Category Archives: Reflections

ZAC Memories in Verse from Bob Shear

Bob Shear was kind enough to send us this EPIC poem, written in antiquity, describing the adventure he and his brothers had with us in early 2000. Thanks, Bob! My brothers and I went to ZAC in March 2000 for a half-day training and a self-guided descent of Keyhole Canyon. Though we were all in our 50s, we had never really done anything together, and it became quite an adventure. Two of us, myself and Dick, continued on with canyoneering for quite a while. I still have my gear, and hopes to return to Zion some day soon. Anyway, in the fall of that year, my brother, Chet, and I got into a little poetry competition, and I wrote the story of our Zion Adventure in (not very good) verse. Here it is: It started in March, Millenium Year Phone call from brother: “Hey, come on out here.” “We can hike canyons and rap off the cliffs. Come on you sissies, no buts, ands, or ifs.” So onto the planes got two city Shears Not been together for so many years. First came the elder, a poet to some. Then came the younger, least athletic one. Slot machine airport, crude … Continue reading

Posted in Canyoneering, Guided Events, Reflections, Trip Reports, ZAC Events, Zion | Tagged , | Comments Off

Mad Adventure Biking by Danny Macaskill

Okay, this video doesn’t have anything to do with Zion… but WOW, does this guy know to create adventure. I’ve been reflecting on “extreme” sports enthusiasts lately, on the apparent paradox our culture practices when we ridicule folks who accidentally perish while getting too close to a river or a cliff, but we celebrate those who take on risk regularly to push the envelope of what is possible. The difference between the two acts, I think, is preparedness. When Danny Macaskill hops rides a cable between two trains, it’s difficult to imagine (but we have a sense of) how many hours, months, probably YEARS he’s been on that bike. So for him, it’s not crazy at all. If I tried that, I think I’d likely die… because I have zero preparation. One thing I love about guiding is how a good guide can help us leap from “zero preparedness” to “really well prepared” almost instantly. The average Joe or Jane should not go canyoneering or rock climbing tomorrow on his/her own tomorrow… but when they hire a guide, it’s suddenly a prudent decision, and it opens up huge possibilities for them. It’s not a perfect analogy, of course… If I … Continue reading

Posted in Mountain Biking, Reflections, Safety, Videos | 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

ZAC Memories from Ellen Comiskey

Hi Jonathan, Our family spent a good part of one of our greatest vacations with you. In April 2004 (when your wife was pregnant with your first child), our kids were age 10, 13, 14. We came out to Utah (from Wisconsin) in early April for a week. We climbed in St. George, and went canyoneering with you and Dwayne. Today the youngest, now 18, left to go to Peru for a year, and as I think back to the wonderful times we had together, I am glad we had the opportunity to spend time doing great, fun things in the natural world under the guidance of fun and knowledgeable people like yourselves. We never could have done that on our own. The whole family remembers the great time we were able to have because you were able to take us there. Thanks. We will be back, eventually… I hope you are well. Congrats on your 15th anniversary! Love, Ellen Comiskey

Posted in Canyoneering, Families, Guided Events, Reflections, ZAC Events, Zion | Tagged | Comments Off

The Hands Tell the Story

When riding the Zion Shuttle back from climbing in the Park, visitors often ask about the assortment of gear hanging from me. This last weekend, my climbing partner, cornered in his plastic chair with a lap full of rope and cams, demonstrated on the chair in front of him how a cam works to stop a falling climber. The man to his right watched with wide eyes and asked a stream of questions aimed at solving the riddle of how we get the ropes back. In the midst of his questions, he turned to his two young sons and excitedly relayed the information about bolted anchors and rappelling. “These two were just scaling the walls up there,” he exclaims. “Look at this guys hands!” he said, nodding to BJ’s plump fingers, red knuckles, and raw flesh abraded by continuous crack-jamming. I looked down at my sausage-shaped fingers, the gobie still oozing from the scab I ripped off the back of my hand (yet again), and I found something beautiful in the stories told by my mangled hands. I can retrace the day’s climb by my bloody cuticles and split knuckles, reliving the desperate movements hanging from a half-inch crack by … Continue reading

Posted in Reflections, Rock Climbing | Comments Off

Climbing Ethics: Chipped, Hammered, and Bolted

From philosophical discussions to bolt-chopping wars, there are as many opinions about climbing ethics as there are climbers. While climbing in Yosemite last week, I had a realization that complicated my beliefs about climbing ethics. The old stone masters worked hard to establish one of the most iconic climbing areas in the world, but by today’s standards they would likely be met with criticism for altering routes all over Yosemite Valley. Standing on EL Cap Tower, I felt as far away from the everyday world as if I were standing on the moon. However, without the piton scars, bolts, and fixed equipment we used, I could not imagine how I could have arrived at such an amazing place. I owe tremendous gratitude to Warren Harding, Wayne Merry, and George Whitmore, who spent 47 days nailing their way up The Nose, using “seige tactics” to progress up the wall, setting fixed ropes and camps all the way to the summit. Without their assault on El Cap, it would not be possible for modern day climbers to dispatch the route in such short periods of time (from a few days to a few hours). The luxury of clean aid and free climbing … Continue reading

Posted in Definitions, In the News, Reflections, Rock Climbing, Safety, Techniques, Trip Reports, Zion National Park | Comments Off

Travel Journal: Cirque Du Soleil

I saw my first Cirque Du Soleil performance, Ka, this week in Las Vegas. I managed to find a promotional code on ebay for cheap tickets, and so, in the midst of my dirtbag camping and climbing trip at Red Rock Canyon, I donned a button down shirt, my grown-up pants, and loafers and went to the show. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I did not expect to be greeted by ninjas flipping up and down the balconies, I did not expect the stage to dump the actors into an abyss, and I did not expect to feel so compelled to run off and join the circus (or cirque). It is hard for me to describe what I experienced, except that it was powerful. The salient message seemed to be that there is beauty in everything. The characters express beauty in the light and the dark, in fighting and in dance. In the context of my climbing trips, I was acutely aware of how effortlessly the characters moved. I want to climb with that sort of passion, to display art in movement.  I used to be a fairly accomplished gymnast, have always loved kung fu movies, and feel … Continue reading

Posted in Reflections, Rock Climbing | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Travel Journal: The Joy of Sleeping Under The Stars

Sleeping under the stars has inspired many poetic escapes into the wilderness, yet many nature lovers have never stripped away their tent or shelter and met the night sky on such intimate terms. Having recently been enjoying a number of starry nights on Wire Mesa, I thought I’d reflect on my love of sleeping out… I remember the first time I slept out under the stars on a late summer night, deep in North Cascades National Park. In short, I was terrified. In the early hours of the morning, I awoke to rustling, and saw shadowy, shapeless forms darting through my camp. I was alone and helpless, not sure if I should play dead, yell, or cry. I remained quiet, listening for sounds of aggression, or some indicator of what sort of beast was stalking me. The sound multiplied, and a pack – whatever had found me – was clearly arranging a strategic ambush. Still wrapped up in my sleeping bag, I managed to wiggle over to my backpack, and find my headlamp. Its light illuminated beady eyes watching me intently from the undergrowth. I held my breath waiting for it to move, and then something bolted in front of … Continue reading

Posted in Camping, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Celebrate Your Public Lands By Contributing Your Opinion

Here in Springdale, although we are far from most national news, many of us read “big city” newspapers like the New York Times or the L.A. Times on-line to stay “semi-“ caught up on what’s going on outside Zion Canyon. About every three weeks, a news story pops up in the latter newspaper’s “Public Lands in the West” section, dealing with political plans, which gets my special attention. One such story surfaced this past week, about the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, continuing to protect public lands in Utah and Colorado that were once considered to open up for mining and energy development. Pristine areas of the West are again preserved Unfortunately, it seems like stories like this just fall into the “Science and Environment” category, but we all have stake in decisions made on public lands. Public lands, after all, BELONG to the American public; that’s you, and your family. But wait… think you’ve never used public lands? Have you ever… … Taken a trip with us? Our trips take place primarily on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, in both Wilderness and non-Wilderness Areas. And Zion National Park, of course, is publicly owned. …Gone skiing at a … Continue reading

Posted in In the News, Reflections | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Travel Journal: My New Year’s Resolution

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! As one year ends and a new one begins, I find myself reflecting on my habits and reevaluating how I spend my time. The religious and cultural symbols of the new year, the changing seasons, and all the time spent indoors lately have prompted me to mull over all the possibilities for the coming year. For many, this is a time to distill lessons from the previous twelve months, to devote oneself to new disciplines, and to set new goals. I find myself doing the same. As I take stock of the past year,  I find so many moments committed indelibly to my memory, places and people that have impacted who I am, and my intention is to find even more in 2011. Having just finished touring the East Coast for the first time, I have a special perspective through which I am processing all this. When traveling, I feel a sense of urgency; I do not want to miss an opportunity to experience something, because I may not have the opportunity again. This makes me think of a class I took on improvisation. The rule in improv comedy is, “Say YES”. No matter … Continue reading

Posted in Reflections, Seasonal, Seasons, Winter | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment