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Thank You Secret Canyon Pioneers

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Jared Robertson, Jan 15, 2015.

  1. Jared Robertson

    Jared Robertson

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    It’s a slow day in canyoneering-land - slow enough that I have to spend my time thinking about canyoneering instead of reading about it. Consequently, I had an epiphany, and it hit me pretty hard.

    I was ignorant when I joined the canyoneering community. I read about people with secret canyons who chose not to share them. I convinced myself that secret canyons were an exclusionary tactic intended to divide the canyoneering community. Consequently I felt hurt and excluded whenever the topic came up. I realize now that it is not fair of me to feel this way.

    There are many arguments for publishing secret canyons. Some of the big ones are:
    • If we share canyons then everybody has a chance see them.
    • Open communities can collaborate on best and safest practices for a particular canyon.
    • All secret canyons will be discovered and published eventually.
    • Secret canyons create a clubhouse mentality. People feel excluded.
    Those are valid arguments and I agree with every one of them. None of these reasons compare to my really big, important epiphany and THE REASON people should keep them secret: Canyoneers don’t keep canyons secret from others, they keep them secret for others. In other words, they are letting me discover those canyons on my own. We live in a time where canyons are out there waiting to be discovered. They have no public names, no public beta, no bolts and no rope grooves. Thank goodness. This means I can still hope to have an unbeta-ed, "first" descent.

    I am thankful to you pioneers who have chosen not to publish all your canyons. I am especially grateful that you are following Leave No Trace principles so that when I do discover these canyons on my own, I will never know if I was the first person in them or not. Finally, thanks to everyone who publishes information on sand traps, fiddlesticks, and other ghosting techniques. Because of your forethought, I will be able to have the same experiences as you and even carry on this tradition to the next generation of canyoneers.

    Again, we are so lucky to be canyoneering in this short time span where we have access to many published canyons as well as unpublished ones. Soon there will only be published canyons. Why would anyone work to end this era of exploration so quickly?
  2. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    I kind of felt the same way when I first started out, but then I realized there was more than enough beta'd canyons for me to learn on and improve my skills and in the unlikely event that I ever managed to exhaust the list of beta'd canyons well then I could expand out into the unknown if I hadn't done that already.
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  3. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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    Note: the following does not reflect Hank Moon's view. How's that for brevity? Oops.

    ----


    An opposing view...

    http://ropewiki.com/index.php/User:Lucach

    When it comes to canyon Beta there are two school of thoughts in the USA: The Utah/Arizona way and the Chris Brennen way.
    • The Utah/Arizona Way: 30 years ago a bunch of rock climbing hobos (watch "Gorging" if you want to know their names) that got too fat to keep climbing started descending canyons instead. They discovered amazing canyons but decided to keep them secret and only share it with a small circle of friends, since this was the only way for many of them to score with girls. Over the years this evolved into a widespread secretive canyoneering culture that still dominates the region. Proof of that are the countless trip reports on CanyonCollective.com that report 50+ pictures but end with "this canyon is so good that I have to keep it secret to protect it". Which usually means "if you kiss my ass I may take you", because let's face the truth... a canyon that is over 10,000yo and endures massive flash floods every year does not need protection... the only thing that needs protection here is the self esteem of poorly endowed individuals.
    • The Chris Brennen Way: 30 years ago a CalTech University professor and avid waterfall hiker had a group of rock climbing students in his class. Together they devised a way to descend waterfalls and explore canyons that had never been visited by man before. Chris Brennen started writing detailed beta of their explorations, that they called Adventure Hikes, and started publishing it all online for free. Some of his canyoneering students would go on to become NASA astronauts (the ultimate explorers) while his beta would go on to inspire a whole new generation of adventurers, now called canyoneers. Chris Brennen himself is now well over 70yo but still descending canyons (recently in Ouray) and still adding beta to his website, which he has arranged to be hosted indefinitely after his death in order to guarantee permanent free access to his beta for all.
    I don't know about you... but when I grow up, I want to be like Chris Brennen! That is why I post all my beta on Ropewiki, a website that follows the open community spirit Brennen pioneered. I encourage you to do the same. If you choose to keep "your" canyons secret, that's fine too. Just be aware the world will go on without you and someday someone will rediscover and publicize your secret canyon. That's what happened with the Utah fat rock climbers... who then started demanding canyons like "Smiley Cricket" to be called "Poe", the name they originally gave it though they kept it secret for 30 years. That's a bit fucked up, don't you think? I think these guys deserve oblivion rather than recognition.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2015
  4. Mike

    Mike epic blarneys

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    Thanks for the post. I feel very thankful as well.

    A couple examples of what you are talking about happened this year. 2 "new" canyons had a total of 3 separate groups looking to explore each of them. Each group did their own leg work and then went into the canyons without beta and with the skills to ghost. The result was everyone got to enjoy a pristine exploration with a level of adventure that is pretty damn satisfying. Also, grizzled veterans get to enter into the day with greater excitement and a heightened awareness, probably similar to the feeling of those first days out on your own.
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  5. Mike

    Mike epic blarneys

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    Wow. Did someone not invite this guy to their birthday party?

    also

    5166465451_ded900eaf8_z.
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  6. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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    Ha ha ha...the dude ABIDES. Just saw it last week (probably for the 5th time).

    He missed the party. Something about taking notes on a dance cycle...
    Mike likes this.
  7. Jenny

    Jenny

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    Hmmmm, Luca, you out there?! We need to talk buddy! Who you calling "fat"? I'd love to hear who you think "demanded"? That's for another thread.

    Back to Jared's lovely post.

    Jared: "Again, we are so lucky to be canyoneering in this short time span where we have access to many published canyons as well as unpublished ones. Soon there will only be published canyons. Why would anyone work to end this era of exploration so quickly?"

    Thank you for your honest and eloquent thoughts. I wish you and yours a dance card FULL of exciting explorations!
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  8. Jared Robertson

    Jared Robertson

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    Ironically, Luca's user page was the exact page that prompted this thread. If I hadn't read it I would probably still agree with it.

    As a side note, I love ropewiki and the passionate people who contribute to it.
    Ram, Bootboy and hank moon like this.
  9. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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    Me, too.

    Love to the secret fatties!

    AND

    Love to the wikids!

    :twothumbs:
  10. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    Jared,

    It's nice to see others catch the vision. If canyons are kept off the radar they can be explored in perpetuity. That's the first reason to keep them "secret". The second reason serves the first, to protect them from those that would not keep them so, that to satisfy ego or vain ambition would publish them under the auspices of "sharing with the community". Once that gift is taken away it can never be re-given. To snatch that from subsequent descenders is prideful and selfish. There is already a lifetime's worth of published canyons.

    Often the better gift is the one given anonymously without the recipient knowing, e.g: the opportunity to experience true adventure and the sense of mystery that comes when venturing into the presumably unknown. I suspect that I have been the recipient of this gift, though it's impossible to say for sure. If so, a thank you to the ones who went before and DID NOT say anything.

    That's why I'm so thankful to be counted a friend by some of the pioneers of this philosophy. They have taught me much have and enriched my canyon experience immensely. They are also some of the nicest folks one could hope to run afoul of...

    I'm also thankful that there are areas that are considered venues for beta-less exploration. May they ever be so.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015
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  11. Cameron

    Cameron The canyons are my playground

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    I don't know really how I feel about all the canyon beta. I just know I appreciate it. I moved here because I loved it. I am working hard to grow in canyoneering and the beta helps my process.

    I just know I like to explore the Vermillion Cliffs area. I love finding things that potentially nobody has seen or maybe its been so long. I love being in areas that the footprints are of the natives...aka all the animals.

    I found this amazing area after studying area on google earth for awhile, reading, looking at topo maps then driving in and hiking in deep sand across to the edge of the plateau. The colors are amazing. The rocks are pink, purple, red, maroon, blue and they have eroded away. The sand has swirls of these colored rocks still in place. I sat and looked and realized that someone hasn't stepped in this in such a long time. Colorful sand sections have eroded from the rock and sat on the ground in amazing piles and patterns.

    I share this place with people that have the same fever as me. I know one day it will be found and hoards of people will take tours to come see it and once they do...that eroded colorful sand will be stomped on, pounded on, stolen, shuffled and never the same.

    One day it will be published. I will enjoy it until then but share it with people that love that area as much as I do.

    But for me and canyon data......beta encourages me and inspires me to get out there and grow and adventure and gives me a gift that my insides really needed every time I rappel down that rope, or down climb something crazy and look above high at the canyon walls.....I heal a little bit, I grow a little bit, and my need for adventure fires a little bit higher.

    But I like that there are canyons out there...that are like my special area in the Vermillion Cliffs that are waiting for me to find. Fulfilling something primitive inside us all. Hold onto it, its precious. The more technology we have means the less priceless primitive adventure that is out there. Once its gone...its gone forever and we can't have it back.

    Giving the gift of adventure to others, man...priceless.
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  12. Cameron

    Cameron The canyons are my playground

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    that being said I hear a good hj is a good way to get secret canyon beta. just sayin'
  13. AW~

    AW~

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    Ropewiki is....ropewiki LOL. I contributed a little because I think its more important that we are kinda unified than apart. I dont think anyone is 'superior', but I do know I cant go where I do go with the mindset of ropewiki.

    So that said :happy:, Luca's interpretation of American canyoneering doesnt match any recollection I have of it.

    Reading that statement was funny though about how he wants to be like Chris Brennan. Is that why the Havasu canyon 'beta' was put in? It was undiscovered? LOL....its called "narcissism". Dont stop ropewiki now though...its funny to me.

    Since every terrain feature is entered into the wiki by the narcissists as a route/destination, the 'scenic unknowns' remain quite obscure....

    Heres another thing that remains obscure.....the canyoneering perspective that actually allows access....sure, the techincal side is out there....especially now that you can grab phone shots of technical info to apply in the field or just call rescue. But the part about being a canyoneer isnt....and Im not talking about the young not wanting to go the way of the old. Navigation is a big part of canyoneering as well, but you wont find it on ropewiki. Also big is the canyoneering ethos...which is a statement that canyoneering is the best practices of all related endeavors.

    For example, Eaton canyon in the San Gabriels. The first obstacle is called "the point of no return". Its a lowish angle shortish drop usually into a pool of water. Its bolted just in case you cant handline 10ft...OK...but the thing is its not a class 3 obstacle. It can be bypassed harmlessly canyon left. Its not obvious to the casual person descending, but it is to a canyoneer. If you were of the 'opposite viewpoint', you might say "Its hidden so thats what Im talking about"....but its NOT hidden. Its simply not thrashed to the lowest level of stupidity(yet). As a canyoneer, I dont need a bulldozed path, nor will ever need one. I dont keep the environment as pristine as possible to one up anyone, its just a matter of efficient navigation....I dont need to hold someones hand all the way on a route.

    I do see that not everyone is like me:cool:. Some people just want their hand held all the way...and I think they can achieve that by basically going with guides. Like they do in Europe:tongue:

    One other thing about this "it will be rediscovered"....yeah, I know about that. We have a route here in the SGs named Rubio. It was "rediscovered", which means nobody bothered to lookup the public and very unhidden history of the east rubio route....very common on ropewiki....so they could claim it for their own(and its been claimed as new more than once).....And put in 2 bolts on a 7ft downclimb...gotta love what has to be done to hold peoples hand all the way.

    End of rant!
  14. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    I'm hoping this doesn't come off as an opposing view, it's not intended to be, especially since the OP was more than fair to both sides of the secret vs disclosure argument. Of which, I fully support...both sides.

    If I may, I would like to contrast this with another sport that I enjoy very much and with which equally find great satisfaction. That of cave exploration. Where this same argument has waged on for many years.

    The answer to Secret vs Disclosure ... wait for it ... is moderation, plain and simple.

    Honestly, with disclosure comes exposure, and both sports thrive on it. Books are written, beta published, gear manufactured, commerce, merchandising, websites, social media, the list is lengthy. Where would either sport be without the participatory advertising? Truthfully, without it - the publicity, the noise, the hype and hoopla - in the natural course of time - interest would fade, crowds would disperse, leaving in its wake the few purest and old timers regaling tales of yesteryear. New-blood IS the life-blood of almost every interest. And it takes a moderate amount of ballyhoo to perpetuate it.

    There are some great canyons and caves out there that, undoubtedly, would be much better off today had they been kept a secret; void of the trampling herds. But is the preferred alternative to bury it, build a fence around it or buy it up and post No Trespassing? Is the results of that action any different than keeping it a secret? Maybe, maybe not. Some might advocate the motive is more palpable, though.

    Quoting Luca, "a canyon that is over 10,000yo and endures massive flash floods every year does not need protection", may be a tad hyperbolic, but at the same time, it does have a ring of some truth.

    Consequently, if you are going to tell about it, you need to become part of the protection of it. Disclosure gives rise to responsibility. Use it, but don't abuse it. Talk about it and then take care of it....or stop going. That way we can all maintain a pretense of virtuous character and rest comfortably.

    For me, I prefer the moderate approach.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015
  15. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    I'm grateful to beta that opened up the activity called 'canyoneering' to me. I'm grateful that there are many unknowns still left to discover freely.

    My wish is that all who enter actively respect the outdoors and others who all share these amazing resources.
  16. Deagol

    Deagol too many hobbies

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    that editorial comes across as more than a bit aggressive to me.....
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  17. AW~

    AW~

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    Its not "secret" though....there are no secret routes on Google Earth. The proposition I put forward is one of creating non-beta/exploratory places so that future generations can retain a smidgen of being a visitor to an ecosystem without being a disease to it. Then the only question would shift to say who is the moderator? Who picks what places get to be preserved in that way and will they still be preserved?
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  18. Ram

    Ram

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    Anybody wish to make a guess how many beta'd canyons are on the Colorado Plateau. Lets forget the mountain canyons, Death Valley and other venues for now. I really don't know but if you include the side forks, like Mr. Patterson and I think you should....What? 600+?. How many people have done half of them? Not me. Kelsey perhaps. Some other determined "listers?" Maybe! Enough fare to last most a lifetime, don't you think? And for those who focus on exploration? My guess is less than 1/2 the amount beta'd already, with a bit less than 1/2 of those having seen descents.

    Seems like enough for everyone perhaps. Every year a few slide over in to the beta'd list, often to great fanfare. They will all be found. They all will be beta'd eventually. Its just a matter of when. And if a bit of a 'holding action" slows the pace for awhile, perhaps for a generation or so, that is lovely. If an area big enough gets enough proponents "asking" that it be an exploration preserve, then it might be one, for awhile. Polite advocacy of an idea, enough people think is a good idea

    It was pointed out that the development of ghosting techniques is pivotal to the idea of an area of slots getting discovered over and over again, and enjoyed with that edgy feeling of not knowing what is in store.....This feels right. I have called this time the Silver Age of Canyoneering on the plateau. Something for everyone, for now. There are those that disagree with the premise of this newer philosophy of leaving some things unknown. Change is hard and threatening to some or they plain see it differently. What is objectionable is the mean spirited assumptions about what motivates others. It so often takes the shape of classifying people as being one way or another. Right or wrong. No middle ground. No nuance. Then it is just a step from "you are wit us..or agin us" It demagoguery and it so often works.

    At the same time, this place (CC) has the most vocal proponents of a new ethic. We should guard against singing to our own choir. The first hand use of these new methods of ghosting almost always leads people to be impressed and supportive of the new ideas. But most do not have access to these tool and they are lurking here (raise your hands), full of skepticism. So rather than congratulating ourselves, we should be making efforts to introduce these ideas to new people and in the field. And if we are able to do it with a little grace, manners, sound arguments and safety based demonstrations, then maybe we can get another generation of folks having true adventure....or not. But we should not be absolutists and nor disingenuous. Its going to take a lot of floods to make Spry whole again and that is true of many other canyons too. Avoid self serving half truths. We need to speak up about it being important, leaving little to no trace. It is moving toward being the norm. It has a way to go. It needs our help

    There was a time on Yahoo that I published stories about secret canyons on that board. The reaction of several folks was very hostile. I stopped doing it. I stopped out of respect of the sensibilities of those I did not agree with. There may be some of that type posts now, but i can't think of any on CC, as was implied. Just more trying to draw lines of "Us and Them." And then attacking them. Being one of the "them" I will share some different reasons why some canyons remain secret. Sometimes a canyon has a place where the group can not see ANY anchoring technique, that will not cause resource damage. I have seen a particularly dangerous spot embraced as a reason to keep it on the down under, for a time. More often, a finished canyon is next to or near other active projects of that group. There are other reasons, some just because they were ghosted and the place has big anchor challenges by non ghosting means. BUT also secret keepers also publish canyons too. Some secret keepers have shared the most ideas along with canyons too. It has nuance. Resist the right or wrong, black and white arguments and move forward with the most integrity and honesty about yourself and your clan, that you can muster. A quote I read on a Doug French post..."Don't believe everything you think."

    Sorry for going so "soapbox." I got carried away :poop::moses::poop:
    A Fat canyoneer doomed to eventual oblivion
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015
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  19. Luca

    Luca

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    There no always black or white, but I admit it openly, I have little respect for those that keep canyons secret, whatever their reason, they are usually just a bunch of excuses to boost ego. I come from a different culture. I got introduced to canyoneering by my hero Chris Brennen, which like me, follows the scientific method: investigate, discover, publish. Many of us in California got into it inspired by his website. I also have great respect for the Todd Martins, Tom Jones, Luke Galyan, Pascal Van Duin (Italy), and anyone that publishes books or posts beta online. They are truly inspiration for many others.

    Can you imagine if anyone that discovered anything good kept it secret where humanity would be now?
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  20. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I've always found "boost the ego" to be the fall-back reason people make up for other people's actions when they decline to understand the actual reasons, as stated by the person involved. And almost always completely false.

    (wow, complicated sentence).

    Thank you for including me among the beta-providers, Luca, but I am mostly a beta-withholder. We have discussed exactly why it makes good sense to withhold canyon information on many occasions, and in many ways. There is an old proverb, Luca:

    "I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you."

    Tom :moses:
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