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Best winter canyons

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Craigcrow, Oct 24, 2019.

  1. Craigcrow

    Craigcrow

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    Location:
    Salt lake city
    Hey peeps,
    I was curious about recommendations for the best dry/mostly dry canyons for winter. I have a knee injury that will probably keep me out of the canyons until December/January and would appreciate any recommendations!
    Thank you


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  2. Austin Farnworth

    Austin Farnworth

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    Location:
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    The North Wash is ideal for dry winter canyoneering (obviously depending on weather). Canyons that I've done in winter that are either totally dry or include avoidable water include: Shillelagh, Blarney, Middle Leprechaun (east fork water can be avoided by the tall), Hogwarts, Boss Hog, Upper Trail, constrychnine and others. For the St. George/ Zion area, Cherry and portal canyon in the virgin river gorge, Dothraki, and Rock Canyon are generally dry.
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  3. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    In North Wash, Leprechauns, Blarney, Shillelagh, and the Hogs tend to be dry.

    The Roost and Swell can have dry canyons as well, for example the West and Main Forks of Bluejohn.

    Moonshine tends to be dry.

    In Arches, MMI, Undercover, Winter Camp, Repeat Jr, U Turn, Tierdrop, Not Tierdrop, and Bighorn are almost always dry.

    In Marble Canyon, Badger is usually dry.

    Most of the stuff in the Virgin River tends to be dry, but you have to cross the river.

    Around Las Vegas, many slots are dry, but not around the Redrocks. Canyons like Keyhole or Motorcycle are usually bone dry.
    Edit
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  4. Craigcrow

    Craigcrow

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    Thanks guys


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  5. Ram

    Ram

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    Be advised that many exits, to canyons, can be treacherous or impossible in the winter. Northern exposed exits and everywhere, after storms are particularly vulnerable to trouble. The Lost Springs canyons, listed above, in the Arches suggestions, has been the site of a serious winter exit injury. There is a thread on the subject, in our archives and it gets re-posted every winter. Might be time for that again.
    R
  6. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Mount Carmel, Utah
  7. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Which starts with this post from Ramoo (and myself):

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "TomJones" <ratagonia@...> wrote:
    Ram and I have had many conversations about the new popularity of canyoneering in winter by people who don't seem to understand the consequences.

    I would like to place myself in that category too. While the winter experience is sublime, it remains for me, full of mystery...thus danger. I have done a fair share, but nearly enough to really understand it, in all of its forms. The snow conditions the last two years were different and offered views into different "land mines." This year's FF storm had winds and maybe 3 inches of snow and yet it blew snow into the canyon 5 feet deep in places. Last year, there were several bigger storms, over a few weeks, without wind that created layered snow in the canyon, with gaps between the bottom of the snow and the floor of the canyon. False bottoms, if you will. You could trudge thru snow right off a rappel and not even know it. This year? Finding anchors was quite a challenge. Dig dig, dig and we KNEW about where they were! Building new ones? Brfrrrr. Last year there were drifts 15 feet high in Trail, acting just like a keeper pothole. Much more on this type of thing to share

    > My main concern is in relation to people doing in winter canyons they have not done before. A good understanding of what is in the canyons is vital in winter, as the recent accident in MMI demonstrates. We have seen many rescues in winter in the last couple of years, most easily avoidable - people making (what appear to me to be) obvious mistakes.

    The mistakes seem obvious to me in retrospect, not always at first glance, while in the canyon. What I know of winter canyons comes only from direct observation and my range of experience, that is still limited. Moving cautiously, expecting surprises, some hidden, is something I have picked up on....but all it takes is one wrong judgment within the canyon....or picking the wrong canyon.......or encountering the extraordinary and unexpected, which is another way of saying what I haven't experienced or thought of yet. Those of us who post pictures of these admittedly wondrous descents, perhaps have a larger responsibility to share what they have learned....as well as admitting there is a lot more that we have to learn.

    > One of those mistakes is to go in small groups. Two people in winter - very dicey. A broken leg in winter can equal death, if insufficient resources are on hand to go get help AND stay with the victim or move the victim to a rescueable/bivyable place.

    Above I share how snow layering can vary, have dangerous holes and traps, can accumulate huge amounts of snow from small storms. We also had to take turns out front, in benign old East Lep for the trail breaking was exhausting. Also learned is that more open canyons can be more dangerous than tighter canyons.

    But what Tom mentions right above is critical info. While plowing through snow or swimming, one can stay remarkably warm. But stop for 5 minutes? WOW!! The cold seeps right in. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that survival in some of these places would be measured in hours. Hours one can count on one hand. Throw in injury, add a pinch of shock and Tom's comment on a broken leg being potentially fatal is not only valid, but in some cases likely. The MMI injury occurred in a pretty friendly spot, as far as care, room for a copter, access to sun etc. Going in fully understanding this risk is a MUST. Arguing that it is never an acceptable risk, is a case that could be made, in any debate on the topic.

    Those that entered the Black Hole this January 1, were again treated once again to this warning. It was also mentioned that it was an obligation to the group and yourself to make conservative choices with EACH step during the day, for it only takes on bad step.

    So preparations that Tom mentions...Check. Recognition of scope of risk...check. Group size of at LEAST 4....check.....tough that. More people, more steps, more risk of misstep, but I will go with numbers.

    There have been a lot of people on this board who have been doing this FreezeFest thing and the adjacent months and thus are gaining experience. What other dangers figured out and think worth sharing? Both in the camping and in the canyons?

    The rewards of this winter canyoneering are great......so are the risks too. Ram
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  8. Ram

    Ram

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  9. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    Good point. While it has been dry when I have done it, I can see how the exit near MMI could be very dangerous with snow or ice.
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