Cold Conditions Persist in Keyhole and Pine Creek Canyons

Ben deep in The Keyhole, sporting a Farmer John suit. 2004

With high temperatures in the 90s to 100s, Zion canyoneers often expect to roast in the toasty sun. Depending on canyon conditions, however, unprepared canyoneers can be in for a rude and shivering awakening while descending particular canyons.

Zion saw a long, cold, and wet spring this year, and as a result, Keyhole and Pine Creek canyons are currently very cold, full, and wet. If you’ve been to Pine Creek before and found the pools shallow and reasonable, odds are it was a “shallow” year, when the pools were filled with sand, and thus fewer and shallower. This year is definitely a “deep” year, with long, cold, deep swims that makes things pretty exciting. It can be difficult to understand the hypothermic risk in there when you’re sweating in the sun at the trailhead, but a few long, cold swims in 60-degree water, combined with a lack of sunny spots and a chilling canyon wind, you can easily find yourself chattering uncontrollably.

The past two weekends, all our clients who rented wetsuits for Keyhole and Pine Creek reported were quite glad to have had them. Here were some of their comments:

“The water is cold, and there is a lot of it”
“We got behind a slow moving group of 12, and would have frozen without wetsuits
“Well, if you are really fast and hardcore, you could probably do it without a wetsuit. If you got stuck behind a slow moving group, it could be really cold.”

One-piece surfer-style 4/3mm wetsuits, with long arms and long legs, rent for only $15 at Zion Adventure Company. Rent for more than one day, and you get 1/2 off for the following days. Do you REALLY need a wetsuit? Maybe not… but you’ll probably have a lot more fun if you do.

Dave

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About Dave

Dave Buckingham guides, outfits, and waxes poetic on all things canyoneering at Zion Adventure Company. When Dave isn’t exploring desert canyons or waterskiing on Lake Powell, you might find him fixing his boat, walking his dog, or tooting his own horn (it’s a trumpet) here in Springdale.
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