Advice on Utah?

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Paul G
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Advice on Utah?

Post by Paul G » 02 Jul 2018, 19:03

I have the chance to stay on for a few precious days after a work trip to Salt Lake City, Utah next month. Obviously the thing to do is to go canyoning! I imagine some people on the forum will have made the Utah pilgrimage, so I am looking for advice on rewarding canyons for a pretty average aussie canyoner to tackle without hiring a local guide. Things I am thinking about are avoiding the technical challenges we do not encounter in Oz, like giant keeper potholes and having to build sandbag anchors, and avoiding too long a walk in, since it will be ferociously hot at this time of year. Also not having to carry crazy amounts of rope, since it will have to fit in my luggage. But still getting some serious beauty :-)



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T2
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Re: Advice on Utah?

Post by T2 » 03 Jul 2018, 10:29

Paul,
It's definitely worth trying to squeeze in some Utah canyons if you get the chance. They are spectacular, and quite different to what we get here.
I will point out a couple practical points. Firstly, mid-summer is not peak canyoning time in the US. The canyons are dry and in the desert, so bloody hot. Most canyoneering is done in Spring and Autumn (Fall) over there. Due to this, you may find Zion NP is a good option, as the canyons there are wetter so probably more suitable in summer. You do need to jump through hoops to get a permit for canyons in Zion though.
The next point is that the canyons are not close to Salt Lake. You'll be driving at least four or five hours to get to most canyoning areas, with longer drives for some of the best stuff. Canyoneers over there don't do a lot of day trips. They usually head out for a minimum of a weekend, but often a week or more, and camp out between canyons.
Finally, even if you avoid canyons that require the use of sand traps and other ghosting techniques, you'll still find many of their canyons require different techniques to ours. The dry, grippy rock means they downclimb things we would never consider here, not to mention "elevators" which are basically controlled slides between canyon walls that can take you 10m or more down. Pretty scary first time around!
I'd suggest trying to get out with locals if possible. I can provide contact details for a bunch of great people I canyoneered with. I'm sure some of them would be free to take you out. They not only have the detailed knowledge of how to move through those canyons, they will also be able to lend you some gear, saving how much you need to travel with.
There are some really detailed track notes for lots of Utah canyons if you look online. There's also a number of online forums that can help you find canyon buddies, including http://canyoncollective.com.
The most beginner friendly area is North Wash. Lots of canyons that are close together, many with short walk ins. Most also have good track notes and easy anchors. Most of the best, really narrow canyons are in areas where you'd want some local expertise. They're also in bloody hot areas where canyoning won't be fun in August. So if I were you, I'd just bite the bullet and do the six hour drive south to Zion. Just make sure you apply for canyon permits in advance and have some backup canyon in mind (those just outside the park boundary don't need permits).
I hope that helps.

Paul G
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Re: Advice on Utah?

Post by Paul G » 03 Jul 2018, 18:29

Hi Tim - nice! Really helpful. I am hoping to get together with a brit I know who lives there, and who is a good technical climber, but has not got into canyoning. Any other local contacts would be great.

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T2
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Re: Advice on Utah?

Post by T2 » 04 Jul 2018, 09:13

Paul, flick me a PM or email once you know the dates you have free and what area/s you're hoping to get to. I'll send a connecting email to my Utah contacts.

rachel_g
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Re: Advice on Utah?

Post by rachel_g » 06 Jul 2018, 17:29

Some comments on Utah canyoning here: http://grindlay.org/tips-on-utah-canyoning/

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Re: Advice on Utah?

Post by T2 » 12 Jul 2018, 22:27

Paul, have you got a clearer idea of your dates and what area/s you want to canyoneer in? One I know the when and where I'll send that email connecting you with the most relevant people.

Rachel, that's a really useful resource. Utah canyons are so very different. I thought knee and elbow pads seemed a bit wimpy, but after my first canyon it was clear you don't want to be in those slots without them. It's also impossible to explain just how much time is spent high above the canyon floor, whether galumphing (a thing of beauty when done well), stemming, chimneying, or downclimbing. Not to mention the elevators!

All around it's a much more physically demanding and technically advanced activity than canyoning in the Blue Mountains.

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Re: Advice on Utah?

Post by T2 » 13 Jul 2018, 09:30

Some further evidence of why local knowledge is so important in Utah. They had a thunderstorm dump about 75mm of rain over Zion this week, causing massive flash flooding. The river that flows from there recorded its seventh highest flow in more than a century of records. Definitely not a day you would want to be in a canyon!

http://canyoncollective.com/threads/mon ... ere.25432/

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Bron
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Re: Advice on Utah?

Post by Bron » 19 Jul 2018, 23:02

Geez, that sounds crazy! I'm glad our canyons are so much more predictable! There's a lot to be said for local knowledge. I'm sure I'd be much more freaked out about snakes or potential bushfire risks if I wasn't from around here :)

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afkrowdy
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Re: Advice on Utah?

Post by afkrowdy » 20 Jul 2018, 06:30

I am in the exact opposite situation, as I live in Salt Lake City, and I am traveling to Adelaide for work next month! I canyoneer fairly often in Utah as work permits, and would be happy to point you around.

What kind of day are you looking for? We've got just about everything from non-technical swims, to tight, "mae-west" squeezes, to down-right brutal technical challenges! :)

All canyons inside national parks (such as Zion) require a permit, so I'd make sure you snag one well before going! Here's a link:
https://zionpermits.nps.gov/wilderness.cfm?TripTypeID=3

I absolutely hate pointing people to non-forum sources of info, BUT....with the interest of safely in mind, I'll recommend the ACA Canyoneering Utah Facebook group for Beta or getting some people to tag along. Usually offering a ride is enough to make someone want to go with you!

As fellow Tim pointed out, monsoon season has officially started, so weather can be unpredictable and dangerous. We've had more than a few disasters related to flash flooding in the past. I'd pick out a few canyons and have a backup or two in mind. You are welcome to ask me any questions you might have!

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