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FAQ Grand Canyoneering Conditioning and Succession

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Scott Chandler, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. Scott Chandler

    Scott Chandler Wildness is a necessity-John Muir

    In the Cove Canyon TR posted recently, Rich mentioned something that has poked at my mind since I got Todd's Grand Canyoneering book and made it a life goal to make it to some of the awesome canyons within. So instead of stealing that thread I wanted to ask this in a new one.

    What type of canyon succession do folks recommend when it comes to these "Grand canyons" and what conditioning has worked for others? Is there any type of good experiential sequence amongst The Grand's pool of canyons?
  2. Rich Rudow

    Rich Rudow

    Hi Scott, here are a few quick thoughts:

    1 - Conditioning: I ride mountain bikes for cardio, work my upper body at the gym, and Todd and I hit the climbing gym every few weeks just to tug on the arms, but the best training for Grand Canyon is to hike Grand Canyon often. Doing bleachers with a 50# pack for a few hours can help if you don't have some good hills around.

    2 - Early Canyon progression: It's best to have actually backpacked in Grand Canyon before doing slots to develop lightweight systems. Rim to Rim backpack over two or three days is a good start. Then do some of the Marble Canyon overnight slots. South Canyon via the Bedrock route is a good introduction to off trail hiking with a load. Rider Canyon is a really good introduction. Both mix in some easy, but beautiful slots. Then do Shinumo Wash as an overnight for a stunning slot with an easy packraft exit. Then do Tatahoysa as an overnight. Finally, do the Tatahatso loop over 3 days affording more packrafting, more difficult entry/exit terrain, and a harder technical slot. Or do Big Canyon with an overnight camp in the LCR and out Salt Trail. The key here is to test and acquire confidence in very lightweight gear for minimal camping and packrafting. No tents either. Don't canyon when it's going to rain :)

    3 - Mid level Canyons: Boulder Creek via South Kaibab over 3 days. Cove Canyon with the Lava Falls packraft exit is another great adventure over 3 days. Muav Canyon off the North Bass trail over 3 days. Garden Creek in the corridor as a day hike - or as an easier overnight at Indian Garden. Crackbaby and Rattlesnake in Kanab Creek via the Flipoff route - really stunning stuff. Middle Arm of Deer Creek via Bill Hall trail - one the very best slots in GCNP - 3 days

    4 - Big Adventures: 150/Matkat/Olo is one of the finest Wilderness Adventures in the World. Allow 5 days minimum. Surprise Canyon has a series of loops allowing one to spend 4 or 5 days hitting slot after slot and it's stunning stuff. Tuckup Canyon has 4 slots with a series of loops that can occupy 4 hard days or you can hit a few in a weekend. Down Fern Glen and out Stairway is a hard but phenomenal 3 day trip. Kanab 0, Whispering Falls sneak, out Scotties is fantastic over 4 days.

    5 - Crazy Hard: Pocket Point Canyon. Obsession Canyon. Cork Spring. Tapeats Cave Canyon. Sinyella Canyon via the legal Havasu class 5 route. Bring your A game. I don't think any of these have been done again since we went down them.

    And when you're feeling really good about these, there are innumerable others that can be done as Wilderness loops by piecing slots together in Todd's book via different routes. Then there are 40 slots that haven't been published :)

    I know folks here have done some of these canyons recently and can comment on the progression. I'm probably not a great judge. I started backpacking in GC 25 years ago and slowly started bringing longer ropes. You might be too old to canyon if you take as long as I did to figure this out! :)


    Erik, Jenny, ratagonia and 1 other person like this.
  3. Scott Chandler

    Scott Chandler Wildness is a necessity-John Muir

    ROFLMAO!! :rofl: Too true.

    Eh 25yrs will put me in my 40's so hopefully I won't be too broken and frail from adventuring to feel old.

    Thank you for the advice Rich. I greatly appreciate it. And thank you for pioneering the Grand slots! You work is inspiring and it is great how freely you share about it. They look awesome and I can hardly wait to get some adventuring done there. I already have a trip planned in Marble Canyon this Feb and I hope to do the rim to rim fall/winter 2014.
  4. Josh Case

    Josh Case Rock!

    Rich is absolutely right about conditioning. The best training for hiking in Grand Canyon is to Hike in Grand Canyon. Getting your Base Pack Weight (BPW) down is also crucial. Some of these slots require BIG ropes, and ropes are heavy as you know. A lightweight backpacking kit is critical to enjoyment and taking some of the "physical punishment" out of the trip. Plus it makes it acceptable to toss a few beers in and remain 'civilized'. Also, what Rich states regarding the Kanab area from Flipoff, it is ridiculously beautiful, but beware of the roads. They can be tough in spots and love to eat tires!

    Also note the Esplanade walk below Fishtail Mesa is a real biotch if you are thinking of the full descent of Whispering Falls. We aborted some of this in September and went right down Rattlesnake. A really nice canyon, with water. We broke a couple of potholes loose. It was quite an impressive show! You could really find a base camp around Flipoff/Kanab junction and hit 3-4 slots from there. The Marble Canyon suggestion is also a very good one. The Bedrock Nose Route (UPS Route) into South Canyon is a very good prep for off-trail hiking in GC. So many possibilities Scott, get out there and start knocking them out! There are lots of folks who I am sure you can find to go with you.
    Scott Chandler likes this.
  5. dweaver2130

    dweaver2130 Canyoneering Duo from AZ

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