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Canyon Rope Systems - The Text Book

In Collaboration with Brent Roth

Welcome to our free course, where we will show

you a few different ways to set up rappels while descending a canyon. This is not all-inclusive. There are many aspects to learn before you should commit to a canyon on your own. Please check out the continued education at the bottom to learn more.

Here are a few things to consider when rigging for canyon rappels:

  • How will I get my rope back?

  • Is there an abrasion point or flowing water?

  • What are the skill levels of people in your group?

  • Is there a way for you to rescue someone on rappel by just staying at the anchor?

  • Do you have to toss out your entire rope to just go down 20 feet?

There are 10 core videos that cover the topic A-Z and we will guide you to them in this "textbook". A blog allows it to be easy to read on any device, easy for us to add and update the information, and easy to translate. Consider each blog we send you to as "chapters" and they will always point to the next place you should head. Treat this page as the topo map on how to guide yourself down this course, get it?


  1. Why are the videos on Youtube instead of course platforms like Skillshare?

  2. Youtube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world. If someone is searching for this information we want them to find it. By making these stand-alone videos on youtube, they are more likely to be found and therefore can help 10,000+ people who can benefit from this information.

  3. Why is the course free?

  4. This world is full of promises but rarely delivers. I hesitate to buy a course because I’m unsure it will fulfill my expectations. We would be lucky if 100-200 courses sold for $200. It makes it worth it to Brent and me if 10,000 people can benefit from it, helping contribute to the community. The economics have always worked themselves out. We operate super cheap enough and only need less than 1% of the audience, or 1000 Patrons, to donate $1 per episode to make this super sustainable enough. If you want to invest in Breaking Gear Fear and free A-Z content, become a PATRON

  5. Do you get ad revenue on youtube?

  6. Yes and no. Niche educational content might get about 10,000 views which is only $50 in ad revenue. Roughly speaking, the soft costs per episode are $500, editors about $300, short form (Instagram) $100 and written form $100. The "sponsors" we do get either provide free gear or pay just a piece of the actual cost. Our DONATION page has more about that.


Brent Roth

Living in the Pacific Northwest, Brent Roth is passively-aggressively going to get back at all the stupid Facebook forums by providing educational content that will at least piss off the southwestern canyoneers at best and everyone at worst. He was in the Army for only 4 years until he realized canyoning was the only thing worth doing. He has 2 cats. That’s about all you need to know.

written by Ryan Jenks

Real funny Ryan…

Yes, I live in the PNW and I am from here. I retired from the Navy and started working outdoors as a rafting and swift water rescue instructor. I have taken a few technical rope rescue courses from American Alpine Institute and Rigging-for-Rescue and really connected with how technical rope systems work. I volunteer with a local Mountain Rescue Unit and continue to train in rope systems. I am a classic rope nerd.

I am in several online groups and see lots of debates and questions about systems and techniques. Most of these debates try to define “what is best” for everyone. I like to compare the capabilities and limitations of things and then determine what I should do in a given situation. The more I learn, the more options I have. That is “what’s best” for me and I like to share what I learn.

I do have two cats.

See Brent's full bio HERE


☠️ WARNING!!! ☠️

There have been a number of incidents resulting in severe injury or death while people were rappelling. A recent accident happened while a group was practicing for running canyons. A person loaded the wrong strand, leaned back, and fell.

This brings up a few important rules…

  1. Practice In A Low Consequence Environment! - Do not try these systems for the first time in a canyon at height!

  2. Back up Your Systems!! - Some of the parts of the rigging in the videos were omitted for clarity. Always back up the system until the last person rigs for retrieval!

  3. Use A Process Every Time!!! - Use a lanyard or Personal Anchor System (PAS).


Watch This FIRST! - The Technical Process

How KNOT 2 Tie Ropes

You need to know these knots to follow along in this course. These are very short stand-alone videos not on th,the,e main channel. If you don't know how to tie these knots, grab a rope and watch these and start practicing. The key to every knot is that it is properly tied, set and dressed before use.

Figure 8 on a Bight

This is a very common end-loop knot in climbing, caving and canyoning.

Blocking Knot - Figure of 8

This knot is a simple way to rappel on a single strand and retrieve your rope.

Blocking Knot - Clove Hitch

This knot is a simple way to rappel on a single strand and retrieve your rope.

Stone Knot & Carabiner

This knot is a simple way to rappel on a single strand and retrieve your rope. I found that this is the easiest to undo afterheavily heavely loaded.

Stone Knot & Fiddle Stick

This is a great tool to have in a canyon. Caution should be taken when using because simple rescues can be challenging with these systems. Understand the capabilities and limitations of any special

use kit before using in a canyon.

MMO - Munter Mule Overhand

This knot is the baseline for building a releasable anchor. It is used in many rescue situations from load transfers to passing a knot. Here it is tied to the anchor to allow a person on rappel to be lowered if needed, manage abrasion or set specific rope length.

EMO - Eight Mule Overhand

This is a veriation of an MMO using a figure 8 device as a blocking system. This system does not need to be retied for rope retrieval

EMO Without Quickdraw

This is an EMO using less gear to rig a secure rappel anchor.

Big Butterfly

This is a quick way to set up a remote anchor point and have two strands ready for rappel.




Course Videos

  • 1st Chapter/Episode is just an overview of this chart.

  • Episodes 2-5 is getting into the details of each one.

  • Episode 6 shows how everything can be done with just one device.

  • Episode 7-8 are friction devices if you lower someone or are rappelling.

  • Episode 9-10 are break tests in the lab of hardware and knots.


Continued Education

V7 Academy

We made our HowNOT2 course because this material wasn’t available online in this way and we like to help spread knowledge in the extreme sports community. There is another great canyon resource that can show you how to move down the canyon, the stuff you need and how to be a better participant on a canyon trip. The first V7 course is free and we HIGHLY RECOMMEND you take it. Their 2nd course is more advanced and

is only the cost of a rope. Go sign up and see if you benefit from the first course!

Seattle Mountaineers Canyon Program

For local training and information, the Seattle Mountaineers has a canyon program that is a great way to get plugged into canyoning in the PNW. Their curriculum follows the V7 course and has great hands-on training with a great group of people….

Mazamas Canyon Program

If you are a bit farther south, the Portland Mazamas has a canyon program as well. Kevin Clark wrote an extensive book, Canyoning in the Pacific Northwest: A Technical Resource, that is actually available from a lot of places these days (NorHex in Portland, Ascent Outdoors in Seattle, Valhalla Outfitters up in Squamish -- and a bunch of others including Imlay, On Rope Canyoneering, Adventure Plus, CanyonZone, Canyon Store, etc.

Amazon delivers fast, but one can probably get it a bit cheaper and help support local canyon businesses at the same time. 🙂

Proceeds from this book support the Mazamas Canyon Program.

American Alpine Institute Canyon Program

AAI is starting a new hands-on canyoning program in Washington with Brent Roth. Contact them for more details about courses and scheduling.


HowNOT2 Contribute

If you have something to share, we'd love to add it. Please be kind by delivering something ready to add, whether that is a video or an image or a written piece, and tell us where you think it best fits. It doesn't have to agree with what we included, but it does have to be respectful and professional. There are a lot of great ideas out there and this is a place they can be shared.

Reach out to ryan at or Brent to get involved!

👇 Now Head Over to Episode 1 👇

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