Canyoneering Etiquette (for recreational canyoneering)

As canyoneering guides, sometimes we travel to to other regions or countries to canyoneer, or we go out with new friends. For those occasions, lets take a look at etiquette.

When you engage in any social endeavor, you are bound to find unwritten rules often referred as: Etiquette

Canyoneering is a social activity, and thus, has its own etiquette quirks.

These quirks are bound to differ depending on the costumes of the area and community, and levels of training and experience.

But if you want to fit and keep getting invited back to a group, consider some of these etiquette suggestions:

For beginners:

  • Bring rope, or offer to carry rope
  • Learn how to stuff rope and be ready to help with this task
  • If someone is already stuffing rope, help by flaking rope of ‘flipping the rope stack’
  • When you reach the bottom of a rappel, be ready to offer a bottom belay to the next person

For Intermediate:

  • If you rig a rappel station, stay on it and take care of the pull
  • If you are doing a long canyon and leapfrogging for efficiency, form teams of 2 to “rig and pull” and leapfrog each other team.


  • Organize your team by weight and height for optimal sequencing and let them know the playbook beforehand.

Probably the most important aspects of canyoneering are:

  • A secure rope rigging and
  • A successful rope pull

These 2 aspects are linked and is better if the same person takes care of both.

If you have a team that have lots of experience together, same source of training, and very familiar with each others’ rigging, you can split these duties if the context demands it, like a super narrow canyon where you rig a rappel station, and there is no room to stay put and let someone else go by.

Stuffing rope back into a rope bag after rappelling can be time consuming and a repetitive task. Make it go faster by teamwork and splitting tasks:

  • One person holds the bag off the ground and keeps the bag opened
  • One person stuffs the rope into the bag
  • One person keeps flaking the rope off the ground and takes care of twists and snags

If only 2 people are available, one stuffs rope and the second grabs the rope end at the top of the rope pile, and flakes it into another pile so it ends at the bottom. This way, the person stuffing rope into the bag does not have to struggle pulling rope at the bottom of a heavy rope pile.


  • If you encounter unexpected water (and your group is not carrying wetsuits)
  • Do not spend lots of time attempting to avoid it
  • Do not risk getting injured attempting to avoid it
  • Volunteer to perform a “dipstick” so figure out depth and the best route to avoid a full swim if possible.

Share any etiquette practices form your circle of friends, community or area.