What is Canyoneering101.com?

Short Version:
It is has long been a labor of love of mine to create a resource that focuses on the niche sport of descending slot canyons, called Canyoneering.  Other countries call it "Canyoning", "Gorging", and "Kloofing".  Canyoneering is the USA name for the sport.
 
Unlike other websites that offer little information on HOW to descend slot canyons, I wanted to provide a LOT of information that covers all of the basics and a little more.  But my ultimate goal is to try and establish a standardized learning platform where beginners to the sport can all be on the same page. 
 
Currently, there is NOT a world-wide platform where one can learn the sport easily and for free. My goal is to change that and am hoping this resource can be that starting point for everyone.  I'm not sure where this will end up, but I do know that it will evolve, become better and more user-friendly as the days go by.  You will be able to access these pages on your desktop computer, tablet, or mobile device.  Everything on here is provided "as is" and will be entirely free of charge.  There may come a time where I dabble into the commercial world for other services as I have some $$ plans, but that is all dictated on how successful (or not) the website will be.
There are a lot of nuances that go into Canyoneering and those questions are best answered by replying, "it always depends on the canyon".  Remember that!  The specific canyon that you want to descend is what determines the sport. So don't think that just because you know how to tie the "essential" knots means you can conquer every canyon. You can't. But, it will allow a unified platform that everyone can use to start their canyoneering adventure.
The audience who I am writing to is the beginner.  The veteran or canyoneer who has been doing this for a dozen years may not find this website useful.  And that's okay! They are not my audience.  Besides, they already know this stuff. Well, they should know it...
After 20+ years of Canyoneering where there was no standardization but rather an informal (but accepted) canyon "rating" system, and three active online forums that discussed anything and everything Canyoneering, I wanted to start somewhere and create a methodology for those who want to learn more about the sport.
The goal is to make it easy to follow and provide a lot of context so that you can know the nuances. Did you know, as crazy as this seems, that dozens of veterans look down on the beginner?! As odd as that may seem, there are many veterans who think that the beginner (you) is out to hurt him/herself and ruin access to slot canyons.  History has shown that to be true in some cases, but I think that it's not the people who are to blame entirely but rather the canyoneering system that has failed them.  Some veterans do not want to teach it because of how involved it can be.  They also do not want to discus their secret canyons, and they don't want to see yourself killed! 
 
The "it depends" is what makes this sport difficult to teach in a uniform way.  I'm trying to introduce a way in doing that.   There are many more knots than just the ones I have presented here on the website, but in my opinion, these are the "core" of the sport.  There are other knots to know which are helpful, but that is not the point of this website.  If you are wanting to progress in your skills and go from beginner to intermediate to advanced to perhaps even a commerical Canyon Guide, I will provide information on other modules and "Canyoneering Resources" if you'd like.
After talking to many canyoneers across the years, it is clear that everyone in the sport did not start on equal footing!  A few have rock climbing experience; some have mountaineering experience; but most have little to years and years of hiking experience.  Social media makes it easy to share "trip reports" from your recent canyoneering adventure to the world and all the while, the silent followers see those posts and want to learn more about it and where it is!  However, when they read that is has rappels of 100+ feet, swimming into things called "keeper potholes", and how long of an approach hike and exit that canyon is, most will decide that it's not worth something they want to pursue.  Maybe that's a great thing!  But to those who want to take on that challenge to see the canyon's secrets - then this sport is for you!   
 
People read the online hiking guide (called "beta") for that specific canyon and learn that it has some rappels and some hiking in the desert and think to themselves "how hard could rappelling be?"  Well, to those who haven't done it - it's very scary! Leaning over a edge, remembering never to let go of your braking hand while on rappel, will my body weight make me rappel faster or slower, and lastly, how do you get this rope down?  So many questions!
That's what I designed this website for. To take away that initial scariness, to show you properly how to get into canyoneering, learn some of our lingo, and show some knots and techniques that you can use to descend these slot canyons!  But again, the canyon that you choose "all depends".  Some of the information found on the website *may* get you through.  For harder canyons, it definitely will not as contain techniques suitable for advanced Canyoneers and tackling them without that experience will result in bodily injury and you may even lose your life.  This isn't for the "Bros".  Having a "party attitude" will most likely end in a long, exhausting day, frustrated attitudes, and possible resentment towards individuals in your party for not being adequaltey prepared, etc.  (But, you may be part of that problem too with not knowing how to do this sport and pulling your weight.)
This website uses sections/modules to teach all about the sport.  And it is designed to work in a linear fashion.  First, start with "The Basics" and learn yourself to "The Essentials", followed by "Advanced". There are over 36 modules! There IS that much to cover.  So, please take your time and read through them all in a linear way, starting with this page and moving next onto "Module 1 - What is Canyoneering?"
In the end, beginner and veteran want to descend these majestic slot canyons safely.  But having our feet on the same standardized platform is the first step.  We all need to speak the same language, know the same knots, and have the same attitude of safety, protection, respect, (and enjoyment) of these slot canyons!
Thanks for sticking around and I hope that you find this website useful.
 
If you have problems or want to contact me, please send me an email at brett@canyoneering101.com
-Brett Johnson
Long Version:
My fascination with slot canyons began back in 1994 when my mother took my siblings and I through a desert slot canyon called Little Wild Horse Canyon (found in the San Rafael Swell of Utah).  For a 10 year old, it was "super cool!" and fun to walk through a slot-canyon where you could put both arms out and touch both walls.  If you looked straight up, it looked like the canyon was as tall as a skyscraper. And in front of you was an endless path where the canyon would weave back and forth and every new turn was exciting because you didn't know what lied ahead...
 
After a few hours you would hit the open desert again and return back through another slot canyon (Bell Canyon), which was much wider and photogenic, back to your car.  It was exhausting for a kid but incredibly amazing!  Afterwards, I would think about the trip for the next couple of weeks and get me excited to explore around my neighborhood and nearby hollow for other fun outdoor adventures.
Continuing on, about 20 minutes from Little Wild Horse Canyon is a Utah State Park called Goblin Valley, where we would frequent on a yearly basis around Easter time.  This is where we would make base camp for that weekend.  Even in this remote place, they had hot showers at the campground which made this 10-year old pretty happy.  Going to bed with sand all over you was something I dreaded, funny enough.
But I looked forward to these outings because 1) I love exploring and 2) seeing a canyon that I could touch with both hands was just "magical".  At the time, Little Wild Horse wasn't too well known (including Goblin Valley) and so finding a place to camp was no big deal.  There were practically no crowds.  (Then, the internet came and ruined it all ;) )
But year after year of doing this canyon, my mind wondered, "what else is out there?" and "where are they?" 
Several years later, as I was a part of the Boy Scouts, they wanted to take all 12 of us through a "hike" called the "Subway" which is found in Zion National Park.  At the time, I have visited Zion NP and we hiked to the top of Angels Landing, Lower and Upper Emerald Pools, and Weeping Rock.  But the Subway sounded pretty fun (as it involved some swimming) and a 10-mile hike from what my scout master was explaining to us.  Remember, this was before social media.  And to me at this point in my life, the outdoors to me just meant hiking because that's all I ever did and know.  I knew about rock climbing of course but it didn't interest me.  But this "hike" (especially swimming through part a slot-canyon) at the age of 16 sounded great! 
 
And, what I experienced, blew my mind! 
I never knew that such a canyon could exist where it was literally 100+ degrees F in the summer, but deep in this canyon, perennial water was flowing which had numerous red-rock cascades, waterfalls in this incredible oasis!  And it was VERY fun with some challenging moments too.
That "hike" changed my life, literally, forever.
Then, I found out that this exploration of slot canyons has been going on since the 1970s and originally had the name of "Gorging". South Africans call it "Kloofing" (I assume a dutch word?). Our European (and frankly the rest of the world) friends call it "Canyoning".  But us Americans call it, "Canyoneering".  Whatever it is named, we all seem to be connected by this fascination (and obsession) to exploring and descending these treasures that Mother Nature hides from us.
One day I was doing a search back in the early 2000's and I was surprised to learn that there was no formal or standardizing organization for this "sport".  I didn't know what knots to tie along with what other "types" of canyons are out there and their locations.  There were some blog posts and websites that had a "primer" which gave a small of what do bring and do with the sport but details where lacking!
This started a quest of gaining and collecting everything there was about this new sport and hobby of mine.  I read a few books about it (ones by Kelsey), read the famous Freedom of the Hills, and sought out online forums where they talked about the sport.  Surpisingly, there wasn't too much information on HOW to do it.  There was a bunch of information on WHERE to go, but not too much on what was out there.
There was a Yahoo's Group called "Canyons" that I discovered many years later where people of this same obsession where talking about but I never knew them.  The first website that talked about canyoneering in detail was www.climb-utah.com.  This was created and still maintained by Shane Burrows, or by what the Interwebs now refer to him as just "Shane".  He had a bunch of good but lacking-in-detail information when it came to how to get started and where.  I quickly joined his "Circle of Friends" program to know where exactly WHERE to go.  I was very pleased.  Shane published a lot of great beta that satisfied that craving, along with posting a lot of other non-technical hiking information for the Wasatch Mountains in Utah.  That again satiated that hunger for my hiking passion.  So, a lot of thanks goes to him and his website.  And I'm sure I'm not the only other person who has found his information life changing.
Fast forward to 2012.
More and more websites were popping up and explaining what Canyoneering is and isn't and people were publishing canyons that were considered "show don't tell".  Essentially, they would be happy to show people these "secret" canyons but it did require a blood oath of secrecy.  They wanted to preserve the secret canyons that they had no "right" to in the first place.  Sure, they discovered it and of course, they were under no obligation to share it.  Basically, I saw it as as "hey look at me! Look at what I found and its the most amazing place, but I will never ever tell any of you where it is". That boiled my blood..
It irked me because I was frequenting Canyoneering forums, learning more about the sport and was surprised that little information taught you HOW to do it.  And second, people were showing off these cool places but essential was giving everyone the middle finger.  It's like the rich guy in town in his Bentley or Ferrari, driving very slow around our homes with loud music, etc. just so that everyone looks at him and admires his coolness (and his massive amount of debt) but isn't willing to let anyone drive it, let alone look at it closely.
I decided at that point that I wanted to create a website that was free for everyone to learn more about the sport but not just focus on "get a harness and learn these knots and that's it".  It is more of a focus on the ENTIRE sport but at a basic level.  That way you can know the ins and outs of what's all involved. 
In no way, does this website have the intention to replace professional or hands-on experience.  It's purpose is to set a community standard of what the "essentials" should be and ultimately everyone in the sport SHOULD know.  I have been on many canyoneering adventures where the competent canyoneering person was group leader and everyone else had no idea what they were doing, let alone how to a tie a knot!  What if that canyon leader got hurt or injured? What will the group do if they don't know how to tie any of the knots, how to rappel correctly, etc.?
 
Regardless, when we are all on the same platform and when you join another canyoneering group, you will know how to be self-sufficient and won't be a hindrance to the group.  Additionally, you can now be able to pull your own weight through the slot canyon and make the trip enjoyable for yourself and those in your party.
One last point - the website name is important.  It's suppose to be a very easy website name to remember.  To your friends who want to learn more, you can refer them here without racking your brain. And rather than explaining what canyoneering is in-depth to them over and over again, just point them here and let me handle the basics for them.  The harder questions and scenarios, they then can ask you about once they have a solid understanding of the sport.
Thanks for sticking around and I hope that you find this website useful.
If you have problems or want to contact me, please send me an email at brett@canyoneering101.com
-Brett Johnson

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