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When to make the jump?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Johnny Appleseed, Dec 1, 2018.

  1. Johnny Appleseed

    Johnny Appleseed

    Long time lurker on this site and finally made an account.

    I have done quite a bit of technical canyoneering in the robbers roost/san rafael swell area. However, I have always gone with a couple other guys that are wizards with ropes, anchors, etc. I've learned a ton from them and I am super comfortable setting up anchors, working with webbing, and setting up double rope rappels. However, I am inexperienced when it comes to single rope rappels (knot block/biner blocks etc.) and what to do in emergency situations. I have never used an ascender, converted a block to a lower, or been in any situation where my ropes are stuck or too short. I've never used a prusik and when I rappel first I've always been comfortable without a fireman's belay.

    I recently moved to southern Utah and I really want to get out and explore the canyons down here. After doing some research I would feel comfortable doing a few of the "easier" canyons like the subway, keyhole, or orderville. I wouldn't be comfortable with the canyons that have bigger rappels (pine creek, mystery, behunin, etc.).

    How did you all develop your canyoneering skills? When did you make the jump from tagging along with experienced people to becoming the experienced one and bringing inexperienced people along for the ride. I would love to take my brother through a couple canyons, but he has only minimal rappelling experience.

    I read tons of articles, watch youtube videos, and frequent these forums. I can set up a biner and knot block with contigency in my living room and I can think through the precautions I need to take and what I would need to do in emergency situations, but I have no real life experience with many of these techniques. I also worry that I haven't thought through every possible situation and how to act in each scenario.

    My questions are:

    How did you practice/develop your skills?
    At what point did you feel confident enough to take beginners and keep everyone safe? Could you escape any situation you could ever reasonably be in?
    Are there any books/resources you recommend that discuss dangerous situations and how to escape them? I am poor so preferably resources that don't cost big $$$.

    Disclaimer: I have experience working in Emergency departments. I've seen people do silly things and really mess their lives up because they didn't take proper safety precautions. I am an overly cautious individual so I won't be going out alone or with beginners anytime soon, but eventually I want to have those skills.
    Ram, Kevin C, wisconnyjohnny and 2 others like this.
  2. ratagonia


    Mount Carmel, Utah
    Hi Johnny -

    Welcome to the Collective.

    Seems like you are on the right track and I thank you for your caution. Southern Utah - as in near to Zion? PM me your email and I/we will try to invite you on a few local trips... not the best time of year for that, but still.

    Leadership styles vary, but the people I hang with are happy to teach skills and then let you do most of the work. Courses are good, but getting time in with people who know what they are doing and tolerate questions well is really how skills are developed.

  3. wisconnyjohnny


    Welcome to clash of clans haha! FYI my friend broke ribs yesterday approaching keyhole. I’ve had friends struggle with exhaustion and heat on approach and exits so be mindful the canyon isn’t the only danger. Route finding can leave ya in a learch often.
    Small and little mistakes in canyoneering make ya more well rounded, I’ve had a fare share of of opps. Going in to late and hitting water in mid March. Froze ass off. Friend went inverted 80 ft above terra firma real life belay experience. Blown out anchors real life making new one or partner asst meat anchor type stuff. Not going with enough rope and using webbing to extend. Lols.
    Just try and get out a lot there are always people going. Prolly should never take out beginners unless you know a canyon in and out and exactly how to get out of any problem.
    I’m all for going out FYI
  4. Ali Miller

    Ali Miller

    Hi Johnny Appleseed, I made the jump in summer 2017 with the help of the fine folks here on CC. I'm not dead, and I attribute that to regularly training my rope skills in safe places. Find a safe/non-lethal drop to practice ascending, hauling, whatever. It sounds like you're already skilled, so work on your confidence and experience.

    When you're ready, organize a trip with your experienced friends and ask to take the lead. While leading, be open to their criticism. (This is especially important if you're out with Tom. ;)) That's when the real learning happens! Afterwards, buy them beer.

    If at any point in the process you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, stop! Try again later. The canyons aren't going anywhere.
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