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Early May Canyoneering In Moab for beginners

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ledcat, Jan 5, 2016.

  1. ledcat

    ledcat

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    Hi folks, new guy here. Our small group, 3 early 50’s folks, completed a 3 day canyoneering class at ZAC in Zion last year. After the 3 day course, we successfully did a few beginner canyons ourselves. We have been avid backpackers both desert and alpine over the last 10 years and have progressed into canyoneering from places like Buchskin gulch and Death Hollow. We are looking to go to Moab in early May, spend a week canyoneering, and we are looking for recommendations on what canyons would be appropriate for our skill level (beginner). I would like us to stay mostly dry just to keep that element out of it which kinda of led us to Moab. Main goal is to just build skill level and confidence. We also would be interested in hiring a guide for a day or 2 to do additional, more advanced canyons, help us with our skills, natural anchor building techniques, etc. Any help/recommendations would be much appreciated. If there is another area in Utah that would be better for our skill level at that time of year, we are all ears. If it is better to PM me, by all means. Thanks for any help.
    Randy
  2. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    SGR is the only advanced canyon that is betaed in Moab. May will be too early for Pleiades.

    Most other canyons I can think of are for beginners, but some of them have some big drops (such as Tierdrop). Because of the big drops in the Moab Rim canyons, those wouldn't be beginner friendly either.

    Moab can be a zoo in May, especially on weekends. Personally, I'd recommend some of the easier stuff in the Roost, but it's a much more remote area than Moab.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2016
  3. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    You may also want to consider the canyons north of Moab (access from I-70 Exit 193). Winter Camp, Repeat Jr, MMI and Undercover canyons. They do have big drops (up to 200'), so some may consider them not to be beginner friendly, for that reason. They are 1/2 day trips, two of which only have a single entry rap, and with competent leadership and mandatory belays, I wouldn't hesitate to take beginners there (because I have). YMMV

    The positive side of these canyons is their remoteness; you would most likely avoid the crowds...plus they're all dry.
    Ram likes this.
  4. Ram

    Ram

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    Do make sure you have a good forecast though. That access road turns to baby poop when just a little wet. From May 24th 2011
    At the turn around...run away spot

    [​IMG]
    Kuenn likes this.
  5. ledcat

    ledcat

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    Thanks folks, hoping the betabase will be back soon. We joined a paid site, that lists most of the canyons, and gives details. The roost would be too far out there for us initially, and we are trying to keep the raps below 150, as that is as far as we have experience with during our class. Competent leadership, we're all at the same level (just starting out), from available websites info, we will have all the route/rap info, just need experience with skills.
  6. ledcat

    ledcat

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    How about, (Winter camp, and Undercover), (Bighorn and Dragonfly), and (Tierdrop, Not Tierdrop, and U-turn). The one rap on Winter Camp, although long has a level area at approx 70 feet, so it seems it is not a 190 foot continuous repel. Any problem areas, we should be concerned about for any of these canyons and for early May? Only info we are looking at is the detailed reports form climb-utah, as the betabase is not up.
    Kuenn likes this.
  7. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    Any problem areas, we should be concerned about for any of these canyons and for early May?

    I wouldn't think so. U-Turn, Tierdrop, and Not Tier Drop are close enough together than doing all three might be redundant since it's basically the same scenery. Out of the three U-Turn would be my favorite and Not Tier Drop the least.

    Occasionally, it can be hot in early May, but usually it's not bad. Biting flies can be a problem then, but usually only along stream bottoms. Dragonfly might have them in the lower end and in Courthouse? I don't know as I've only done it in winter.

    The roost would be too far out there for us initially

    Be aware that Undercover and Winter Camp are as remote as some of the Roost stuff.
    yetigonecrazy1 likes this.
  8. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    There are experienced canyoneers on this board located in Grand Junction. Not sure where you guys are fun, but you might want to add some talent to your group, by advertising here. Perhaps when the date is closer.

    Tom
  9. yetigonecrazy1

    yetigonecrazy1

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    The Winter Camp area is great. Some really nice beginner canyons in there. In Winter Camp itself the rap is broken up into two sections; first you drop like 60-70 into a large and beautiful crows nest bowl, and then you drop about 120 down into the slot. The biggest problem is the wood (if it's still there) that is jammed into the start of the second part, it can just be a bit of a pain to wiggle around. The second part can be a little exciting but it's also really neat, the bottom 30 feet or so are tighter and narrower than the canyon above so it feels like you are dropping into a black hole in the earth. You can leave the rope rigged and grab it after you are done, from the bottom of the first rap it is totally 100% flat. Not even a downclimb. Some interesting side canyons to explore lower in the slot as well, and there is an intense looking mini crack that looks like one giant elevator that you walk by on the way out. Personally I would skip rapping into Repeat and just hike it and the Fun Size mini slot right next door from the bottom up. The trail down from the top to the bottom takes 30 minutes and is really easy. The "Fun Size" one has some mildly fun and amusing stemming, not found in many other Moab canyons.

    P9221630.JPG P9221638.JPG PA201798.JPG 123.JPG
    L-R 1st part of the rap in Winter Camp, the wood at the start of the second half, the Fun Size mini slot next to Repeat, the elevator mini crack


    I kindly disagree that they are as remote as the Roost; I've always thought they were actually pretty easy to access. Exit at Yellowcat, a while on a straight road and then a few miles through some rolling hills and you're there. There's a few turns to be made, and you do have to cross a couple of washes, so obviously the road conditions [like everywhere in Utah] can vary depending on weather and moisture, but when it's dry the roads are big and wide and usually pretty great. If you have bought beta from a site just follow the written directions, pretty hard to miss if you follow them. Best of luck and have fun!!
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  10. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    I kindly disagree that they are as remote as the Roost

    To me, they seemed almost as remote as some of the Roost (i.e. Bluejohn, White Roost, or East Pasture areas), but I guess it does all depends on road conditions.
  11. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    U-turn, dragonfly, entrajo, rock of ages, medieval chamber would be my Moab beginner list. I find most Moab canyons to be a step down in difficulty from most Zion canyons, both in terms of energy required, gear required, and expertise required. Drops are generally shorter and fewer of them and approaches are easier. And Zion canyons tend to be straightforward compared to those in many areas. So I think Moab is a great beginner area any time of year, although mid summer might suck if you don't get up early. Obviously you can die in any canyon so be careful, learn more than you need to know, and take more than you need-including people.
  12. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    U-turn, dragonfly, entrajo, rock of ages, medieval chamber would be my Moab beginner list.

    Good list, but unless things have changed recently, Rock of Ages has gotten more difficult than it was previously because the old anchor was removed and a new one was places in a much more exposed location. It's still not a difficult canyon, but the last rappel at least is much harder than it used to be. Unless things have chanced again? I haven't been in two years.
  13. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Don't sell yourself short.

    If you are confident at 150, 190 is really not that much of a difference from a technical perspective. Head game, maybe yes. The other dynamics like the kind of drop, awkward start, anchor type, and so on would play much heavier than the distance (IMO)...within reason, of course. As Yeti said, the entry drop at Winter Camp is a two stage rap, accomplished with a single rope (can be rigged static and retrieved after, too.)
  14. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Sell yourself short, please.

    I realize you have taken a course (from the outfit I kinda work for) and done a few canyons. Good on ya. My experience with people that have done so is that they really should be going out with more experienced people for at least the next couple of canyons. Bunches of friends with limited skills HAVE been successfully negotiating technical canyons for years, yes. But. We also see easily preventable accidents that are the result of bunches of friends with limited skills NOT successfully negotiating technical canyons.

    That you assess that a 190 foot rap is beyond your comfort level, but a 150 is not, indicates a lack of technical experience/understanding.

    Tom (in his role as party pooper!)
  15. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Poop away Tom, technical writing is not one of my skill sets.

    Absolutely, the latter part of this quote being key.

    To further explain my reasoning, not selling short (from a stock market perspective), i.e. you shouldn't think your knowledge to be under-valued just because you're adding a few more feet...or even over-valued when it's a few (or several) feet shorter. There are many other factors that should play-in way before the increased/decreased feet factor does.

    Tom's recommendation of upping the team's strength by adding an "expert" partner is certainly a great way to add confidence and safety to a trip.
  16. ledcat

    ledcat

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    I agree with your comments, Winter Camp only attracted me because the 190 foot rap was in 2 stages, and yes it is more of a mind thing than anything else, although we don't have alot of understanding in seeing the friction change as you get toward the end of the rope. "The other dynamics like the kind of drop, awkward start, anchor type, and so on would play much heavier than the distance (IMO)...within reason, of course". I am right there with you on that, I don' think it matters to us much, about seeing the same scenery, we just want to more experience. Were not local, so the best we will manage for the next 5 years will be 2, 1 week trips to get the most in, we can, in that time. Sure we can find a 50-60 ft. drop at home to practice our skills, but not in a canyon environment. We will be looking for a guide for a couple of the days. What is the best way on this board to advertise for this assistance? Thanks for everyones input.
  17. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    We used to have a project (very informal) of taking beginners who showed up in cyberspace under our wing. I half-jokingly thought of it as getting in front of them before they could kill themselves. There is a lot to understand about this crazy thing we do. A lot of judgment to develop. Best learned by doing canyons with people that know how to do canyons. Got some good friends and canyon partners out of this project.

    And just to be clear, I have students who took a course and were good canyoneers by the end. And I have students who took a course and NEVER will be good canyoneers. You (LEDcat) and your friends might have good natural savvy. Or not. So hard to tell from the evidence at hand.

    After 5 to 10 years of this, I think my generation got over it. I know some people have picked up on this essential part of the community of canyoneers, but I wish more people would more actively participate.

    The word "Guide" implies payment - which gets complicated quickly. I know Steve Morga is an excellent guide and works out of GJ. But I was thinking you were looking more for a "Mentor". I would suggest putting up an advertisement here on the CC, under meetup, looking for a mentor, and being very specific as to dates, canyons, etc. Or perhaps you would like to throw together a canyoneering social evening in GJ and invite everyone, and make some connections there. We used to do this in Salt Lake to great effect.

    Again, I am making the assumption you are in GJ, which may or may not be true. Sounds like you are further afield. You might be surprised to find that there are canyoneers in your area. Or when you come into the area, that there are people who are willing to host you for one day, mentor for one day. To me the idea is to get a mentor for the first day, and get taught some stuff, that you can then apply for the next couple of days and "solidify".

    If you come to Zion, I might be up for mentoring one day, depending on the schedule, my mood, etc.

    Tom :moses:
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  18. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    No, I was there recently. I guess you're right. It's slightly harder to get to those two 4 inch bolts you rappel 100 feet straight down on. :) The ability to tie into a long sling or be belayed is required now.

    Sometimes I forget just how beginner some beginners can be since I came into the sport from climbing. Maybe Rock of Ages should come off the list. Fun canyon with competent leadership though.

    I also agree with the comment that if 150 feet is okay but 190 feet is not you have no business leading any group down a canyon. Get some help; make some friends. Take a class. Hang out on the forums. It won't take long. Don't be in too much of a rush.
  19. ledcat

    ledcat

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    Folks, did not mean do get the attention focused on the 150 ft to 190 ft. thing. I was just trying to pick a longest repel distance everyone in our group would be comfortable with. In our 3 day class out of the 5 or 6 canyons we did 100 ft. was about the longest, and had to ascend the same distance. Just trying to weed out the canyons to choose from that way. I understand that an exposed anchor or awkward entry are more of a concern, and am also using that info to choose different canyons. I will try to get a hold of Steve Morga. I am surprised that your community does things like the mentoring. That is very nice, so I will post in the meet up section for our dates, making sure anyone who shows interest knows our skill level going in.
    Randy
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  20. Iceaxe

    Iceaxe

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    Rock of Ages is the perfect beginner canyon as all three rappels have a walk around. If you feel one of the rappels is above your skill level simply use the walk around.
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