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 the descriptions certain seem useful, I’m having difficulty imagining the ratings will mean much. For example, an experienced canyoneer might rate Pine Creek 5-stars when it is flowing 3 cfs, while another would call those conditions scary and terrible. Recently, ZAC guide Tom Jones scored a Choprock descent perfect, even though he was hounded by flies and gnats on the ingress and egress and warned others of the swarms. Huh?
Whether the numerical rating are useful or not, if Candition is successful in building a following, the conditions database will surely prove popular and well-used. Check it out when you get a chance, and if you use it to find beta, be sure to give the love back after your own descents. Then again, if you prefer to keep a little more mystery in your canyoneering, you might pass up the opportunity for the “preview.”