About CanyonTopos

CanyonTopo is the collective term used for a summary of information about a particular canyon. It usually includes both a written description and a graphical representation of the canyon.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the CanyonTopo are as accurate as possible, users need to be aware that most of the CanyonTopo are made from notes taken during a single descent. Scribbling and sketching quickly on a waterproof notepad whilst trying to keep moving fast through an unknown canyon can lead to omissions or errors.

CanyonTopo are not intended to lead you step by step through a canyon. Rather, they should be used to determine wether or not your party has sufficient time, experience and equipment to attempt a canyon.

Take any description with a large grain of salt. Even better, take a pencil with the description and make improvements to send back to us!

Recording information for CanyonTopos

Obviously, recording the information about a Canyon is most accurate if it is done at the time of descent.

NZOIA waterproof notebooks are by far the best notebook for recording information in the canyon that I’ve come accross. They are nearly indestructable, write reliably with HB pencil and do not smudge or run. I carry a notebook and pencil in the top of my pack, making notes of the relevant information and sketching the CanyonTopo as I go.

The Blank Canyon Information Sheet is intended to be a good guide for the extra information that you should record when accessing and descending a canyon.

The CanyonTopo Legend is a good place to start to learn what symbols can be used to sketch CanyonTopo in the canyon. Take a look at the various other CanyonTopo found on KiwiCanyons.org to get a feel for what to include. The pencil sketch doesn’t have to be to scale, but recording the hieghts of drops and the lenghts of ‘unremarkable’ ground can help to lend a sense of scale when it comes to drawing up the CanyonTopo on the computer.

Finally, photographs are an excellent way to record the descent, especially to jog your memory if your review of your sketch shows that a few bits of important info are missing. Before any trip, I like to encourage everyone to accurately set the time on thier cameras. Later, when sharing photos, it makes life much easier to remember what was where if the photos are chronological. The time stamp also helps determine the time taken through the canyon, allowing you to discount time spent eating lunch or sorting out a stuck rope.

Tips for drawing your own CanyonTopo on the Computer

For those of you with the interest and inclination to do so, drawing your own CanyonTopo is achievable with a little practise.  You could use any vector graphics editor, but I’ve had good results with Inkscape, which is an easy to use (and free) application that is easily downloaded.

Have a read of an excellent CanyonTopo tutorial by Michael Dallin, from ColoradoCanyons.org. You’ll notice that the CanyonTopo on this site are a little more fluid and colourful, but in the end you’ll find your own style. I hope to keep the style on KiwiCanyons.org as consistent as possible.

Micheal has a made a set of symbols for use, but I have adapted and extended the symbols that I’ve used for KiwiCanyons.org. The SVG file that contains all the symbols and descriptions can be downloaded. KiwiCanyons SVG symbols.zip

Here’s an editable example of the word document and Inkscape SVG file; Ellis Creek examples

Once you’re done, send it to us so that we can share it with the Canyoning Community!

If you have any questions about any of this, please contact us.