Archive for July, 2013

Dry Canyoneering or How I Spent Memorial Weekend Scraping, Slipping, and Sliding Down Sandstone

July 3, 2013

Coming Out of the Dark in the Leprechaun

It is easy to explain the sport of canyoneering; one drops into a canyon, progresses down the canyon, and either climbs or hikes out of the canyon.

In it’s simplest form, it is much like kayaking; with a “put-in” and a “take-out”. Except, rather than floating downstream and navigating obstacles, one manipulates and contorts one’s body to flow with the ripples of the canyon walls. Rather than waterfalls, one is confronted with complex rappels over cliffs, where the landing zone is completely obscured from view.

Erin Downclimbing
Erin Down Climbing the Leprechaun, photo courtesy of Erin Thompson

Through a newbie lens, it feels risky and dangerous in the “I don’t know what I don’t know” sense. And yet, even though I am still in the thrillingly steep upward section of the learning curve, I heartily recommend canyoneering. Especially, if one gets the chance to go canyoneering with Jill, see her picture below. Jill is a very good teacher and our trip was amazing!

Jill Having Fun in the Leprechaun

Having previous rock climbing, scrambling, and/or caving experience certainly helps as well! Other skills such as navigation with maps using gps/compass, climbing techniques, athleticism, flexibility, and ability to judge distance are invaluable.

Byron Teaching High Stemming
Byron Teaching High Stemming to Clare, Fred, and Erin, photo courtesy of Erin Thompson

In canyoneering, unlike climbing, it is essential the group work together to overcome obstacles. Some obstacles can be negotiated with the talents of 1 or 2 members, but others require the strength of the whole group. This team aspect of canyoneering is very attractive. It is one of my greatest joys to see how people pull together to solve problems; how every member of the team can be a valuable contributor to a successful canyon adventure.

Desert Derby Move Sans Skates
Gear is important too! I was fortunate to have elbow and knee pads, a helmet, my alpine bod harness, a comfy pair of sticky rubber approach shoes, summer gators, and some sticky palmed gardening gloves.

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10 Tips for a Happy and Safe Canyoneering Adventure

July 2, 2013

By Clare Reda
Clare in the Leprechaun

With special contributions from Jill Yarger.
Jill With a Big Smile

Photos unless otherwise stated: courtesy Clare Reda

1. Bring an old, small backpack and minimize it’s contents. Think Ultralight!
Big packs run the risk of getting stuck in the slots, inducing fatigue, and slowing the group’s progress.

Do the team a favor and leave what is not essential for survival at home. Of the 10 essentials, maybe pair it down: a big black trashbag, headlamp, tube of Neosporin, various drugs for fever/pain/sinus probs, small wad of tp, matches, a whistle, compass/gps device, sunscreen, and duct tape. Consider taking one first aid kit for the team vs. everybody carrying their own.

If possible, take a backpack no bigger than a grocery bag. If there is a need to carry a rope, carry it separately and outside the pack in a coil or in a thin rope bag attached to your harness.

Come Hither
Erin Made a Custom Protective Sleeve for her Pack!

2. Wear protective gear and Sticky Climbing Rubber Soled Approach Shoes
Who cares what you look like! This is all about being comfy and minimizing bruising and pain. Pads help to reduce, or add friction, depending upon how much pressure is exerted against the rock.

Having approach shoes will improve traction on the rock, allowing one to control movement up or down. Unwanted slips can be scary if not dangerous. Climbing rubber is best, so even if you have an old pair of hiking shoes…get ’em resoled with your favorite rubber!

Clare Jumping Keeper Pothole
The Author Jumping Over a Keeper Pothole (Picture by Byron)

3. Wear old clothes!!!
Again, it’s not a fashion contest. Everything will get ripped, worn down, and get sand ground into it. Wear stuff you’ve been meaning to get rid of, or be expecting to when the trip is over!

Fred Ready for the Next Challenge
Fred Wearing An Old Bronco’s Long Sleeve
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