Category Archives: Trip Reports

Trip reports from our staff and clients

Oh Henry’s

What I really like about National Parks (and ZAC, the company I work for, for that matter), is that they make the concept of “adventure” very accessible, regardless of what people’s level of adventure is. That to say, what really inspired our staff outing to the Henry Mountains was how very inaccessible those mountains are. Bordered on the West by Capitol Reef’s Waterpocket Fold and on the East by Utah Highway 95, they’re far enough beyond the middle of nowhere that it really is no wonder that they were the last explored and geographically mapped mountain range in the lower 48. In fact, to get there, we first had to drive many hours from anywhere to the middle of nowhere, make a right, and drive far enough that where we had previously thought was nowhere began to really feel like it was… somewhere. And then we kept driving. Mostly up. Hang a right towards that ‘road’ down there, keep driving through the canyons and up and down the mesas until you get to those mountains in the distance. Then keep driving. …But not before a stop at Hell’s Backbone Grill for breakfast and coffee. If we were going to leave … Continue reading

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Robber’s Roost Canyoneering Trip Report

So what does someone who canyoneers for a job day in and day out do when they get time off?  Well, they go canyoneering.  I often get asked that question, and I tell people my days off look a lot like my days on, only I really try to seek out somewhere new so it’s more of an adventure. This last ‘weekend’ Jon (another Zion Adventure Company guide), my girlfriend Julie, and I went on an ‘adventure’ to the “Robber’s Roost” area of Southern Utah.  It can be found roughly here:https://www.google.com/maps/@38.2947151,-110.32026,12z on a map.  Don’t see much?  Exactly.  It’s out there.  In fact, it’s about as ‘out there’ as one can get to in Utah by any sort of somewhat conventional transportation.  By ‘conventional’ transportation, one really needs a reliable high clearance four wheel drive vehicle to navigate the 50 something miles of rocky dirt roads. The nice thing about a Toyota Land Cruiser is that they’re rugged yet reliable The other nice thing about Land Cruisers is that they’re pretty easy to fix when they break down… even with whatever you happen to have in your canyoneering backpack.   The day we arrived, we went into a canyon called … Continue reading

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Kim and Dan Visit The Wave

The Wave is a spectacular and world-renowned site located in the backcountry border of Utah and Arizona. A trip there is a magical experience. Getting everything in order to go there is quite another. Hiking the Wave requires a permit, obtained through the Arizona Strip BLM at the Kanab Office or at the Paria Ranger Station (summer only). Only twenty hikers may access this resource each day. Ten of the permits are assigned four months in advance through an online lottery. The remaining ten permits are issued through a walk-in lottery the day before the hike. Obtaining a permit is competitive. You may compete against as many as a thousand people in the online lottery, and a hundred in the walk-in drawing. As you can imagine, being a lucky winner is quite a thrill. To obtain my permit, I entered the next day lottery. Individuals showing up at 9 am for the next day are considered in the drawing. The intensity in the room while your number is drawn from a bingo ball was penetrating. There were 21 names submitted and only 10 names were permitted to enter the Coyote Butte South area to the Wave. The sixth ball drawn, … Continue reading

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Winter Grand Circle Field Trips

Our 2012 season has been rewarding in many ways. We have had enjoyable experiences with thousands of new visitors. Our staff has been the happiest, healthiest, and most cohesive of my eight seasons at ZAC. We head into December celebrating the largest winter staff in our history, as eleven staff will continue work in some capacity. Winter is a time of reflection, relaxation, rejuvenation, improvement, creativity, and innovation. We look for ways to improve ourselves and the way we do things. One such initiative is the Staff Winter Grand Circle Field Trips. With enthusiasm, we are eagerly visiting places visitors often ask about, or even tell us stories about. Our goal is to broaden our skill level as information givers by becoming familiar with more of the Southwest, its places, and context. We journey to destinations few, sometimes none of us have visited, putting staff in charge of planning the trip who have never been. (We love adventure, too.) In the coming weeks, you will see ZAC blog articles of our exploits and the potentially hilarious hijinks that ensue. We aim to travel to Toroweap, Escalante, Antelope Canyon, and more. Our aim is to use these field trip experiences to … Continue reading

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Zion Narrows Fall Colors Video

Long-time ZAC client Jerry King visits us at least every year, regularly recording his hikes and canyon descents via video and still images. When Jerry gets home, he puts together some nice informational videos about the adventures he goes on. If you are thinking about doing a Zion Narrow Through-Hike, check out Jerry’s movie to learn about the hike and see the Narrows in prime fall color splendor.

Posted in Autumn, Canyoneering, Seasonal, The Narrows, Trip Reports, Videos, Zion | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Imlay Canyon Trip Report, 9.2.2012

Went through Full Imlay Canyon with Steve Brezovec and Kelly Birdwell – to enjoy the canyon, of course, and to work on the anchors. Found some interesting things. We started the canyon from Potato Hollow, from the very tip-top there, a few hundred yards higher than I had before. We used a retrievable anchor off a tree in order to not leave a sling visible to the public. Downcanyon a ways, we found a tied off rock for the third stage of a rappel that can be done as a three-stage rap. This rock as cleverly wedged in a slot, but was tied off with some cord which was quite pretty, but had a core of paper (indicating that this cord was never intended for any purpose requiring strength). Further down, we found an anchor tied with a non-knot (versus a Water Knot)… but I guess it held for whomever tied it. Quite a few anchors in the canyon were tied with the Minnesota-clip style of equalization – especially scary since on a lot of these two-bolt anchors, one bolt is an ancient eroded stud-type bolt (very unreliable). We re-rigged 4 or 5 anchors usually with fresh webbing. The upper … Continue reading

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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

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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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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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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