Send us a suggestion!

Dos and Don'ts of Winter Canyoneering

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by TPax, Sep 8, 2014.

  1. TPax

    TPax

    Messages:
    8
    Likes:
    8
    Hey fellow canyoneers,

    I just started dental school and am now extremely limited in my availability when it comes to doing canyons. Looking ahead, my only real chance to do a canyon will be in the dead "heat" of winter. I haven't seen a thread on here for doing canyons in the winter. Do any of you have any special tips for doing Christmas canyons? Any recommendations for canyons to do or canyons to avoid?

    I imagine Arizona is replete with warm options, so let's limit this discussion to Utah. Thanks guys!
  2. Deagol

    Deagol too many hobbies

    Messages:
    916
    Likes:
    537
    Location:
    Colorado
    shorter daylight hours, dangers of ice both come to mind.
  3. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

    Messages:
    1,284
    Likes:
    986
    Ryan has some good tips on his site. You can find them here.
    Blake Merrell likes this.
  4. Blake Merrell

    Blake Merrell Lovin' Utah's Backcountry

    Messages:
    504
    Likes:
    529
    Location:
    Spanish Fork, Ut
    Canyoneering in the winter is awesome! But very different. Snow and ice in canyons change everything. Also, the gear required to keep you warm adds a lot to a pack.
  5. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

    Messages:
    1,284
    Likes:
    986
    I've done several winter canyoneering trips. Some where I had to escape part way through...and got lucky. Climbing steep slick rock with ice and snow is not as forgiving.
  6. Redrockhikerboy

    Redrockhikerboy

    Messages:
    87
    Likes:
    54
    From Ryan via Mountaineer's link above:

    Conclusion
    Winter canyoneering is for advanced canyoneers only. I’d recommend sticking with canyons you have done before, and very short canyons. The North Wash canyons can be very do-able in the winter. Longer, more remote canyons such as those in the Roost, Zion, or the Swell I would not recommend. The added risk is not worth the reward. If you insist on canyoneering in the winter, I would recommend carrying a small stove and pot in the pack. It doesn't weigh much, but hot liquids can be a life saver if a person does become hypothermic. Stay safe, search and rescue doesn't want to come out on a cold night and try and rescue you because of your own poor judgement.
  7. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    4,146
    Likes:
    4,982
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah
    As a general rule, it is a good idea to ONLY do canyons in winter that you have done before in more-forgiving conditions. There are peculiarities of winter descents that are vastly helped by having a good idea of what you are getting into.

    For instance, the exit from MindBender in the Roost is up a short climb, then up slickrock. These areas face north, and might have snow on them, making them impassable. Knowing this in advance, you would scout the route all the way down to the canyon bottom. In this instance, it is the last 20 feet that can be problematic, so it takes going ALL the way down (a pain in the neck, but... one party only went halfway down, and thus did not discover the impassable part, spent the night in the canyon, made their way out under their own power using a different exit, but a rescue was started (and brought them back to their car, rather than the 5 mile walk they had ahead of them).

    Days are short. Bring headlamps, get going early.

    etc etc.

    Tom
  8. Redrockhikerboy

    Redrockhikerboy

    Messages:
    87
    Likes:
    54
    That said, Blake had what appeared to be a fabulous experience doing the Chamber of the Balisk route in Goblin Valley in the middle of what looked to be near white out conditions. And the Freeze Festers prove each year that canyoning is doable all year long--if you have skilled companions, proper attire, and cajones far larger than my own
    Blake Merrell likes this.
  9. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    4,146
    Likes:
    4,982
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah
  10. gajslk

    gajslk

    Messages:
    466
    Likes:
    361
    Oz comes to mind ...

    Gordon
    Mountaineer likes this.
  11. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

    Messages:
    1,592
    Likes:
    1,794
    Location:
    Utah
    Don't: Do just about any canyon

    Do: Go skiing

    :tongue:

    To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven... (Ecclesiates 3:1)
  12. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

    Messages:
    527
    Likes:
    755
    Location:
    Woodland Hills, UT
    Death Valley is very nice that time of year. :)
  13. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

    Messages:
    1,592
    Likes:
    1,794
    Location:
    Utah
  14. sail2fast

    sail2fast

    Messages:
    19
    Likes:
    21
    Nobody is driving around the desert in the winter (off pavement at least). Be prepared to hoof it to the closest pavement if your car won't start, and be prepared to camp in sub-freezing weather. Make sure all your water doesn't freeze.
Similar Threads: Don'ts Winter
Forum Title Date
Trip Reports Aussie FreezeFest: Whungee Wheengee Canyon in the depths of winter Thursday at 5:34 PM
Trip Reports Winter Epic Blarney? Jan 2, 2017
General Discussion Layering Clothing for Winter Jan 2, 2017
Tech Tips and Gear Winter - time to practice and learn knots Dec 1, 2016
Trip Reports Winter Wandering Apr 7, 2016
Trip Reports AZ Winter Canyoneering - Bradshaws, Mazatzals, Sierra Ancha Feb 9, 2016