Category Archives: Outdoor Leadership

Thought, interviews, and articles on leading adventures

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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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 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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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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ZAC Hosts Annual Climbing Guides Meeting in November

On Saturday, November 5th, the Professional Climbing Guides Institute will hold their annual BBQ here in Springdale. There will be food, clinics, prizes, and a much anticipated “Unimog vs. Dynometer” challenge. We also expect to have a bunch of guides and climber-types sitting around sharing stories, debating the finer points of anchoring, rigging, teaching, and climbing, and generally dorking out in the climbing realm. We’re planning on having a lot of fun, and everyone is welcome to stop in for part or all of the festivities. The Essentials When: Saturday, November 5th, 1:00 PM Where: Springdale Town Park (next to the Springdale Community Center, 126 Lion Blvd, Springdale, UT) Schedule: 1:00 PM – Alternative anchoring & equalizing clinic with PCGI Mentor, Seth Zaharias 3:30 PM – “Where Climbers Loose Speed” clinic with PCGI Mentor, Alan Jolley 5:30 PM – Dynometer meets Unimog for a fun load testing & breaking climbing gear experience, PRIZES & BBQ!

Posted in Autumn, Local Events, Outdoor Leadership, Rock Climbing, Seasonal, Springdale, ZAC Events | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

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

Posted in Accidents, Canyoneering, Hiking, Outdoor Leadership, Rock Climbing, Safety, ZAC Events | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

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

Canyoneer Falls 150 Feet in Branch of Oak Creek Canyon

I hope Mr. McEntire emerges healthy and whole. 150 feet seems like an incredibly long way to fall, but a couple accidents over the past few years (a 100-foot free-fall in Pine Creek, a long “free-slide”in Englestead) have shown people can survive and even thrive after such dramatic incidents. Sliding (incredibly quickly) down a rope must be better than a free-fall, and sometimes a big, fat backpack can do incredible magic in softening a fall. Best wishes to Mike in his recovery. ***** Rescuers rappel eight times and swim three crossings to reach fallen canyoneer All 2400-feet of rappelling rope in service for high-profile rescue near Sedona, AZ Rescuers had to rappel eight times and swim three crossings to reach a fallen canyoneer in the West Fork area of Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona, AZ. The Canyoneer was critically injured after falling 450 feet while rappelling on the afternoon of Saturday August 13, 2011. Although Coconino County Sheriff’s Office received a report of the critically injured fall victim that afternoon, the remote and rugged canyon held onto its victim until the next day. It took over 36 hours for Coconino County Search and Rescue personnel — assisted by several other … Continue reading

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L.A. Times Opines on the Dangers of the Outdoors

Long-time ZAC client, Jerry King, sent me this article concerning the high rate of fatal accidents in Yosemite this year. Zion has seen its share of tragedies over the years, and this discussion of signage, prevention, and “what more could be done” to avoid more accidents often comes up. I think this editorial does a great job of capturing the heart of the matter in succinct terms: I have often wondered why Zion National Park closed the Lady Mountain route due to safety concerns (not sure this is the entire reason?), but the Angels Landing route remains open despite many deaths over the years. In general, the Park System seems to hold firm to a certain standard of prevention, erecting signage barricades, etc. in the most crowded and popular areas to help folks stay clear of danger, but not building extravagant structures to make it impossible for visitors to access danger. I have never seen a ranger ticket those who climb over rails, etc… I wonder if that happens? If folks knew they might get a $250 ticket for dangling their feet over the cliffs, maybe they’d think twice? But taking too much responsibility for monitoring simply opens the Park’s … Continue reading

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