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Zion Advice (Out of Towners)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by CanyoLuscious, Mar 11, 2019.

  1. CanyoLuscious

    CanyoLuscious

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    Amazing find! There is a website for everything these days. I've read through some stuff and this looks like I'm in the right spot!

    Some of my bros and I are coming from ISU to Zion for spring break to get our canyoneer on (and hopefully snap some sweet IG photos!). Thanks in advance, after researching heavily and reading almost this whole site, here are some questions!

    Our general plan is to come in, and do some "moderate" type canyons (we're all young, fit, can rock scramble - I can bench almost 2x my weight too) - realizing the easy ones will be loaded with Noobs, but we don't want to get in over our heads either. So it looks like we'd be doing any canyon with a, "3" rating? (and maybe, "Heaps" cuz those photos are sick! - don't worry, we'd jump out of the canyon before that long last rappel/lower! jk).

    We've done a ton of research, we even bought a static rope on Ebay (hoping it gets here on time! do they rent ropes?) and think we're pretty well ready to rock and roll, we just have a couple really small questions:

    1. Wetsuits - do we, "REALLY" EACH need them? It seems like it may be overkill, but I realize they rent them there too? Worst case - would it be possible to just rent one (or even two?) and just have the guy getting ready to get wet put it on?

    2. Harnesses/Descenders - I've used a GriGri at the gym, so I get the "lowering" (letting the rope out) concept. Again, seems overkill to have everyone wearing a harness and having a descender - seems like we could get by with a couple, and just drag them up in between by tying them to rope and pulling back up to the top. I read that people sometimes do that.

    3. Which campsites do all the, "canyoneering" peeps hang out at? Is there one that is a closer location to the good stuff?

    4. I imagine the rangers are working overtime to make sure it's all tip top, but can you absolutely count on having anchors/rings at ALL the anchor locations? (I mean, we'll bring some cord/webbing and be prepared in case there isn't any there, but I just wanna make sure. I wanna avoid unsafe situations like that unless absolutely necessary.)

    5. Any other emergency stuff (besides cord/webbing/achor building stuff) that we should take?

    Finally, what canyons do you guys recommend? Imlay? Mystery? (I know enough to avoid number 4's and stuff like Keyhole where all those people died.)
  2. Nordschleife

    Nordschleife

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  3. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    Hmmm no offense if this is a serious? post, but it comes across like something that should have been posted 3 weeks from today.
    Sutitan, Dave Melton and gajslk like this.
  4. CanyoLuscious

    CanyoLuscious

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    Thanks. Our spring break starts on the 18th. I'm not kidding that we are all in really good shape (but not trying to brag either - just state it as a fact). We want to do more than just walk around canyons, but we also realize that there are important safety precautions. (And, also trying to conserve $$$ where at all possible.) Honestly, I get that the more advanced people don't like waiting around on groups who may not be using, "optimal" methods and may not be all tricked out with high tech gear. That's why we're thinking we should avoid the crowds where possible, and just kinda rely on our strengths. I hope that makes sense.
  5. Steven Nguyen

    Steven Nguyen

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    The issue most here will have is not about "waiting around", it's that your post screams that you're completely underestimating the seriousness and dangers of canyoneering. It's not a question of physical fitness, it's a question of technical knowledge and experience. Jumping into a canyon without any prior experience is a recipe for disaster and, even if things don't go badly, won't be very enjoyable.

    I'd honestly recommend that you go canyoneeting with a tour company. You'll be able to do longer and more enjoyable rappels than if your group went alone. Otherwise, there's plenty of stuff other stuff to do in Zion.
  6. gajslk

    gajslk

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    Considering Imlay in April, with shared wetsuits, harnesses, and descenders, while avoiding Keyhole is a less than great idea ... way less. Keyhole is pretty much THE easy starter canyon. And yes, people have died there. Otherwise reasonable people who were new to canyoning. Which sounds like it describes your group. If you're dead set on doing a longer canyon without wetsuits, Fat Man's Misery comes to mind, at least you can escape it on foot pretty much anywhere along the way if you have a problem. It sounds like you might. And no, the rangers don't do maintenance. Checking for permits and writing tickets is pretty much the extent of their involvement out in actual canyons. And that's very rare. They will not be around to give you help or advice. You'll be on your own. Anchors are not a given. Some of the existing bolts are absolute crap and should not be used. If you can't tell which those are, you could die. Have you hiked Angel's Landing? It's a seriously great hike. You're fit? If you have two cars, do the West Rim trail from both ends(don't take the shortcut) and trade keys in the middle. Take a canyoneering class. Please. Canyoneering is different than climbing. And trad climbing, where you build anchors, is very different than climbing in a gym. Your gym experience is of absolutely no use in a canyon.
    Preston Gable likes this.
  7. CanyoLuscious

    CanyoLuscious

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    Thank you Steven - to be clear, none of us would EVER jump into a canyon if we weren't totally sure it was deep enough. I totally get that risk. I have even done some cliff jumping before. Also, I personally have a lot of outdoor experience (maybe not exactly, "canyoneering" but i've climbed a 14er, ziplined in Mexico, and even done some seriously sketchy hiking in Hawaii - again, maybe not exactly to the point, but I think I "get it" and don't want to be caught off guard - which is why I signed up here to ask some questions.)

    I thought guides were illegal in Utah? (Or, at least, Zion?) We would probably be down to hook up with a guide if it meant we didn't have to buy all of this stuff. I bet we could get some great pics that way too!

    The basic strategy as we understand it - is to run rope through the anchor (honestly, I think we could be even safer by just tying the rope directly to the anchor for all but the last guy down), and have each dude rappel down one at a time. Then (if we only had one wetsuit and decender) we could shuttle the gear back up with some paracord. Finally, the last guy would have to tie a specialty knot (or even a carabiner lock) so that the rope CANNOT pull through the anchor. He ties the paracord to the pull-through side of the rope, rappels down just like everyone else, and then he pulls the rope through and retrieves everything. We pack it up and move on to the next one? (Yes, as I think about it, it would probably be much faster to have at least two sets of wetsuits/descender so that the stuff can be simultaneously raised up while the next man goes.)

    My thinking is that would be enough for category "3" canyons (as long as our rope AND our paracord are definitely long enough)? Is there more "technical knowledge" needed even for 3's? (I was kidding about doing the #4 above - "Heaps"). I've watched SO MANY YOUTUBE VIDEOS of people who I know can't all be rope experts, and somehow they all manage to make it down. I'm thinking we just need to know the right spots for our level. Also, maybe I should be asking if there are any specific canyons that you can bail out from? Tap out! Just climb out over the top and walk back to the car (and a cerveza!).

    We're just trying to be safe. That's why I'd also like to know which canyons are GUARANTEED to have all the anchor stuff already setup. We can buy more cord and bolts to make an anchor, but I should would feel safer if all we had to do was the rope part. Thanks for the reply!
  8. gajslk

    gajslk

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    Paracord doesn't work well as a pull down cord, it's too stretchy.

    That's an easy one. Here they are.


    Good luck
  9. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Lots of problems in Zion right now. Snow in the high country, with an uncertain melt off which will close the Narrows and the Subway for a week or two or three at some time - very much unknown. A couple of important trails are closed due to rockfall - opening of those is very much unknown. The road between Canyon Junction and the Tunnel is closed, and that will be at least a month, possibly more.

    Winter conditions apply probably until at least May 1st.

    So your post looks SO MUCH like a troll at this particular time. The answer to any question you might seriously ask is "NO". How much you can bench is very much beside the point, what counts is the grey matter between your ears. It seems clear that your are uninformed.

    NO.

    Tom
  10. CanyoLuscious

    CanyoLuscious

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    Wow. I didn't see many (any?) troll posts, but you guys seem to be on high alert. Sorry if my ~enthusiasm comes off as trolling. in fairness, I'm the guy here asking for your help. I tried to be hip to your "canyoneering" lingo (which made me feel silly, but I thought I used it appropriately?). Anywho, the clue phone is ringing, and I better answer it. I've got at least enough grey matter to understand that. I don't know what I don't know. Okay. But...

    Thank you gajslk! This! "If you're dead set on doing a longer canyon without wetsuits, Fat Man's Misery comes to mind, at least you can escape it on foot pretty much anywhere along the way if you have a problem." Exactly what I was looking for!

    I've tried to inform myself, but (like so much in life) I guess READING stuff and NOT actually DOING it doesn't cut it. (Besides, it sounds like logistics may be the biggest hurdle we have to overcome!) The point I was hoping to convey by bringing up my bench press was to show that I'm more than physically capable enough (and I'm proud of it!).

    In any event, we're gonna practice on our backyard tree once the rope shows up (not big, but fun). We are so stoked to drive in leaving Saturday. We'll give Fat Man's Misery a try (and, if we get thwarted, we'll tuck our tails and leave. But I bet we can do it!) You guys we're all in our shoes once. Who knows, maybe we'll even be donning those wetsuits alongside some of you guys by the end of the next week! Rock On Amigos!
    hank moon likes this.
  11. gajslk

    gajslk

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    The internet sure has changed things ...
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  12. yetigonecrazy1

    yetigonecrazy1 yeti in the jungle

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    stinks a lot like a troll
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  13. Nordschleife

    Nordschleife

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    I also thought you were trolling, at pretty much everything you said i thought are you F'ing kidding me.
    As said Keyhole is the best noobie canyon, and the second part is pretty cold in normal conditions.
    Let alone without wetsuits in April, putting wetsuits and harnesses on/off makes it an 3 hour ordeal.
    The bolts are probably in place but it's never guarantied.
    Maybe Moab is a better place in April (the locals overhere can tell you more about the best places for each season), not difficult to find a guide there either.
    Sutitan likes this.
  14. gajslk

    gajslk

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    Why do guys thing you might be trolling? Let's look at your post with a critical eye...

    A quality rope is your most essential piece of gear. Buying one off Ebay where you have no idea what you're getting is really dumb. A ton of research would have uncovered this small fact.


    Followed by questions that are anything but small. Again, even a modest amount of real research would have revealed much.

    Zion has lots of @#%#$ cold water. In July. Cold water is life threatening. Even an "easy" canyon like Pine Creek can kill the unprepared and overconfident. Imlay? In April? It could still have snow in it. Again, your research has let you down, big time.

    How does it work, in a 50-degree, shady, damp canyon bottom, when you buddy swims a long pool, around several corners, and then gets the wetsuit back to you so you can take your turn, how, exactly? Even if the pool is short, you're both wet and cold, standing around, waiting, for a long time in a very cold place. A really good way to die of exposure.

    GriGris are worthless. In a canyon, you might as well bring a boat anchor to clip to your harness and wrap with the rope.

    You're going to be slow already. Taking gear on and off will add an amazing amount of time. You read about(idiots) doing this in things like the Subway, with two short raps that can be climbed around by the skilled(or stupid). Doing it in a real canyon is ridiculous and a recipe for disaster.

    If there was one, your research might have uncovered it. There is no Camp Four in Zion. You do have a campsite reserved, don't you? They fill up early.

    The smallest amount of research would have answered this. Rangers don't even go into the canyons, let alone maintain them. They'd prefer that no one go there. You are totally on your own here. You could almost anything, that someone removed all the rigging, that water flow has destroyed an anchor, that a previously solid bolt is now loose, that the webbing is in poor condition, lots to go wrong here.

    Knowing what you're getting into and using your brain is the best bet. It's very clear that you have no real idea what you're getting into. How do you give advice to the clueless? You can't, really. They haven't the base knowledge to understand what you're talking about.

    You're suggesting as an option one of the hardest, coldest canyons in the park without wetsuits or enough harnesses while stating that you'll avoid the standard beginner canyon. This is so ridiculous that it reeks of trolling. It's like saying that you'll climb El Cap because the gym is too crowded. On the off chance that you're serious, I have to tell you that you are completely out in the weeds. Take a class. Please. You can die out there. You have no idea what you're getting into or how to deal with any problems. Unprepared people can and do get lucky, survive, and actually have a decent time. Then they write on the internet about how casual it really is. But some run into minor problems and die or need a rescue in easy canyons. It's like Russian roulette when you do it that way. Usually you live. Five times out of six, on average. It's not the way I like to bet.
    Sutitan, Kuenn and yetigonecrazy1 like this.
  15. Steven Nguyen

    Steven Nguyen

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    To follow up on the guided tour aspect, yes there aren't any guides allowed in Zion. However, there's plenty of canyoneering to do outside Zion and a number of outfitters run tours through them. The cost may seem a bit steep, but you won't need to buy any equipment and I'm certain the overall experience will be worth it.

    If you're dead set on doing a canyon, try to find a more crowded/popular one. At least if something goes wrong there's a higher chance of there being people around to help you.

    I get that a lot of these canyons can seem simple enough when you read the trip reports and descriptions, and sometimes they can be. However, sometimes you'll get to a rappel and the anchor will be gone. This is a real possibility. Do you know how to rig a new anchor and would you have the tools to do it? If not, you may end up stuck in the middle of a canyon, with no way back out.
  16. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    Moab is a friggen zoo in April (especially during Jeep Safari week, but for the rest of the month too). I'd highly recommend somewhere else (but based on the original post Zion too).

    As for the original post, this has got to be a troll. If it is serious, then you are in the wrong sport. Try laser tag or something instead. ;)
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2019
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  17. YoungBuck

    YoungBuck

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    CanyoLuscious, one thing you have seemed to miss is canyoneering is often an old man's sport. Sure being physically fit can help, make you move faster, be less fatigued. But knowing how to throw around weights doesn't equate to the technical expertise needed to do a canyon. I feel like you seriously underestimating canyons, and overestimating yourself, those types of people we normally read about after they get pulled out by SAR after trying to share wetsuits and getting hypothermia.

    Canyoneering is like caving, to do it, you really need to know someone who does it. They can take you through canyons and help you learn skills, and develop over time. Whether a professional guide, or an experienced canyoneer this is a must. Reading about canyoneering doesn't compare to real skills, and time in the canyon. Cliff jumping, bagging a peak, going down a zip line, or even hiking. Are nothing close to canyoneering, the main similarities would be: you are outdoors. Sketchy ziplines, and cliff jumping are about having the balls to do dumb stuff. Canyoneering is about having the skills to do stuff.

    Trying to save a bit of $$$ when you are in dangerous, life threatening situations isn't exactly the smartest idea. This time of year, with a good group fully outfitted with wetsuits and harnesses the water in most canyons is dangerous. A single newbie in a fully outfitted group can be slow enough to chill an experienced group. A whole bunch of newbies spells disaster. If you really are that committed to doing some canyons, go big. Find a professional guide service and have them take you through some canyons and rent your entire group all the gear needed.

    I seriously hope this was a troll tho.
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  18. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    scottensign likes this.
  19. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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  20. scottensign

    scottensign

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    Canyoluscious, you have gotten some sage advice from some of the most experienced canyoneers out there. Not much I can add, but regarding your wetsuit question- wetsuits work by warming up the water inside the suit, which means the wetsuit has to stay on. Trading wetsuits will absolutely not work. Once you get out of the suit you will get cold fast. It is really hard to get into a wet wetsuit as well. With the cold water in Zion right now it is almost certain people will get hypothermic if you try to do this. Thick wetsuits (5+ mm) are required for any Zion 3B canyons this time of year.
    Following up on Tom and Hank's links, you might want to read these articles from climb-utah:
    https://climb-utah.com/Escalante/chop1.htm
    https://climb-utah.com/Zion/subway2.htm
    https://climb-utah.com/Zion/kolob1.htm
    Note that the snowpack in Zion this year is pretty close to what it was the year of the subway incident described in the second link. Capitol reef or north wash would be a better choice this time of year. If you have the $$, maybe go to Capitol reef and have someone like Steve Howe guide you thought a couple canyons to learn the ropes:
    http://redrockadventureguides.com/
    Matty, gajslk and ratagonia like this.
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