Intermediate Skills Practice Session


Intermediate Skills Practice Session - Mountaineers Seattle Program Center

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

  • Moderate

Location: Seattle Program Center, South Plaza, Goodman C (if bad weather)

Time: 6pm - 9pm

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 rigging, rescue techniques, anchors, group management and efficiency, and problem solving. Completing the final assessment also qualifies participants to be an Assistant Canyon Leader on Mountaineers trips.

Learning Objectives

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.  

Pre-requisite Training and Experience


You must have descended 5 unique aquatic canyons


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. 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 Indirect Rope Cutting - As the anchor manager, use a rescue rope to cut a stuck, drowning rappeller free from a fixed system. Any safe method is acceptable (1 min. 30 sec. or under)
  3. Anchor Management Test
    1. Rig a retrievable traverse line to access an unlinked bolted anchor
    2. Rig an MMO on unlinked bolts, setting the rope about halfway down the rappel
    3. Send a teammate down on rappel and reset rope length by communicating with your teammate
    4. 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 struggle in the course.

Please contact the leader with questions, or optionally to set up a time to practice the entrance exam skills. 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.


    Mountaineers Seattle Program Center

    Required Equipment

    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

    Trip Reports