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News The History of Canyoneering

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ratagonia, Nov 1, 2022.

  1. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I musta missed this...
    https://wasatchmag.com/first-descents-the-history-of-canyoneering/

    Teaser:
    Just four hours south of Salt Lake City lies the birthplace and holy land of one of the most versatile adventure sports today: canyoneering. Since the late 1970s, Southern Utah has hosted a select group of adventurers as they climbed, swam, and rappeled their way into the depths of the narrowest, toughest, and most fantastic canyons on Earth. Ironically, the sport of descending got its roots from a group of dirtbags focused on ascending.

    Climbing had just a two-decade head start on canyoneering, with the first ascents of Half Dome and El Capitan both around the late 1950s. Soon, pioneers in the climbing community began creating their own gear for the sport. Companies like Patagonia and The North Face found their beginning at the base of Yosemite’s big walls and were some of the first companies to produce advanced climbing gear.

    Most of the pioneering canyoneers started out as climbers, utilizing recently developed climbing equipment to go down instead of up. Pitons were used to bolt un-anchorable rappels, and climbing ropes lowered the early athletes over waterfalls and overhanging cliffs. But canyoneering did not truly have its own identity like climbing did. It was more an activity for climbers to do in their off time than a sport in its own right.
  2. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    First ascent of Half Dome was in 1875.

    Kelsey's first canyoneering book wasn't published in 1986. That was a hiking guidebook. Hence the title, "Canyon Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau." His canyoneering guide came out in 2003.

    A "versatile" adventure sport. That's funny.

    Good times.
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  3. Fat Canyoner

    Fat Canyoner T2

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    Of course, canyoning in Australia predated canyoneering in Utah by quite some time. Here in the Blue Mountains, the first roped descent of a slot canyon was in 1940 (our rock climbing scene started a few decades before that, too). Canyoning here took off after the discovery of Claustral Canyon in the very early 1960s. It's still considered a world-class slot canyon, which is why it was featured on the cover of National Geographic about 10 years back.

    An interesting little article on the birth of canyoning (also called canyoneering at times) in the Blue Mountains is available here: http://www.david-noble.net/canyoning/Essay/CanyonEssay.html
  4. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    You would perhaps not notice that even LOCALLY, this article is decidedly parochial. Welcome to Utah.

    Ruckman and Ruckman: "It was here [Big Cottonwood Canyon] that [Harold Goodro] made his legendary [first] ascent of Goodro's Wall in the later forties. Details of the ascent are a bit sketchy; however, it may have been the first recorded 5.10 lead in the country."
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2022
  5. Flapbag

    Flapbag

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    How did this appear in your feeds haha? It’s from 2017. Good read and I would be curious what your take on it @ratagonia , especially canyoneering being just a fun side activity for climbers.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  6. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    "Climbing had just a two-decade head start on canyoneering, with the first ascents of Half Dome and El Capitan both around the late 1950s."

    I know it may be difficult for some to understand, but The Nose on El Capitan was not the first technical rock climb in the United States.

    ... and the hilarity goes on from there.

    Climbers considering canyoneering to be a fun side activity is featured on a regular basis in "Accidents in North American Canyoneering".

    Tom
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2022
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  7. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Be interesting to see that data...!

    I devour the ANAC (as its now called) when it shows up in the mail. Reinforces safety things for me and my people.

    I think the ICAD makes an attempt to analyze and report out on canyon accidents. We hear of a ton of accidents but not many make it to ICAD and no one out there is really collecting that information. Even so, I don't think climbers getting into canyoneering are having accidents "on a regular basis".

    What's always interesting to ponder, for me, is to look at the 60k demographics of climbing accidents as compiled in the ANAC.

    Age, sex and level of experience.

    For climbing accidents, its 36-50 years old, male, and "expert".

    And, "rappelling" isn't a primary cause. Climbing accidents mostly happen with a lead climber, falling on the ascent, on rock or in alpine environments.

    Trend for accidents and fatalities didn't really seem to be a spike this year compared to years past. Which, if the data is reasonable, is a good trend especially given the participation levels in the sport.

    I could take a guess for canyon accidents. Be interesting to actually look at five years of data from all reported accidents.

    I really should pick up "death and rescues in Zion"...for that little slice of info. Hmm.
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  8. Flapbag

    Flapbag

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    Is there any kind of definitive historyish information out there when it comes to this? I have mostly just read tid bits in guide books and the amazing Canyon Tales site.
    Part of what got me into the canyons was the amazing story telling and writing that I saw on canyon tales that really motivated me to have canyon adventures. Is there any kind of hard copy version of the Canyon Tales stuff? Or other publications about canyons? Anything like The Climbing Zine but for Canyoneers?

    It’s a scene that has so many people writing and sharing their stories that there must be something.


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  9. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    There is Canyon Tales...

    Internet... changes everything!
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  10. Yellow Dart

    Yellow Dart It's only hubris if I fail.

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    One day, when @Ram is too creaky and cranky to be hauled through canyons, many of us wish him to compile such a tomb.

    Even if of only his own ventures (ad- or otherwise).
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  11. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I hope you meant "tome".
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  12. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Mixed reviews on the facts but a nice little shoutout to the sport and it’s pioneers…then and now.

    Deer flies must have been really bad that day…
    Still amusing when this “gaff” is repeated in an article of this nature.
    (see what I did there)

    upload_2022-11-7_6-52-8.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2022
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  13. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    Many technical canyons in Utah (Choprock, North Fork Trail, the Egypts, etc., etc.) have moki steps in them dating back several hundred years and possibly thousands.

    A pretty good article and more accurate than the above one:

    The sport of slot canyoneering is very old. Witness the rows of Moqui steps (hand and toe holds pecked into the rock by pre-Puebloans seven hundred or more years ago) in remote slots all over the Colorado Plateau. The Mormon pioneers mentioned slot canyons in the mid-1800s and John Wesley Powell led a group through Parunuweap Canyon – an easy but committing canyon – in the early 1870s.

    The modern-day version of slot canyoneering really started in the late 1960s and into the 1970s. Small groups were working different areas. But, we mostly didn’t know what others were doing. I’d call those years the Golden Age of Slot Canyoneering. Just about every slot we did was a first descent.

    https://utahadvjournal.com/index.php/interview-steve-allen
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2022
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  14. Flapbag

    Flapbag

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    Very good little interview. I had never heard of the Cannan wilderness area and this article has me interested.
  15. Yellow Dart

    Yellow Dart It's only hubris if I fail.

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    Because as an area it's a real 'earner'; meaning access is long with large elevation gain.

    And getting up there, there are really only 3 access points; 2 are close together so may as well be 1, and the other is difficult to find from the bottom-up.

    Don't ask me how I know, I don't want to talk about it. :dead:

    But if you have the calves for it, majestic beauty abounds, and no people around.
  16. Yellow Dart

    Yellow Dart It's only hubris if I fail.

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    Aye, you're right, up to a thousand is what the current archaeological estimation is.

    If Puebloan, 200-300 years old.

    If pre-Puebloan it'd go back to the rise and sudden evaporation of the Anasazi, 1050-1300 AD.

    Pre-Anasazi? Not much is really known pre-Anasazi.

    But oh to see Mesa Verde in 1250 AD...
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  17. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Google is a bit short on info about Cannan Wilderness Area... though this place with a similar spelling seems to have IT going on... ;-)

    https://wilderness.net/visit-wilderness/?ID=714

    (welcome to Utah)
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