Posts Tagged ‘Fast Canyoneering’

Zion Trifecta

June 29, 2009

We’d been planning the Trifecta for over a year, and as of June 27, there is now one less amazing project in Zion National Park “undone”. Jared Campbell, Ryan McDermott, and I did the 3 biggest canyons in the Park in one day.

Zion is aptly called a “Sandstone Yosemite”. An appropriate name, but what “Yo” lacks, are the extremely narrow slot canyons deeply incised into the soft sandstone; they are often filled with cold water, are dark, and end in high vertical pour-offs above the main canyon bottom; an entire world apart, literally invisible until one finds and rappels into their depths.

Only in the last 10 years has the sport of canyoneering developed. Needless to say, the thought of not just doing them, but seeing how fast I could do them, entered my mind years ago. I’m way too old to win any trail races or set records on well known big routes, but age paradoxically has some benefits similar to those of youth: 1) You don’t try to fit in, and instead do what pleases you; 2) You can be a pain in the ass and your friends and family still tolerate you.

We’ll leave #2 alone; #1 is the aspect pertinent to this project.  Projects like the Trifecta, are like “Plucking the low-hanging fruit, located way far out on the limb.”

HeapSteep

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Hyper-Canyoneering in Zion National Park

May 26, 2008

In the hugely growing sport of high speed canyoneering (I think that there are probably 2 or 3 of us out there :) ) I have a few potential records to throw out there. 

November 23, 2007

Long-time friend, climber extraordinaire, and extremely talented canyoneer Ryan McDermott and I were in Zion for another weekend of adventure.  When we arrived we had a spare hour so we thought we’d try to set a record on Pine Creek.  We know it fairly well after having done is a dozen times or so.  With a 60m rope, and a single 100′ line we took off from the small parking lot east of the Tunnel in high-speed mode.  We did 2 rappels in the main slot canyon and then the final long rappel at the end.  We touched down on the final rappel in 14 minutes 50 seconds.  We then ran out quite expeditiously to the normal exit from Pine Creek, hitting the road at 30 minutes and 50 seconds.  We were quite happy about this but concluded that through perfecting the rope work and getting the run out the drainage a bit more dialed we could get down to 25 minutes pavement to pavement.  In this sport I always take am moment at the end to be grateful for not breaking anything.  Good times!

FYI, The next day we did a winter descent of the full Kolob Canyon, which was quite exciting.  It involved icy pools and a long slog out through the Narrows….  Could Winter Canyoneering be the next big thing?  :)

May 17, 2008

After going through Keyhole canyon with friends at a leisure pace I thought I’d try it in high-speed mode.  Armed with ONLY my trusty LaSportivaFireblades, running shorts, and 20′ of webbing, I left the car (parked at the end of Keyhole) running down the road, ripped up the sandstone wash to the hoodos and proceed to perform “controlled falling” down the root infested hill and through the intro canyon section.  I passed party of ~6 who were pulling on dry-suits, neoprene socks, gloves, sticky rubber boots, etc. gearing up for a “real” canyoneering experience.  I chucked my rope down the first drop, slid down the tree and went through the next few drops as quickly as possible.  I did use the 20′ of webbing for the only mandatory “rappel”, which I hand over handed down.  I jumped right in the last water section and swam through it, which was certainly faster than chimneying higher up.  Quite a thermal shock to the system but as long as your heart rate is about 190 you’re fine!  :)  Once out of the water it’s less than 60 seconds to the car.  Good times!  I’ll be back down on June 6/7 and plan to do it again but with a head-mounted video camera on for those interested, it should provide a few good laughs and if I don’t break anything I’ll be pleased.

Up and Coming

On June 22, 2008 Buzz and I are going to try what I call the Zion Trifecta.  This will be a wicked cool day (and by “day” I mean all of 24 hrs) attempting to linkup the 3 big daddies of Zion: Heaps, Imlay, Kolob, in that order.  More to come on this….


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