Author Archives: Nick

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About Nick

Nick Wilkes found ZAC in 1996, working first as an outfitter, then a guide, then as webmaster. An ardent adventure enthusiast, Nick's recent exploits involve laying down roots in Wisconsin, chasing his kids around the house, working as a Madison, WI photographer and growing his Wisconsin climbing business. Connect with Nick on Facebook, Google+, or directly via email.

American Canyoneers Elects New Official Board

American Canyoneers, a non-profit canyoneering organization promoting canyon access, environmental protection, and safety, transitioned from its initial Interim Board of Directors to its first regular Board of Directors after its the membership voted in July. You can meet the new American Canyoneers Board of Directors on their website… or maybe you’ll bump into one of them in a canyon somewhere. Thanks to the outgoing interim Board for their initiative and leadership over the last nine months. It is incredibly difficult to get a non-profit going starting with zero budget or staff, but this group made it happen, and they seem to be doing it the right way with 501c3 status, good transparency, and member support. Joining American Canyoneers is a great way to support canyoneering, and it only costs $5! If you’re interested, join American Canyoneers and get involved.

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Landslide Closes Hidden Canyon Trail

A teenager recently asked me, “Do big rocks fall ever fall down here?” Looking around most anyplace in Zion, and you can see that MANY big rocks have fallen from the canyon walls over time. Because we seldom see rockfall, however, it’s easy to forget where all the boulders on the ground came from. When the Hidden Canyon slide happened last week, it was a great reminder that geology happens all the time… even on actively used trails, in the middle of the day. Thankfully, nobody was hurt. Thanks to Zion’s rangers for helping the stranded hikers out, and for the inevitable work that will need to be done to restore the Hidden Canyon Trail. Until then… it’s a good thing there are lots of other 5-star trail to hike around here. Here’s the news release from the Park Service: Zion National Park Superintendent Jock Whitworth announced today that the Hidden Canyon Trail is currently closed due to a rockslide that occurred on Wednesday evening, July 25 at 5:30 p.m. The rockslide covered a narrow section of the trail with debris trapping 11 park visitors behind it for approximately three hours. Once the debris movement settled down, park rangers set … Continue reading

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Spry Canyon Flash Flood Video, July 11, 2012

Flash flood videos can’t do justice to the real thing, but this video from Spry Canyon last Monday (7/11) offers an educative perspective. The narrators’ emotions perhaps say more about the danger than the actual video… these two guys are clearly scared, excited, and riveted by the crashing, dynamic conditions. They literally have no idea what might happen, how high the water might rise, what debris might come crashing down to them. A scary situation. Were these guys in danger? It’s really difficult to say. Obviously, the water came up quite a bit while they were there, and they seem trapped in the alcove they are in by the middle of the video. But they seem to feel safe in their perch, amazed and lucky they weren’t stuck in a worse position in the canyon. As they point out, their next anchor is 1-2 feet under water by mid-video, and even as the waterfall slows toward the end, they point out how the overall depth just keeps rising. The parting shot shows the red webbing anchor filled with debris, hinting at the surge that receded only minutes before. The weather forecast on this date was not obvious: 40% chance of … Continue reading

Posted in Accidents, Canyoneering, Flash Flooding, Outdoor Leadership, Safety, Summer, Trip Reports, Zion, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

American Canyoneers Now Open to New Members (Take Two)

A few weeks ago, I posted an appeal for new members from American Canyoneers, a fairly new organization founded to take positive, progressie action on access and education issues in the U.S. canyoneering sphere. Just as American Canyoneers issued their membership appeal, however, their PayPal payment gateway stopped working, turning away many folks excited to join. I’m pleased to say the payment gateway problems have been resolved, and anybody interested can now join American Canyoneers via their Membership Page. At $5 for the first year, can you really go wrong? And by joining in this first, formative year, you’ll have the opportunity to shape and hone the organization’s mission and initiatives, an important and difficult task for this all-volunteer organization. Thanks to the interim board at American Canyoneers for persevering through the early organizational processes and bringing about the first Board Election this summer. The canyoneering community owes is in your debt.

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Grand Canyoneering Film Makes Splash at Telluride

Dan Ransom’s 22-minute documentary, “Last of the Great Unknown,” is receiving great reviews on the adventure film documentary circuit this summer. The Aspen Times wrote a nice review in anticipation of the 5Point Film Festival (April 26 – 29) and Outside Magazine picked “Last of the Great Unknown” as one of it’s Top Ten Documentaries from the Mountainfilm Festival (Memorial Day weekend) in Telluride. The acclaimed Banff Mountain Film Festival (Oct 27 – Nov 4) has yet to make final film selections, but will announce them on their website at the end of July. Here’s hoping Ransom and canyoneering get to show their stuff in that great annual showcase of fine outdoor films.

Posted in Books & Articles, Canyoneering, Grand Canyon, In the News, Photography, Videos | Tagged , , | Comments Off

American Canyoneers Appeal for Membership

I first met Wolfgang Schuster when he brought his family to Zion for a canyoneering course in 2007. An ex-fighter pilot with laser focus and a wry humor, Wolf calls it like he sees it and loves to get straight to the point. Wolf quickly became hooked on canyons, and over the years, we have gotten together for some great canyoneering trips. This last winter, Wolf stunned me by sticking his neck out and leading the charge in establishing a new not-for-profit canyoneering organization, American Canyoneers, dedicated to improving access problems and relationships between land managers and the public in the canyoneering world. Wolf and a cadre of other dedicated volunteers have impressed me with their professional approach to setting up the organization, outlining their mission, gaining 501c3 status, and creating a board representing a wide swath of the canyoneering community. Kudos to everyone involved. Taking a professional approach to founding American Canyoneers also meant it took some time, so AC was waited until now to formally organize a membership drive. The time has come, however, so please take a moment to look into the organization. If the “ACES” mission fits with your own, please consider joining to help play … Continue reading

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A Different Kind of Zion Visitor

Imagine… You’ve been hiking and running deep in the Zion backcountry for 13 hours, carrying only a few snacks and one water bottle. You’ve summited a handful of peaks, rappelled off small trees poking out of bare rock, and swum in 40-degree pools of stagnant canyons water. Many, many miles and vertical meters have passed. Now it’s 10:30 PM, your headlamp is dead, and you’re squeezing energy from the far reaches of your left pinky toe to keep going. And THEN, you get to one last, mandatory unexpected swim of unknown length. Do you put your wetsuit back on? Do you cry? Do you just lay down and close your eyes? No… you grit your teeth, make it happen, and blog about it when you get home. Because you are hardcore. Which I am not. Nice story, Dakota Jones. Thanks for showing how the crazies get it done in Zion. The honest, inspiring words about digging deeper than you think is possible is worth keeping in mind, no matter who you are or what makes you crumble.

Posted in Books & Articles, Canyoneering, Hiking, Trip Reports, Zion, Zion National Park | Tagged , | Comments Off

Prepare Yourself for Spring Break Bustle in Zion

Easter Break is ALWAYS an exciting time at Zion Adventure Company, as Training Season transitions to Busy Season and the quiet season official ends. It always feel a little crazy, but it’s also a lot of fun. We love it when Easter falls a little later (anytime in April, really), as it gives us an extra week or two to get new staff up to speed before they jump into the fire. If YOU are visiting this week or next, you can help us make your ZAC visit really smooth by doing a few easy things: 1. Set your watch! If you are coming from Las Vegas or Arizona, Zion (and Utah) is one hour ahead of those time zones. Many visitors are disappointed when they arrive “on time,” only to discover they are actually one hour late. Oops! 2. Note our hours. We are open daily from 8 AM to 8 PM. Sometime folks see people walking in and out before 8 AM: these are guided trip clients, who we try to depart with before things get busy at 8 AM. If you arrive before we open, please wait outside patiently while we get the store in order. Thanks … Continue reading

Posted in Getting Here, Seasonal, Spring, Zion National Park | Comments Off

Is The Zion Narrows Hike Open? A DIY Guide

Every day now, we hear one question more than any other: “Is The Narrows hike open?” We are always happy to answer this question for our store visitors, but we’d also like to help you answer this yourself at home, on the road, or wherever you may be. If you want to see whether The Narrows is open, just check the USGS website. The data you’re looking for is in the areas highlighted in the red boxes below: USGS Narrows Stream Flow Data for the Virgin River Narrows The upper red box (the graph) usually shows continuous cubic feet/second (CFS) data. (For some reason, the data has large gaps over the last few days; this is not normal.) The Narrows is OPEN, if the CFS level has not exceed 150 CFS for the past 24 hours. Even with the gaps in this current graph, we can see the CFS level was around 165 yesterday morning, so The Narrows is closed today. The lower red box indicates the current CFS level. While the data is current listed as “unavailable,” there is typically a CFS number here indicating current conditions. Remember, however, that the current CFS level is less important than the 24-hour … Continue reading

Posted in Canyoneering, Seasonal, Spring, The Narrows, Zion, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Cloud Project Reaches 1000 Days Atop Angels Landing

I drop in on Texan photographer Kelly DeLay’s Cloud 365 Project occasionally, and I noticed today that he shot his 1000th cloud image from the top of Angels Landing this last week. There’s also a cloud image taken from Springdale the following morning. Kudos to Mr. DeLay for some serious tenacity in sustaining such an interesting long-term project. And he has a pretty cool website, too.

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