Author Archives: Tom

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About Tom

Tom Jones is an inventor, author, entrepreneur, gear tester, photographer, and, first and foremost, a canyoneer, living in the hamlet of Mt. Carmel, Utah, on the east side of Zion National Park. Tom is also a valued member of the ZAC Guide Corps, weaving in numerous training and guiding days amongst his myriad adventures and responsibilities.

Imlay Canyon Trip Report, 9.2.2012

Went through Full Imlay Canyon with Steve Brezovec and Kelly Birdwell – to enjoy the canyon, of course, and to work on the anchors. Found some interesting things. We started the canyon from Potato Hollow, from the very tip-top there, a few hundred yards higher than I had before. We used a retrievable anchor off a tree in order to not leave a sling visible to the public. Downcanyon a ways, we found a tied off rock for the third stage of a rappel that can be done as a three-stage rap. This rock as cleverly wedged in a slot, but was tied off with some cord which was quite pretty, but had a core of paper (indicating that this cord was never intended for any purpose requiring strength). Further down, we found an anchor tied with a non-knot (versus a Water Knot)… but I guess it held for whomever tied it. Quite a few anchors in the canyon were tied with the Minnesota-clip style of equalization – especially scary since on a lot of these two-bolt anchors, one bolt is an ancient eroded stud-type bolt (very unreliable). We re-rigged 4 or 5 anchors usually with fresh webbing. The upper … Continue reading

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Boundary Canyon Conditions

Went by, but not IN, Boundary Canyon Zion yesterday. No flow. No flow from the spring down to the head of the canyon. Likely dry from there except a few puddles. Drought conditions have returned. If the Kolob Reservoir does an extended period of significant water releases, the spring at the head of Boundary could perk up, but it seems unlikely. Tom

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Neon Canyon: Braving the Summer Heat in Escalante

Went down to Escalante for a little Neon action. It being June and all, and a hot year to boot, and knowing Neon was dry dry dry; for this trip Mike Schasch and I convinced our guests that running daytrips out of a car-camp would be a much better plan than backpacking down (and back up!) in this kinda heat. (Some pictures by ME, some pics by Mike Schasch.) This was the third and final spring Neon trip for Zion Adventure Company Mike and I ran, and each trip was very, very different. Some were inspired by the Neon Trip Jonathan and I did with Greg Aiello and Motion TV. And some were just inspired by the beauty of the Golden Cathedral, and signed on up… like Gary, Al and Dennis from the Portland Area, who are experienced mountaineers (or, at least, golfers) and therefore used to suffering (or, in Dennis’s case, frustration). First day, I reached 10 years into my past and remembered a delightful day in March I spent in upper Brimstone and upper Spooky with Larry Halford. It did not click with me that: A. I have a terrible memory; and B. March and June do not … Continue reading

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Spring Flowers Beginning to Bloom in Zion

Went up Angels Landing twice this last week, so I thought I’d report on how spring is coming along in Zion Canyon. From a bloom point of view, things are getting ready to start. A few plants are currently flowering, but not too many. On the lower switchbacks, I saw a few flowers including: • Zion Milkvetch (purple pea-type flowers, low to the ground, most prominent flower at the moment) • Western Wallflower (cluster of yellow, four-petaled flowers, mostly isolated individuals, some in clumps, second-most prominent at the moment) • Slickrock Paintbrush (red paintbrush, close to the ground. A few here and there) • Yellow sweet clover (I think. Spreading leaves, small yellow flowers pea-like) Driving, on the side of the road near the Museum, there was: • Cliffrose (flowering bush, LOTs of white blooms. Very strong “rose” smell). Then it snowed on Sunday evening, so… Tom

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Canyoneering Trip Report: Kolob Creek, 9/8/2011

Descended Kolob Creek last Thursday with Carol Petrelli, Heather McIlvenna, Kev Swanson and Dan Ransom… Releases from Kolob Reservoir: They are alternating weeks of zero release and 3.5 cfs release. This was a week of zero release. Looked like about 1 cfs under the bridge, was about 1/2 cfs at the first rappel. Tame as far as waterflow. The water was clear and cold, of course. Most of us were comfy in 4/3 wetsuit with some booster type stuff. Most anchors in good shape. There are new bolts since last time I was in there (which was a couple of years ago). The chilliness convinced us to stay down in Springdale, so we got a little bit of a late start. Left the West Rim TH at 8:30, first rap at 10:00. Finished the last rappel about 1:00, to the MIA about 5 pm, up to the road in an hour and a half, another hour to the car. 11 hours total at a casual pace. A wonderful canyon. Nice that the irrigation schedule allows us to get in there this year, this early. For some good photos from our day, check out Dan Ransom’s pictorial trip report. Tom

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Two Spots Open for Upcoming Three-Day Canyoneering Course

I am teaching a Three-Day Basic Canyoneering course over Labor Day weekend (sort of), Sept 2, 3, and 4. We have two places available for this course. Cost is $550.00 per person. This course is tailored to people who have been down a canyon or two, and wish to jump up their skills and experience considerably. Each course is customized to the participants, however, the two people already signed up for the course have done a canyon or two, and have experience caving. Get more information or sign up here. Tom

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Trip Report: Zion Narrows Top-Down Thru Hike

I ran (ok, trotted) through the Zion Narrows from the top last Sunday (7/13/2011). Here is what I found: 1. I had never done The Narrows from the top in highish water. It was MUCH more difficult than I expected. There are many obstacles in the upper part of the Narrows (above Big Springs) that require quite a bit of hunting around to find a reasonable route. With water high, plunging into the river was not always an option. 2. There were maybe five required stream crossings that were thigh-waist high with strong current (i.e. where being swept away was a real possibility). 3. I ended up taking about five swims. I would say two were mandatory. The water was nice and warm-ish, so shorts and (Sport Science) tee shirt was fine, and the air temps were high enough to not require stopping and warming up. 4. I was somewhat concerned about the other 11 hikers on the 6:30 am Chamberlain shuttle. But, I guess they did OK. It is a BIG DAY, I hope they all realize it. I was hoping to match my time of 15 years ago, six hours. No way! About 15 minutes of breaks, moving reasonably well, … Continue reading

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Polyester vs. Nylon Ropes – Which Absorb More Water?

How much water does a rope absorb? It has always seemed that polyester ropes hold less than nylon ropes, but is this actually true? How big is that difference? I decided to find out yesterday… Rope Water Absorption Test – July 13, 2011 Test Method: At least 30m of a particular rope is coiled, weighed, then immersed in a cooler full of water, and held under by weights, for one hour (+10 min, – 0 min). The rope is removed and hung in the air for 10 minutes (+1 min, – 0 min), then weighed again “wet.” The two weights are compared. Conditions: Summer conditions (85 deg F air temp, low humidity, no wind). Water at faucet temperature. Test Samples: I tested three samples: 1. Nylon climbing rope: Beal Joker 9.1mm x 60m dynamic climbing rope, lightly used (about 20 pitches), in good shape. “Standard” treatment on this rope is DryCore. 2. Polyester canyoneering rope: Imlay 8.3mm Canyon Fire x 40m static canyon rope, lightly used (about 40 rappels), in good shape. 3. Polyester canyoneering rope: Imlay 9.2mm Canyonero x 60m static canyon rope, brand new. Results: – The used climbing rope absorbed 42.4% of its weight in water. – … Continue reading

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Imlay Canyon Anchors In Poor Shape – Bring Webbing!

Descended the Imlay Sneak Route yesterday with Julie from Australia, Anna and Phil from ZAC/Springdale, and Shaun Trackrunner from… Salt Lake? Still a grunt climbing those hills. 5 am start worked well. My main point is the anchors are in horrible shape. We replaced only two; 4-5 more need re-rigging. If you’re going in, please bring plenty of webbing. The anchor for the second-to-last rappel blew out. There were some giant Ponderosa logs in there that are gone, gone, gone. My two bolts on the left are still there, as are the aluminum hangers, but the webbing was pulled from the hangers – without breaking, leaving a slit in the hangers. Wow! Some fools have been rappelling off of the old bolts on the floor – also WOW! Those things are J I n G u S ! ! ! We rigged a long sling back to a log back aways, using the last of our available webbing, just long enough. The canyon was full, full, full, and there were only two pothole escapes. Water was clean and not all that cold. Some Log Soup near the beginning. Near the end of the first narrows, the stump in the V has … Continue reading

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Recent Conditions for Boundary Canyon and Heaps Canyon

Descended Boundary Canyon and Heaps Canyons this past week (June 23rd and 25th respectively). Both are in OUTSTANDING conditions. Boundary Canyon – Flowing about 5 CFS – enough to be intimidating and a little pushy, but not enough to be dangerous to canyoneers with Class C experience. Wonderful waterflow. Amazing canyon in near-solstice light.  Be careful setting anchors to avoid sticking a rope, and bring an extra rope or two just in case.  The walk-out down Kolob was an hour slower than usual because of the 15 cfs flow in Kolob – slow going, but not difficult.  The MIA trail is a little spotty in places (more than usual) after a big, wet winter. Heaps Canyon – Filled to the brim and cold. Lots of water, but also plenty of sand washed in over the winter, eliminating at least one long swim near the end. Still very physical and demanding. Excellent solstice light made it brighter and prettier than usual.  For the first time in 10 trips, I encountered another party in Heaps at the final raps, which delayed us 1-1/2 hours.  We hiked from West Rim Trailhead starting at 5 am – this was at least one hour too … Continue reading

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