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UT: San Rafael Swell Baptist Draw / Upper Chute Canyon - 20 April 2013

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Blake Merrell, Apr 22, 2013.

  1. Blake Merrell

    Blake Merrell Lovin' Utah's Backcountry

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    Baptist Draw is always a pleasure for me to hike. I have done it 4 times now and every time I do it I love it! This time it was my pleasure to guide my Scouts through the canyon. Needless to say we all had a BLAST.



    We arrived at camp at dusk Friday evening. We were on edge of a storm, but fortune smiled upon us. The wind was negligible, and we only heard a few drops of rain fall early (like 3AM early) Saturday morning. Come morning, we all woke up to beautiful blue sky with puffy clouds scattered all over. PERFECT canyoneering weather!

    Before we knew it, breakfast was cooked and cleaned up and we were all heading toward the canyon. It didn't take long for us to get there and to start having fun! The scouts were LOVING the canyon. They were climbing, and stemming, and jumping all over the place. It truly was a blast to be in a canyon that was so pretty with such a good group of guys!

    The technical part of the canyon was managed perfectly. My biggest concern is getting all these scouts safely through the technical stuff, and we managed to get through all that stuff flawlessly. It was perfect.

    Baptist draw is a very beautiful canyon. It is narrow and dark and relatively easy :) The drop into Upper Chute canyon requires a 70' "ish?" rappel and is one of the highlights of the trip! It is a very beautiful rappel. As you are descending, you realize that you are rapping right next to this beautiful alcove!

    Before you even get to that big rappel, a few hundred feet earlier you run into a 20' drop. most people rapple this section, (it is a really beautiful section with a narrow drop) but it is narrow enough to downclimb. On this trip one of the leaders actually did it. with little coaxing, he actually down climbed what we all had to rappel. He made it look really easy too! It was very cool!

    Before we knew it, we were in Upper Chute canyon and hiking up the canyon. There are a few boulder problems that ya have to climb up and over. It was great to see how the scouts conquered these obstacles. It is things like this that make a simple canyon more fun!

    The narrows in the Upper Section of Baptist Draw are some of the very best to be found in the San Rafael Swell. They are so pretty. The whole group seemed to just LOVE the canyon. The particularly "dark" and more narrow sections of the slot canyon are the ones that were talked about the most. The kids just seemed to be having a lot of fun. It made me happy to see everyone else being happy.

    Before we knew it we were through all the narrows. It was now time to exit the canyon and head back to our car. The exit requires ya to hike up and out a sandy wash. It isn't to difficult, but it is never super fun to hike in soft dirt and sand. The exit for this sections meant that we had to hike back to the place where we started the descent into Baptist Draw. We had to descend back down into that canyon (just after we had gotten up and out of the narrows of the Upper Chute canyon) and then hike straight back UP and out of that again. It was a good challenge for all the boys.

    All in all, it only took our group of 12 about 4.5 hours to do this canyoneering route. I had planned on 5-6 hours, so I was very pleasantly surprised to see us done in almost 4!
  2. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    You are a pro Blake. Great job in safely doing the canyon with a group, and providing a wonderful experience for the scouts! Fantastic job! For many it is a once in a lifetime type event. Something they will never forget.

    I'll check with you later if I can beg you with brownies to help me take our scouts through sometime. ;)
    Blake Merrell likes this.
  3. Blake Merrell

    Blake Merrell Lovin' Utah's Backcountry

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    Thank you Mark! You are kind but I will be the first to tell you that I am no Pro! :eek:, it is just that this group of scout leaders are way to wary of being the next BSA troop to be on the news! Like you, we want to do things right. Trips like these we usually have 3 to 4 leaders who are at least BSA climbing certified. (it is all the UNPC offers right now) We also try and have two people who are Wilderness First Aid certified. All in all, we are doing all we can to make sure that we can offer a good and very safe trip for these young men.

    As you have mentioned in another thread, we are finding a few things to be very important as we manage our BSA outdoor program.

    1. Have a love and respect for the outdoors
    2. Complete all the BSA online training (Hazardous Weather, Climb on Safely, Safe Swim Defence, etc)
    3. Get most if not all leaders certified in Basic and Wilderness First Aid
    4. Get as much experience canyoneering as possible before you try and take other peoples kids out with you.
    5. For Canyoneering trips, make sure you get the proper canyoneering and climbing training!(this unfortunately varies by BSA Council.)
    6. For canyoneering make sure at least one leader has PERSONALLY done the canyon recently
    7. Know the capabilities of the boys. (Have they rappelled before, can they hike for 5-10 hours up and down hills, etc)
    8. Have a couple back up plans just incase the weather goes bad.

    those are just a few things that I can think about pertaining to managing a canyoneering experience for the boys. We could probably talk all day about what kind of skills the canyon leader needs to know in order to actually lead a BSA canyoneering event.


    BTW, brownies are more than enough payment for me to help plan/lead a canyon. Let me know how I can help you and your troops out and I will do whatever I can! :)
  4. Blake Merrell

    Blake Merrell Lovin' Utah's Backcountry

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    The feature film. I finally finished editing the video. This was such a fun canyon. I can't wait to do more with my scouts! :)
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