Posts Tagged ‘Canyoneering’

Zironman – pt1

November 13, 2011

(This is a trip from early summer 2011. I’ve haven’t felt like writing until now.)

I felt like Davy Crockett. The Trans Zion – a wonderful run that traverses Zion National Park from one end to the other – was getting too crowded. Once an uncommon adventure, it seemed like someone was now doing it every spring weekend.

So in May when Jared Campbell shoots me an email with a Google Earth file attached and the entire text of the message is “Call me. :)” … well, I examined the file then called immediately. Turns out he had devised a new route thru Zion National Park, a very clever one going from west to east over the best summits, thru the best canyons, crossing some unknown territory, and with minimal time on actual trails. The Google Earth file showed a technical route climbing up to and then descending Icebox Canyon, running up the Hop Valley Trail to Wildcat TH, climbing the two Guardian Angels, then launching across unknown terrain hoping to connect with the West Rim Trail. From there the idea was to descend Imlay Canyon to the Narrows, then complete the Traverse by scrambling up Orderville Canyon. I loaded my Utah Topo! DVD, carefully studied the contours, and was somewhat surprised: this route actually seemed possible. This looked great.

Game on.



Granary Canyon

March 29, 2011

Granary Canyon is outside of Moab, which is good, because people go to Moab all the time, so it’s important to find things to actually do there, besides what everyone else is doing.  So we mix it up:  we left Boulder early Friday morning, did a good run that same day (see previous post), and rolled into Moab in time to hose ourselves down before dinner.  Our clever plan is to then rest the legs with a canyoneering adventure on Saturday, before concluding with a strong run on Sunday (see next post), and arriving back in Boulder after a full weekend around 10 pm.  Sound good?


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.”



Winter Dreams

January 25, 2009


It’s snowing.  It’s grey, dark and cold outside; the ground is frozen and uninviting.  The holiday gatherings are gone, spring has not yet arrived, and I’m irritated rather than impressed hearing of my friends in California doing 50 mile trail races wearing shorts and t-shirt.  Here, it’s January, aka, mid-winter.  I thus have two options:    

gsnowA) Take advantage of this time to: Increase my pathetic flexibility by starting a yoga routine; strengthen my weaknesses by a careful weight-training program; improve my diet by laying off the chocolate-covered almonds at bedtime; and keep running enough to stay in shape for a springtime buildup.  

B) Spend hours fantasizing about all the fun projects to do this summer.
Guess which option I’m choosing?  So here goes …


Canyonlands – March 26-30

April 2, 2008
Canyonlands is a great place. We went there at the end (hopefully) of this long winter, the best part being as one runner friend said, is “so we can touch actual earth for a change”.

Elephant Butte Indeed.

We started by going up Elephant Butte. It had some tricky spots. It’s not called “adventure running” for nothing.

We then moved on to a canyon called Bighorn. The weather was in the 60’s, the sun was out, and … no mud or snow!

The slickrock country of course is amazing. Miles and miles of pure sandstone, blue skies … and dry ground.

Bighorn required us to employ an unusual anchor for a rappel. Two of us lay spread eagle on the slightly sloping slickrock, while the other two in turn rapped 100′ down to gentler ground, with nothing but body weight anchoring the rope. The first person down got hung up on an overhanging section, which dragged us two “anchors” 6″ across the rock, causing an anxious moment. Then the second to last (and lightest, since now there is only one person anchoring the system) rapped off. The very last person of course has to figure out something else entirely, which in this case was a thin downclimb finished off with a two person shoulder stand. Anyone observing this might wonder if we were trying to win the Darwin Award, but it actually works well:

The next day we were in the Needles District, and tried to find a way into Lower Salt Creek. None of the backcountry rangers knew anything about it or had heard of anyone doing it; thus the obvious allure. This day turned out to be a good example of adventure running: we failed. We bushwacked for 5 straight hours along the rim of the canyon, continually trying to find a way down into it, which turned out to be impossible without a lot more rope than we had.


Which was fine. The terrain was bigger and better than we were, which is how it should be. You can’t complain when nature wins. And there was no mud.

The Needles of course are a great place for running. The NPS does a great job of marking trails, which tend to have much more of a wilderness quality than what most of us are used to. And there’s plenty of places with no trails …


More photos: