Category Archives: Gear

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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Imlay Canyon Gear Unveils 2012 Rope Colors

Just in time for the holiday season, new rope colors have magically appeared from Imlay Canyon Gear. The immensely popular 8.3mm Canyon Fire now comes in the forboding “Red with Yellow” AND the cautionary “Yellow with Red,” in addition to the old balanced “Red and Yellow.” Not impressed? Okay, well take a look at the new 9mm Canyonero colors, where jungle-vine “Green with Blue” and regal “Purple with Yellow” join the aquatic blue-green weave in the line up. Combing a Canyon Fire with the three Canyonero! lines, and you have serious contrast in your rope bags. So who really cares about rope color, anyways? Is this just for canyon aestheticists and rope dorks? Though I am occasionally sheepish to admit it, I DO care about rope colors… here’s why: 1. Colors provide intuitive indicators of rope length. Though a given rope will change length over its lifetime as it wears and gets chopped, using ropes of different colors on any given trip makes it easy to tell the 80′ from the 120′ from the 200′. Instead of “give me the 200-footer,” we say, “give me the red one.” Much easier. 2. When using any two (or more) ropes together, it … Continue reading

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CCH Alien Cams – Coming Soon

I had a bunch of equipment and personal items stolen from my car while I was out climbing in St. George yesterday. It was a fairly upsetting experience, and without going into it too much, I have yet another opportunity to grow and to let go. I am reminded of a question asked about another upsetting experience this year. A co-worker asked, “Is it a problem or an opportunity?” His words echo in my head today and have helped me step back and find a new perspective. So, I have the opportunity to buy a bunch of new climbing equipment. In the midst of researching climbing gear I stumbled upon some information regarding CCH Alien Cams. These have been indispensable parts of my climbing rack, especially for aid climbing. For the past two years I have babied my few Aliens, because they are no longer in production. Well, I discovered today that Aliens are BACK. This discovery is very exciting for a climbing nerd like me. For a minute I forgot that I was preparing to spend a thousand dollars on new climbing gear. Anyhow, Aliens are set to be released by two European companies, Fixe-Fader and Totem. Both are … Continue reading

Posted in Climbing Equipment, Gear, Gear Reviews, Rock Climbing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Posted in Accidents, Canyoneering, Gear, Hiking, Outdoor Leadership, Reflections, Safety, Summer, The Narrows, Trip Reports, Zion, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Cold Conditions Persist in Keyhole and Pine Creek Canyons

With high temperatures in the 90s to 100s, Zion canyoneers often expect to roast in the toasty sun. Depending on canyon conditions, however, unprepared canyoneers can be in for a rude and shivering awakening while descending particular canyons. Zion saw a long, cold, and wet spring this year, and as a result, Keyhole and Pine Creek canyons are currently very cold, full, and wet. If you’ve been to Pine Creek before and found the pools shallow and reasonable, odds are it was a “shallow” year, when the pools were filled with sand, and thus fewer and shallower. This year is definitely a “deep” year, with long, cold, deep swims that makes things pretty exciting. It can be difficult to understand the hypothermic risk in there when you’re sweating in the sun at the trailhead, but a few long, cold swims in 60-degree water, combined with a lack of sunny spots and a chilling canyon wind, you can easily find yourself chattering uncontrollably. The past two weekends, all our clients who rented wetsuits for Keyhole and Pine Creek reported were quite glad to have had them. Here were some of their comments: “The water is cold, and there is a lot … Continue reading

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Climbing Gear Review: GriGri 2

Twenty years ago Petzl introduced the original GriGri with this simple, tongue-in-cheek ad campaign: For the best belay job you’ve ever had, Call 1-800-555-0100 Ask for Grigri GriGri has been giving amazing belay jobs for years now, and all my friends know it. For hang-dogging on climbing projects, multi-tasking on big wall aid climbs, or hanging from the anchor at a top-managed belay, the GriGri is my go-to belay device. It provides unmatched utility, comfort, and options for belaying. But the smooth, easy pleasure only Grigri can provide just got better. I’m talking, of course, about Petzl’s new assisted braking belay device, the GriGri 2. The design is 25% smaller than the original, 20% lighter, accepts a broader range of rope diameters (8.9mm – 11mm), and features a “progressive descent control lever”. I picked up the new GriGri 2 about a month ago and have been putting it through rigorous testing. I have used it for several days of cragging, long multi-pitch climbs, ice climbing, and some single-rope rappelling. Through a wide range of rope diameters -skinny rope (9.2mm) to fat (10.2mm) – I’ve seen no significant difference in action. The GriGri 2 feels good in my hand. It still feels substantial … Continue reading

Posted in Climbing Equipment, Gear, Gear Reviews, Rock Climbing, Safety | 1 Comment

Hiking Crampons Help Hikers Enjoy Zion’s Winter Majesty

Zion is so beautiful in the winter. We typically enjoy mild temperatures (daytime highs in the 50s or 60s) and sunny skies throughout the “cold” months, with an occasional rain or snowstorm to keep us on our toes. Even those storms deliver wonderful gifts, though, leaving snow-capped peaks, glistening icicles, and white accents on the millions of Zion’s orange sandstone ledges. The one drawback of our winter weather, perhaps, is the myriad trail conditions it creates. With all the melting and thawing and shade and sun, Zion’s trails host a smorgasbord of terrain for the unprepared hiker. It’s easy to underestimate the trouble icy trails can cause, but it’s just as easy to be prepared with a little forethought and the right equipment. I hiked the Upper Emerald Pool via the Kayenta trail yesterday; while the sunny part of the trail was soft and muddy, the shaded portion was a field of snow and ice. To deal with the frozen section of trail, I slipped on my hiking crampons, lightweight traction systems that dig into the ice and make for stable walking. There are many different types of slip-on snow and ice traction products on the market these days. Many … Continue reading

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Learn How to Layer for Warmth in Cold Weather

For the last so-many years, a group of die-hard canyoneers has converged in North Wash  for “FreezeFest”, a canyoneering rendezvous anchored around a New Year’s Day descent of the Black Hole. This troupe of crazies camps out during this entire endeavor, enduring cold, long nights around campfires and REALLY cold, dark nights huddled within “festive party tents,” battling the dark and cold with food, stories, and laughter. With highs in the 20s over the last week, it takes some good preparation to take part in FreezeFest, especially in the clothing category. But what if you don’t know how to dress for cold conditions? How does a canyoneer stay warm over 2 – 10 days of sub-freezing conditions? If you can’t stay warm, you won’t have fun at FreezeFest, or anywhere else in the outdoors under cold conditions. In honor of winter and our comrades’ festive shenanigans, I offer a great no-nonsense video on cold weather layering from the NOLS folks. I used to live in the Teton Valley, where snow can easily be on the ground any month of the year. Since these cats outfit thousands of students for outdoor greatness each year, we can trust them to know a … Continue reading

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Rappeling Off Sand: The Sandtrap Anchor System

A Revolutionary New Canyon Tool Without a doubt, the most interesting and widely discussed canyoneering innovation of the last year or two has been Steve Woodford‘s “sand anchor”, a simple but brilliant contraption allowing canyoneers to rappel relatively safely off a plentiful canyon resource: sand. Though not nearly as simple or obvious to use as bolts or a tree, Woodford’s design enables trained canyoneers to leave no trace safely and securely in remote, pristine canyons much more easily than previous leading-edge “ghosting” techniques. As this tool, and the understanding of how to use it, spreads through the canyoneering community, I hope to see less new bolting in canyons, and perhaps even less rope scarring as well. The Sand Anchor Concept The fundamental idea behind the anchor design is straightforward: If you can spread a lot of weight over a large enough friction surface, you end up with a safe anchor to rap on. In the past, there have been lots of approaches to this concept, but most of them relied primarily on the weight variable, and not as much on the surface area variable. Thus, we always needed a sharp corner or deep hole to gain enough friction to hold … Continue reading

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Finding the Right Cord: Climbing Rope Review

The author, geared up for another day of playing with ropes. It is time for another Climbing Gear Review, and in this installment I’ll focus on the backbone of any climbing system – ROPE. As our direct connection point and lifeline, it’s worth considering the vast options before dropping a couple hundred dollars on a new cord. Rope Longevity, Inspection, and Care First, a word about rope life. Except in extreme circumstances, modern ropes do not fail. Ropes only fail when they are cut by sharp rocks or knives, bathed in cat pee or battery acid, or when they’re used for canyoneering (haha). So, when your rope starts to get fuzzy, don’t worry, it is unlikely it would break under any normal circumstances. Like most protection, however, if you have any doubts about your safety, it is probably time to replace it. I typically go through one rope each year. I retire a rope when it gets really fuzzy, has taken A LOT of BIG falls, and/or has soft spots (bend the rope in half and it should maintain a round shape). When assessing a rope’s integrity keep in mind that the sheath (the outside layer) is deigned to protect … Continue reading

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