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Understanding The Technical Rating System For Canyoneering Ratings

Canyons are ever-changing thanks to the erosive action of the elements. This makes canyon ratings important as they give adventurers an idea of what to expect, allowing them to plan canyon excursions that are within their skill and ability level. Additionally, canyon ratings provide a good guide on what kind of canyoneering gear to bring on adventures.

In this part of the world, we use the ACA canyon rating system which is divided into 4 parts namely:

  1. The technical classification
  2. Water rating
  3. Grade showing time required
  4. Additional risk rating

Let’s take a look at each of these.

1.     The Technical Canyoning Rating Classification

This part of the rating typically begins with a number (1 through 4) indicating the technical nature or difficulty of the canyon. It gives an idea of what skill and gear are necessary for the descent.

Here’s a quick breakdown:

Class 1: Canyon Hiking. Typically a non-technical canyon and no rope work is required

Class 2: Basic Canyoneering. Might call for some downclimbing and scrambling and rope might be necessary for belays, handlines, lowering packs and emergency use.

Class 3: Intermediate Canyoneering. Suitable for middle-skill climbers and may involve rope work for belays, single-pitch rappels and downclimbing.

Class 4: Advanced Canyoneering. This is for experts with ample canyoneering skills and experience. involves complex rope work, multi-pitch rappels, difficult-to-establish natural anchors and challenging pothole escapes.

2.     The Canyoneering Water Rating

This indicates whether there are pools/ flowing water.

A – Normally dry canyon with little water. Might require waist deep wading

B – Still pools or water with light or no current. Expect a little swimming.

C – Features waterfalls and water with strong current and requires wet canyon rope techniques.

3.     Canyon Grade: Canyoning Time Required

This is based on assumption that you have a small party of 4-6 fit adults moving at a good pace. It also accounts for the time taken in exploration and picture taking.

I – Requires a couple of hours

II- Takes about half a fay

III – Usually requires most of a day

IV – Expect to take a long day

V- Normally done in 2 days

VI- Usually requires 2 days or more

4.     Additional Canyoneering Risk Rating

This rating indicates the risks found over and above the normal ones in the canyons.

R- Risky: Might have one or more extraordinary risk factors that complicate the descent e.g. sections with loose rock, difficult anchors or route finding, making it not appropriate for beginners.

X- Extreme: The decent is complicated by the existence of multiple risk factors and any errors in technique or judgment is likely to result in serious injury or death. This descent should only be attempted by expert, experienced canyoneers.

Get the Right Canyoneering Equipment

Safe canyoneering calls for experience, sound judgment and knowledge of canyoneering practices as well as how to use the right canyoneering technical devices for a successful descent.

Here at Rocner Canyoneering Gear, we have a fine selection of affordable hard gear, technical devices and textiles to ensure you have a fun and safe canyoneering trip. Shop with us today!