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How NOT 2 Canyon

In Collaboration with Brent Roth, the Whitewater Pirate


Welcome to our free course, where we will introduce you to canyoning and show

you a few different ways to set up rappels while descending a canyon. This is NOT all-inclusive. There are many aspects to learn before you should commit to a canyon on your own. Please check out the continued education at the bottom to learn more.


This blog format allows this "textbook" to be easy to read on any device, easy for us to add and update the information, and easy to translate. Consider each blog we send you to as "chapters" and they will always point to the next place you should head. Treat this page as the topo map on how to guide yourself down this course, get it?

 

Rappelling Wizards: Intro to Canyoning


Brent's Gear Guide


 

☠️ WARNING!!! ☠️

There have been a number of incidents resulting in severe injury or death while people were rappelling. A recent accident happened while a group was practicing for running canyons. A person loaded the wrong strand, leaned back, and fell.

This brings up a few important rules…

  1. Practice In A Low Consequence Environment! - Do not try these systems for the first time in a canyon at height!

  2. Back up Your Systems!! - Some of the parts of the rigging in the videos were omitted for clarity. Always back up the system until the last person rigs for retrieval!

  3. Use A Process Every Time!!! - Use a lanyard or Personal Anchor System (PAS).

THIS IS THE FIRST AND LAST THING TO CLIP/UNCLIP DURING A RAPPEL!


Lean back and check everything before removing your Personal Anchor System / Lanyard!


 

I started a store and sell canyoning gear. We have Glacier Black's entire product line and will be adding more canyon brands soon. Buying from us helps us make more content and if you get 20% off EVERYTHING if you become a $99-a-year supporter.


 

How KNOT 2 Tie Ropes

You need to know these knots to follow along in this course. These are very short stand-alone videos not on the main channel. If you don't know how to tie these knots, grab a rope, watch these, and start practicing. The key to every knot is that it is properly tied, set, and dressed before use.


Figure 8 on a Bight

This is a very common end-loop knot in climbing, caving and canyoning.






Blocking Knot - Figure of 8

This knot is a simple way to rappel on a single strand and retrieve your rope.






Blocking Knot - Clove Hitch

This knot is a simple way to rappel on a single strand and retrieve your rope.






Stone Knot & Carabiner

This knot is a simple way to rappel on a single strand and retrieve your rope. I found that this is the easiest to undo afterheavily heavely loaded.



Stone Knot & Fiddle Stick

This is a great tool to have in a canyon. Caution should be taken when using because simple rescues can be challenging with these systems. Understand the capabilities and limitations of any special

use kit before using in a canyon.


MMO - Munter Mule Overhand

This knot is the baseline for building a releasable anchor. It is used in many rescue situations from load transfers to passing a knot. Here it is tied to the anchor to allow a person on rappel to be lowered if needed, manage abrasion or set specific rope length.




EMO - Eight Mule Overhand

This is a veriation of an MMO using a figure 8 device as a blocking system. This system does not need to be retied for rope retrieval




EMO Without Quickdraw

This is an EMO using less gear to rig a secure rappel anchor.





Big Butterfly

This is a quick way to set up a remote anchor point and have two strands ready for rappel.




 












 

Main Course

Here are a few things to consider when rigging for canyon rappels:

  • How will I get my rope back?

  • Is there an abrasion point or flowing water?

  • What are the skill levels of people in your group?

  • Is there a way for you to rescue someone on rappel by just staying at the anchor?

  • Do you have to toss out your entire rope to just go down 20 feet?


General Overview


Definitions and Terms with an overview of every system.






System Explanations


Static and release blocks for a single rope.







Setting up 2 strands to move a group through a canyon quicker.







How to have two usable strands but also be rigged and ready for a rescue if needed.






How to go down two strands and how to do it to prevent abrasion.






How you can rig every system above with just one device. A summary and example of every system you just learned.





Gear Tests


How much friction do different lowering methods produce?






How much friction does that extra wrap on your descender create?






We broke the hard stuff you use in a canyon and said "WOW" after every test.






How strong is EMO vs MMO + Stone Block, Clove Hitch and 8 Block and whatever else you can do with a rope?




 

Continued Education

We made our HowNOT2 course because this material wasn’t available online in this way and we like to help spread knowledge in the extreme sports community. There is another great canyon resource that can show you how to move down the canyon, the stuff you need and how to be a better participant on a canyon trip. The first V7 course is free and we HIGHLY RECOMMEND you take it. Their 2nd course is more advanced and



High-quality and affordable PNW specific canyoning courses from certified swiftwater rescue instructors and canyoning guides.



For local training and information, the Seattle Mountaineers has a canyon program that is a great way to get plugged into canyoning in the PNW. Their curriculum follows the V7 course and has great hands-on training with a great group of people….




If you are a bit farther south, the Portland Mazamas has a canyon program as well. Kevin Clark wrote an extensive book, Canyoning in the Pacific Northwest: A Technical Resource, that is available from a lot of places these days (NorHex in Portland, Ascent Outdoors in Seattle, Valhalla Outfitters up in Squamish -- and a bunch of others including Imlay, On Rope Canyoneering, Adventure Plus, CanyonZone, Canyon Store, etc. Amazon delivers fast, but one can probably get it a bit cheaper and help support local canyon businesses at the same time. 🙂



AAI is starting a new hands-on canyoning program in Washington with Brent Roth. Contact them for more details about courses and scheduling.





 

Brent Roth


Living in the Pacific Northwest, Brent Roth is passively-aggressively going to get back at all the stupid Facebook forums by providing educational content that will at least piss off the southwestern canyoneers at best and everyone at worst. He was in the Army for only 4 years until he realized canyoning was the only thing worth doing. He has 2 cats. That’s about all you need to know.

written by Ryan Jenks


Real funny Ryan…


Yes, I live in the PNW and I am from here. I retired from the Navy and started working outdoors as a rafting and swift water rescue instructor. I have taken a few technical rope rescue courses from American Alpine Institute and Rigging-for-Rescue and really connected with how technical rope systems work. I volunteer with a local Mountain Rescue Unit and continue to train in rope systems. I am a classic rope nerd.

I am in several online groups and see lots of debates and questions about systems and techniques. Most of these debates try to define “what is best” for everyone. I like to compare the capabilities and limitations of things and then determine what I should do in a given situation. The more I learn, the more options I have. That is “what’s best” for me and I like to share what I learn.


I do have two cats.



See Brent's full bio HERE 

 

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