Tag Archives: Tom Jones

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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“Zion: Canyoneering” Author Seeks Edits for 2nd Edition

Tom Jones announced earlier this year that he is beginning work on the second edition of Zion: Canyoneering, his guidebook to Zion’s most popular hikes and technical canyons. As winter’s snow comes (like this last weekend) and goes (it is generally disappearing quickly), most canyoneers will be dusting off their operating gear AND their canyoneering guidebooks and getting back into the slots. So I wanted to remind you when you read something in the guidebook that doesn’t seem to match reality, you have a fabulous opportunity to DO something about it. Write the author! Here’s Tom’s invitation: I’m starting work on a second edition of the Zion: Canyoneering book, and would appreciate comments, corrections and suggestions. Please be as specific as possible, when talking about something specific, but comments in general are also appreciated. Expected release is Feb 2013, so there is a bit of time. I will be soliciting photos around Sept 1st, if’n you want to get your best shots lined up for submission. You can email me directly or post here in the comments. Thanks! Tom

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Two Spots Open for Upcoming Three-Day Canyoneering Course

I am teaching a Three-Day Basic Canyoneering course over Labor Day weekend (sort of), Sept 2, 3, and 4. We have two places available for this course. Cost is $550.00 per person. This course is tailored to people who have been down a canyon or two, and wish to jump up their skills and experience considerably. Each course is customized to the participants, however, the two people already signed up for the course have done a canyon or two, and have experience caving. Get more information or sign up here. Tom

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Trip Report: Zion Narrows Top-Down Thru Hike

I ran (ok, trotted) through the Zion Narrows from the top last Sunday (7/13/2011). Here is what I found: 1. I had never done The Narrows from the top in highish water. It was MUCH more difficult than I expected. There are many obstacles in the upper part of the Narrows (above Big Springs) that require quite a bit of hunting around to find a reasonable route. With water high, plunging into the river was not always an option. 2. There were maybe five required stream crossings that were thigh-waist high with strong current (i.e. where being swept away was a real possibility). 3. I ended up taking about five swims. I would say two were mandatory. The water was nice and warm-ish, so shorts and (Sport Science) tee shirt was fine, and the air temps were high enough to not require stopping and warming up. 4. I was somewhat concerned about the other 11 hikers on the 6:30 am Chamberlain shuttle. But, I guess they did OK. It is a BIG DAY, I hope they all realize it. I was hoping to match my time of 15 years ago, six hours. No way! About 15 minutes of breaks, moving reasonably well, … 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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Trip Report: Mystery Canyon

After our recent Wilderness First Responder course, Tom and Hank led Cabot, a great instructor from Wilderness Medical Associates, and a few of their fellow students through Mystery Canyon. I’ve posted a few photos here; find the rest on Tom’s Latest Rave.

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Imlay Canyon Gear Offers Canyoneering Calendar for 2011

Tom Jones, ZAC canyoneering guide and head of Imlay Canyon Gear and Canyoneering USA, recently decided to “throw together” a canyoneering calendar for 2011. In Tom’s quintessential collaborative style, he put together a first draft, using whatever photos he had tucked away from his own expansive trip experience, as well as images from friends in the canyoneering community. Then he posted the draft on his website, The Latest Rave, and asked 20 people or so to vote, comment, and/or submit their own work for the calendar. After a few rounds of feedback over a few days’ time, Tom had a final draft of the calendar, which I think turned out pretty well for a spur-of-the-moment production. I love the way Tom works, crowd-sourcing his way to bigger and better. He excels at drawing people in and getting them involved, yet comfortably making the ultimate decisions about the direction of his projects himself. Another part of Tom’s style is to offer insight into his process, which he does in classic form with this project, as he takes us through 1st draft, feedback processing, and final results with image-by-image commentary. Stop in to Tom’s site to check out the canyoneering calendar and … Continue reading

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Gear Review: Ram Opines on Imlay Canyon Gear “Spry” Pack

Steve Ramras, known as “Ram” in the canyon world, does more canyoneering than anybody I’ve ever met. This guy regularly puts together 14 – 21 day canyon trips, pieced together with partners from his incredible multi-state social network and canyon routes from his vast prior experience and his highly topographic imagination. First descents, 20th descents, returning-after-15-years-away descents… Ram regularly combines them all in one trip. With that kind of mileage under his belt, it’s easy to imagine he has learned a thing or two over the years. So when Ram offers thoughts or advice on gear choice, I’m always interested to hear what he has to say. Ram is a guy with ample access to gear. Each morning, he has the freedom to pour over a full quiver of packs, bags, ropes, carabiners, etc. and choose his plan of attack, a la carte, for the day. (Well, at least at the BEGINNING of his 3-week trips, he does…) Which pack is big enough, but not too big? What combination of ropes will be both high functional, but reasonable in terms of weight and volume. Etc, etc… So when Ram says he finds himself using the same item over and over … Continue reading

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Trip Report: Spearhead Canyon, Zion National Park

Spearhead Canyon, Zion National Park, Oct 14 and 15, 2010 Second descent (probable) by Steve Ramras, Jenny West, Pascal van Duin and Tom Jones Prior History Brian Cabe and I ascended Hook Canyon to the Majestic/Cathedral pass and summit plateau in October 2000, and descended the canyon the next day. We found no evidence of descents in the upper canyon, but the final chimney section (below The Spearhead) was bolted for descent. Steve Ramras and Steve Brezovec made an attempt a few years prior, but were defeated by the incredibly thick Manzanita thrash-fest on the summit plateau, and descended via Hook Canyon. In July 2009, after extensive fires burned off the Manzanita, Luke (Bluugnome) from Las Vegas and companion climbed the Behunin Ridge for an attempt on the canyon, but did not proceed past the summit plateau, exiting via Hook Canyon. Spearhead has substantial logistical difficulties. How do you get to the head? How much rope to carry? Where is there water? Because it is about a day and a half long, perhaps one should do it in high summer with the long days… then again, since it lacks significant water, maybe that is not such a good idea. We … Continue reading

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Boulders and Gravity Team Up to Attack Innocent Canyoneers

As I was hiking down Orderville Canyon solo one summer, I watched as a helicopter buzzed back and forth across the canyon at very low elevation. A little while later, I ran into a couple guys hiking up-canyon, and they told me about their group’s mishap in neighboring Englestead Canyon. Evidently, a boulder had rolled and landed on their buddy’s foot, leaving his big toe literally hanging by only a few ligaments. Just the thought of this made my whole body cringe… it still does, in fact. Aron Ralston’s arm entrapment and subsequent amputation may be the most famous example of rolling boulder carnage, but it’s certainly far from the only one. From personal anecdotes, to the pages of Accidents in North American Mountaineering, to the daily NPS Morning Report, big rocks have left a have a solid record of wreaking havoc on climbers, hikers, and canyoneerings alike. Here is the latest news of geologic assualt, this one from adventurer Rick Kent while descending Gunsight Canyon, here in Zion, on October 16th: Had a great time in Englestead Canyon on Friday. Saturday not so good. At the 1st rap into Gunsight Canyon a huge boulder next to the rappel station … Continue reading

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