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Canyoneering with the elderly

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Nordschleife, Mar 7, 2018.

  1. Nordschleife

    Nordschleife

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    Hi guys,

    It's been a couple years ago since we were in the southwest but we are planning another trip in October.
    This time we are bringing my parents to show them your beautiful country.
    I would like to bring my father into a canyon and show him the beauty, the thing is he's pretty old (73).
    Can you guys recommend a canyon technical or not to do with an elderly man.

    Thanks a lot
  2. gajslk

    gajslk

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    Age is a poor measure of fitness or ability. Some 73-year old guys are studly. Many are already dead. Most are in between. So where in between is your father?
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  3. John Styrnol

    John Styrnol

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    Lots of canyons to do from the bottom up. Robbers Roost/North Wash/San Rafael Swell areas.
  4. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    This. My dad is 75 this year and he still goes hiking and canyoneering. He hiked the 160 mile long John Muir Trail last year.

    Anyway, for non-technical canyon, I'd suggest Little Wildhorse. For something easy/technical, you could do the North Fork Robbers Roost and come out the shortcut exit (not the Crack Exit; that one is more difficult). It's an isolated area and requires route finding though.
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  5. Nordschleife

    Nordschleife

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    Well he sure isn't one of the fit ones. :D
    So it shouldn't be to long, rappeling isn't a big deal but a lot of scrambling is.
  6. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    As a person with sore knees and hips (right now), I can empathize.

    I think you would do best in Zion. Keyhole is fabulous with very short approach and a shorter exit. Not too physically demanding, but does require a wetsuit.

    Pine Creek, probably not. The long boulder hop exit can be really hard.

    Lower Fridge is a short hike on a paved trail, a downclimb that can be rappelled, then a couple long rappels. A shortish rugged exit hike.

    Otherwise Zion has fabulous scenery that does not require much in the way of hiking to enjoy.

    Cassidy Arch Canyon in Cap Reef might work for you. Definitely a longer day than above, but it is mostly rappels. Again, the approach hike is on a NPS trail so not too bad (and can just take it slow). A delightful tour.

    North Wash (Leprechauns, Blarney, etc.) canyons almost all involve substantial physical effort on rough terrain. Some squeezing or climbing which is not bad for the young un's, could be very difficult and fits in the category of "scrambling". Robbers Roost is mostly long walks in the sand with a few raps and downclimbs sprinkled in... probably not suitable. San Rafael Swell: perhaps Little Wild Horse, but it is ALL scrambling. Otherwise not suitable.

    Tom
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  7. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Johnson Arch just outside of St George is a nice half-day technical and should be open that month. It has a "big-ish" type rappel at the end with an enjoyable approach hike. Permit required.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
  8. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    Here's a canyoneering trip when my dad was age 72. We were carrying full gear too because the canyon took three days.

    Dad on rappel:

    [​IMG]

    Me on the left; Dad on the right:

    [​IMG]

    Gearing up at the beginning of the technical section:

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
  9. gajslk

    gajslk

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    I remember seeing an obituary in Climbing magazine back when Fritz Wiessner passed away ... at age 89, he was still leading trad 5.9 and soloing 5.7. I suspect that, sixteen years earlier, Fritz probably could have done any canyon on the CP in style.
  10. Nordschleife

    Nordschleife

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    Keyhole and little wild horse were my first thoughts too.
    I'll check out the other recommendations
  11. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Jim Donini is 74. Still leads 5.11 at Indian Creek and the Black. Still doing expedition type trips outside the US. Just got back from Patagonian Chile. Was in Pakistan in the last year or two.

    Definitely outside the bell curve...

    Edit to add: I wouldn't call J Do "elderly" to his face...ha ha...although I might hazard "Donini-asaurus".

    Another climber would be George Lowe...very much gettin' after it. I think he's got a year on Donini.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
  12. Downward Bound

    Downward Bound

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    I second the bottom-up idea. When it gets too hard, just turn around.. Epic avoided.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
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  13. Nordschleife

    Nordschleife

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    Any recommendations?
  14. John Styrnol

    John Styrnol

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    Lep, Ding/Dang, Little Wild Horse/Bells, Chute, Crack, Blue John (Main).
  15. townsend

    townsend

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  16. scottensign

    scottensign

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    I took my very physically active father through Subway in 2014 when he was 82 years old. First time he had ever rappelled. Along the way he commented that it was the best hike he had ever done. And he has done a lot of hiking and backpacking, but never anything technical before. A couple pics (yes, I know we should have had helmets....)


    IMG_2506.
    IMG_7527.
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  17. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    I frequently canyoneer with people in their 60s, including X. No big deal. I think you have to use a little better judgement in your 70s. Not just out of concern for what they can and can't do, but because the consequences of injury are so much greater. Things don't heal as well.

    And agree that physiologic age matters a lot more than chronologic age.
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  18. Bill

    Bill ... Staff Member

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  19. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    Mike Kelsey just turned 75.
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  20. UtahBrian

    UtahBrian

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    I was glad to see this thread. I took my 68 year old cancer survivor diabetic dad through Badger Canyon in Marble Canyon this month. He wanted to see a pretty technical canyon and had never climbed or rappelled before. He had hiked into and out of Grand Canyon a couple times since hitting 65.

    The technical bit—though new—was easy for him. It's just a matter of learning the technique and not much of a physical challenge.

    The kilometer of scrambling in and out of 10º Colorado river to the exit canyon and the steep climb over loose scree were much harder, but patience get us through them. I think he actually liked the two very short class 5 moves on the way out on cliff ledges 100m over the river. That was the only part I was worried about.

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    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
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