 instructors
Rigging - Group B
Hall Creek
Sat, Jul 18, 2020
Registration opens Jul 16; Instructor registration open now
8 participants
3 instructors
Hall Creek
Sun, Jul 19, 2020
Registration opens Jul 16; Instructor registration open now
8 participants
3 instructors
Rigging - Group A
Hall Creek
Sat, Jul 18, 2020
Registration opens Jul 16; Instructor registration open now
8 participants
2 instructors
Hall Creek
Sun, Jul 19, 2020
Registration opens Jul 16; Instructor registration open now
8 participants
2 instructors
Assessment (optional)
Rachor Creek: Upper Canyon
Mon, Jul 20, 2020
Registration opens Jul 16; Instructor registration open now
8 participants
2 instructors
Change Creek
Mon, Jul 20, 2020
Registration opens Jul 16; Instructor registration open now
8 participants
3 instructors
Roster
Required Equipment

EQUIPMENT:

Students who have canyoning gear are encouraged to bring their own gear so that they can learn on their personal gear. However, no gear purchasing is required for the course, as any gear that students do not have will be provided to loan for the course.

This comprehensive gear list can help students assess which of their own gear they will choose to use on the course:

  • Wetsuit (full body, minimum 5mm on the core). Drysuit is also acceptable though less desirable.
  • Neoprene socks (minimum 3mm)
  • Canyon-specific shoes
  • Canyon harness (caving harness is also acceptable. Climbing harnesses are not allowed) 
  • Helmet (Climbing helmets & Paddling helmets both acceptable)
  • 2 dynamic cowstails with locking carabiners 
    • students will get to keep their cowstails, which will be sized to each student. Students will NOT get to keep the carabiners. If there are two pieces of gear we recommend purchasing, it’s:
      • An HMS carabiner with a keeper wire (Sterling Falcon Talon is preferred because it is round-stock, but a flat-stock carabiner is acceptable, as is an HMS carabiner without a keeper wire)
      • A small locking carabiner (Petzl Sm’D twist lock is recommended, but a Petzl Spirit or other locking small carabiner is acceptable)
  • 1 variable-friction descender with locking carabiner (examples: Critr, Pirana, Hannibal, Hoodoo, Oka, Resonator)
  • 1 compact mechanical hand ascender (Petzl Basic recommended)
  • 1 mechanical chest ascender (Petzl Croll recommended)
  • 1 single runner (60cm sling) OR chest harness
  • 1 foot loop
  • 1 canyoning knife
  • 1 pea-less whistle
  • 4 pear shaped locking carabiners
  • 1 locking XL Master carabiner
  • 1 quickdraw
  • 1 Figure Eight Descender
  • 1 tape sling
  • Canyon Pack with drainage and flotation
  • Rope bag with drainage & flotation

GEAR AFTER THE COURSE:

Our goal is to make canyoning accessible to everyone. Graduates of this course will be qualified to participate on Mountaineers Basic & Intermediate Canyon trips. On Mountaineers trips, participants will have access to borrow the following gear:

  • Canyon Harness with rescue knife
  • Descender
  • Petzl Basic
  • Petzl Croll
  • Figure Eight Device
  • 4 working carabiners
  • 1 master carabiner
  • 60 cm sling
  • Rope bags, Canyon Packs

Wetsuits can be rented at https://urbansurf.com

Many participants choose to purchase canyoning shoes, however many others use old approach shoes. Any shoes with sticky rubber soles will work.

This means that after the course, participants will ONLY need to purchase the following to continue canyoning with The Mountaineers:

  • Helmet
  • Pea-less whistle
  • Neoprene socks
  • Foot Loop
  • Quick Draw
Course Materials

You must register for this course to see course materials.