Tag Archives: winter canyoneering

Trip Report: Imlay Canyon on Christmas Day

The question has been asked: Why descend Imlay in the winter? A wonderful canyon maybe, but it’s hard enough during the warmest times of the year. Why build in extra suffering and risk? There are a few reasons really, but paramount is I am competing. Competing with who? For what? Competing for time with my son, Aaron. His options for adventure are great and varied now that he is an adult on his own, with great skills and many talented partners. He likes FreezeFest. He has attended six straight years, but North Wash fare doesn’t move him anymore. So Imlay on Christmas sparks the man-child’s desire for challenge and I am rewarded with time. Time with the man. Last year, the idea was Christmas in Choprock/Kaleidoscope… that was something for him sink his teeth into. This year it was Christmas in Imlay, and I upped it with a plan to climb Ancient Art and Castleton Towers on the following days. He owes me more climbs than canyons anyway, and it is a chance for him to show me his fine skill set. He is on board for this. If I don’t come up with the goods, he will go elsewhere. … Continue reading

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Trip Report: Prime Winter Conditions in Pine Creek

We went through Pine Creek last week on 1/9 with four people. We were thinking of doing the Subway, but heard that two people doing it the weekend before had lots of trouble and it was an ice rink. So, on to Pine Creek! I am not a fan of cold + water + winter + neoprene, so when I say it was really nice, it probably means it might have been the BEST winter conditions ever! The first downclimb is all dry, a 10 foot drop, then just some ankle deep water to get to the first anchor station. The first rappel lands you in water about chest deep. Then, dry, dry, dry… The Cathedral room has a dry landing, but a crux-like way out with a little swimming and muscling out of the lip. Then, dry dry dry… Then… a huge, fresh, dead bighorn sheep! It must have fallen from the top, and it spans the canyon right before a climb down the ledge-y log. Ewww… that thing is going to start smelling soon. I’m used to seeing legs, random rib cages, etc., but this is a full-size, fully bloated bighorn. So, check it out, and have fun. We had drysuits, … Continue reading

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Icy Winter Potholes Lead to Shattered Dreams

You might think winter canyoneering would be a breeze. You might think the water freezes in all the potholes, creating little ice rinks you can slide effortlessly across. You might think the frozen water would leave your ropes dry and supple, and your hands warm and gloved. But you’d be wrong. Even now, after I’ve seen dozens of canyons in the winter, I still feel hopeful when I reach the first frozen pool. “Fantastic,” I think, “Maybe the ice is strong enough that we can just walk across it.” I take the first step tentatively, testing the ice. It shifts slightly, with perhaps a slight groan and a bit of watery pulse somewhere deep underneath. By the second or third step, visions of grandeur start to form, and I think I might actually make it across. And then, on the fourth or fifth step, it all falls apart, the ice breaking in large, clean sheets, all at once, opening up for my plunge, hitting the pothole walls, then sailing back at me with sharp, jagged edges. I sputter, try to use the floating ice for support, but realize the futility as ice shards splash my face and threaten my cozy … Continue reading

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Spring Canyoneering Surprises the Ill-Prepared

Noticed this great trip report from SportsLover, a local St. George-based blogger who ventured out to descend Water Canyon last week. Though these guys fortunately came out of their predicament unscathed, the hypothermic challenge they created for themselves was significant. While two well-trained, large men with a good sense of humor and adventure evidently dealt with the cold challenge well here, the same set of circumstances could lead to an emergency, or even a fatality, for a different team. Not only does cold challenge lead to hypothermia, but also hypothermic symptoms like slower movement, loss of coordination, and, most importantly, impaired cognition. These symptoms easily lead to accidents, compounding the trouble in such situations. As you can see in the pictures, there can be a lot of ice and snow melting out in Zion’s canyons this time of year, which means ice-cold running water, dousing waterfalls, deep pools covered with thin ice, and even hiking in deep snow. When it’s 65 and sunny in town, it doesn’t mean the canyons are hospitable to those in sandals and t-shirts. At Zion Adventure Company, we love spring canyoneering, but we make sure to choose warmer venues OR warmer equipment to make sure … Continue reading

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Trip Report: January Descent of Icy Keyhole Canyon

As a year-round resident of Springdale and Zion, I can say yes, sometimes even WE take our surroundings for granted! Winter often brings mud, rain, and colder temperatures to the Canyon, making canyoneering more challenging to enjoy in frigid water. For me, winter is primarily for down jackets, skiing, and staying DRY. So, in the midst of my winter canyoneering sabbatical, my friends from Cumberland Transit in Nashville called and said they were visiting mid-January, before hitting the Winter Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City. They had all seen the movie, “127 Hours”, and wanted to have a similarly epic experience. Hmmm, I thought, this might be tough. So, we thought about the North Wash area, thought about Blue John Canyon, but snowy conditions in Southern Utah prevailed, so my friends decided to come to Zion, which would provide great hiking, even if a canyon wasn’t do-able. When they arrived, the weather was nice and warm, but I knew the canyon would be frigid and icy, so we decided on an afternoon descent of Keyhole Canyon, a short-ish 2-3 hour canyon on the Zion’s east side. Another group I knew had descended Keyhole the previous week and said they wish … Continue reading

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‘Tis the Season for Winter Canyoneering Photos

ZAC Guide Scott Williams snapped these pics whilst enjoying an exciting day of white canyoneering with clients over Thanksgiving weekend. As the pictures show, we had a healthy helping of fluffy flakes last weekend, which made for some incredible canyon experiences. Guide Sarah Stratton reported 18″ of snow in Cave Valley on 11/24, with icy rappels and refrigerator temperatures in the canyons. To prepare for conditions, Scott and his crews donned drysuits, which kept them super cozy, not to mention easy to spot, in the canyon snow globe. Scott promised to report all the details next week… check in to read about the wintery action.

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