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Beginner Canyoneer

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by MassanoL, May 12, 2019.

  1. MassanoL

    MassanoL

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    Hello everyone!

    My partner and I made to the US for the first time back in 2017 for three months. Best roadtrip of my life. Half of it spent in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona only. Why? BEAUTIFUL. Heaven on Earth. The most gorgeous cracks and I've not even seen 1% of it. It depresses me I live so far away and don't have the financial means to go back whenever I would like to. We have nothing like the Southwest over here. Who cares about bloody history, right? You guys are seriously incredibly lucky.

    We are hoping to return in 2020 if all goes well, with some climbing and rappelling experience before actually landing on American soil and some actual learning experiences through canyoneering courses and field experience once we're back in heaven (read: southern Utah. Northern Arizona could also fit in there ;)).

    When we did go in 2017, we spent the majority of our time in the Southwest all of August and some September - I know that was monsoon season. I am well aware of the dangers. (I may not have the field experience and I do know that nothing can beat that but I've spent hours, days and weeks researching so many canyons and canyoneering and dangers (and forums!) around it so I'm at least probably more aware of it than your average Joe that just decides to go into a little crack that looks completely non-harmful...). I hope however I didn't sound like a smartass. I really really really am aware of how dangerous it can be when you have no idea of what the hell you're doing.

    Basically, when do you most prefer to do your canyoneering? The heat doesn't bother. I've grown up in it so I understand the dangers and am comfortable with it. I would just like to know do you guys just mostly avoid monsoon season or do you still have fun but just avoid areas/days with bad weather? (I also know it doesn't need to rain right over that same canyon for a flashflood to clean us off.)

    Also, I've never been anywhere with keepers. I've grown up spending six months of the year by the coast, but I have a fear of being/going underwater and not seeing the bottom/where my fear are going to land. How do you guys get over that kind of fear? And I'm not even talking about pothole escapes (yet). That's the only thing I'm seriously afraid of. I was very good at swimming away from shore before realising I was too far and couldn't see the bottom so I just relaxed and swim back to the beach. I like swimming way too much to let that fear stop me. I suspect it'll be similar with potholes, but it's just that... you know, dirty water and all of that, and you can't. see. shit.

    FYI, I've only ever done 2As (or what I *think* would fit that) such as your Spooky and Peek-a-Boo (Escalante is beautiful and how can it be taken away from the people?????) and a couple around Page that I have unfortunately no idea what they're called. All required a bit of scrambling but pretty easy.

    Apologies if I sound like a completely beginner. We all start somewhere. I'm happy to take advice from people who have done for a lot longer than I have!!! :)

    And once again... I really wish I could spend my time in Southern Utah. The most beautiful place on Earth.
    darhawk, hank moon and wsbpress like this.
  2. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Greetings Lara and welcome to the Canyon Collective.

    I thank you in the name of our landscape for your kind words.

    I am curious - where are you from?

    During the hot summer months, there are some canyons that work out okay, as long as the weather cooperates. Living here it is much easier - I have plenty of things to do when the weather is not cooperating, but when we get a dry spell, we can do canyons.

    September and October tend to be the best times to do canyons in the desert.

    Keepers do not tend to be a big problem: A. you will likely be doing canyons that have information published on them, and you can avoid the few canyons that have nasty keepers; and B. you can do a couple keeper type canyons (with other people) and learn how to escape them.

    Rick Green in Escalante also teaches a very good pothole escape course.

    Canyoneers tend to be friendly, and you might want to do canyons with some of us locals. A few months out, you might want to ask to get on some trips, and we can plan something.

    Tom
    Last edited: May 30, 2019
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  3. MassanoL

    MassanoL

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    Hi there! I'm so happy someone replied!

    I'm from Portugal (in case any of my English was a giveaway :D), my partner is from England but we live in Austria (surrounded by mountains which are nearly not as fun as canyons but it'll do for skiing in the winter and gorgeous hiking in the summer, hehe.)

    I was unsure whether to go May-June or September-October, but I *really* like the hot weather too (I'm a bit crazy I know but I am Portuguese after all! Currently 35C back home!). We were hiking in 40-something C degrees last time we were there and there wasn't much of a struggle. Although the longest hike we did was 8 miles in Moab in August (so much fun in Arches!) and that was pretty doable. (We do hike up mountains over here and it does get warm as well so maybe we were more well-conditioned than most people). Once we left the main trail, we only saw one person for the rest of the hike! Amazing!

    My uncertainty is basically the weather in the evenings during the times you mentioned. As per last time, we will want to be camping and I've been wondering how cold it'll be. In preparation for this (honestly, I am obsessed with getting back and into these canyons), I've put Moab and Escalante on my phone to check what the averages are. I know, of course, this can change every year.

    Thank you for the course mention! That is something I will DEFINITELY check out. I've seen a couple of the most scary ones on the forum here and it scares the hell out of me.

    I didn't think canyoneers would be anything less than friendly! I am a long time lurker over here and you guys seem to be pretty nice, eheh. I'd love to have a chance to do some routes with anyone who is up to take us along for a ride if they don't mind a couple of beginners!! Would love to learn how to solve some problems with some experienced and friendly people! Height of excitement would be to make even more friends while having the time of my life in the desert once again!

    I may go cry in a corner now because I really really really want to be in the desert so bad. I can't say it enough... you guys have the best piece of land in the world!!!!! Long live the Colorado Plateau!!!
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  4. MassanoL

    MassanoL

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    PS. Thank you for the reply! And my name is Lara. :) My partner's name is also Tom, eheheh.
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  5. Nordschleife

    Nordschleife

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    If you live in austria you live near enough canyons to have a lot of fun. Not the same kind as in Utah but enough awesome stuff to discover.
    Tessin in Switserland is the european mekka of canyoning. Italy & Slovenia also have some beautiful canyons, even in Austria canyoning is getting more popular.

    And in these canyons you can swim, jump and slide.:happy:
    What i'm trying to say is don't dissmiss your own surroundings. I live in Holland, No mountains to be found here.:cry:
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  6. Preston Gable

    Preston Gable

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    x2 Rick Green is an awesome instructor. Probably would point you to some appropriate canyons once you complete a course with him.
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  7. Forc

    Forc

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    "I may go cry in a corner now because I really really really want to be in the desert so bad. I can't say it enough... you guys have the best piece of land in the world!!!!! Long live the Colorado Plateau!!!"

    Love it.

    The canyons on the plateau are different... and amazing. I get it. No place like it on earth.

    I lived several years in Ried im Innkreis, Austria. The Alps are a special place as well.
    darhawk, MassanoL and ratagonia like this.
  8. MassanoL

    MassanoL

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    So sorry everyone for the really late reply, I have been camping in Scotland for the last couple of weeks and internet wasn't as friendly!

    Another mention for Rick Green - awesome! Funnily enough, when we were in Goblin Valley in 2017 on our first big trip, we came across a father and two children in Goblin's Lair who actually recommended Rick Green and Excursions of Escalante! So technically 3 mentions to him. The other option I had in mind was from ClimbingSchool (dot) com simply because they seemed to have more information on their courses and also because they would be teaching close to Hanksville which would be friendlier to our route as we would probably be coming down from Wyoming to begin our Utah adventure. But I'd prefer to learn from the best either way! Even if I have to go down to Escalante and then up again and then down again (oh no :D).

    The alps are beautiful, not doubt about that, it's just... they're not... you know... the Colorado Plateau. Everything seems to now pale in comparison to that beautiful land.
  9. MassanoL

    MassanoL

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    Hi there, Preston! I replied to you on my reply above, and I don't know how to include two mentions in one post... Still trying to get my head around this, sorry!

    Another question I have for the lot of you... how transferable are climbing skills to canyoneering? My partner and I are just getting into it for a number of reasons mostly that it would provide some skills that may be transferable to when we're out there like all the rope stuff for example?

    Thanks!
  10. MassanoL

    MassanoL

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    I may be planning a quick drive through Switzerland this summer (yet TBC) and I may have to include some canyoneering adventure there! The thing is, I have been through some gorges over here in Austria (not canyoneering, just hiking through) and while they are 100% beautiful, it's not the desert, it's not that beautiful, smooth slickrock, it's not Abbey's Country, it's not Utah. I'll certainly try it canyoneering at some stage, but I know it won't fill that void. :cry:

    Great for hiking though and I absolutely love hiking around my backyard (Kitzbuhel, if you know the area)!!!!
  11. hank moon

    hank moon kinetically bulbous

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    The short answer: climbing skills may or may not be helpful. Solid climbing skills can give a false sense of canyon-competence, so can actually be a disadvantage. Tales abound of high-level climbers venturing into canyons and having difficulties, etc. Very subjective. YMMV.


    Not having heard of this one, I checked out their website. The impression is of a longstanding climbing guide/school service which has (recently?) taken up canyoneering instruction as a sideline, perhaps due to its burgeoning popularity. I have not heard of any of the instructors/personnel listed on the site, FWIW. I would go with someone who has more (verified) skin in the game. Rick Green certainly fits that bill for desert canyoneering; not sure about his Canyoning credentials (i.e. whitewater class C stuff).
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  12. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    There have been problems with climbing guides teaching canyoneering; they come up with some pretty whacky things. While it is CRYSTAL clear that climbing is just a sub-sport of canyoneering, ;-) some climbers think canyoneering is a sub-sport of of climbing and thus... well, you get the idea.

    It is helpful to be comfortable on rope, to be competent at rappelling, to understand about forces and vectors, and to be able to tie your basic knots. This you can get from climbing and from a climbing instructor. But there is a lot more to canyoneering than that.

    I began canyoneering after climbing for 20 years, and it gave me context to understand (after a bit) the things I did not know, plus the things I did not know I did not know.

    Tom
    Last edited: May 26, 2019
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  13. gajslk

    gajslk

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    And canyoneering is just a sub-sport of caving. :D
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  14. MassanoL

    MassanoL

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    Thanks, Tom. I had two reasons (no particular order of importance) for wanting to get into climbing: a) I do lots of Hiking, Yoga and Contortion but feel my pulling strength (and strength in general as you can always gain more!) needs to dramatically improve and b) as you put it yourself, you can learn and become comfortable with ropes, rappelling, knots among other things that can be used within climbing and canyoneering. Perhaps a third reason is that c) I'm always up to trying new things anyway! :happy:
  15. MassanoL

    MassanoL

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    I know with canyoneering you're very much descending most of the time rather than going up but as Tom pointed out afterwards I think there are some skills that are very much transferable and that's why I thought it would be useful to incorporate some of that into my training in general and then perhaps be a little better prepared.

    I think if everyone is pointing towards Rick Green that may be possibly who we will end up reaching out when we eventually go back (hopefully next year!). It would be great if we could meet some of you lot and learn and attempt to solve problems together once we do that. Nothing like new friends and problem-solving to make a good day out in a canyon! You guys are so lucky! Hope I don't sound like a creepo too much but I'd love to have some canyoneering friends once I make it over there.

    Another question I have for you guys is how do you go about finding canyons? Most of the time I side with the camp that doesn't geotag and doesn't make things readily available on the internet for anyone to find and attempt (which for people who don't know what they're going into can sometimes not have a happy ending) but then without some of these resources, I wouldn't have been able to find some of the canyons I have already on my list without some internet research. Do you just keep you secrets and share it amongst an intimate group instead?

    I would hate to see crowds and crowds of people in a canyon or in the desert in general... it's just too good to be damaged by people who don't care enough to respect it and learn from it. Or worse, bring money into the region and put infrastructure to make it even easier for people to reach places :grumpy: I remember going to Escalante NM and it being so different in terms of 0 crowds compared to other national parks...

    Another question... what's your favourite place to go hike and and descend into some canyons? You don't have to name specific canyons, just areas. :) Most of my experience was just close to Page/Lake Powell and Hole in the Rock Road. Escalante is quite possibly my favourite anyway because all of it was just gorgeous and I must've seen about 1% of it only... I can't wait for the day I'm back.

    Thanks everyone for the replies!! I love that I've found some people who love the desert as much as I do (even though I've not even seen as much as you guys have...), no one over here gets it. :disagree:
    hank moon likes this.
  16. EvergreenDean

    EvergreenDean OK with what happens

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    Lara I live in Boulder, UT and I get out a lot. Whenever I have partners available. I’ve hosted European guests before and I’ve done my share of canyoning in Europe as well. If you want to see stuff that is not published, hit me up. I’m probably exploring out here as much as anyone and I can teach you our techniques.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  17. MassanoL

    MassanoL

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    Hey there, EvergreenDean!

    Thanks for the invitation, we might definitely take you up on that to go exploring! You guys are so cool. I may just about die if this big trip doesn't happen in 2020.
    EvergreenDean likes this.
  18. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    So you're afraid of keepers but not manky anchors or high stemming or sketchy downclimbs? I'd submit there is more out there you should be afraid of/have a healthy respect for.

    Of those four "big" challenges in canyoneering, I would say keeper potholes are the most easily surmounted. While every pothole is a bit different, most will yield to a few basic techniques.
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  19. MassanoL

    MassanoL

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    I can't say I've tried high stemming or come across sketchy anchors (YET!), but those don't faze me. I am confident I will be observing and learning skills with either (hopefully) Rick Green or even some you (!) next year (fingers crossed this trip happens next year, it's all pointing that way). Besides, I'm always game for trying everything and if I like it I get obsessed with finding the best way of doing things. ;) I'm lucky that my husband is quite the cautious person too so we tend to balance each other out. :D We're both outdoors people and so we understand the dangers, it's just that I always want to push further and he's always the one that wants to think it through to find the best way possible to maximize enjoyment and minimize danger.

    The problem with the potholes... I know it won't be every day I'll come across something like the Wart (is that the correct name for that Keeper? The one that looks like you're staring into a pit of death that just goes into Earth???) BUT, and some backstory, I'm from Portugal so summers were spent at the beach swimming in the ocean. Nothing ever bad happened to me or anyone I know but for some reason I've gained this fear of being in deep water where I can't see what's in it. That's basically it with the potholes. That I can't see how deep it is or if there's some rock in there or some snake or some monster that's going to eat me (joking, of course). I'll still swim away from the shore and really enjoy it until I stop and kind of look down and then realise where I am and what I CAN'T see. Then I just try to keep calm and get back to swimming towards the shore. So I can deal with it, but it's about the fear of not knowing what's in them. Hope that makes sense???? :D

    I've made a pact with my husband for the future when we get over there that I'm fine rappelling down first on anything but he's got to be the one to go into potholes first (if we're ever doing it just the two of us).:cool:

    Aaaaaaand... that's my really long answer to this, haha. Sorry!
    ratagonia likes this.
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