Tag Archives: zion subway

Trip Report: Russell Gulch and Subway, 9/9/2011

With beautiful weather and the upcoming ACA Rendezvous, many people may be planning a visit the Subway soon. The following trip report details the conditions I found on last Friday, September 9th. Springdale Forecast: Partly Cloudy, High of 90, 30% chance of Scattered afternoon thunderstorms. Group Size: Two 10:30: Started hiking at Wildcat (would have liked to start earlier to avoid afternoon rain) 1:30 Arrived top of Subway Slot (where Russell Gulch meets Left Fork) 2:30 Arrived Red Cascades at the end of the “technical section” 5:05 Finished Hiking at Left Fork We started with the Russell Gulch Variation at the beginning. There were 5-10 wades and one short swim in that section, before the “Subway Proper.” In the Subway itself, we encountered 5-6 swims. The swims were not that long (some as short as 3-5 feet long). We waded up to the waist at least 8 more times. The water was significantly colder for the first half of the hike, up until near Rappel 2 where the black bowling ball chockstone is. This is also where the water begins flowing in the canyon (no flowing water, only still pools up to that point). The water was a bit warmer after that … Continue reading

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ZAC Canyon Courses: Becoming a Critical Adventurer

When people register for a canyoneering course they expect to learn how to become proficient canyoneers. In their minds, they may imagine a list of knots, equipment, and technical skills. As an instructor, my motives are slightly different… My last Three-Day Basic canyon course was a great success, but not because everyone learned how to tie knots, set up anchors, and rig a variety of rappels. While technical skills are important, they are only a small part of my course goals. We attacked the prescribed technical curriculum early on, and it served as a foundation for the true art of canyoneering. By the second day of our course last week, people had reached at important threshold. There is a point where learning new material complicates the decision making process. It is also challenging to help people feel confident in what they know and to continue introducing rope skills. To simply move through a canyon, doing the same thing at each rappel, seems practical and safe, and can build great confidence, but it is also a pitfall. The breakthrough moment is when people recognize each decision is complicated, but they have many tools they can apply to myriad situations. Canyoneering is … Continue reading

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A Portrait of Zion’s Dramatic “Subway”

ZAC client, Felicia Bicknell, was kind enough to send a few photographs along after her Subway descent last weekend, and I thought this image was exceptional. Her well-placed panorama captures both the micro and macro beauty of The Subway; from the marvelous “subway” tunnel to the clear, green pools and subtle cascading ripples, this canyon holds true magic. Felicia notes the spring floods have washed an enormous degree of sand from North Creek, making for much deeper and dramatic pools than has been typical in recent years. If you are planning to make photography a priority on your Subway descent, it’s a great idea to leave the trailhead early (5 – 7 a.m.) to get your best shot at having the canyon to yourself. Light conditions vary greatly during the day and with the seasons, however, so anyone serious about nailing the right conditions in The Subway might have to visit a number of times to get things just so.

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“The Subway” Is Open For The 2011 Season

As of noon yesterday, The Subway is open to both Top-Down and Bottom-Up hikers. Remember, whether you do the technical descent (from the top) or the scenic hike (from bottom), you’ll need a permit from the Backcountry Desk. If you’re interested in the Top-Down route, make sure you have the skills and equipment for a safe descent. Don’t know what skills or equipment I’m referring to? No problem… you can learn everything you need to know with our Half-Day or One-Day Basic Canyoneering courses.

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Video: Subway Hikers Rescue Three Overdue Hikers

In a collection of close events, adverse high-water conditions in The Subway caused three separate canyoneering parties to spend unplanned evenings in the canyon two weeks ago. Two of these parties, a couple who had spent 3 nights out and a single man who spent one night, were helped out of the canyon by a party hikers who have been generous in sharing their experience with the larger community. Below is a video account, in two parts, of the group’s experience in Subway on April 19th. Thanks to Anthony Dunster for recording and editing the team’s adventure.

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Recent Subway Trouble Highlights Dangerous Spring Conditions

While there are LOTS of fantastic ways to enjoy Zion right now, hiking The Subway is not one of them. Due to dangerous high water conditions and a flurry of “lost hiker” reports in the last two weeks, the Park Service has closed The Subway until further notice. While nobody has been seriously injured or harmed, this story from KSL Salt Lake City features video from the crew that helped out hikers who spent four days stranded in the Subway last week. While The Subway has a reputation as a moderate, beautiful hike which is appropriate for families and kids, risks involved in The Subway are VERY contextual. In mid-June, when rain is rare, temperatures high, and days long, The Subway can be exceptionally hospitable. Even then, however, you still need to have proper equipment and knowledge to manage short rappels, downclimbs, and cold water. During periods of heavy rain or snow melt, however, The Subway quickly becomes an intimidating and life-threatening place. Though some canyoneers do have proper equipment, experience, and training to descend The Subway in high-water conditions, most use good judgment by going elsewhere to better conditions, and returning on a better day or season.

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Trip Report: Winter Conditions in The Subway

For all those hardy folk interested in the Bottom-Up Subway hike in January, we had two customers try it yesterday. They mentioned a LOT of rockfall out there and they had to climb over boulders to get down to the river. They reported about 10″ of snow along the river banks, as well as ice, some of which is “black ice”. They also mentioned plentiful pine trees in the drainage, which looked like they had come down recently. It is slow-going out there; they said in order to have any time at the pools, they suggest an 8 am start time. Jesse

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