Category Archives: Safety

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

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

Posted in Accidents, Canyoneering, In the News, Outdoor Leadership, Safety | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

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

Posted in Accidents, In the News, Outdoor Leadership, Safety | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

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

Posted in Canyoneering, Gear, Safety, Seasonal, Summer, Zion, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Just Another Thousand-Ton Rockfall in Zion

The Park Service posted this image Saturday of the ZNP road crew cleaning up a giant rockfall just east of Canyon Junction. Thankfully, this kind of stuff typically occurs overnight, when the roads are empty. Nightly rockfall is typically small – watermelon and wheelbarrow-sized boulders – but sometimes, as above, a significant piece of sandstone crashes down, smashing to thousands of bits and blocking the road for quite a while. When you realize just how much rock and rubble falls onto Zion’s roads, it’s sort of amazing to realize there has never been a catastrophic, car-crushing accident via rockfall (at least to my knowledge). Still, I have heard plenty of stories of rocks hurting people. Rockfall has injured and killed climbers in the Park (though that’s a little different, as climbing itself often causes the rockfall). I recall a story from a hiker returning from The Narrows, who had a cantaloupe-sized rock fall from high above and barely graze his shoulder before hitting the river. He was okay, but clearly shaken to consider how close he came to death. Not that I want to scare anybody. But truly, rockfall IS scary, and given that it happens all the time here in Zion, … Continue reading

Posted in Natural History, Road Conditions, Safety, Zion National Park | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Petzl Recalls GriGri 2 for Release Lever Problem

In February, Calvin reviewed the GriGri 2, awarding flying colors to the new-and-improved belay standard. Now, Petzl has issued a recall on GriGri 2 belay devices with serial numbers between 10326 and 11136. Here is the recall information: Petzl has discovered that exerting excessive force on the fully extended handle of the GRIGRI 2 can cause internal damage, such that the GRIGRI 2 handle may become stuck in the open position. When the handle is stuck in this position the assisted braking function is disabled. A damaged GRIGRI 2 in this configuration will function similarly to a manual belay device (e.g. tube style device). When using a damaged GRIGRI 2 with the handle stuck in the position as shown in Figure 1, failure to control the braking side of the rope will increase the risk of an uncontrolled descent. A GRIGRI 2 with a damaged handle must be immediately retired from service. Read the complete recall details on Petzl’s website. Sounds like even though the problem is serious, it should not directly cause problems for anyone belaying correctly, holding onto the brake line in addition to using the release lever. Still, a jammed lever could surprise you and cause something unexpected to happen with your … Continue reading

Posted in Climbing Equipment, Gear Reviews, Safety | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

New Website Reports Canyon Conditions Via Crowdsourcing

Wondering if the snow has melted out of Echo Canyon yet? Or maybe you want to know if conditions in Pine Creek still warrant a wetsuit? While you can always query canyon forums like the Yahoo Group or Bogley, it still may take 24 hours or so to get an answer… and the answer may not be too fresh. To remedy this glaring hole in the world of canyon adventures, the new site, Candition, aims to serve the sole purpose of collecting and reporting canyon conditions so you can know what’s happening in your descent of choice. Though I can’t say I understand the system completely, the concept is pretty simple. Canyoneers set up an account, then create a trip report, including notes on the descent and a rating of 1 -5, indicating whether conditions are prime (5) or blah (1). Candition averages the last five ratings, then shows the score with the canyon name as you browse. Scores are color coded, making it easy to sort the “perfect” conditions (purple) from the “terrible” (red). When a rating becomes more than 2 weeks old, it “expires” and doesn’t count any more. So I’m wondering: How useful is the rating? While … Continue reading

Posted in Canyoneering, Safety, Trip Reports | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Hiker Rescued from Hidden Canyon

Zion National Park (UT) Hiker Rescued From Hidden Canyon On June 8th, a 30-year-old visitor from the Netherlands fell approximately 10 feet onto his head while down-climbing a slick rock section along the Hidden Canyon route. A visitor who was in the vicinity of the fall ran out to the entrance of the canyon and located another visitor at with cell service to report the incident. A technical rescue operation began that involved 27 park staff. Responders carried the man over difficult terrain out to the mouth of the canyon in a litter. Once carried out of the steep-walled, narrow section of the route, Grand Canyon’s helicopter and flight crew were able to short-haul him from a high ridge to a waiting NPS ambulance. [Submitted by Brandon Torres, Canyon District Ranger]  

Posted in Accidents, Canyoneering, Hiking, In the News, Safety, Zion, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Assorted Zion Notes and Updates

Some informational tidbits for first-time and long-time visitors alike: • Middle Emerald Pools trail will be closed all summer. This information is clearly included on the park map in the *new* ZNP summer guide just printed this week and available from the Park. Evidently, the hillside next to the trail is still moving and unsafe. Hikers can still access the trail to the Upper Pool by connecting via the Lower Pool and the Kayenta Trail… you don’t really miss too much. • Menu Falls is currently closed. Menu Falls is a special little spot, unmarked by any sign, but often discovered by bikers on their way up to the Temple of Sinewava. Anyhow, there was a rock slide Monday night (big rocks that blocked the road, moved now but stopped shuttle traffic for a bit) that damaged part of the upper platform, so the Falls are closed until proper repairs can be made. • The Canyon Overlook parking lot will only be open to traffic coming through the tunnel and closed to traffic coming from the East side. East side traffic will have to park in the pullout on the right before the tunnel as they will not be allowed to … Continue reading

Posted in Hiking, In the News, Safety, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off