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Canyons in the winter.....was Constrychnine

Discussion in 'Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group' started by RAM, Feb 2, 2011.

  1. RAM

    RAM Guest

    --- 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
  2. Michael

    Michael Guest

    Indeed. Much to think on here.

    The funny thing is, there was a time when I much preferred winter canyon trips! Bizarre, I know. In fact, at one point my winter trips outnumbered my summer trips in any given year by about 4 to 1! Many years ago, we used to spend each New Year's Eve doing a week-long backpacking trip across Canyonlands, and one year even swimming across the CO River to Spanish Bottom and into the Maze (probably one of the stupidest things I've ever done, but I was 19). But alas, things changed. I started getting active in technical canyoneering about 12 years ago, and then new passions were awoken and everything changed. Most of the trips were shifted to the warmer seasons to immerse ourselves in numerous wet canyons. So while in some respects, I feel completely at home in extreme cold weather and snow conditions, and while I have enough technical experience to feel quite at home in varied circumstances, I am forced to ask myself: how good am I at the winter games? Do I really have the experience I think I do, when the winter language cannot be translated from that which we speak in the spring, summer and fall. The answer must be no. How many technical canyons have I done in the heart of winter, in snow? It's less than a dozen. Eight, to be exact, if my memory serves me.

    I like to think of myself as an upper-intermediate, or lower-advanced canyoneer (of course that is debatable any time of year!), but maybe I've got that entirely wrong. Perhaps how good I am and what I know are entirely dependent on the seasons. Perhaps I need to humble up and include myself as a newbie.

    Well, clearly I am just on a mind wander here. But the truth is, Ram and Tom, you have really got me thinking and reassessing my own abilities here, which of course is a good thing. I've never met either of you personally but I have tremendous respect for your approaches. And the advice and provocation to thought and self-evaluation is most appreciated.

    Hopefully one day I will run into you guys out there and I can shake your hand and thank you face to face.

    Mike --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "RAM" <adkramoo@...> wrote:

    --- 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 >
  3. RAM

    RAM Guest

    Nice post Mike. Another expression we use is....."Everything is OK...till it isn't." Sounds like you have "run some laps" in winter. Also of note is that FreezeFest has always been cold, but only the last two years have been very snowy and several of the years, maybe half, were snow free. That makes a difference. I am sure that Tom and I come off a bit "over the top" with this winter thing. It a reaction to our presenting the idea to the public and not wanting to feel guilty when someone finds trouble. That and how many new situations we have encountered in the snowy years. I know how many lessons I learned just reading this blog, from others experiences. Just wanting to return the favor. And Mike, love to catch up with you sometime.

    So here is a few more "things i have learned about winter." Even when snow free, the sandstone tends to be a tad damp. It is usually pretty grippe when clean. The black lichen is pretty slippery. The olive green stuff is off the charts slick. Snow and slickrock is a bad combination. Having low angle slopes in those conditions is still dangerous. Planning entries and exits to avoid north exposures is very wise. Other exit options can be found most of the time, with time. When we fall, we fall fast. So much much more so than many of us realize. Enough for now. Packing, snacking and doing jig saw with the daughter. Ram

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "Michael" <thegowda@...> wrote:
    Indeed. Much to think on here.
    The funny thing is, there was a time when I much preferred winter canyon trips! Bizarre, I know. In fact, at one point my winter trips outnumbered my summer trips in any given year by about 4 to 1! Many years ago, we used to spend each New Year's Eve doing a week-long backpacking trip across Canyonlands, and one year even swimming across the CO River to Spanish Bottom and into the Maze (probably one of the stupidest things I've ever done, but I was 19). But alas, things changed. I started getting active in technical canyoneering about 12 years ago, and then new passions were awoken and everything changed. Most of the trips were shifted to the warmer seasons to immerse ourselves in numerous wet canyons. > So while in some respects, I feel completely at home in extreme cold weather and snow conditions, and while I have enough technical experience to feel quite at home in varied circumstances, I am forced to ask myself: how good am I at the winter games? Do I really have the experience I think I do, when the winter language cannot be translated from that which we speak in the spring, summer and fall. The answer must be no. How many technical canyons have I done in the heart of winter, in snow? It's less than a dozen. Eight, to be exact, if my memory serves me.
    I like to think of myself as an upper-intermediate, or lower-advanced canyoneer (of course that is debatable any time of year!), but maybe I've got that entirely wrong. Perhaps how good I am and what I know are entirely dependent on the seasons. Perhaps I need to humble up and include myself as a newbie.
    Well, clearly I am just on a mind wander here. But the truth is, Ram and Tom, you have really got me thinking and reassessing my own abilities here, which of course is a good thing. I've never met either of you personally but I have tremendous respect for your approaches. And the advice and provocation to thought and self-evaluation is most appreciated.
    Hopefully one day I will run into you guys out there and I can shake your hand and thank you face to face.
    Mike
  4. TomJones

    TomJones Guest

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "RAM" <adkramoo@...> wrote:
    I am sure that Tom and I come off a bit "over the top" with this winter thing. It a reaction to our presenting the idea to the public and not wanting to feel guilty when someone finds trouble.

    And, a good friend or ours just got seriously hurt when canyoning in winter with smart, experienced canyoneers who "should" have known much, much, MUCH better.

    Tom
  5. RAM

    RAM Guest

    Yeah, a long traverse on slopes with snow. The climber was one of many talented climbers on the trip. Where is the border line? It was on the standard exit route. Other easier and longer routes were found after the accident, further down canyon, but were unknown before hand. I think no one had been before? It was only midday and the group, active as always, was looking to do a pair of routes, one in the AM and one in the PM. We all do the dance of applying our talents and experience to the conditions and terrain at hand. This was a strong group. Its easy to 2nd guess choices. Again, it is OK till it isn't. One thing we have found is that standard entries and exits may not play in mixed conditions. In fact they often don't. New, often longer routes must be found. Harder climbing, but with safer fall lines. A 10 foot section of northern exposure can shut down standard or alternative routes. We rapped into the bottom of Cheesebox on a January 2nd, normally a walk in, over 100 yards off the standard route and found a new way out, at the end of the day, continuing the traverse past a snow plastered slope and hopping up a layer via a harder step than normal. Used a lot of time figuring it out. It fun figuring it out. But it is serious business, often unforgiving. Sobering, for sure. "But for the grace" type thing. Be careful out there. R

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "TomJones" <ratagonia@...> wrote:
    > --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "RAM" <adkramoo@> wrote:

    I am sure that Tom and I come off a bit "over the top" with this winter thing. It a reaction to our presenting the idea to the public and not wanting to feel guilty when someone finds trouble.
    And, a good friend or ours just got seriously hurt when canyoning in winter with smart, experienced canyoneers who "should" have known much, much, MUCH better.
    Tom >
  6. Michael

    Michael Guest

    Wow, Scary. Very scary. Best wishes for you friend's recovery. I have definitely been in that position you refer to, where I am at a spot I have been to countless times before, but THIS time something is different: It's late in the day and dark, or there's an unusual amount of water, or there's NO water where you expect/hope it should be. And even though things have been tweaked it's still the spot you think you know so well and you just carry on thinking you have all te parameters well defined. Then, you don't. Bam...trouble. It's a real wake up call to complacency...IF you are able to walk away unharmed. But that's a big IF. Like you say, "everything is OK until it's not." And when that "not" comes, it can come with ferocity.

    And BTW, there's no coming off "over the top". It's just good straight, no BS kinda talk. Keep it up!

    -mike

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "RAM" <adkramoo@...> wrote:
    Yeah, a long traverse on slopes with snow. The climber was one of many talented climbers on the trip. Where is the border line? It was on the standard exit route. Other easier and longer routes were found after the accident, further down canyon, but were unknown before hand. I think no one had been before? It was only midday and the group, active as always, was looking to do a pair of routes, one in the AM and one in the PM. We all do the dance of applying our talents and experience to the conditions and terrain at hand. This was a strong group. Its easy to 2nd guess choices. Again, it is OK till it isn't. One thing we have found is that standard entries and exits may not play in mixed conditions. In fact they often don't. New, often longer routes must be found. Harder climbing, but with safer fall lines. A 10 foot section of northern exposure can shut down standard or alternative routes. We rapped into the bottom of Cheesebox on a January 2nd, normally a walk in, over 100 yards off the standard route and found a new way out, at the end of the day, continuing the traverse past a snow plastered slope and hopping up a layer via a harder step than normal. Used a lot of time figuring it out. It fun figuring it out. But it is serious business, often unforgiving. Sobering, for sure. "But for the grace" type thing. Be careful out there. > R
    > --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "TomJones" <ratagonia@> wrote:


    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "RAM" <adkramoo@> wrote:


    I am sure that Tom and I come off a bit "over the top" with this winter thing. It a reaction to our presenting the idea to the public and not wanting to feel guilty when someone finds trouble.

    And, a good friend or ours just got seriously hurt when canyoning in winter with smart, experienced canyoneers who "should" have known much, much, MUCH better.

    Tom
    >
  7. One more thing to keep in mind. Cold and short days can cause individuals to rush more than normal and can lead to silly mistakes. At FF I made a stupid mistake that could have been disastrous. After running through the incident a hundred times in my mind, the only explanation I can muster is our hurried pace and letting my guard down. Allow extra time and pay attention to every detail, not just the unique winter challenges. Damn, I wish I could join you. Have fun!

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "Michael" <thegowda@...> wrote:
    Wow, Scary. Very scary. Best wishes for you friend's recovery. > I have definitely been in that position you refer to, where I am at a spot I have been to countless times before, but THIS time something is different: It's late in the day and dark, or there's an unusual amount of water, or there's NO water where you expect/hope it should be. And even though things have been tweaked it's still the spot you think you know so well and you just carry on thinking you have all te parameters well defined. Then, you don't. Bam...trouble. It's a real wake up call to complacency...IF you are able to walk away unharmed. But that's a big IF. > Like you say, "everything is OK until it's not." And when that "not" comes, it can come with ferocity.
    And BTW, there's no coming off "over the top". It's just good straight, no BS kinda talk. Keep it up!
    -mike
    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "RAM" <adkramoo@> wrote:

    Yeah, a long traverse on slopes with snow. The climber was one of many talented climbers on the trip. Where is the border line? It was on the standard exit route. Other easier and longer routes were found after the accident, further down canyon, but were unknown before hand. I think no one had been before? It was only midday and the group, active as always, was looking to do a pair of routes, one in the AM and one in the PM. We all do the dance of applying our talents and experience to the conditions and terrain at hand. This was a strong group. Its easy to 2nd guess choices. Again, it is OK till it isn't. One thing we have found is that standard entries and exits may not play in mixed conditions. In fact they often don't. New, often longer routes must be found. Harder climbing, but with safer fall lines. A 10 foot section of northern exposure can shut down standard or alternative routes. We rapped into the bottom of Cheesebox on a January 2nd, normally a walk in, over 100 yards off the standard route and found a new way out, at the end of the day, continuing the traverse past a snow plastered slope and hopping up a layer via a harder step than normal. Used a lot of time figuring it out. It fun figuring it out. But it is serious business, often unforgiving. Sobering, for sure. "But for the grace" type thing. Be careful out there.
    R


    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "TomJones" <ratagonia@> wrote:



    > --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "RAM" <adkramoo@> wrote:



    I am sure that Tom and I come off a bit "over the top" with this winter thing. It a reaction to our presenting the idea to the public and not wanting to feel guilty when someone finds trouble.


    And, a good friend or ours just got seriously hurt when canyoning in winter with smart, experienced canyoneers who "should" have known much, much, MUCH better.


    Tom
  8. aj.outdoors

    aj.outdoors Guest

    Agree completely with what's been said; good points on both sides.

    Mike, sounds like you aren't leaning towards the Poison's anymore anyway, so likely not directly useful news for you; but I posted a trip report earlier where I took a group, including some new folks, down Arscenic. It had been a wet season, but I believe at least three weeks had passed since the last precip. I know the Poisons hold water more than the Irish canyons, but I had never seen more than waist deep water in there; and the weather forecast was decent (in the 70's) so we went sans wetsuits.

    Much to my surprise, we ran into 5 mandatory swims. Many in my group did 7 or more swims. Needless to say it was very unexpected, and very cold. I felt bad that I didn't bring "just in case" wetsuits (especially for the new folks), but I hadn't run into anywhere near that amount of water in there before. We grinned and beared it, but I'd hate to run into something like that in the winter time. Would be extremely dangerous.

    This year was the first time I had heard of swims in Leprechaun.

    We ran into chest deep water in Leps, again, several weeks after the last precip. Been a wet year. Blarney's seem to be drier. If you are looking for a bigger rap for Dad, then maybe Shilleliegh could work.

    It's more likely you might get a conditions report for one of the Irish canyons too. (I think you already checked the back posts, and found the ones from FreezeFest - which is better than nothing...) Without a current conditions report, I'd bring a little extra.

    Hope you have a great time! A.J.

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "Michael" <thegowda@...> wrote:
    Wow, Scary. Very scary. Best wishes for you friend's recovery. > I have definitely been in that position you refer to, where I am at a spot I have been to countless times before, but THIS time something is different: It's late in the day and dark, or there's an unusual amount of water, or there's NO water where you expect/hope it should be. And even though things have been tweaked it's still the spot you think you know so well and you just carry on thinking you have all te parameters well defined. Then, you don't. Bam...trouble. It's a real wake up call to complacency...IF you are able to walk away unharmed. But that's a big IF. > Like you say, "everything is OK until it's not." And when that "not" comes, it can come with ferocity.
    And BTW, there's no coming off "over the top". It's just good straight, no BS kinda talk. Keep it up!
    -mike
    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "RAM" <adkramoo@> wrote:

    Yeah, a long traverse on slopes with snow. The climber was one of many talented climbers on the trip. Where is the border line? It was on the standard exit route. Other easier and longer routes were found after the accident, further down canyon, but were unknown before hand. I think no one had been before? It was only midday and the group, active as always, was looking to do a pair of routes, one in the AM and one in the PM. We all do the dance of applying our talents and experience to the conditions and terrain at hand. This was a strong group. Its easy to 2nd guess choices. Again, it is OK till it isn't. One thing we have found is that standard entries and exits may not play in mixed conditions. In fact they often don't. New, often longer routes must be found. Harder climbing, but with safer fall lines. A 10 foot section of northern exposure can shut down standard or alternative routes. We rapped into the bottom of Cheesebox on a January 2nd, normally a walk in, over 100 yards off the standard route and found a new way out, at the end of the day, continuing the traverse past a snow plastered slope and hopping up a layer via a harder step than normal. Used a lot of time figuring it out. It fun figuring it out. But it is serious business, often unforgiving. Sobering, for sure. "But for the grace" type thing. Be careful out there.
    R


    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "TomJones" <ratagonia@> wrote:



    > --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "RAM" <adkramoo@> wrote:



    I am sure that Tom and I come off a bit "over the top" with this winter thing. It a reaction to our presenting the idea to the public and not wanting to feel guilty when someone finds trouble.


    And, a good friend or ours just got seriously hurt when canyoning in winter with smart, experienced canyoneers who "should" have known much, much, MUCH better.


    Tom
  9. Just thinking out loud...

    Discussion of "mixed" conditions bring to mind winter climbing and ice-climbing experiences in the Adirondacks back east.

    I'm wondering if people have experimented with mountaineering/ice climbing gear in winter canyons. For starters, I'm thinking crampons would be useful (either the $10 clip-on type or serious mountaineering crampons). A whole second level might be ice axes and/or ice screws which would be useful for protecting seriously icy climbs/traverses.

    Some thoughts: -Crampons can severely scratch bare rock, an aesthetic consideration that must be mitigated against. -Axes are useful not only on ice, but can be used like hooks to make use of small pockets and 1/8" lips on rock. -Ice screws are probably only useful in select instances with serious ice, but occasionaly it might be preferable to choose a completely ice-covered route that can be easily protected to one with very little ice and no options for protection. -Climbing with anything anything sharp and pointy adds a very serious new hazard to an already dangerous enviroment.

    Curious to hear what others have done.

    -Steve

    On Thu, Feb 3, 2011 at 10:39 AM, aj.outdoors ajmail2011@gmail.com> wrote:


    > Agree completely with what's been said; good points on both sides.
    Mike, sounds like you aren't leaning towards the Poison's anymore anyway, > so likely not directly useful news for you; but I posted a trip report > earlier where I took a group, including some new folks, down Arscenic. It > had been a wet season, but I believe at least three weeks had passed since > the last precip. I know the Poisons hold water more than the Irish canyons, > but I had never seen more than waist deep water in there; and the weather > forecast was decent (in the 70's) so we went sans wetsuits.
    Much to my surprise, we ran into 5 mandatory swims. Many in my group did 7 > or more swims. Needless to say it was very unexpected, and very cold. I felt > bad that I didn't bring "just in case" wetsuits (especially for the new > folks), but I hadn't run into anywhere near that amount of water in there > before. We grinned and beared it, but I'd hate to run into something like > that in the winter time. Would be extremely dangerous.
    This year was the first time I had heard of swims in Leprechaun.
    We ran into chest deep water in Leps, again, several weeks after the last > precip. Been a wet year. Blarney's seem to be drier. If you are looking for > a bigger rap for Dad, then maybe Shilleliegh could work.
    It's more likely you might get a conditions report for one of the Irish > canyons too. (I think you already checked the back posts, and found the ones > from FreezeFest - which is better than nothing...) Without a current > conditions report, I'd bring a little extra.
    Hope you have a great time! > A.J.
    > --- In Yahoo Canyons Group <canyons%40yahoogroups.com>, "Michael" > <thegowda@...> wrote:

    Wow, Scary. Very scary. Best wishes for you friend's recovery.
    I have definitely been in that position you refer to, where I am at a > spot I have been to countless times before, but THIS time something is > different: It's late in the day and dark, or there's an unusual amount of > water, or there's NO water where you expect/hope it should be. And even > though things have been tweaked it's still the spot you think you know so > well and you just carry on thinking you have all te parameters well defined. > Then, you don't. Bam...trouble. It's a real wake up call to complacency...IF > you are able to walk away unharmed. But that's a big IF.
    Like you say, "everything is OK until it's not." And when that "not" > comes, it can come with ferocity.

    And BTW, there's no coming off "over the top". It's just good straight, > no BS kinda talk. Keep it up!

    -mike

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group <canyons%40yahoogroups.com>, "RAM" > <adkramoo@> wrote:


    Yeah, a long traverse on slopes with snow. The climber was one of many > talented climbers on the trip. Where is the border line? It was on the > standard exit route. Other easier and longer routes were found after the > accident, further down canyon, but were unknown before hand. I think no one > had been before? It was only midday and the group, active as always, was > looking to do a pair of routes, one in the AM and one in the PM. We all do > the dance of applying our talents and experience to the conditions and > terrain at hand. This was a strong group. Its easy to 2nd guess choices. > Again, it is OK till it isn't. One thing we have found is that standard > entries and exits may not play in mixed conditions. In fact they often > don't. New, often longer routes must be found. Harder climbing, but with > safer fall lines. A 10 foot section of northern exposure can shut down > standard or alternative routes. We rapped into the bottom of Cheesebox on a > January 2nd, normally a walk in, over 100 yards off the standard route and > found a new way out, at the end of the day, continuing the traverse past a > snow plastered slope and hopping up a layer via a harder step than normal. > Used a lot of time figuring it out. It fun figuring it out. But it is > serious business, often unforgiving. Sobering, for sure. "But for the grace" > type thing. Be careful out there.
    > R



    > --- In Yahoo Canyons Group <canyons%40yahoogroups.com>, "TomJones" > <ratagonia@> wrote:





    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group <canyons%40yahoogroups.com>, "RAM" > <adkramoo@> wrote:




    I am sure that Tom and I come off a bit "over the top" with this > winter thing. It a reaction to our presenting the idea to the public and not > wanting to feel guilty when someone finds trouble.



    And, a good friend or ours just got seriously hurt when canyoning in > winter with smart, experienced canyoneers who "should" have known much, > much, MUCH better.



    Tom
  10. Ice

    Ice Guest

  11. Michael

    Michael Guest

    Thanks for this update AJ. Wow! Amazing that you had so many swims in Arscenic. The only water I've come across in there has been at the bottom of the corkscrew. Just goes to show how no canyon is ever static. Going through such circumstances in winter with no wetsuit would be difficult to survive.

    Incidentally, yes, we are now going to stick with the Irish canyons, though after these great discussions, we'll be very cautious in there as well...including the wetsuits. Actually, the only way I would have NOT worn wetsuits is if someone had said they just passed through in the last couple days and encountered no water (or snow!) and there had been no new precipitation between their trip and ours. So we'll be wearing for sure!

    Thanks again for the input, A.J. Will let you all know what we find we when we're back.

    -mike

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "aj.outdoors" <ajmail2011@...> wrote:
    Agree completely with what's been said; good points on both sides.
    Mike, sounds like you aren't leaning towards the Poison's anymore anyway, so likely not directly useful news for you; but I posted a trip report earlier where I took a group, including some new folks, down Arscenic. It had been a wet season, but I believe at least three weeks had passed since the last precip. I know the Poisons hold water more than the Irish canyons, but I had never seen more than waist deep water in there; and the weather forecast was decent (in the 70's) so we went sans wetsuits.
    Much to my surprise, we ran into 5 mandatory swims. Many in my group did 7 or more swims. Needless to say it was very unexpected, and very cold. I felt bad that I didn't bring "just in case" wetsuits (especially for the new folks), but I hadn't run into anywhere near that amount of water in there before. We grinned and beared it, but I'd hate to run into something like that in the winter time. Would be extremely dangerous.
    This year was the first time I had heard of swims in Leprechaun.
    We ran into chest deep water in Leps, again, several weeks after the last precip. Been a wet year. Blarney's seem to be drier. If you are looking for a bigger rap for Dad, then maybe Shilleliegh could work.
    It's more likely you might get a conditions report for one of the Irish canyons too. (I think you already checked the back posts, and found the ones from FreezeFest - which is better than nothing...) Without a current conditions report, I'd bring a little extra.
    Hope you have a great time! > A.J.
    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "Michael" <thegowda@> wrote:

    Wow, Scary. Very scary. Best wishes for you friend's recovery.
    I have definitely been in that position you refer to, where I am at a spot I have been to countless times before, but THIS time something is different: It's late in the day and dark, or there's an unusual amount of water, or there's NO water where you expect/hope it should be. And even though things have been tweaked it's still the spot you think you know so well and you just carry on thinking you have all te parameters well defined. Then, you don't. Bam...trouble. It's a real wake up call to complacency...IF you are able to walk away unharmed. But that's a big IF.
    Like you say, "everything is OK until it's not." And when that "not" comes, it can come with ferocity.

    And BTW, there's no coming off "over the top". It's just good straight, no BS kinda talk. Keep it up!

    -mike

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "RAM" <adkramoo@> wrote:


    Yeah, a long traverse on slopes with snow. The climber was one of many talented climbers on the trip. Where is the border line? It was on the standard exit route. Other easier and longer routes were found after the accident, further down canyon, but were unknown before hand. I think no one had been before? It was only midday and the group, active as always, was looking to do a pair of routes, one in the AM and one in the PM. We all do the dance of applying our talents and experience to the conditions and terrain at hand. This was a strong group. Its easy to 2nd guess choices. Again, it is OK till it isn't. One thing we have found is that standard entries and exits may not play in mixed conditions. In fact they often don't. New, often longer routes must be found. Harder climbing, but with safer fall lines. A 10 foot section of northern exposure can shut down standard or alternative routes. We rapped into the bottom of Cheesebox on a January 2nd, normally a walk in, over 100 yards off the standard route and found a new way out, at the end of the day, continuing the traverse past a snow plastered slope and hopping up a layer via a harder step than normal. Used a lot of time figuring it out. It fun figuring it out. But it is serious business, often unforgiving. Sobering, for sure. "But for the grace" type thing. Be careful out there.
    > R



    > --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "TomJones" <ratagonia@> wrote:





    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "RAM" <adkramoo@> wrote:




    I am sure that Tom and I come off a bit "over the top" with this winter thing. It a reaction to our presenting the idea to the public and not wanting to feel guilty when someone finds trouble.



    And, a good friend or ours just got seriously hurt when canyoning in winter with smart, experienced canyoneers who "should" have known much, much, MUCH better.



    Tom
  12. Michael

    Michael Guest

    Yeah, that's a good point. Even just the simple instinct to move quickly when you're cold can be counter-productive and lead to trouble. Thanks for the advice! -mike --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "evergreen_dean" <dbrooks@...> wrote:
    One more thing to keep in mind. Cold and short days can cause individuals to rush more than normal and can lead to silly mistakes. At FF I made a stupid mistake that could have been disastrous. After running through the incident a hundred times in my mind, the only explanation I can muster is our hurried pace and letting my guard down. Allow extra time and pay attention to every detail, not just the unique winter challenges. Damn, I wish I could join you. Have fun!
    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "Michael" <thegowda@> wrote:

    Wow, Scary. Very scary. Best wishes for you friend's recovery.
    I have definitely been in that position you refer to, where I am at a spot I have been to countless times before, but THIS time something is different: It's late in the day and dark, or there's an unusual amount of water, or there's NO water where you expect/hope it should be. And even though things have been tweaked it's still the spot you think you know so well and you just carry on thinking you have all te parameters well defined. Then, you don't. Bam...trouble. It's a real wake up call to complacency...IF you are able to walk away unharmed. But that's a big IF.
    Like you say, "everything is OK until it's not." And when that "not" comes, it can come with ferocity.

    And BTW, there's no coming off "over the top". It's just good straight, no BS kinda talk. Keep it up!

    -mike

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "RAM" <adkramoo@> wrote:


    Yeah, a long traverse on slopes with snow. The climber was one of many talented climbers on the trip. Where is the border line? It was on the standard exit route. Other easier and longer routes were found after the accident, further down canyon, but were unknown before hand. I think no one had been before? It was only midday and the group, active as always, was looking to do a pair of routes, one in the AM and one in the PM. We all do the dance of applying our talents and experience to the conditions and terrain at hand. This was a strong group. Its easy to 2nd guess choices. Again, it is OK till it isn't. One thing we have found is that standard entries and exits may not play in mixed conditions. In fact they often don't. New, often longer routes must be found. Harder climbing, but with safer fall lines. A 10 foot section of northern exposure can shut down standard or alternative routes. We rapped into the bottom of Cheesebox on a January 2nd, normally a walk in, over 100 yards off the standard route and found a new way out, at the end of the day, continuing the traverse past a snow plastered slope and hopping up a layer via a harder step than normal. Used a lot of time figuring it out. It fun figuring it out. But it is serious business, often unforgiving. Sobering, for sure. "But for the grace" type thing. Be careful out there.
    > R



    > --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "TomJones" <ratagonia@> wrote:





    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "RAM" <adkramoo@> wrote:




    I am sure that Tom and I come off a bit "over the top" with this winter thing. It a reaction to our presenting the idea to the public and not wanting to feel guilty when someone finds trouble.



    And, a good friend or ours just got seriously hurt when canyoning in winter with smart, experienced canyoneers who "should" have known much, much, MUCH better.



    Tom
  13. RAM

    RAM Guest

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, Stephen Romaniello <sromaniello@...> wrote:
    Just thinking out loud...
    Discussion of "mixed" conditions bring to mind winter climbing and > ice-climbing experiences in the Adirondacks back east.



    Where you do your ice climbing back there? Poko? Chapel Pond pass?



    > I'm wondering if people have experimented with mountaineering/ice climbing > gear in winter canyons. For starters, I'm thinking crampons would be useful > (either the $10 clip-on type or serious mountaineering crampons). A > whole second level might be ice axes and/or ice screws which would be useful > for protecting seriously icy climbs/traverses.

    Have not found conditions where crampons would be necessary, except a few flowing canyons such as Pleiades'. Not enough ice will form within the passage. Some thin ice problems has caused anchors to be moved back but the ice is more like verglas than deep ice. Zion may off some exceptions. Did use an ax on a January 1st Black Hole and while it was handy in a spot or so, not so much that OI brought it the following years Ram
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