Category Archives: Accidents

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

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Quicksand!

Yesterday while descending Water Canyon with a small CAD I learned a little something about quicksand. Over the past several years I have experienced quicksand, quickmud, and various other mires, but NOTHING like what I experienced in Water Canyon on 4/18. After descending into Middle Water Canyon, we got past the first three raps and started heading down the long hallway into Lower Water Canyon. About half way through this section, we experienced a couple of sloppy, sucking sand areas, but nothing above the knees, which made extraction casual. Moments later, however, I stepped off of a rock in the middle of the watercourse and INSTANTLY sank to my crotch into thin, watery sand. It was somewhat entertaining initially, and I took 10 seconds or so to have the moment captured photographically for all to see. Within those 10 seconds, the sand solidified around my legs and developed the consistency of concrete. I was unable to move any muscle below my waist, so I started digging and scooping water and sand to attempt to free myself from the sucky obstacle. After 10 minutes of digging, damming up the flow to better remove sand and water from the area, and attempting … Continue reading

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BYU Offers Canyon Gear Prizes for Accident Info

Dr. Steve Kugath, a professor in the Outdoor Recreation Department at BYU-Idaho, recently announced a “accident info for gear” opportunity worth checking out. I haven’t heard about this project before, but ostensibly it will help gather and aggregate information about who, how, when, why canyoneers get into trouble out there. For each entry you submit (one entry per accident/incident), you are thrown into the hopper for a chance to win one of the prizes (see below). The survey says it takes 15-20 minutes to fill out, but a thorough job would probably take more like 30 – 60 minutes. Not sure how they will prevent folks from entering sparse submission just to rack up their odds of winning prizes, but hopefully the spirit of the effort will prevail and they’ll get lots of good data. Here’s Steve’s announcement: Hey Canyoneers! We’re developing a Canyoneering Accident/Near Miss/Epic Database. Information collected will be made available to the public for free. Our goal of the project is to educate and encourage safe canyoneering practice. The data base will include synopses and analysis of accidents/near misses/epics; group member’s names will not be included so don’t be shy about reporting your mishaps. In addition all the reports will … Continue reading

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“Last of the Great Unknown” Premieres in Phoenix, 4/24

Last week, I posted the trailer for Dan Ransom’s new documentary film, “Last of the Great Unknown,” and promised to post when the premiere was announced. Ransom has decided to premiere the film April 24th in Phoenix, AZ, in honor of the late Ioana Elise Hociota. Hociaota died tragically in an accident deep in the Grand Canyon in February, and proceeds from the premiere will fund a ASU scholarship endowment in her name. You can find all the details at the film website. If you can make it, get out to support the film, the scholarship fund, and the memory of a spirited adventurer… it promises to be a memorable event and an impressive film.

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Large Ungulate Torpedoes South African Mountain Biker

I’ve never seen deer or mountain sheep on Gooseberry Mesa, but now I’m nervous. If a “red hartebees” can get this aggressive, then I’m assuming any ungulate can. Could a cow pull this kind of Superman missile move? Can you imagine a cow taking you out on the JEM trail? Sheesh.

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Rick Ianniello Offers Beta on Unpublished Las Vegas Canyons

Las Vegas canyoneer Rick Ianneillo recently made news for substantially injuring himself when his anchor failed in a Mt. Charleston area canyon. Though Ianneillo only fell about 15′, his injuries were fairly serious, requiring a 911 call and evacuation by local SAR personnel. You can learn a lot from his detailed, frank, and humorous account of the accident. On a related note, Ianniello has been exploring and documenting canyons in the Las Vegas area, primarily high on Mt. Charleston, along the Red Rock escarpment, and down along the Black Canyon of the Colorado River. He plans to eventually assemble a guide book to the area, but for now, photos, beta, and stories of his explorations are available at his website, Las Vegas Slots Canyoneering Project. As usual, it’s difficult to predict the quality of the canyons he’s exploring (explorers always seem to think “their” canyons are great), but perhaps Ianniello’s beta can connect other explorers and boil down a good collection of outings in the Greater Vegas area. If you’re looking for Vegas adventures, or have a bunch of them under your belt, you might connect with Ianniello to collaborate.

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Tie Knots In Your Rappel Ropes to Avoid Disaster

Whilst descending the North Guardian Angel Saturday evening, Calvin and I found our 100′ rope just a bit short to reach the most comfortable landings along the way. It wasn’t much of a problem, but highlighted the importance of tying knots in the ends of our rappel lines. Even when the terrain is not vertical, sliding off the end of your rappel ropes can be extremely dangerous, often fatal. In many places on the North Guardian, an unprotected slip could lead to 50 to 500-foot tumble… not good for your health. On the last of three rappels, we staged this shot as a grand coupling of beautiful landscape and tragic technical foolishness. Can you imagine seeing this scene in real life? Watching someone rapidly descending a 50-degree slope with only 18 inches of line left? I would probably crap my pants. So while we took the picture in jest, I wanted to share it to highlight the serious message underlying it. ALWAYS tie knots in the ends of your rappel lines, or at the very least, make a very conscience and aware decision not to.

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Lightning Fatality Urges Caution During Summer Storms

While I usually think of lightning incidents as more of an alpine danger occurring in the Sierra Nevada or Rocky Mountains, this is the second lightening fatality this summer in the Desert Southwest (the other was about a month ago at Grand Canyon). While approaching thunderstorms can be thrilling to watch, PLEASE watch them from a safe place. When “very safe” places like vehicles or buildings are unavailable, do your best to distance yourself from high points and trees. If you can, sit on something insulating, like a backpack, sleeping pad, or rope. Canyons are generally safe places in terms of lightning, as you are between two high points, whereas places like Angels Landing are very dangerous in a lightning storm. Look here for detailed information from USFS ranger Melanie Fullman on the science behind lightning and specific recommendations on how to be safe in a lightning storm. Lightning Causes One Fatality in Bryce Canyon National Park An international visitor was killed by lightning along the Rim Trail between Sunrise and Sunset Points in Bryce Canyon National Park on Thursday, August 18. The victim was identified as Volker Kunz, 51, from Hamm, Germany. At approximately 12:20 PM, Mr. Kunz and … Continue reading

Posted in Accidents, Hiking, In the News, Outdoor Leadership, Safety, Summer, Weather & Climate | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wilderness First Responder Courses This November

This November, we are offering a full 5-day Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course (11/5 – 11/9, $750) and a WFR Recert course (11/7 – 11/9, $425). Most outdoor professionals and many outdoor enthusiasts already know all about WFR, but for those new to WFR, I thought answer a few common questions: What is WFR? Wikipedia explains it better than I could: “Wilderness First Responder training focus on teaching the students to assess a situation, improvise solutions using available resources to stabilize the patient, and identify the best way to get the patient to definitive medical treatment. In many courses, students are encouraged to develop the habit of systematically thinking through and documenting their assessment decisions/plans using a SOAP note. Topics covered usually include, but are not limited to, the following principles Basic Life Support Responding to results of trauma: burns, wounds, infections, fractures, spinal injuries Responding to the onset of sudden illness Transport/evacuation planning and implementation” Who is WFR for? WFR courses have become a defacto training job requirement for anyone working in the outdoor industry. Many non-professional outdoor enthusiasts, however, also take WFR courses to stay safe and able in remote environments. Whether you’re a backpacker 20 miles away from a … Continue reading

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Narrows Injury Highlights Importance of Good Equipment

Picked up this story from Narrows hiker Glenn Jones (below) on the Yahoo Canyons Group. Though Glenn wasn’t intentionally advertising for us, his story tells a convincing story about why proper footwear and a sturdy hiking stick are so helpful in The Narrows. “Do we really need the rent equipment to hike The Narrows?” We hear this question often in our store, and our answer is always the same: No, you absolutely don’t need to rent equipment to hike The Narrows, but investing in gear innovated specifically for The Narrows hike helps you accomplish three key goals: 1. Greatly reduce the likelihood of injuries from tripping and falling. Sprained ankles are the most common injuries in The Narrows, followed by sprained wrists, dislocated shoulders, all resulting from tripping and falling due to poor traction and ankle support. 2.  Hike The Narrows comfortably. Spend your time and energy enjoying the breathtaking landscape, taking pictures, and enjoying your companions instead of staring at the ground, picking rocks out of your shoes, and fixing broken show laces. 3. Save your hiking boots and/or sandals from destruction. If you’re in Zion, chances are you have many more hikes on your vacation agenda. As Glenn’s story reflects, … Continue reading

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