Category Archives: Canyoneering

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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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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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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Awesome Right Fork Trip Report on CUSA’s “Latest Rave”

After taking a year off in 2011, Tom Jones has reinitiated his popular canyoneering blog The Latest Rave in a beautiful, updated format, making high-quality, illustrated trip reports even more accessible to canyoneers searching for canyon beta, pictures, and stories. The Latest Rave is a “canyoneering diary,” featuring accounts of recent canyon descents and trips throughout the canyoneering world, but primarily focused on Colorado Plateau canyons. Tom has expanded the Rave a bit, inviting long-time canyoneering partner Steve “Ram” Ramras as a regular Raver, as well as publishing well-written and illustrated canyoneering stories from other canyoneer/authors in his Guest Rave section. Fortunately, quite a few Rave trip reports are about Zion canyons, which are, of course, our favorite. Mark Duttweiler published a particularly nice trip report last week on his party’s descent of the Right Fork of North Creek, a less-travelled canyon deep in the Zion Backcountry. Mark and his crew descend the “Hammerhead” variation of the Right Fork route, adding a great, technical start and a number of rappels to the package. The meat of the Right Fork, however, is the Direct Variation, a formidable section of slot that, though relatively short and not particularly difficult, threatens inexperienced canyoneers with shadows … Continue reading

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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.

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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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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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ZAC Makes the Cover of St. George Magazine

St. George Magazine did a story on “adventure in Southern Utah” for their May issue, and we made the cover! Well, one of our clients made the cover, and one of our guides was on the other side of the lens (we still aren’t sure who). Writer Lisa Larson interviewed Shelley Buckingham, our outfitting manager, for the piece, and they have a slimmed-down version of the article online. It’s much better to see all the great pictures though, so check out the virtual magazine for the best viewing experience. 5 Local Tours to Enjoy in Our Backyard By Lisa Larson Living in the red rock beauty of Southern Utah, it’s easy to take the nearness of these natural wonders for granted. While there are countless tourists from around the world that descend on national parks like Zion, Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon, recreation spots such as Lake Powell and a variety of slot canyons, it’s remarkable the number of locals who have yet to experience all that Southern Utah has to offer.   For those who are unsure where to begin, there are a variety of guided and self-guided tours available, whether you’re looking for adventure, history or serenity. Living … Continue reading

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ZAC Guide Bill Westerhoff Featured on “Eye on LA”

ABC’s Los Angeles affiliate Channel 7 recently visited Southern Utah for their “Eye on LA” show. Host Tina Malave joined ZAC guide Bill Westerhoff for a rappelling excursion up in Cave Valley, one of the gorgeous plateau valleys you’ll find on the way up the Kolob Terrace Road. I wasn’t able to post the video here, but you can check it out on the ABC 7 site.  

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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.

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