Glossary

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1 (Technical Rating)A canyon that is non-technical and easy.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
2-Ring Retrievable RiggingRetrievable rigging made up of a basket hitched sling with a rappel ring on each end. The rappel line is rigged DRT through both rings. After pulling the rappel line, the sling is pulled down using a separate pull cord.
See How to Rig a 2-Ring Retrievable Anchor for detailed information.
2 (Technical Rating)Non-technical with lots of down climbing. Hand lines come in handy but no rappelling required.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
3 (Technical Rating)Technical. Rappelling almost always required.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
3rd Class ScramblingScrambling with increased exposure. Handholds are necessary. A rope should be available for learning climbers, or if you just choose to use one that day, but is usually not required. Falls could easily be fatal. Definition from the Yosemite Decimal System.
Same as Class 3 Scrambling.
4 (Technical Rating)Advanced. It is generally associated with rappels longer than 200′, canyons with potholes, or canyons that require creative anchor strategies such as marginal anchors or retrievable rigging.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
4th Class ScramblingSimple climbing, with exposure. A rope is often used. Natural protection can be easily found. Falls may well be fatal. Definition from the Yosemite Decimal System.
Same as Class 4 Scrambling.
A (Water Rating)Water levels are anything from completely dry to waist deep water. No swimming is required.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
AbseilDescend a cliff face by using a rappel device and rope to control the speed.
Same as Rap and Rappel.
ACA Canyon Rating SystemThe most well-known canyon rating system in the United States. It is a concise way to represent some of the important information about any given canyon. Created by the ACA.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
Accessory Cord6 to 7 mm diameter cord that is used in various canyoneering applications such as tying a Purcell Prusik or for use as a pull cord.
Same as Cordelette and Utility Cord.
AguanchorThe original water anchor.
AiderSet of webbing loops for use as a light-weight portable ladder. Most commonly used in a system for pothole escapes. Stirrup in French.
Same as Etrier.
American Canyoneering AssociationUsed to be the American Canyoneering Academy. Before that it was the American Canyoneering Association.
See Canyoneering.net for detailed information.
AnchorSystem made up of 1) something that stays put while loaded and 2) the rigging that holds the rappel rope so canyoneers can safely rappel down. DEAR anchors are ideal.
Examples of anchors are bolts, natural anchors, and transient anchors.
AngleOne of the qualities of EARNEST rigging. The angle between the widest pieces of webbing on an anchor should be 90° or less.
Ape IndexThe distance from one hand to the other when they are outstretched. Used when setting rope length. For example, given a forty foot rappel, a canyoneer with an ape index of five feet will need eight arm lengths of rope to reach the bottom of the rappel.
ApproachThe part between the beginning of the hiking and the start of the technical section. The exact definition varies between beta providers and canyons.
ArchA natural arch is a rock exposure that has a hole completely through it formed by the natural, selective removal of rock, leaving a relatively intact frame (definition from The Natural Arch and Bridge Society).
See rock formation.
ArmorAny or all of knee pads, elbow pads, butt protector, gloves, helmet, shin and forearm pads. Protects the canyoneer on difficult down climbs or extended stemming sections.
AscendTravel up a rope using ascenders.
Same as Jug.
AscenderA mechanical rope grab or friction hitch used to ascend.
Assisted RappelTwo rappellers descent together on one or two rappel devices that are controlled by only one of the rappellers. Great way to get children or first-time rappellers comfortable on rappel.
Same as Tandem Rappel.
ATCTube-style belay and rappel device. Most canyoneers opt for canyoneering specific rappel devices. Stands for Air Traffic Controller.
ATSSterling brand figure 8 style canyoneering specific rappel device. I think it stands for Alpine Training Systems.
See Alpine Training Systems for detailed information.
Atwood GearCanyoneering Gear Manufacturer responsible for tools such as the Chester, Sand Trap Anchor, and Waterpocket.
See Atwood Gear website for detailed information.
AutoblockA friction hitch that is commonly used below the rappel device for a self belay.
B (Water Rating)Deep wading to swimming. Water has no current.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
BackpackCanyoneering backpacks should be sturdy and hold up through the rigors of canyoneering. They should also shed water quickly, be comfortable, and the bottom should be angled for easy down climbing.
Bad BetaBeta that is incorrect and canyoneers have a negative experience because of it.
Bad Down Rigging SystemA method of rigging the rope to the anchor near the tail and dropping the bag down to the bottom of the rappel. This is the fastest way to ensure that the rope reaches the bottom of the rappel but there are many disadvantages to rigging this way compared to bag up rigging.
Same as Tail Up Rigging System.
Bag EndThe side of the rope that is tied to the bag. The working end is the other side. These terms are used to distinguish between ends in SRT.
Bag Up Rigging SystemA method of rigging the rope to the anchor by measuring out the rope length and dropping the tail down to the bottom of the rappel while keeping the bag at the top. In most situations this provides more rescue options than tail up rigging.
Same as Tail Down Rigging System.
BasketThe versatile end of a carabiner that holds the devices that do things - devices such as ascenders, rappel devices, friction hitches, safety tethers, etc. The opposite side of the skinny end.
Same as Wide End and Working End (Carabiner).
See Carabiners for detailed information.
Basket HitchHitch made from a loop that is simply wrapped around an object. It is typically used for rigging on a single solid natural anchor.
Batman UpClimb something in the same way as Adam West's Batman.
Beached WhaleMethod of exiting a pothole by laying against the down canyon wall to apply friction using the entire body.
BelayWatch for and prevent a rappeller from falling when they lose control on rappel. There are two main types of belays, top-rope belays and bottom belays.
Belay DeviceA device used for belaying that clips to a rappel rope and the anchor and allows the belayer to halt the descent of the rappeller.
Belay LoopLoop in the harness where life-supporting gear, such as a rappel device or safety tether, are attached. Climbing harnesses have vertical belay loops and rappelling harnesses have horizontal belay loops.
Belay StationRigging that is located mid-rappel where a rappeller can safely hang.
BelayerA canyoneer who prevents an rappeller from falling if they lose control while on rappel.
BellThe area in a canyon where down below is wider than up above so it makes a bell or hourglass shape.
Same as Mae West Slot.
BenchLong, narrow, and flat section of land where one direction is more steeply sloped up and the opposite direction is more steeply sloped down.
BendA knot that joins two ropes.
Best Man At RiskRefers to situations such as marginal anchors where the most capable canyoneer will experience a greater amount of risk.
BetaEver-changing instructions on how to descend a canyon. If many professional fields when something is in beta, it is not complete and will probably change before public consumption.
Beta ProviderA person, book, website, or other source of information that distributes beta on a canyon.
BightA bend in a rope when tying a knot.
BinerA metal loop with a spring-loaded gate used to connect safety-critical components. Short for Karabinerhaken which means "spring hook" in German. Definition from Carabiner article on Wikipedia.
Same as Carabiner.
See Carabiners for detailed information.
Biner BlockA static block that uses a carabiner as the block. The rope is tied with a block hitch such as clove hitch, triple clove hitch, or constrictor hitch.
BivouacA temporary camp without tents. Probably Swiss German from "Biwacht" which means additional guard at night (from Google).
Same as Bivy.
BivyA temporary camp without tents. Probably Swiss German from "Biwacht" which means additional guard at night (from Google).
Same as Bivouac.
Bivy SackA portable, lightweight, and hopefully waterproof sack for bivvying.
BlockRigging system for rappelling that uses something secured to a rope and is too large to pass through the rapide.
See static block and releasable rigging system.
Block HitchA hitch used for biner blocks. Examples are clove, triple clove, and constrictor hitches.
BlowoutWhen some part of the rigging breaks off part of the rest of the anchor and fails. Examples are when hooking out of a pothole and the drilled holes blow out, or when a chockstone pulls through the sandstone crack.
BluffCliff with a good view.
BluuGnomeCanyoneering website that provides beta, instruction, and a store. Designer of the SQWUREL and Smooth Operator.
BogleyOnline forum with canyoneering subsection.
See Bogley Canyoneering Forum for detailed information.
BoltA human-made anchor that is created by drilling a hole into the rock and placing a bolt and hanger.
Bolt WarsThe ongoing argument of whether or not to place bolts in some canyons.
Bomb BayA belled out section where the canyoneer is at skinny top and it is impossible to down climb. One must either fall or swing down to reach the bottom.
BomberAn anchor that can have an enormous amount of force applied to it and it will not fail. Opposite of a marginal anchor.
Examples of bomber anchors are two bolts, A tree that is six inches in diameter, alive, and well-rooted, and a really big rock.
BootyValuable gear found in a canyon that was left behind by a previous canyoneering group.
Bottom BelayA belay that is performed by tensioning the rappel rope below the rappeller.
Same as Fireman Belay.
Boulder HopDown climb on boulders.
Box CanyonA canyon that has cliffs on both sides but is not skinny like a slot canyon.
Brake HandThe hand a rappeller uses to slow down while rappelling. Usually the dominant hand. Opposite of guide hand.
BridgingTraversing a skinny section of canyon with both hands on one wall and both feet on the other. See stemming.
Bunny StrapA short piece of cord that is attached to a belay loop and clipped into rigging on an exposed anchor. It is used for many other things as well. A bunny strap specifically refers to hanging one's pack while stemming.
Same as Cow's Tail and Safety Tether.
Butt ProtectorA strong piece of material, usually PVC, that is attached to a canyoneer's harness to protect the harness and clothing.
Versions I know of are the Scuttlebutt, Shuffle Butt, Canyon Skid Plate, and one by CanyonWerks that is no longer in production.
Butt SlideA dynamic down climbing technique where you slide on your butt. Destroys clothing and harnesses without a butt protector.
ButteHill with flat top and cliffs all around it. Means "small hill" in French.
C (Water Rating)Flowing water.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
CairnA human created stack of rocks. A cairn either marks the current way to go, or simply evidence that someone has been there before and may or may not be lost. From the Scottish Gaelic word càrn.
Cairn AnchorA cairn that is used as an anchor for rappelling.
CamEither a Spring-loaded camming device or the part of an ascender that pinches the rope.
CanditionWebsite that provides recent canyon conditions from fellow canyoneers. Portmanteau of canyon and condition.
See Candition website for detailed information.
CanyonA deep cleft between escarpments or cliffs resulting from weathering and the erosive activity of a river over geologic timescales. Definition from Wikipedia.
Canyon CollectiveCanyoneering website with a very active forum.
See Canyon Collective for detailed information.
Canyon LeftOn the left side when looking down canyon.
Same as LDC and Left Down Canyon.
Canyon ModeA manner of rigging figure 8 style rappel devices where the rope goes through the carabiner instead of around the rappel device. Dangerous for some rappel devices and required for others.
Canyon QuickdrawA quickdraw that uses oval and/or HMS carabiners instead of non-locking carabiners. Typically used for a safety backup on contingency 8rigging.
Canyon ResumeA list of canyon descents a canyoneer has made, including meta-information about those descents.
Canyon RightOn the right side when looking down canyon.
Same as RDC and Right Down Canyon.
Canyon Skid PlateOn Rope Canyoneering brand name for a butt protector.
See Canyon Skid Plate website for detailed information.
CanyoneerOne who descends technical canyons.
CanyoneeringThe art of descending a canyon.
Canyoneering CircleGroup of friends that canyoneer together.
Canyoneering USACanyoneering website that provides beta, instruction, trip reports, and store. Designer of the SandTrap, FiddleStick, PotShot, and ScuttleButt.
Same as Imlay Canyon Gear.
See Canyoneering USA/Imlay Canyon Gear website for detailed information.
CanyonmanThe greatest canyoneer ever.
CanyonWerksDefunct canyoneering gear manufacturer that invented the CRITR and many other innovative creations.
Alas, nothing lasts in canyoneering.
CapsizeWhen a non-bend knot, such as a European Death Knot, is used to join two ropes, and the knot is pulled hard enough that the knot rolls. If it capsizes enough times and the tails are not long, it will roll off the rope.
CarabinerA metal loop with a spring-loaded gate used to connect safety-critical components. Short for Karabinerhaken which means "spring hook" in German. Definition from Carabiner article on Wikipedia.
Same as Biner.
See Carabiners for detailed information.
Catch BasinAny area of land where precipitation collects and drains off into a common outlet.
Same as Drainage and Watershed.
See Drainage basin on Wikipedia for detailed information.
CE MarkingMarking on some canyoneering gear that means it meets a specific standard of safety. It also means it can be legally sold in Europe. Stands for Conformité Européenne which is French for "European Conformity".
See CE marking on Wikipedia for detailed information.
CEMCañonismo En Mexico (Spanish for Canyoneering in Mexico). A retrievable rigging system that requires only a rope. I think this is the most widely used rope-only retrievable rigging system.
Cheater StickTent pole with a hook attached to one end. Used primarily as a pothole escape technique.
CHECKClothing Harness / Helmet Environment Connections Knots. Things to check on a rappeller before they start the rappel.
See CHECK Before Rappelling for detailed information.
Chest PouchSmall pouch that attaches to a canyoneer's chest by straps that criss cross at the back. The versions I'm aware of are Atwood Gear's Chester and Imlay Canyon Gear's PicPocket.
ChesterAtwood Gear brand name of the chest pouch.
See Chester website for detailed information.
ChimneyA drop in a canyon where the opposite walls are near enough that one can chimney down instead of having to rappel.
Same as Elevator.
ChimneyingTraversing a skinny section of canyon with one's back on one wall and feet on the other wall. See stemming.
ChockstoneAn anchor that is created by rigging a rock that is wedged into a crack.
ChokestoneAn anchor that is created by rigging a rock that is wedged into a crack. It's probably worth mentioning that this is an incorrect pronunciation.
Same as Chockstone.
ChossClimbing term for rock that is loose and crumbly. Sucks when climbing, annoying when rappelling, dangerous to be in the fall zone.
ChuteA sloping channel on the canyon floor that canyoneers like to dynamically down climb.
Same as Slide.
Class 3 ScramblingScrambling with increased exposure. Handholds are necessary. A rope should be available for learning climbers, or if you just choose to use one that day, but is usually not required. Falls could easily be fatal. Definition from the Yosemite Decimal System.
Same as 3rd Class Scrambling.
Class 4 ScramblingSimple climbing, with exposure. A rope is often used. Natural protection can be easily found. Falls may well be fatal. Definition from the Yosemite Decimal System.
Same as 4th Class Scrambling.
Climb-UtahBeta provider website.
Climbing HarnessHarness designed for climbing that has a vertical belay loop and particularly flimsy gear loops.
Clove HitchA hitch that is most commonly used in canyoneering as a block hitch for biner blocks.
Coalition of American CanyoneersNonprofit dedicated to promoting and preserving access to canyons. Free to sign up and add another voice to preserve access to canyons.
See Coalition of American Canyoneers for detailed information.
Colorado PlateauCanyon country. Many major canyoneering locations are within the Colorado Plateau. It stretches from Dinosaur National Monument in the northeast to the Grand Canyon in the southwest.
See Colorado Plateau on Wikipedia for detailed information.
Constrictor HitchA hitch that is most commonly used in canyoneering as a block hitch for biner blocks.
Contingency 8A releasable rigging system that uses a figure 8 to block the rope while still allowing it to be releasable. Also called a figure 8 block.
See Figue 8 block on Ropewiki for detailed information.
Contingency BlockReleasable rigging system that uses a block as the tie-off on the bag end of the rapide. Examples are Euro 8, contingency 8 and contingency totem.
Contingency RedirectReleasable rigging system that is redirected through separate rigging rather than a contingency block. Examples are jester, joker, and MMO.
Contingency RiggingA rigging system that can release the weighted rope to lower a stuck rappeller.
Consists of three parts: 1) friction mechanism to allow controlled lowering, 2) tie-off that is releasable under tension, and 3) a safety to prevent the tie-off from releasing unintentionally.
There are two types: contingency block and contingency redirect.
Same as Contingency System and Releasable Rigging System.
Contingency SystemA rigging system that can release the weighted rope to lower a stuck rappeller.
Consists of three parts: 1) friction mechanism to allow controlled lowering, 2) tie-off that is releasable under tension, and 3) a safety to prevent the tie-off from releasing unintentionally.
There are two types: contingency block and contingency redirect.
Same as Contingency Rigging and Releasable Rigging System.
Contingency TotemA releasable rigging system that is similar to a contingency 8 but uses a totem instead of a figure 8.
Contour LineA line on a topographic map that connects adjacent points that have the same elevation.
Cordelette6 to 7 mm diameter cord that is used in various canyoneering applications such as tying a Purcell Prusik or for use as a pull cord.
Same as Accessory Cord and Utility Cord.
CorduraAbrasion resistant Nylon-based fabric used in canyoneering for things like backpacks and armor.
CoreThe inner part of a kernmantle rope. It provides the tensile strength. See sheath.
Core ShotA section of rope that is damaged and may not be able to support the weight of a canyoneer. The core is often exposed.
Courtesy AnchorRigging that allows for all but the last rappeller to start the rappel from near the anchor and thus have an easier rappel start. For the last rappeller, the rigging is extended past the cliff edge for an easy pull. Technically a misnomer since it refers to the rigging and not the entire anchor.
Same as Courtesy Rigging.
Courtesy RiggingRigging that allows for all but the last rappeller to start the rappel from near the anchor and thus have an easier rappel start. For the last rappeller, the rigging is extended past the cliff edge for an easy pull.
Same as Courtesy Anchor.
Cow's TailA short piece of cord that is attached to a belay loop and clipped into rigging on an exposed anchor. It is used for many other things as well.
Same as Bunny Strap and Safety Tether.
CRITRCanyonWerks figure 8 style canyoneering rappel device. Stands for Canyon Rappel Invented by Todd Rentchler.
Cross JointSection of canyon where perpendicular joints intersect.
Cross LoadWhen a carabiner is weighted on its minor axis - on the gate and spine of the carabiner.
See Carabiners for detailed information.
CruxThe hardest part of a canyon.
Cryptobiotic SoilCrust of microorganisms on top of the soil that helps prevent erosion and is very susceptible to crushing. Don't step on it.
Daisy ChainSafety tether that has a bunch of loops. Also series of slip knots tied on webbing that allow it to store securely and can quickly be untied while keeping the webbing untangled.
Deadman AnchorA rock that is rigged with webbing and buried to be a rappel anchor. The only way to know if it is safe is to dig it up, inspect it, and rebury it.
DEARDry Efficient Accessible Rope Retrieval. Qualities of an ideal anchor location. Also written DEARR.
Descent RingMetal ring that is like a rapide without the screw opening.
Same as Rappel Ring.
Desert VarnishBlack coating found on sandstone walls that is primarily made of manganese and iron.
DeviationAn anchor mid-rappel used to change the rope's direction of pull. The rope can freely slide up and down the anchor like unlike a rebelay.
DogboneShort piece of semi-rigid material that holds a carabiner on each end. Part of a quickdraw and canyon quickdraw.
Double Rope TechniqueRappelling on two ropes as opposed to SRT. There are advantages and disadvantages to each technique.
Same as Double Strand and DRT.
Double StrandRappelling on two ropes as opposed to SRT. There are advantages and disadvantages to each technique.
Same as Double Rope Technique and DRT.
Down CanyonThe downstream direction in a canyon.
Down ClimbClimbing down sections of canyon that could be rappelled. Aside from the view, this is perhaps my favorite part of canyoneering. A major aspect of many canyon areas on the Colorado Plateau. Often spelled "downclimb".
Same as Worm.
DrainageAny area of land where precipitation collects and drains off into a common outlet.
Same as Catch Basin and Watershed.
See Drainage basin on Wikipedia for detailed information.
DrawDrainage which makes up the area between two spurs.
Same as Side Drainage.
DressMake a knot look pretty. Also makes it easier to inspect and for some knots they become stronger.
DRTRappelling on two ropes as opposed to SRT. There are advantages and disadvantages to each technique.
Same as Double Rope Technique and Double Strand.
Dry BagBag made of flexible, sturdy, waterproof material to keep things dry. The opening is typically sealed by coiling it several times and securing it so it won't accidentally open.
Same as Dry Sack.
Dry SackBag made of flexible, sturdy, waterproof material to keep things dry. The opening is typically sealed by coiling it several times and securing it so it won't accidentally open.
Same as Dry Bag.
DryfallA drop in a canyon that would have a waterfall when water is flowing in the canyon.
Dynamic RopeKernmantle rope that is designed to stretch when loaded. Bad for rappelling. The only time a dynamic rope is applicable in canyoneering is for a safety tether to help with fall factor. See Static Rope.
DyneemaRope and sling material that is very strong, very static, and slippery so knots might fail.
Same as Spectra.
EARNESTEqualized Angle Redundant No Extension Solid Timely. Qualities of ideal anchor rigging.
Edge ProtectionSomething that is placed between the rappel rope and the ledge that protects the rope from abrasion or cutting and protects the rock from forming grooves.
EDKA type of flat bend that uses a single overhand knot with long tails. Has the propensity to capsize when weighted. Adding a second overhand as a back up makes a stacked overhand bend.
Same as European Death Knot and Flat Overhand Bend.
EgressThe part between the technical section of the canyon and the end of hiking. The exact definition usually varies between beta providers and canyons.
Same as Exit.
ElevatorA drop in a canyon where the opposite walls are near enough that one can chimney down instead of having to rappel.
Same as Chimney.
ElevatoringMove up or down in a canyon without moving forward or backward. See stemming and chimney.
ElongationThe amount a rope stretches when loaded with a specified amount of force. Static rope minimizes elongation.
Entrada SandstoneRed, cross-bedded, arch-forming sandstone. Examples are Goblin Valley and Arches National Park.
EpicCanyon descent or trip that is unexpectedly long or difficult, often resulting in an unplanned bivy and/or self rescue.
EqualetteEARNEST rigging that allows for greater equalization than a single master point by allowing the rapide to slide so as to change the direction of pull.
EqualizedOne of the qualities of EARNEST rigging. The weight is equally distributed on each anchor. See Focused Rigging.
EtrierSet of webbing loops for use as a light-weight portable ladder. Most commonly used in a system for pothole escapes. Stirrup in French.
Same as Aider.
Euro 8A variation of the contingency 8 that tries to minimize the possibility of the rope getting stuck when converting from a block to a lower.
European Death KnotA type of flat bend that uses a single overhand knot with long tails. Has the propensity to capsize when weighted. Adding a second overhand as a back up makes a stacked overhand bend.
Same as EDK and Flat Overhand Bend.
ExitThe part between the technical section of the canyon and the end of hiking. The exact definition usually varies between beta providers and canyons.
ExposureA fall could result in serious injury or death.
Fall FactorThe ratio of the height a canyoneer falls before their safety tether begins to stretch and the tether length available to absorb the energy of the fall (Wikipedia article).
The only time a canyoneer is above the anchor is when they are rigging the anchor.
Fall ZoneThe location below a rappeller where rocks that are dislodged by the canyoneer will fall.
Farmer JohnWetsuit that covers the body and legs, but not the arms or shoulders. Looks like overalls. Designed to be worn with a jacket.
Fast RopeMisnomer for skinny rope. Fast implies that with the same friction setting on a rappel device, there will be less friction overall.
Fat RopeA rope that has a large diameter - I'd say at least 9.5mm.
FiddleStickImlay Canyon Gear brand name of a toggle.
See FiddleStick website for detailed information.
Figure 8 KnotKnot tied like an overhand with an additional twist. It is the basis of canyoneering knots such as the figure 8 on a bight and flemish bend.
Same as Figure of 8 Knot.
Figure 8 on a BightMake a bight in the rope and tie a figure 8 knot.
Figure 8 (Rappel Device)A rappel device that has the shape of the number 8. Most canyoneering rappel devices are derived from a figure 8.
Figure of 8 KnotKnot tied like an overhand with an additional twist. It is the basis of canyoneering knots such as the figure 8 on a bight and flemish bend.
Same as Figure 8 Knot.
Fireman BelayA belay that is performed by tensioning the rappel rope below the rappeller.
Same as Bottom Belay.
FlakePrepare a rope to be deployed so that it doesn't tangle when thrown over the cliff. Done by uncoiling an entire rope on the ground and throwing the top end. Unnecessary if using a rope bag.
FlashWhen a canyon is experiencing a flash flood.
Flash FloodWhen a canyon has a significant amount of water traveling through it and it is no longer safe to be in that canyon.
Flat BendBend used to join two ropes in such a way as to prevent the knot from catching on a sharp ledge when retrieving rope. Must have long tails due to the propensity to capsize. Common types of flat bends are flat overhand bend, flat double overhand bend, and stacked overhand bend.
Flat Double Overhand BendA type of flat bend made up of a double (using two ropes) overhand knot with long tails.
Flat Overhand BendA type of flat bend that uses a single overhand knot with long tails. Has the propensity to capsize when weighted. Adding a second overhand as a back up makes a stacked overhand bend.
Same as EDK and European Death Knot.
Flemish BendFigure 8 knot that is rethreaded, as a bend, with a second tail.
Same as Rethreaded Figure 8 Bend.
FluteAn aesthetically pleasing sculpted sandstone dryfall.
Focal PointAn overhand knot tied above the rapide that can be used as an alternate rigging point.
Same as Master Point and Technical Ledge.
Focused RiggingRigging that is equalized in a specific direction so that the weight distribution favors one anchor over another. This is done if one anchor is stronger than another.
Foot EntrapmentSwift water hazard where a canyoneer's foot or other body part can get caught under the water.
Foot LoopA loop of cord that is attached to the foot and the rope via a rope grab and used as part of an ascending system.
Free HangSection of a rappel where the rappeller in not in contact with the cliff.
Free RappelRappel on a free hang.
Friction HitchA hitch where a cord is tied around a larger diameter rope so that the cord can support the weight of a canyoneer but can be easily adjusted. Uses I know of are as an autoblock, ascending, a backup when lowering someone, and part of a system when passing a knot.
Full WetsuitWetsuit that covers the entire body except for hands, feet, and head.
G-PickHammer used to create a small hook hole in the rock. Considered evil since it deliberately damages the rock.
Same as Geologist's Pick.
GalumphQuickly traverse a skinny section of canyon in a stemming position by leaning out, catching and holding yourself up with your arms and then swinging your legs forward.
GateThe opening part of the carabiner from the nose to the hinge.
See Carabiners for detailed information.
Gear LoopLoops, typically attached to the waist belt of the harness, that hold commonly used gear.
Geologist's PickHammer used to create a small hook hole in the rock. Considered evil since it deliberately damages the rock.
Same as G-Pick.
GhostDescend a canyon without leaving any evidence of passage. This involves use of a retrievable rigging system, avoiding rope grooves, scuff marks on the rock, littering, etc. After a rainstorm washes away footprints and other evidences of human descent, the canyon will look like it has never been descended.
Girth HitchA hitch that is used for rigging webbing to an anchor and attaching a safety tether to a harness.
Global Positioning SystemTells the group where they are if the canyon is wide open and the batteries are good.
Same as GPS.
GlovesPrimarily used as protection from rope burns while on rappel. Also used for traction and protection when down climbing or for warmth in canyons with lots of cold water.
GorgingAnother name for canyoneering.
GPSTells the group where they are if the canyon is wide open and the batteries are good.
Same as Global Positioning System.
Grappling HookBlack Diamond brand larger-size aid climbing hook.
Guide HandThe free hand of a rappeller. Usually the non-dominant hand. Opposite of brake hand.
Guide LineA tensioned rope that holds the rappeller away from the wall when hauling or lowering. Used in guided rappels.
Same as Tag Line and Track Line.
Guided RappelRappel with a guide line that directs the rappeller over some hazard.
HallwayA fracture or split in the landscape. This type of landform creates long, straight sections of canyons.
Same as Joint.
Hand LineFixed rope or webbing that is used as a secure hand hold when down climbing. Hand lines can be fixed to an anchor and left in the canyon or quickly set up with a meat anchor when needed.
Hands-Free BackupA friction hitch to stop a rappeller from descending when he/she releases it. This is a self belay if it is the rappeller who is operating the hands-free backup.
HangerPart of a bolt anchor that connects the bolt to a chain, quick link, or some other rigging.
Happy HookerImlay Canyon Gear brand of a cheater stick. No longer in production because of its limited usefulness.
Hard Lock-offSecure way of stopping oneself and have both hands free while on rappel.
HarnessNylon webbing that wraps around the waist and legs and secures the canyoneer to the rope or anchor.
Harness InterruptusDistracting someone or being distracted while putting on a harness - adding to the possibility that a life-critical step is missed or done incorrectly. Term possibly taken from this possibly NSFW term.
Haul SystemA self-rescue technique that uses the rappel rigging to haul a load up to the top of a rappel with a progress capture device and traveling rope grab. Typically this would be done when the fastest way to exit a canyon is by going up canyon rather than down canyon.
HelmetProtects the skull from injury caused by falling debris, impact forces during a fall, and from bumping one's head on the canyon walls.
Helmet PoliceDerogatory term for individuals who are publicly outspoken about wearing helmets in all canyoneering pictures. If someone posts a picture where someone isn't wearing a helmet when they should, expect a snarky remark from the helmet police.
The best way to avoid the helmet police is to always wear your helmet any time you should be wearing your helmet.
Helmet StandStack a bunch of helmets below a canyoneer stuck in a skinny section of canyon. The canyoneer stands on the helmets to help get themselves unstuck.
High StemmingChimneying, stemming, or bridging high off the deck because it the most practical way to move through a section of canyon since lower it is too skinny to fit.
HitchA knot that attaches the rope to some object. Types of hitches are block hitches, friction hitches, and load releasing hitches.
HMS CarabinerPear-shaped carabiner that works well with the Munter hitch. HMS is short for Halbmastwurfsicherung which means "Munter hitch assurance" in German.
See Carabiners for detailed information.
HOODOOOn Rope Canyoneering figure 8 style canyoneering specific rappel device.
See HOODOO website for detailed information.
Hoodoo (Rock Formation)An aesthetically pleasing, column-shaped rock formation.
HookUsed as rigging for ghosting. The placements can blow out pretty easily in sandstone so hooks aren't that popular.
Also used when hooking out of a pothole.
HookingPothole escape technique where a canyoneer places a hook in a drilled hole to climb out of the pothole.
HuecoLittle pockets in the sandstone walls. Makes the walls look like Swiss cheese.
Sometimes there are arches within the holes you can rig for an anchor. Means "hole" in Spanish.
Same as Solution Pocket and Tafoni.
Human PyramidOne canyoneer standing on one or more canyoneer's shoulders who are in turn standing on the shoulders of others. Can be used as a pothole escape technique though it is more complicated than other techniques. More often it is used to partner capture or to escape a canyon in the event of a flash flood.
I-Beam CarabinerCarabiner where the cross-section resembles the capital letter I (with crossbars) as opposed to a standard carabiner which resembles an O. The I-beam carabiner is lighter but wears out faster and less consistently where the rope passes over it.
I (Time Rating)It should take a few hours to complete the canyon.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
Ibis HookLarge hook manufactured by Pika Mountaineering.
II (Time Rating)It should take about half a day to complete the canyon.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
III (Time Rating)It should take most of a day to complete the canyon.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
Imlay Canyon GearCanyoneering website that provides beta, instruction, trip reports, and store. Designer of the SandTrap, FiddleStick, PotShot, and ScuttleButt.
Same as Canyoneering USA.
See Canyoneering USA/Imlay Canyon Gear website for detailed information.
Italian HitchA friction hitch that can be used to rappel or lower. Has a tendency to twist rope. Named after Swiss mountain guide Werner Munter.
Same as Munter Hitch.
IV (Time Rating)It should be a very long day to complete the canyon.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
JesterA releasable twin rope system. Uses the totem as a linear rigging plate. Name derived from the Joker.
JointA fracture or split in the landscape. This type of landform creates long, straight sections of canyons.
Same as Hallway.
JokerA releasable twin rope system.
JugTravel up a rope using ascenders.
Same as Ascend.
JumarAn Ascender or to ascend.
Kayenta SandstoneRed/brown colored, ledge-forming sandstone.
Keeper PotholeA hole in the canyon floor that is difficult to get out of. Many pothole escape techniques have been developed to overcome these difficult obstacles.
KegHard waterproof container with screw-on lid used to keep things dry while canyoneering. Similar purpose to a dry bag.
Kelsey ExitOne of many exits popularized my Michael Kelsey that entails strenuous, steep scrambling to escape.
Kernmantle RopeA rope that has both a core and a sheath. All canyoneering ropes are kernmantle ropes. Kern means core and mantle means sheath in German.
KilonewtonUnit of measurement often seen on canyoneering gear. 1 kN = 224.809 lbf and 22.2 kN = 5000 lbf.
Same as kN.
kNUnit of measurement often seen on canyoneering gear. 1 kN = 224.809 lbf and 22.2 kN = 5000 lbf.
Same as Kilonewton.
KnotA fastening made by tying a piece of rope or webbing (definition from Google). Knot is a superset of bends and hitches.
Knot BlockA static block that uses a knot as the block. Not commonly used on the Colorado Plateau because the knot can either get sucked into the rapide and make the pull impossible or get sucked through the rapide and cause the rappeller to fall.
Knot ChockAn anchor that is created by tying a knot in webbing and wedging it into a crack. Not commonly used on the Colorado Plateau because sandstone is soft and a knot can pull through a crack easily.
LAMARRefers to the fact that LAPAR or the LAst Person At Risk faces unusually difficult obstacles with additional risks and challenges. This is a politically incorrect term and is no longer commonly used.
Same as LAPAR and Last Person At Risk.
LAPARRefers to the fact that LAPAR or the LAst Person At Risk faces unusually difficult obstacles with additional risks and challenges.
Same as LAMAR and Last Person At Risk.
Last Person At RiskRefers to the fact that LAPAR or the LAst Person At Risk faces unusually difficult obstacles with additional risks and challenges.
Same as LAMAR and LAPAR.
LDCOn the left side when looking down canyon.
Same as Canyon Left and Left Down Canyon.
Leave No TracePhilosophy and organization that promote responsibility in the outdoors.
Left Down CanyonOn the left side when looking down canyon.
Same as Canyon Left and LDC.
Left Up CanyonOn the left side when looking up canyon.
Same as LUC.
Leg LoopPart of the harness that wraps around and supports the legs. Leg loops are rated to hold rappellers.
Leg WrapSoft lock-off achieved by wrapping the rappel rope around one's leg.
Lift and ShiftThe act of lifting a load off of one rope and shifting its weight to another rope. One of the steps of the algorithm to determine how to safely lower someone stuck on rappel.
Load Releasing HitchA family of hitches which can be released while weighted. One purpose of a load releasing hitch is to efficiently shift weight from one rope to another. Examples are the MMO, Mariner's Hitch, and Purcell Prusik.
Loaded For BearCarry lots of weighty stuff so as to be prepared for anything in the canyon.
Log SoupA mass of logs in standing water that make passage more difficult.
Same as Trash Compactor.
LogjamA mass of logs that are pressed up against and wedged into a skinny section of canyon.
Long RappelRappel that is more than half the length of the rope being used.
LoopA length of rope that is doubled and crosses itself.
LowerLower a canyoneer down a cliff that would normally be rappelled. This is done when a canyoneer is unable to rappel on their own.
LUCOn the left side when looking down canyon.
Same as Canyon Left, LDC, Left Down Canyon.
MacrameA retrievable rigging system that requires only a rope. Rarely used because the knot at the top is easily overtightened and the rope cannot be retrieved. The name probably comes from the textile.
Mae West SlotThe area in a canyon where down below is wider than up above so it makes a bell or hourglass shape. Named after the actress.
Same as Bell.
Magic XWhen rigging a multi-point anchor and not tying a master point, a magic X puts the rapide within the webbing loop so that the rigging is redundant.
Same as Sliding X.
Major AxisThe direction a carabiner is designed to be weighted. The perpendicular direction is minor axis.
See Carabiners for detailed information.
Marginal AnchorAn anchor where the amount of force a canyoneer applies to it is close to the amount of force that will cause it to fail.
Mariner's HitchA load releasing hitch that can also be used to lift and shift a load.
Master PointAn overhand knot tied above the rapide that can be used as an alternate rigging point.
Same as Focal Point and Technical Ledge.
MaxxiPadName of the original sand trap. Invented by the brilliant Steve Woodford.
MBSThe minimum amount of force required that could cause a safety-critical component to fail.
Same as Minimum Breaking Strength.
Meat AnchorA canyoneer or canyoneers that secure themselves at the top of a rappel to be used as a transient anchor for rappelling.
Mechanical AdvantageUse simple tools to make hauling someone up a cliff easier. Measured as a ratio of how much rope is pulled up by the hauler versus how much the person is moved up the cliff (assuming 0% rope elongation).
A simple example would be having one side of the the rope tied to an anchor and the other side going down to the person, through a pulley, and back up the person hauling. In this example for every 2 feet the rope is hauled, the person goes up one foot so it is "2 to 1" mechanical advantage.
Micro TraxionPetzl brand pulley, toothed ascender, and PCD.
Minimum Breaking StrengthThe minimum amount of force required that could cause a safety-critical component to fail.
Same as MBS.
Minor AxisThe direction of pull that cross-loads a carabiner. The perpendicular direction is the major axis.
See Carabiners for detailed information.
MokiMeans "the dead" in the Hopi language.
Same as Moqui.
Monsoon SeasonMid July to mid September on the Colorado Plateau. This is when flash floods are most common though flash floods can happen any time of the year.
Monsoonal RainHeavy burst of rain common during the monsoon season.
MoquiMeans "the dead" in the Hopi language.
Same as Moki.
Moqui MarbleBall of hematite cemented sandstone. See moqui.
Moqui StepsAncient hand and foot holds carved into the canyon walls. See moqui.
MountainUpside down canyon.
Mule HitchUsed to lock off a Munter hitch in an MMO.
Multi-Directional LoadWeighting a carabiner in three or more directions - most carabiners aren't rated for such a load.
See Carabiners for detailed information.
Multi-Pitch RappelMultiple rappels separated by short walks or swims that are chained together into a single rappel.
Same as Multi-Stage Rappel.
Multi-Point AnchorMultiple anchors connected by one set of rigging.
Multi-Stage RappelMultiple rappels separated by short walks or swims that are chained together into a single rappel.
Same as Multi-Pitch Rappel.
Munter HitchA friction hitch that can be used to rappel or lower. Has a tendency to twist rope. Named after Swiss mountain guide Werner Munter.
Same as Italian Hitch.
Munter Mule OverhandA load releasing hitch and releasable rigging system that consists of a Munter hitch to provide friction, a mule hitch that stops the rope and can be released under tension, and an overhand on a bight backup for the mule hitch.
NarrowsA canyon where the walls are very tall and very close together.
Same as Slot Canyon.
Natural AnchorAn anchor made primarily from materials found in nature. Examples are rocks, trees, solution pockets, cairn, deadman, chockstone, sand, and water.
Natural BridgeAn arch that also has one or more of the following attributes: formed by a water current or has water flowing through it, used as a bridge my humans, or looks like a man made bridge. From The Natural Arch and Bridge Society.
NeoFlexible, synthetic rubber used in wetsuits.
Same as Neoprene.
NeopreneFlexible, synthetic rubber used in wetsuits.
Same as Neo.
No ExtensionOne of the qualities of EARNEST. If one anchor were to fail, the rigging would not extend and shock load the other anchor.
Nose (Carabiner)The tip of the carabiner that touches the gate when closed.
See Carabiners for detailed information.
Nose (Landform)Lateral ridge descending from a larger ridge.
Same as Spur.
Nuisance RappelRappel that provides no unique or redeeming qualities when compared to other rappels in that canyon.
NylonRope and sling material that is inexpensive, stretchy, and holds water when wet.
Off WidthCrack that is too wide to fit a hand and too narrow to fit one's body.
On Rope CanyoneeringCanyoneering gear manufacturer responsible for the HOODOO and W'anchor.
See On Rope Canyoneering website for detailed information.
Open-end PrusikPrusik that has an eye hole on each end of the cord as opposed to a sewn Prusik loop.
Overhand KnotPerhaps the simplest knot. It is tied by making a loop and feeding one of the tails through it.
Overhand on a BightMake a bight in the rope and tie an overhand knot.
OverhangA part of a drop with a greater-than-vertical slope.
Pack DragTransient anchor that uses a pack as additional friction or counterweight to slow one's descent down a cliff. Typically used in conjunction with a partner capture.
Pack RopeShort (approx. 30') rope or cord that is tied to a backpack to simplify its hauling and lowering.
Pack TossA pothole escape technique where a canyoneer ties a rope to their pack, throws the pack over a pothole, and uses the pack as counterweight to escape the pothole.
PackraftCompact, lightweight, durable raft designed to help canyoneers exit on rivers where other forms of traversal are impractical or impossible.
Partner AssistA pothole escape technique where one canyoneer climbs out of the pothole with aid from other canyoneers. This can be done by climbing on the partners, being lifted up by partners, or even forming a human pyramid.
Partner CaptureAn efficient way to get down short drops as an alternative to rappelling. One or two canyoneers help to lower another canyoneer by pressing him/her against the cliff to provide friction and slowly lower the canyoneer to the ground.
See Partner Capture for detailed information.
Pass a knotAn advanced technique that allows a rappeller to safely descend past a knot in a rope. The knot is usually there to isolate a core shot or join two ropes.
PeakTop of a mountain.
Personal Locator BeaconA device that sends your GPS location and status to the outside world via satellite. Brands I know of are SPOT and Garmin (which bought DeLorme).
PetroglyphPrehistoric carving on the canyon walls. Different than a pictograph.
Pick-offA technique to aid a rappeller down to the bottom of a rappel. It typically involves a rescuer on a second rappel rope that descends to the stuck rappeller, transfers the rappeller's weight onto the rescuer's rappel device, and then finishes the rappel tandem.
PicketAn anchor that consists of a line of sticks pushed into the ground. Seldom used. Or simply a stick used like a chockstone.
PicPocketImlay Canyon Gear brand name of the chest pouch.
PictographPrehistoric painting on the canyon walls. Different than a petroglyph.
Pig RigHaul system that is secured to the rappel line via a rope grab rather than using the rappel line directly.
Same as Piggyback.
PiggybackHaul system that is secured to the rappel line via a rope grab rather than using the rappel line directly.
Same as Pig Rig.
PitonA metal peg or spike hammered into the rock for use as an anchor.
PlaquetteA way to use an ATC-XP, Kong GiGi, Totem, or similar rigging plate as a progress capture device. Pulling out the slack in the rope will cause the rope to pinch against itself.
PoachDescend a canyon without authorization from the managing agency.
PolyesterRope material with a low melting point and must be weaved tight to be strong which translate to stiff rope. Doesn't hold much water so good for wet canyons.
PolypropyleneRope material that doesn't hold water and has a low melting point.
Pot StickerCanyonWerks brand name for the sand bag.
PotableDrinkable in regards to water.
PotholeA hole in the canyon floor. See keeper pothole.
Pothole Escape TechniqueThe act of getting out of a keeper pothole in a safe and efficient manner. Some techniques are partner assist, sand bag toss, pack toss, and hooking.
PotShotImlay Canyon Gear brand name for the sand bag.
Progress Capture DeviceAn ascender and pulley used in a haul system.
Same as Ratchet.
PrusikThe most common friction hitch. Tied with a closed loop of cord that is girth hitched three times around a rope. Best used on a rope where the hitch needs to grab in either direction. Named after Austrian mountaineer Karl Prusik.
Prusik Minding PulleyPulley that allows a Prusik to be self-minding in a haul system.
PullThe art of pulling down and retrieving your rope after a rappel without it getting stuck.
See The Pull for detailed information.
Pull CordGeneral term for rope, cordelette, or Dyneema cord used to retrieve the rappel line.
Pull SideThe side of a rope that will be pulled as opposed to the rappel side.
PulleyA wheel on an axle that is designed to support movement and change of direction of a taut cable. Definition from Wikipedia. Used for hauling and ascending to reduce energy loss from friction.
Purcell PrusikAn adjustable loop secured by a Prusik that can be used in many applications. Examples are safety tether, foot loop, load releasing hitch, friction hitch, lift and shift, haul system, and probably many other things.
QuadEARNEST rigging similar to an equalette but with greater redundancy.
QuickdrawClimbing gear that consists of two carabiners - one with a crooked or wire gate - secured to each other with a dogbone. Not commonly used in canyoneering. See canyon quickdraw.
QuicksandSolid-looking sand surface with a sand/water mixture beneath the surface.
Same as Sinking Sand.
R (Risk Rating)A canyon with exposure where failure will likely result in serious injury. See definition for R section.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
R SectionA section within the canyon where failure will likely result in serious injury. Canyoneers cannot rely on the skills of their partners to get them through these sections of canyon.
Examples of these risks are high stemming, difficult down climbs, very skinny sections, and required off width climbing.
Ralston RockA chockstone that rolls or moves when weighted. Named after Aron Ralston.
Same as Ralstone.
RalstoneA chockstone that rolls or moves when weighted. Named after Aron Ralston. Portmanteau of Ralston and stone.
Same as Ralston Rock.
RapDescend a cliff face by using a rappel device and rope to control the speed.
Same as Abseil and Rappel.
RapideA metal ring that connects the rope to the webbing. It has a screw-lock like a carabiner but does not have a gate. I'd trust my life to a 5/16" galvanized steel, CE marked rapide. Also called rapid link or quick link, though I hear rapide most often. Maillon rapide is French for "quick link".
Same as Quick Link and Rapid Link.
RappelDescend a cliff face by using a rappel device and rope to control the speed.
Same as Abseil and Rap.
Rappel DeviceA device used for rappelling that clips to a canyoneer and the rappel rope, and allows the rappeller to control the speed of their descent.
Many canyoneering specific rappel devices have horns that allow the rappeller to add friction mid-rappel.
Rappel EndThe side of the rope that is in active use. The bag end is the other side.
Same as Rappel Side and Working End (Rope).
Rappel LineThe rope from which a rappeller rappels.
Rappel RingMetal ring that is like a rapide without the screw opening.
Same as Descent Ring.
Rappel SideThe side of the rope that is in active use. The bag end is the other side.
Same as Rappel End and Working End (Rope).
RappellerOne who descends a cliff face by using a rappel device and rope to control their speed.
Rappelling HarnessHarness designed for rappelling and has a horizontal belay loop.
RatchetAn ascender and pulley used in a haul system.
Same as Progress Capture Device.
RDCOn the right side when looking down canyon.
Same as Canyon Right and Right Down Canyon.
RebelayAn anchor mid-rappel used to change the rope's direction of pull. The rope is fixed to the anchor unlike a deviation.
Recirculating CurrentSwift water hazard downstream of an obstacle where the water current spirals.
RedirectIn mechanical advantage, a redirect puts the haul line through a last pulley so the haulers pull downward on the anchor instead of lifting towards the anchor.
A redirect provides no mechanical advantage and adds friction to the system but can be a good choice under some circumstances.
RedundantOne of the qualities of EARNEST. If any anchor or part of the rigging fails, the load will still be secured by another anchor/rigging.
Releasable Rigging SystemA rigging system that can release the weighted rope to lower a stuck rappeller.
Consists of three parts: 1) friction mechanism to allow controlled lowering, 2) tie-off that is releasable under tension, and 3) a safety to prevent the tie-off from releasing unintentionally.
There are two types: contingency block and contingency redirect.
The term "releasable rigging system" is also commonly confused with retrievable rigging system.
Same as Contingency Rigging and Contingency System.
Releasable Twin Rope SystemA releasable rigging system that is also a twin rope system. Example is the Jester.
Release CordRope, cordelette, or Dyneema cord used to release and retrieve the rappel line and retrievable rigging. Similar to pull cord.
RendezvousOrganized meeting of a group of canyoneers at a specific place and time. Great opportunity to meet canyoneers and do easy to moderately difficult canyons.
Rescue RopeA rope that is kept at the top of a rappel as a contingency in case the rappel rope is no longer available.
RestopBrand name of a wag bag.
Rethreaded Figure 8 BendFigure 8 knot that is rethreaded, as a bend, with a second tail.
Same as Flemish Bend.
Retrievable Rigging SystemRigging that can be retrieved after everyone is down a rappel. Used in ghosting.
Examples are the the 2-ring retrievable rigging, rope-only systems such as the Macrame and CEM, a toggle, sand trap, and water anchor.
RidgeLine of high-points connecting two peaks.
RiggingA broad term for the gear that connects the anchor to the rope. In trade canyons it is commonly webbing and a rapide that is left with the rest of the anchor as well as any block that is attached to the rope.
Right Down CanyonOn the right side when looking down canyon.
Same as Canyon Right and RDC.
Right Up CanyonOn the right side when looking up canyon.
Same as RUC.
Ring BendRethreaded overhand bend that joins two pieces of webbing.
Risk RatingThe consequence of making a mistake in the canyon. This rating loosely follows the MPAA ratings where G is easy and X can be deadly. Beta providers rarely use anything but R and X.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
Road Trip RyanBeta provider website.
Rock FormationAesthetically pleasing rocks. Common on the Colorado Plateau. Types I can think of offhand are hoodoos, solution pockets, and arches.
RollWhen a non-bend knot, such as a European Death Knot, is used to join two ropes, and the knot is pulled hard enough that the knot rolls. If it capsizes enough times and the tails are not long, it will roll off the rope.
Same as Capsize.
RopeA group of yarns, plies, fibers or strands that are twisted or braided together into a larger and stronger form. (Definition from Wikipedia). All canyoneering ropes are kernmantle rope.
Rope BagA bag designed to hold your rope. Lots of advantages over coiling the rope.
Rope GrabSomething that grabs on to the rope in one direction and slides along the rope in the other direction. This includes ascenders and friction hitches.
Rope GrooveA groove in the soft sandstone cliff below an anchor. It is formed when canyoneers pull their rope down after a rappel. The weight of the rappel rope going up and through the rapide and the force applied to weighted pull rope grinds into the rock.
Rope ManagementKeep ropes tidy and organized to increase efficiency.
Rope SpoolThe longest length of rope a manufacturer cuts and sells. Usually around 600'-650'.
RopewikiCanyoneering wiki and comprehensive beta database.
See Ropewiki website for detailed information.
RUCOn the right side when looking up canyon.
Same as Right Up Canyon.
RunnerA weight-bearing closed loop usually made of Nylon or Dyneema. Standard lengths are 12, 24, and 48 inches. Used for a variety of canyoneering applications.
Same as Sling.
Runner EndThe end of a carabiner that attaches to a single point such as the anchor or a rappeller. The opposite side is the working end.
Same as Skinny End.
See Carabiners for detailed information.
SaddleLow point on a ridge connecting two peaks. Usually the easiest spot to traverse from one drainage to another.
Safety (Rigging)Something that connects the block to the rigging and prevents the rope from moving if the block fails or the rappeller rappels off the bag end of the rope.
Safety TetherA short piece of cord that is attached to a belay loop and clipped into rigging on an exposed anchor. It is used for many other things as well.
Same as Bunny Strap and Cow's Tail.
Sand BagA sewn bag designed to hold sand. Its primary function is to be a counterweight when getting out of potholes. Sand bags were also the first sand trap.
Brands names are PotShot and Pot Sticker. Atwood Gear makes one as well but I don't know its name.
Sand TrapA retrievable rigging system that uses sand as the transient anchor material. Fill it with sand and rappel off of it. Pull a cord that displaces the sand allowing you to retrieve the rigging.
I know of the SandTrap, MaxxiPad, Sand Trap Anchor, and sand bags.
Sand Trap AnchorAtwood Gear brand name for the sand trap.
See Sand Trap Anchor website for detailed information.
SandstoneSedimentary rock composed of sand-sized particles that make up the vast majority of Colorado Plateau canyons.
Same as Slickrock.
SandTrapImlay Canyon Gear brand name for the sand trap.
ScramblingMove up steep terrain using one's hands and feet.
ScreeLoose rocks that make up steep slopes at the base of cliffs. Means "landslide" in Old Norse.
Same as Talus.
ScuttlebuttImlay Canyon Gear brand name for a butt protector.
Search and RescueTrained volunteers who's job it is to find missing or injured canyoneers, provide first aid, and bring them to safety. They risk their lives to do this.
Secret CanyonA canyon that has no public beta.
Same as Unbetaed Canyon.
Self BelayA rappeler using a friction hitch to stop him/herself from descending when he/she releases it.
The Autoblock is the most common friction hitch used below the rappel device and the Valdotain Tresse is the most common friction hitch used above the rappel device.
Lots of things can go wrong when using a self belay. Don't assume that it will just work and no more thought is required. Get training and practice until you are proficient before using it in a canyon.
Self-MindingA progress capture device that does not require a person to manually set the rope grab for it to engage. Examples are a Prusik and PMP or an ascender like a Micro Traxion.
Self RescueSafely escape from a canyon when something has gone wrong and without any outside help like SAR.
Semi-Keeper PotholeA pothole that some canyoneers can get out of without using pothole escape techniques. These are much less notorious than keeper potholes.
Sequence RappelsEfficiently move a large group through a canyon by rigging multiple rappels before finishing previous rappels. This allows several canyoneers to rappel at once. It also requires more familiarity with the canyon and sufficient rope.
SequencingOvercome an obstacle using a specific ordering that maximizes efficiency or minimizes risk.
SERENEAlso SRENE or SRENE-SA. Variant of EARNEST. It stands for Solid Equalized Redundant Efficient No Extension and the SA is Small Angle.
Set Rope LengthMake the end of the rope reach the bottom of the rappel with no extra rope on the ground. There are many benefits to doing this.
Sewn Prusik LoopA cord that is professionally sewn into a loop. Designed to easily tie a three wrap Prusik.
SheathThe outer part of a kernmantle rope. It protects the core.
Sheath SlippageWhen the outer sheath slips away from the core of the rope. This is common in ropes where the core and sheath materials do not bind well.
Short RappelRappel that is less than or equal to half the length of the rope being used.
Short RopeA rope that, when purchased, is at the end of a spool and is therefore a non-standard length. This rope is usually less expensive per foot than a standard length.
Shorty WetsuitWetsuit that covers the body down to the thighs and short sleeved.
Shuffle ButtImlay Canyon Gear butt protector. Lighter but less durable version of the ScuttleButt.
Side DrainageDrainage which makes up the area between two spurs.
Same as Draw.
SiloA wide obstacle that is difficult to traverse in high stemming canyons.
Simul RapTwo rappellers going off opposite ends of the same rope using each other as counterweight.
Same as Simultaneous Rappel.
Simultaneous RappelTwo rappellers going off opposite ends of the same rope using each other as counterweight.
Same as Simul Rap.
Single Rope TechniqueRappelling on one rope as opposed to DRT. There are advantages and disadvantages to each technique.
Same as Single Strand and SRT.
Single StrandRappelling on one rope as opposed to DRT. There are advantages and disadvantages to each technique.
Same as Single Rope Technique and SRT.
Sinking SandSolid-looking sand surface with a sand/water mixture beneath the surface.
Same as Quicksand.
SiphonSwift water hazard where there is empty space between two rocks that creates unpredictable and dangerous flow.
Sit StartStart a rappel while sitting. This is done when the anchor is low to the ground and it isn't practical or safe to start the rappel standing.
Skinny EndThe end of a carabiner that attaches to a single point such as the anchor or a rappeller. The opposite side is the working end.
Same as Runner End.
See Carabiners for detailed information.
Skinny RopeRefers to rope that has a small diameter. Most of the time it refers to rope with a diameter of 8mm but I've also heard it used on any rope that's less than 9mm.
SlickrockSedimentary rock composed of sand-sized particles that make up the vast majority of Colorado Plateau canyons.
Same as Sandstone.
SlideA sloping channel on the canyon floor that canyoneers like to dynamically down climb.
Same as Chute.
Sliding XWhen rigging a multi-point anchor and not tying a master point, a magic X puts the rapide within the webbing loop so that the rigging is redundant.
Same as Magic X.
SlingA weight-bearing closed loop usually made of Nylon or Dyneema. Standard lengths are 12, 24, and 48 inches. Used for a variety of canyoneering applications.
Same as Runner.
SlogLong obnoxious hike through difficult terrain such as sand or mud.
Slot CanyonA canyon where the walls are very tall and very close together.
Slot DesignationThe canyon gets skinny enough that some people may not be able to fit through. Beta providers don’t commonly use this. The letter S is appended to the canyon rating.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
Slow RopeMisnomer for a fat rope. Slow implies that with the same friction setting on a rappel device, there will be more friction overall.
Smooth OperatorBluuGnome brand name of a toggle.
See Smooth Operator website for detailed information.
Social TrailInformal, non-designated trail between two locations. Social trails often result in trampling stresses to sensitive vegetation types. Definition from Yosemite National Park Glossary Terms.
Soft Lock-offQuick, temporary way of stopping oneself and have both hands free while on rappel.
SolidOne of the qualities of EARNEST. The anchor(s) can easily sustain forces from rappelling without possibility of failure.
Solution PocketLittle pockets in the sandstone walls. Makes the walls look like Swiss cheese.
Sometimes there are arches within the holes you can rig for an anchor.
Same as Hueco and Tafoni.
SpectraRope and sling material that is very strong, very static, and slippery so knots might fail.
Same as Dyneema.
SpelegycaPetzl brand safety tether.
SpineThis is the weight-bearing part of the carabiner opposite of the gate. It is also where one ties a block hitch or bights on a Jester or plaquette.
See Carabiners for detailed information.
SpotStand below someone who is down climbing and if they fall try to redirect them so their head or back don't hit the ground.
SPOT (PLB)Company that manufactures PLBs.
Spring-Loaded Camming DeviceRock climbing protection that pinches into a crack and holds a falling climber. Rarely used for rappelling in canyoneering since they would be difficult to retrieve. Occasionally used in X canyons to climb OW sections.
SpurLateral ridge descending from a larger ridge.
Same as Nose (Landform).
SQWURELBluugnome brand figure 8 style canyoneering specific rappel device. It is named for one of his prototypes that looked like a squirrel and the name stuck.
See SQWUREL Rappel/Belay Device website for detailed information.
SRTRappelling on one rope as opposed to DRT. There are advantages and disadvantages to each technique.
Same as Single Rope Technique and Single Strand.
Stacked Overhand BendA flat overhand bend with a second overhand knot tied into the tail as a backup to prevent capsizing.
Star BridgingGeneral term for traversing a skinny section of canyon without touching the bottom by applying pressure on both canyon walls. It also specifically refers to traversing with one hand and foot on one wall and the other hand and foot on the other wall. See chimneying and bridging.
Same as Stemming.
Static BlockA block that is unable to release under load. The two I can think of off-hand are biner blocks and knot blocks.
Static Block to LowerThe process of lifting and shifting the load off of the static block and onto a friction hitch or rappel device to safely lower the load. This is done when the rappeller is stuck on rappel and is unable to self-rescue.
Static RopeKernmantle rope that does not stretch a lot when loaded. Great for rappelling. All canyoneering ropes are static. The other kind of kernmantle rope is dynamic rope.
Stein KnotA hitch tied below the rigging that is used most often with a toggle or a twin rope system. Originally from Steinknoten, which is German for stone knot.
Same as Stone Knot.
StemmingGeneral term for traversing a skinny section of canyon without touching the bottom by applying pressure on both canyon walls. It also specifically refers to traversing with one hand and foot on one wall and the other hand and foot on the other wall. See chimneying and bridging.
Same as Star Bridging.
STEPSafety Tug Equipment Pull. Checklist of thing the last person on rappel should do before rappelling.
Stone 8A static twin rope system that uses a figure 8-style rappel device to isolate the strands of rope. Named after the stone knot.
Same as Stone Totem.
Stone KnotA hitch tied below the rigging that is used most often with a toggle or a twin rope system. Originally from Steinknoten, which is German for stone knot.
Same as Stein Knot.
Stone TotemA static twin rope system that uses a figure 8-style rappel device to isolate the strands of rope. Named after the stone knot.
Same as Stone 8.
StrainerSwift water hazard where water can pass through but canyoneers or other objects cannot. An example of a strainer is a logjam.
Subterranean DeadmanA rock that is rigged with webbing and buried to be a rappel anchor. The only way to know if it is safe is to dig it up, inspect it, and rebury it.
Same as Deadman Anchor.
SubwaySection of canyon with rounded walls that resemble a subway tube.
Super Amazing Canyoneering MapComprehensive map of canyon names and locations created by Bob Allan.
See Super Amazing Canyoneering Map website for detailed information.
Surface DeadmanA cairn that is used as an anchor for rappelling.
Same as Cairn Anchor.
Swift WaterWater with a current sufficiently strong enough to create additional complications in canyoneering. Hazards are foot entrapment, strainer, siphon, undercut, and recirculating current.
TacoA sand trap configuration that is used with favorable geometry like when going over a lip. Less sand is needed than with the tostada.
TafoniLittle pockets in the sandstone walls. Makes the walls look like Swiss cheese.
Sometimes there are arches within the holes you can rig for an anchor.
Singular form is tafone. Probably from taffoni which means "windows" in Corsican.
Same as Hueco and Solution Pocket.
Tag LineA tensioned rope that holds the rappeller away from the wall when hauling or lowering. Used in guided rappels.
Same as Guide Line and Track Line.
TailThe end of a rope.
Tail Down Rigging SystemA method of rigging the rope to the anchor by measuring out the rope length and dropping the tail down to the bottom of the rappel while keeping the bag at the top. In most situations this provides more rescue options than tail up rigging.
Same as Bag Up Rigging System.
Tail Up Retrievable Rigging SystemTail up rigging system and Retrievable rigging system where the rappel line does not have to pass through the rigging in order to be retrieved.
Examples are rope-only systems such as the Macrame and CEM, a toggle, sand trap, and water anchor.
Tail Up Rigging SystemA method of rigging the rope to the anchor near the tail and dropping the bag down to the bottom of the rappel. This is the fastest way to ensure that the rope reaches the bottom of the rappel but there are many disadvantages to rigging this way compared to bag up rigging.
Same as Bad Down Rigging System.
TalonBlack Diamond brand 3-in-1 aid climbing hook.
TalusLoose rocks that make up steep slopes at the base of cliffs. Means "slope" in Old French.
Same as Scree.
Tandem RappelTwo rappellers descent together on one or two rappel devices that are controlled by only one of the rappellers. Great way to get children or first-time rappellers comfortable on rappel.
Same as Assisted Rappel.
TapeFlat woven fabric primarily used in rigging. The best canyoneering webbing is tubular and 1" across.
Because webbing is left behind in a canyon, many canyoneering locations require webbing to be specific colors. No location prohibits black webbing so it is always a safe choice.
Same as Webbing.
Technical LedgeAn overhand knot tied above the rapide that can be used as an alternate rigging point.
Same as Focal Point and Master Point.
Technical RatingA vague estimation of the difficulty of a canyon.
This includes things like whether or not rappelling is required, if the canyon has advanced down climbing, and if there are any difficult or advanced features in the canyon. The ratings are 1, 2, 3, and 4.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
Technical SectionThe part between the approach and exit where the rappelling, down climbing, and other obstacles are located. The exact definition varies between beta providers and canyons.
TechnoraRope material that can withstand heat and is very durable.
Tensile StrengthHow much force can be applied to a rope without it breaking or being damaged.
Tensionless RiggingRigging that is typically wrapped around a large tree several times before being secured with a knot. The rigging can hold much more weight, will be easy to untie, and will help to preserve the tree. I've never seen this rigging on an anchor in canyon.
Throw 'N GoThe simplest form of DRT. Feed the rope through the rapide until both strands reach the bottom of the rappel. Then rappel on both strands.
Same as Toss 'N Go.
TiblocLightweight Petzl brand toothed ascender and rope grab.
Time RatingHow long it should take to descend a canyon including the approach and exit. It ranges from a couple of hours to multiple days. Time rating is a Roman Numeral I, II, III, IV, V, and VI.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
TimelyOne of the qualities of EARNEST. The anchor is rigged in a timely manner.
ToggleStick used as a component in retrievable rigging. Rig a stone knot with the toggle instead of a carabiner. The toggle is tied to the pull cord. Everyone rappels. Pull the pull cord. Out comes the toggle and the knot falls apart. Pull down the rope and pull cord. Definitely an advanced tool. Brands I'm aware of are the FiddleStick, Smooth Operator, and Whiptail.
Toothed AscenderAn ascender that uses teeth to bite the rope rather than a cam that pinches it.
Top-Rope BelayA belay that is done by attaching a separate rope tied to the rappeller and belayed with a separate device. The belayer can be at the top or bottom of the rappel.
TopoA type of map characterized by large-scale detail and quantitative representation of relief, usually using contour lines. Definition from Wikipedia.
Same as Topographic Map.
See USGS Topographic Maps website for detailed information.
Topographic MapA type of map characterized by large-scale detail and quantitative representation of relief, usually using contour lines. Definition from Wikipedia.
Same as Topo.
See USGS Topographic Maps website for detailed information.
Toss 'N GoThe simplest form of DRT. Feed the rope through the rapide until both strands reach the bottom of the rappel. Then rappel on both strands.
Same as Throw 'N Go.
TostadaA sand trap configuration that is used with unfavorable geometry such as flat ground. More sand is needed than with the taco.
TotemRigging plate and rappel device invented by Rich Carlson and manufactured by Rock Exotica. Looks like a figure 8 plus a Kong Gi-Gi. Buy a Totem.
Track LineA tensioned rope that holds the rappeller away from the wall when hauling or lowering. Used in guided rappels.
Same as Guide Line and Tag Line.
Trade CanyonA canyon that is easily accessible, has lots of beta, is beginner friendly, and frequently descended.
Transient AnchorA temporary anchor that is created and used for the rappel and then removed afterwards. Examples are sand trap, water anchor, meat anchor, sand bag, pack drag, and hook.
Trash CompactorA mass of logs in standing water that make passage more difficult.
Same as Log Soup.
Traveling Rope GrabA specific rope grab in a mechanical advantage hauling system.
Same as Truck.
TraverseTravel horizontally. Similar to stemming.
Triaxially LoadWeighting a carabiner in three directions - most carabiners aren't rated for such a load. The generic term for this is multi-directional load.
See Carabiners for detailed information.
Triple Clove HitchA hitch that is most commonly used in canyoneering as a block hitch for biner blocks.
TruckA specific rope grab in a mechanical advantage hauling system.
Same as Traveling Rope Grab.
Tubular WebbingWebbing that is sewn as a tube and flattened. It is stronger and more durable than traditional flat webbing of the same size.
Twin Rope SystemA system where both strands of rope are isolated so that one canyoneer can rappel on one while another canyoneer rigs on the other. This is an efficient way to get a large group down a rappel. Examples are the Stone Knot and Jester.
Tyrolean TraverseA traverse over an obstacle like a keeper pothole that is performed by being clipped into a horizontal rope that is anchored on both sides.
UIAAUnion Internationale des Associations d'Alpinisme in French, or International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation in English, has a safety commission that develops and maintains safety standards for climbing equipment.
See Union Internationale des Associations d'Alpinisme website for detailed information.
Unbetaed CanyonA canyon that has no public beta.
Same as Secret Canyon.
UndercutSwift water hazard where the water current flows underneath an overhanging rock.
Up CanyonThe upstream direction in a canyon.
USGS Topographic Maps7.5 minute quadrangles commonly used for canyoneering and produced by the United States Geological Survey. Get any of them for free. See Topographic Map.
Utility Cord6 to 7 mm diameter cord that is used in various canyoneering applications such as tying a Purcell Prusik or for use as a pull cord.
Same as Accessory Cord and Cordelette.
V (Time Rating)It should take about two days to complete the canyon.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
Valdotain TresseA friction hitch that, unlike other friction hitches, is easy to slowly release and control the amount of friction it provides.
Same as VT.
VertacoWay to add additional friction to a figure 8 style rappel device by putting the brake side of the rappel rope through the carabiner.
I haven't found any origin of the term but my guess would be:
ver-true in Latin-based languages.
tacostopper in Spanish.
VI (Time Rating)It should take three or more days to complete the canyon.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
Via FerrataSteel cable fixed to a climbing route to be used as protection or climbing aid. Means "iron path" in Italian.
VTA friction hitch that, unlike other friction hitches, is easy to slowly release and control the amount of friction it provides.
Same as Valdotain Tresse.
VT PrusikThe brand name of a specialized open-end Prusik. The distinguishing factor is that it works particularly well for the Valdotain Tresse. It has many other functions.
WadeWalk through water.
Wag BagBag to hold your poop. Usually double-sealed and has some kitty litter in it.
Waist BeltPart of the harness that goes around and supports the waist. Waist belts are rated to carry rappellers.
W'anchorA water anchor created by Steve Woodford. Portmanteau of water and anchor. Manufactured by On Rope Canyoneering.
See W'anchor website for detailed information.
Water AnchorA retrievable rigging system that uses water as the transient anchor material. Fill it with water and rappel off of it. Pull a cord that empties the water bladder allowing you to retrieve the rigging.
Water PocketA hole in the canyon floor. See keeper pothole.
Same as Pothole.
Water RatingThe normal amount of water that a canyon holds. It ranges from dry to high flow and hazardous. The rating is a single letter A, B, or C.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
WaterpocketAtwood Gear brand name for the water anchor.
See Waterpocket website for detailed information.
WatershedAny area of land where precipitation collects and drains off into a common outlet.
Same as Catch Basin and Drainage.
See Drainage basin on Wikipedia for detailed information.
WebbingFlat woven fabric primarily used in rigging. The best canyoneering webbing is tubular and 1" across.
Because webbing is left behind in a canyon, many canyoneering locations require webbing to be specific colors. No location prohibits black webbing so it is always a safe choice.
Same as Tape.
WetsuitClose fitting neoprene suit designed to preserve heat while in water.
WhiptailIn We Go Canyoneering brand name of a toggle.
Wide EndThe versatile end of a carabiner that holds the devices that do things - devices such as ascenders, rappel devices, friction hitches, safety tethers, etc. The opposite side of the skinny end.
Same as Basket and Working End (Carabiner).
See Carabiners for detailed information.
Wingate SandstoneSandstone that makes towering red cliffs and spires. The great walls of Capitol Reef National Park are Wingate sandstone.
Working End (Carabiner)The versatile end of a carabiner that holds the devices that do things - devices such as ascenders, rappel devices, friction hitches, safety tethers, etc. The opposite side of the skinny end.
Same as Basket and Wide End.
See Carabiners for detailed information.
Working End (Rope)The side of the rope that is in active use. The bag end is the other side.
Same as Rappel End and Rappel Side.
WormClimbing down sections of canyon that could be rappelled. Aside from the view, this is perhaps my favorite part of canyoneering. A major aspect of many canyon areas on the Colorado Plateau.
Same as Down Climb.
Wrap 3 Pull 2Fixed rigging where a tree or rock is wrapped 3 times. On one wrap the bend is placed toward the cliff where it will receive the least amount of force. The other two wraps are pulled out and connected to the rapide. Very strong rigging.
X CanyonA canyon with an X rating.
X (Risk Rating)Failure will likely result in death. Refers to everything in R but with greater exposure. Canyoneers who regularly do X canyons split the rating into X and XX where X is deadly and XX is also deadly. But more deadly.
See Canyon Rating System for detailed information.
X SectionSame as R section but with the increased risk of an X risk rating.
Yahoo Canyons GroupDefunct email list and predecessor to forums and Facebook groups we have today. An archive is housed on Canyon Collective.
See Yahoo Canyons Group Archive website for detailed information.
Yosemite Decimal SystemA system used for rating the difficulty of walks, hikes, and climbs.
See Yosemite Decimal System on Wikipedia for detailed information.
Z RigA way to add more friction while on rappel where the rappeller puts the rappel line through a carabiner in the leg loop and then through another carabiner on the rope above the rappel device, creating a Z shape in rappel line. This can be done while on rappel and is a common way to add friction on non-canyoneering specific rappel devices.
Zion TrifectaImlay, Heaps, and Kolob canyons. If you're crazy you descend them all in one day.
ZionsZions Bancorporation is a bank holding company headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. Zions is on the list of largest banks in the United States.
See Zions on Wikipedia for detailed information.
ZipSend gear down a cliff or over an obstacle on a tensioned line. For sending people, use a guided rappel.

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