Canyon Guide Assessment

Canyon Guide Assessment

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Guide Level 1 Assessment

A Level 1 Guide is qualified to lead commercial and organised groups in canyons rated up to V2A2i. Once completing the CG1 trainingand consolidation or entering via aValidation of Current Qualificationthen (VCQ) assessmant can be completed.On successful completion of the assessment certification will be awarded

The UKCA Canyon Guide Level 1 (CG1) is the first level of professional certification within the UKCA award scheme. This award is designed for the competent intermediate level canyoneer who wishes to lead canyoning/gorge walking excursions in a commercial/professional environment rated up to V2A2ii.


  • A successful graduate of the Level 1 Canyon Guide Award will be able to lead novice canyoneers in a commercial environment through a canyon rated up to V2.A2.ii. 
  • The graduate will be very comfortable in canyon environments, demonstrating excellent anticipatory skills for reducing risk to their customers and themselves. 
  • The graduate will understand and implement safe and efficient rigging solutions in the canyon environment. 
  • The graduate will be able to plan and prepare introductory canyoning experiences.
  • The graduate will be able to teach basic canyoning skills to a group.
  • The graduate will be a role model for canyoning. 

Working Controls

A successful candidate will be able to work alone in a canyon rated up to V2A2ii with up to 8 group members. This can be extended to 16 group members where another Canyon Guide L1 is present. A Canyon Guide Level 1 can assist a Canyon Guide Level 2 or a Canyon Instructorin canyons up to V3A3ii.


UKCA Senior Trainer  

Assessment Venue

  • Day 1 Technical - A moderate risk canyon rated around V3A3ii. The canyons should ideally have a selection of features and technical elements for example rappels, jumps, slides and traverse lines.
  • Day 2 - Leadership, Incident and Group Management - A canyon rated up to V2A2i. 


2 days 




  • Must be 18 years or older.
  • Hold a valid first-aid certificate (2-day minimum)
  • Good level of fitness and swimming ability.

Log Book

Prior to assessment, the candidate must present a logbook with a minimum of:

  • Minimum of 20 canyons at least 5 different canyons rated V3A3ii and above.
  • Minimum of 10 canyoning days of co-assisting, co-leading or shadowing on commercial canyoning excursions V2A2i.

*These prerequisites are minimum requirements, extra days are recommended.

Competency Gateway

This assessment can be accessed directly. The UKCA is aware that previous experience and training may have been obtained through other organisations. If the candidate believes they have the skill and experience they can go directly into this assessment. 


Professional Membership (required on successful completion of the course)


Assessment Notes

The syllabus outlines what the content of the assessment will include and gives an idea of what assessment tasks the candidate will be asked to complete. All judgements on how the candidate meets the syllabus must be based on current best practice and industry standards.

Assessors use five types of direct evidence to determine a candidate’s competency:

  • Written entry test: multiple choice questions.
  • Questioning and discussion.
  • Observation of practical tasks.
  • Presentation of Information.
  • Timed Tests.

Section 1 (Day 1) Technical Competence

1A - Canyoning, Environment and Planning 

The candidate will:

  • Demonstrate their knowledge of the FFME and ACA grading system and other popular canyon grading systems used internationally.
  • Demonstrate their knowledge of basic geology and hydrology e.g. rock types, geographical areas and their effect on canyon systems.
  • Describe the impact of visitation to the canyon environment, including bolts, anchors and erosion.
  • Demonstrate their knowledge of planning a canyoning trip. This will include weather checks, resources, reading topo maps, water levels, basic navigation and emergency planning. 

1B - Equipment

The candidate will:

  • Explain their understanding of PPE certification.
  • Explain their knowledge of forces and loads e.g fall factor and impact force.
  • Explain and describe how they store, maintain and check equipment before and after their canyoning trip.
  • Have personal equipment fit for purpose, in good working order.
  • Describe their personal equipment and why they carry it. They will describe the advantages and disadvantages of equipment e.g. wetsuits, drysuits, shoes, harnesses, helmets, bags and ropes. 
  • Demonstrate the group and emergency equipment the candidate will pack for canyoning trips and how to use it. 
  • Demonstrate how to coil and uncoil a rope.
  • Demonstrate how to safely pack a rope into a rope bag.

1C - Knotcraft 

The candidate will demonstrate the correct tying and explain the application of the following knots, bends and hitches:

  • Figure 8 on a bight
  • Overhand knot on a bight
  • Bowline
  • BFK (big fat knot) - Overhand on a double bight
  • Double Fisherman's Bend
  • Figure 8 Bend
  • Stacked Overhand Bend
  • Clove Hitch 
  • Munter Hitch
  • MMO - Munter Mule Overhand
  • Tape Knot

1D - Movement 

The candidate will negotiate features found in A3 or Class C canyons and will:

  • Demonstrate effective down climbing technique, and demonstrate safe and effective techniques for aiding a teammate from above and below.
  • Demonstrate safe and effective sliding technique.
  • Demonstrate safe and effective jumping technique
  • Demonstrate how to assess a jump or slide to make it safe for team members.

1E - Movement on Rope

The candidate will have good knowledge of fall factor and dynamic loading, they will be able to identify the risks and understand how to reduce them. The candidate will:

  • Demonstrate ascending technique with mechanical ascenders or prusiks.
  • Demonstrate descending technique with mechanical ascenders or prusiks.
  • Convert from ascent to descent and descent to ascent.

1F - Movement in Water

In an A3 or Class C canyon environment or Grade/Class 1/2 river environment the candidate will:

  • Demonstrate a confident and effective defensive and active swimming technique.
  • Demonstrate ferry swimming and entering and exiting an eddy.
  • Demonstrate how to safely swim with a canyoning bag, and demonstrate knowledge of how to move bags safely down swift water environments.
  • Show their knowledge of river crossing techniques and the risks involved with river crossing.
  • Demonstrate their knowledge of duck diving up to 3 meters. 

1G - Rigging

During a canyoning descent rated V2/V3 the candidate will:

  • Understand the term ‘Rig for Rescue’ and will implement this in all their rigging tasks.
  • Identify natural and bolt anchors, understand principles of anchors such as strength, redundancy and equalisation. Identify materials used and different anchor set-ups. 
  • Show that they are double checking each anchor and their rigging systems at each anchor point. 
  • Demonstrate how to link unlinked anchors and bolts.
  • Demonstrate their ability to set up and deconstruct safe and efficient traverse lines, rappel systems, guided rappels on fixed or natural anchors.
  • Identify where abrasion management is needed and identify different techniques used for abrasion management. 
  • Demonstrate the use of one belaying technique from above and below.
  • Understand the theory of sequencing team members and how to safely set the rope length when the bottom is not visible from below. 

1H - Rope Rescue 

The candidate will have knowledge of the risks involved with rescue and the difference between direct and indirect rescue the candidate will:

  • Demonstrate how to self-rescue themselves when they are stuck on the rope with a jammed descender.
  • Demonstrate how to release and secure a releasable system when a participant is stuck on descent.
  • Demonstrate how to safely and effectively perform an indirect rope cutting rescue to release a stuck participant.

1I - Teamwork and Incident Management

The candidate will:

  • Demonstrate their knowledge of visual and sound signals.
  • Identify the process of launching an alert.
  • Have a first aid kit and know how to use it.
  • Identify the signs and symptoms of common issues that could occur on a canyon descent such as exhaustion, hyperthermia, hypothermia, stress, anxiety and exhaustion. 
  • Demonstrate a method of transporting a casualty.
  • Managing a flood incident in the canyon.

1J - Timed Tests

Test 1 - Indirect Rope Cutting 

The candidate will perform an indirect rope cut rescue in under 1.20 min

If the trainee makes a security error (open carabiner, cut wrong rope etc.) they will fail that attempt. 

If the trainee does not meet the time criteria on the first attempt they can retake the test directly afterwards. On the second attempt, they must pass within 1.10 min on a second fail of this test the trainee will not pass the L1 guide assessment. 

Test 2 - Rope Conversion Test 

The candidate will perform a rope conversion from ascent to descent at 5 meters in under 3 min. 

If the trainee makes a security error (open carabiner, disconnect etc.) they will fail that attempt.

If the trainee does not meet the time criteria on the first attempt they can retake the test directly afterwards. On the second attempt, they must pass within 2.45 min on a second fail of this test the trainee will not pass the L1 guide assessment. 

Section 2 (Day 2) -  Instruction, Leadership and Planning

On day 2 the candidate will be expected to lead a group in a canyon up to V2A2ii. 

1A - Leadership

The candidate will lead a canyoning excursion with a real group, during the excursion they will demonstrate and will be assessed on:

  • Never compromising their safety or the safety of the group.
  • Professionalism - language, appearance, gestures and engagement. 
  • Preparing and briefing.
  • Time management.
  • Role Modeling, motivating and having fun with the group.
  • Establishing a rapport with individuals and having emotional awareness of individuals needs.
  • Safe and efficient rigging.

2B - Instruction

The candidate will provide instruction on some of the following:

  • Fitting equipment
  • Rappelling and movement on traverse lines
  • Communication 
  • Movement techniques
  • Jumping
  • Sliding
  • Swimming 
  • Teamwork

2C - Feedback, Review and Certification 

The candidates will have peer feedback and individual feedback. On successful completion of the assessment certification will be awarded.