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UT: Capitol Reef Cassidy Arch Canyon

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by canyongoat, Apr 24, 2018.

  1. canyongoat

    canyongoat

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    Beautiful day in a beautiful canyon following a 2.5 hr wait to drop into the canyon itself. There was a guide group of 20 people with about 8 SMALL children (whom they were lowering into the canyon with harnesses that didn't even fit snuggly around their legs) holding up 5 groups behind them at the top of Cassidy Arch. Several groups of canyoneerers came and left when they saw how many people were at the top... Rumor was the group of 2 following them asked if they could go in front of them and were denied saying "We're going to be quick!"

    I'd rather have to get a permit at that point and have a better day for everyone involved. And kick out the guide groups.

    Left car at 11:30 am. Dropped into the canyon at 2:30pm. Returned to car at 7pm. Group of 12.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2018
  2. Iceaxe

    Iceaxe

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    You're a better person than I.... we just toss a rope from a nearby anchor and play through. I really don't give a shit if large slow groups clogged with beginners want to give me dirty looks.
  3. canyongoat

    canyongoat

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    We considered it... but we got there when half the guide group was already down, and were not sure about placing alternative anchors once we got to the next rappels..
  4. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    How do you know they were guided? Who was the guide? What is your evidence?

    Tom
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018
  5. Deagol

    Deagol too many hobbies

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    I didn't know Cap reef allowed guided trips ??
  6. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    It took me a while to find them on the CARE website, so I thought I would copy them out... as I have noted several violations of these rules lately.

    a) Technical Canyoneering:
    Canyoneering is defined as cross country travel involving descending into canyons or major rock formations using a variety of techniques that are associated with technical descents – those that require rappels and rope work, technical climbing or down-climbing, technical jumps and/or technical swims.

    a) Canyoneering groups are limited to 12 persons per group (to include commercially permitted guides)in the following technical canyons:
    1. Cassidy Arch
    2. 5 Wives
    3. Old School

    Canyoneering groups are limited to 6 persons per group (to include commercially permitted guides) in the following technical canyons:
    1. Burro
    2. Cottonwood
    3. Fivemile
    4. Pandora’s Box
    5. Na Gah (Shinob)
    6. Tempie (Shinob)
    7. Nighthawk (Shinob)
    8. Smokestack Canyon
    9. Strike 2 Canyon
    10.Poe Canyon (Smiling Cricket)
    11.Happy Dog
    12.Laughing Baboon
    13.Wonderland
    14.Stegosaurus
    15. Any other Canyons not listed in the Fruita (12 person) area

    Group size shall not exceed the determined number of people (as outlined in the above identified areas/canyons) sharing the same affiliation (school, church, club, scout group, family, friends, etc., or combination thereof) in the same canyon, drainage, general area or the same route on the same day.

    This applies to people traveling or camping together, and it applies to day use as well as overnight use.

    Groups larger than 6 or 12, sharing the same affiliation, may divide into groups smaller than 6 or 12, provided they do not occupy the same canyon, drainage, general area or the same route on the same day.

    source: https://www.nps.gov/care/learn/management/upload/CARE-06-2018-Sup-Comp-2.pdf
    Deagol and scottensign like this.
  7. canyongoat

    canyongoat

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    Truthfully its what I was told by the group leader in front of me while we were waiting for our turn on the second rappel (another hour wait). Also there was a very nice mandolin playing hiker that day that told one of my group members (who didn't join us in the canyon) that each guide was getting 120 per person for that hike and there were 3 or 4 guides...

    I took pictures of them lowering some of the children down. Possibly someone could identify them.

    I didn't realize they were in violation of anything otherwise I might've considered trying harder to get hard evidence.
  8. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Generally Guides (ie, actual guides who hold permits for what they are doing) work hard to follow the rules and to not have bad interactions with the public. Complaints from the general public about your guides tends to get your permit yanked. So I doubt whomever was leading this group was a guide in that sense. We might call them a Pirate Guide. Sometimes they are youth group leaders.

    "the group leader in front of me..." - was that a person IN the "guided" group?

    People often think that any semi-organized group with some people obviously in charge is a "guided group". This is often not true.

    Tom
  9. canyongoat

    canyongoat

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    No, we were 5th in line after the possibly guided group.

    Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk
  10. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    Check out this old thread on a guided (but non-permitted) guided trip:

    https://www.summitpost.org/phpBB3/trashing-the-wilderness-camp-gladiator-willow-lake-t66024.html

    Some quotes from the now deleted advertising video (they were actually bragging about breaking the rules):

    This was at one of the most popular destinations in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness of Colorado. The rules are clearly posted at the trailhead.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018
  11. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Perhaps I am being obtuse, but what is your point?
  12. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    It was an example (perhaps the best one I could think of) of some of the "pirate guides" you were referring to, and some really bad ones at that. If I remember right, they were charging people $700 for the trip, but they had no permits and didn't follow the rules (max group size 15). It was just an example of pirate guides. True, it wasn't in a canyon, but I thought it to be a good example.

    They were actually doing this multiple years before being called out.

    Here is a video from a previous trip, same wilderness area (though the group size was not quite as big as the one at Willow Lake; this time they only chartered a few full sized vans rather than a full sized bus-I can count about 38 people in the video):



    The other videos got deleted.

    Now, I guess back to the original topic.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018
  13. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Thanks for that clarification.
  14. Deagol

    Deagol too many hobbies

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    I just heard from a very good source that they are legal and licensed....
  15. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I think you heard wrong. From the description, which may or may not be accurate, if I was the LE arriving on site, I would not only cite them for not having a concessionaire permit (or violating their permit, same thing), but I would meet them at the end of the day and arrest the leaders for child endangerment. I think the nearest Federal lockup is in St. George.

    Perhaps you would DM me with your "very good source", partly because it sounds like your very good source knows who the perps were.

    Tom
  16. Kid Feral

    Kid Feral

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    Steve Howe here. Head guide for Redrock Adventure Guides out of Torrey. I was in Cassidy Arch Canyon on Saturday, April 21st, which is I suspect the date being discussed here. Our group was: One guide, two adults, and three kids aged 10, 6, and 5. We met in Torrey at 9 a.m., drove to Cassidy, and took a leisurely approach hike. Despite that, we were first group through the canyon. (Actually second, there was a four-person party on the last rappel while we were still hiking up.) I doubt that my group and Canyongoat's ever saw each other.

    After us, there was a Utah Valley group where the leader told me they had 13 people (Note: Permit max for both privates and commercials is 12 total for Cassidy, The Wives, and Old School. All other canyons in Cap Reef are six-person total, max, per party). I told him they were over-sized. After them there was an eight-person group (who might have been attached, illegally or not). I don't think either of these groups had any sort of commercial permit. They certainly had no "guides," at least not in the competency sense of the word. After them, there were a bunch more parties. Apparently Canyongoat was among those, with another 12-person group.

    The big group behind us was clearly having issues, and were poorly prepared and led. We never saw them after the first rappel.

    Canyongoat, and Deagol, are incorrect on numerous facts. I guide Cassidy about 50 times per year, rarely with a group larger than four, so I've got a pretty good handle on happenings in that canyon. I share Cassidy with other groups less than one trip out of five.

    A couple points: Guiding is allowed in Capitol Reef, and there's never any problem with crowds in Cassidy...except...on sunny Saturdays when the weather's perfect and everybody roars down to do airy, bolted raps that don't need a permit. Last Saturday, April 21st, was such a day. Kind of a 'duh' that you need to arrive early.

    There's no such thing as a 20-person guided group. Even in North Wash and Robbers, commercial groups are limited to 12 guests plus guides. It's very rare when any southcentral Utah guide runs a dozen guests. And to be real clear: The vast majority of canyon clusterfugs are clubs, extended-family privates, scouts, church groups, Meetup groups, and rendezvous. We saw a fair amount of spillover from the North Wash rendezvous that weekend, even though it was 50 miles away.

    While we were walking out the bottom of Cassidy, I ran into Mike Zirwas, CapReef's Chief Ranger. He was waiting to cite what he heard was a 20-person group. Since we were first party out, I told him about the 13-person bunch, and the general chaos. I'm sure he encountered the violators and lowered the boom as needed. You might want to call Capitol Reef and ask, rather than spewing misinformation. If you want the first-person, call or email Mike Zirwas via the usual nps switchboard/email formats.

    But no group gets permitted for a party that size, and they most certainly weren't "guided." However, a lot of, uh, Utah Valley entities have been taking huge groups through Cassidy for years, and some of those cliques seem to be stubbornly continuing the tradition. See also: Retail stores that regularly run 50-person 'rendezvous' groups to avoid the well-advised permitting/insurance/employee requirements for guides.

    Lastly, I gotta say: I find it kind of amusing that someone would lead out a max-sized group, starting around crack-of-noon, on a Saturday, during a National Park no-fee day, in perfect weather, to a very popular and accessible canyon, that's known for attracting a wide variety of skill levels...and then advocate for permits and privates-only because they (surprise, surprise) had to wait. It's not like you would have needed a pre-dawn start to be first group through.
    hlscowboy, 2065toyota and Jman like this.
  17. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    C'mon Steve. Don't confuse the issue with facts. So much more fun to build mountains of conjecture...

    GOLD!
    hlscowboy and 2065toyota like this.
  18. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Good input, Steve. Thanks.
    2065toyota likes this.
  19. Kid Feral

    Kid Feral

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    Sigh. I get all ragey when I spend too much time on message boards, Tom.
  20. canyongoat

    canyongoat

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    Groups going through canyons became the game of "telephone". My apologies for any mis-posted information. My original intent was to make this a trip report giving people a heads up that the canyon is crowded and to get a head start on a Saturday, Fee Free National park day. I'm sure you were once a newbie on the forums like myself, perhaps you can show some mercy. In my defense, I wasn't the Group Leader. I decided with a friend last minute to drive to Capitol Reef early in the morning from SLC, a group of 2. When we got to the top and found there was a line of 5 groups in front of us, and asked why the group of 2 didn't pass everyone up (as were my hopes and dreams for the day) and was told they weren't given permission to pass, we considered turning around. However we found a friend leading a group there and decided to join them. I'm not a fan of big groups myself... but decided I'd try to enjoy my weekend with friends, and I decided I had considerable skills to help my friend and his large group through the canyon. I was mildly impatient, and irritated despite my best intentions and included my annoyance in my trip report with the information I had been given through words of mouth. Lesson learned. But shoot ya'll can be harsh. I am grateful to have learned there is in fact a group size limit on the canyon.
    nkanarik and hank moon like this.
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