Posted on August 30th, 2012 No comments
We got out for a little fun jaunt with some friend several weeks back. We were looking at hitting a canyon that had been on my to do list for quite some time. When you are as busy as we are you rarely have time to do something you haven’t done before so this was a great opportunity to hang with some friends and meet some new ones. We had a great day in Pleiades Canyon near Moab. A lot of fun. Would love to go back in a late spring time frame and get this canyon with a little more water running through it. Enjoy the video.
Posted on March 9th, 2012 No comments
There have been several occurances or opportunities to view videos this week within the realm of Canyoneering. Thought I would post links to them here for your viewing pleasure. One is actually a few years old but still a good one. Another is a trailer for an upcoming documentary on the Grand Canyon and Canyoneering with in its bounds. The other one is a new video done by the San Juan County Economic / Tourism department highlighting the recreational activities in the area which include Canyoneering with North Wash Outfitters.
Posted on March 3rd, 2012 No comments
While we don’t guide or take part in much of the Canyoneering going on in the Zion National Park area, we know that many of you do and that this information would be of great interest to many of our customers. Zion National Park has changed the permit system for drawing out canyon permits and it seems like it is a step up from the older system that would cause long lines at the back country desk and really tired/drowsy trips through those canyons. Here posted is the news release from Zion NPS located at this link here: http://www.nps.gov/zion/parknews/changes-to-zion-wilderness-permit-system.htm
March 1, 2012
Ray O’Neil, 435-772-7823
Backcountry Desk, 435-772-0170
Zion National Park has changed its wilderness permit system to allow visitors to reserve last minute slot canyon day use permits via an online reservation system. This new system will eliminate the need for visitors to wait in line at the visitor center for permits. Reservations for popular day trips such as the Subway (Left Fork), Mystery Canyon and The Narrows are now available at www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/backcountry-reservations-and-permits.htm.
In late fall of 2011, the park requested comments from visitors about possible options for upgrading the wilderness permit procedures. Over 150 comments were received and the vast majority of respondents indicated a preference for an online system to replace the current system. The previous system required visitors to arrive early in the morning and wait in long lines to assure access to the limited number of available last minute permits.
The last minute drawing is held at 1:00 pm MT, two days prior to the requested date of the trip. Entries for the last minute drawing are available seven days prior to the drawing until noon MST two days before a trip date. Applicants are immediately notified of the status of their request via email. Procedures for advance reservations have not changed. Visitors are most likely to secure their desired reservation if they use the advance reservation system up to three months prior to their trip. The process for obtaining overnight permits has not changed. Half of all back country campsites are available online, the remaining sites are offered as walk-in permits that become available the day before the beginning of a trip. Please visit www.nps.gov/zion for more information.
Posted on February 18th, 2012 No comments
We have reached our 400 fan benchmark on our Facebook Page and have had a drawing for a Rappelling Starter package. If you are a fan on our page, you were automatically entered into the contest. Check out our page and “Like” the page to be entered into our next drawing when we hit 800 fan’s. Thanks to all the great clients and customers we have had over the past years. We are looking forward to meeting many more of you and serving your outdoor recreational needs.
The winner of the contest will have one week to contact me via e-mail to claim his/her prize. I will need a size of harness and a current shipping address to send the harness to. Congratulations. Send your e-mail to JHillhouse@NorthWashOutfitters.com.
Check out our Courses at: http://www.northwashoutfitters.com/courses.htm
Check out our Store at: http://www.northwashoutfitters.com/store
Check out our Guided Trips at: http://www.northwashoutfitters.com/tours.htm
Posted on February 6th, 2012 1 comment
Leprechaun Canyon Accident – Climb-Utah.com
Escaping the Subway- Climb-Utah.com
No Man’s Tragedy- Climb-Utah.com
Stuck in Chambers- Climb-Utah.com
Cheating Death in Blue John- Climb-Utah.com
Woman Seriously Injured in Canyoneering Accident- Mountain Rescue Blog
Oak Creek Canyon Accident- Examiner.com Article
Tourist Trap - Outside Magazine Online Article
I have been contemplating a post along the lines of accidents for a long time now and after an article I read this morning, it all seemed to surge back to me that there are a lot of outdoor adventurer’s who are not quite taking the recreational sport of Canyoneering as serious as it should. After all, Canyoneering is simply rappelling right, it’s not like Climbing where you have to rely on belayer’s and multiple tie in points and your own strength to get you out. Right? Wrong!
Canyoneering entails many of the same skill sets required for Climbing, just in a different use or setting. As I began to look for articles to link to regarding Canyoneering, a lot of old memories came flooding back to me as I re-read stories that impacted me in an emotional way the first time I read them. Every time I hear of an accident regarding a Canyoneer, I cringe a little at the same time as I am mourning with the friends and families of those devastated by the incident. There have been many accidents and some deaths over the past decade inside canyons. Many of these canyons were visited before these tragic moments and have been visited since. Regardless of what some may say, a huge / vast majority of Canyoneering accidents are avoidable and / or preventable.
I linked a couple of articles at the beginning for a perusing few that want some reading time. I am not going to comment on any specific accident or article. I understand that every situation has many variables and there are many ways to look at things in hindsight. I simply provide them as a basis to start researching for those interested in some of the past incidents. What I do want to do is offer 10 pointers to make sure that your next Canyoneering adventure goes a little bit smoother and is enjoyed by all participating.
#1 Let others know where you are going, when you plan to be back, and have a check in time/SAR call out deadline point. Leave maps and GPS coordinates with your contact people so that they can get help to you as fast as possible.
#2 Plan for more time in there than what the route descriptions says. Take extra food and water and have enough that you could go overnight if necessary. Most Canyoneering routes are only day trips, so plan to spend a night. Carry an extra fleece jacket, an emergency bivy sack or at least a space blanket.
#3 Carry a PLB. A Personal Locator Beacon costs a minimal amount and units like the SPOT come with an additional insurance plan for covering rescue costs. There have been many rescues in Blue John Canyon since the release of the movie 127 Hours, that the SAR teams are starting to charge for emergency services. SAR budgets are limited in size and quantity, and once they run out for the year, you don’t want to be the one left sitting there when you are hurt. A good PLB Unit will help ensure that rescuers can zero in on your exact location and help to get to you faster. (As a note, they don’t work in deep canyon that don’t have a clear view of the sky. Units in this environment will need to be handed off to an able body of your group for them to continue down canyon to an adequate place to use. Also, make sure that everyone in your group knows where the unit is located in your pack and how to operate it).
#4 Have a first aid kit with you. You can’t carry enough to plan for all emergencies, but you had better plan for some. With the kit you carry, make sure you know what is in it, and how to use it all. It won’t do you any good to go buy a kit off the store shelf and throw it in you pack and not know what is in it. Don’t buy anything that is over your personal skill level. If you don’t know how to do stitches, don’t buy a suture kit. It would also be beneficial to improve your knowledge. Take a WFR or WFA class (Wilderness First Responder, Wilderness First Aid)
#5 Watch the Weather forecast. Be mindful of the seasonal changes in the local weather patterns for the area and what the cloud movements are. Know how to do some on site weather forecasting. Know the signs of a potential flash flood or and impending one. We had an article here on our blog several years ago written by Dave Buckingham. It is a good read on flash flood awareness: Flash Flood Awareness.
#6 Know your equipment, how to use it, what it’s for, and how not to use it. Have the proper, and proper amount of equipment with you. That extra Carabiner may weigh another couple of ounces, but it doesn’t do you any good when left in the car. Know your equipment inside and out, forwards and backwards. Know your equipment better than the manufacture that made it. By this I mean that at times in your Canyoneering experience, you may get so exhausted and so tired that you became a bit delusional and or may become traumatized by others having problems. I want you to be able to have the motions of clipping into a rappel so dialed in that you can do it in your sleep because sometimes that may be how you are feeling. I want you to be able to rappel when you are not sure what is going on with the situation. I want you to be able to set an anchor and throw a line with out losing the rope down the canyon and being stuck on the ledge.
#7 Canyoneering has two kinds of hazards: Subjective and Objective! The true risk comes when those two hazards meet in one place. Know the hazards and avoid making them combine to create risk.
#8 Know the canyon rating systems! When you plan a trip these will help you understand the risk ratings and the potential hazards at a glance. Don’t however rely only on the ratings when choosing a canyon to do. Look at the route descriptions and the hazards and pitfalls outlined. Understand what it takes to get through the canyon. Evaluate your own personal knowledge / experience level and then that of your group. Put them all together to understand whether or not that canyon is a good choice for you to attempt. There are many great beginner canyons out there. Don’t’ jump head first into ones that seem to be the most popular if you are not ready for it.
#9 Get some training. While I might be a bit biased towards this, don’t hesitate to seek out some expert advice and help. A few hundred dollars spent is well worth bringing you home to see your family again. Find a group of experienced Canyoneers to tag a long with. As long as your not touting yourself as a self proclaimed expert and know it all and willing to carry the ropes on several trips, there are plenty of groups out there willing to let others join them.
#10 Know how to find your direction. Proper orientation would have saved quite a few Canyoneers an unplanned night in the wrong canyon. Know how to read a topographically map and carry one of the area with you. You can print off maps on your computer now and place these into your dry bag in case you need them. Know how to use a GPS and understand the difference between Lat/Long and UTM coordinates. Know how to use the GPS and Map in tandem and navigate yourself in and out of a canyon environment. Know how to find your way back to civilization and don’t forget to mark where you parked your car at. This will save some unwanted time wandering the area looking for your ride after you are tired and exhausted.
Posted on September 14th, 2011 No comments
The Black Hole is a fantastic canyon to spend hot summer days in. Lots of swimming, climbing, scrambling, stemming, down climbing, and for those inclined there could be a couple of rappels. The Black Hole is a canyon we have had permits to guide in since the beginning, but one that we don’t advertise other than by word of mouth. The Black Hole is a quirky canyon. It is rated on the low end for its Technical aspects and yet it requires a huge amount of effort to get through. This low rating creates the illusion that it is an easy canyon, this is not the case. It creates the illusion that it is a much safer canyon because the Technical rating is low. This is far from the case. There are more call outs for Search and Rescue to this canyon than any other canyon in the local county. Much of this is due probably from the fact that the rating makes it appear to be much easier than it is and groups go in unprepared for what they actually encounter.
These reasons above are the major determining factors in our decision to not publicly advertise this trip along with our other canyon offerings. The topography of The Black Hole makes it more likely to have problems with flash flooding during rain storms. The drainage system that The Black Hole sits in gathers water from countless numbers of other drainage’s and mesas in the Cedar Mesa area. This creates a time frame of 3+ months that this canyon is not safe to be in. (Monsoon season runs from July – September). The low Technical rating also creates instances where hikers enter the canyon with nothing more than a bottle of water. This canyon does require you to be prepared for the elements that Canyoneering may throw at you. Cold water, drop offs, steep ascents out, Lots and Lots of swimming, low light, long hours, exhaustion etc.
The pay off to being able to mitigate the problems is a gorgeous canyon experience. The Black Hole is one of the most treasured canyon gems in the are. The sculpting walls that have been carved out of the sandstone by centuries of water flow are simply breath taking. The light columns penetrating through the dark canyon walls and bouncing off the water appear to be taken out of a dream like sequence from Hollywood. This canyon is a gem to behold when it is treated with the respect it garners and precautions are made to get you through it safely.
Contact North Wash Outfitters for information on whether trips may be planned through The Black Hole. The canyon is a full day trip departing from Blanding Utah.
Cost for participation is $200 per person for 1-2 clients and $175 per person for 3+ clients.
Posted on September 12th, 2011 No comments
With Fry Canyon, you instantly get a taste of what canyoneering is all about! Starting instantly off of the highway, you swim and wade through a gallery of light bouncing off of the red rock canyon walls. What a wonderful spectacle in the early morning light. After this bit of narrows, the canyon opens up into a broad dry wash which gradually gets deeper with every bend. Soon our wash tightens up again and it is time to break out the ropes. Moving any further down canyon requires going straight down. Waiting for us at the bottom of this 50′ rappel is a wonderful cavern. The canyon is usually filled with a cool pool of water! The swim is short but fun and breath taking as you negotiate the red rock walls of the canyon. Soon you emerge from this beautiful pocket of fluted and ornately polished walls of convoluted rock to enjoy the warming rays of the sun and view the history above you on the cliff walls. Waiting there at the end is a wonderfully preserved site of Ancient American History. The Anasazi used to inhabit this canyon and used the pools of water you swam through as a water source during the long dry summer months. After a short break and change in attire, we are ready to continue down the canyon to the confluence of White Canyon. From here we head up the canyon to begin our ascent to the rim, giving us a quick return back to where it all started.
Fry Canyon is great for an introduction to canyoneering. The section of canyon that requires ropes contains an exciting and photogenic rappel, breathtaking narrows, and a bit of swimming. One great thing about Fry Canyon is it lends itself well to an educational experience, if one is desired. In this very small area there are opportunities to learn about the many techniques required for canyoneering, including rope skills, anchor rigging, sequencing, stemming, canyon swimming and canyon navigation.
Throughout Cedar Mesa is a region rich in archaeological history and many interesting sites to visit on your own while in the area – so why not make a day of it! The Anasazi culture inhabited the area and many ruins and rock art can be found on Cedar Mesa. Natural Bridges National Monument is also close by and the spectacular spans and colorful history there should definitely be seen.
If you would like to look at a comprehensive photo gallery of a trip through Fry Canyon Click Here.
Fry Canyon Pricing
- $135.00 per person
- $115.00 per person for 3+ participants
Cost for all trips include guides, and all group canyoneering equipment, i.e. ropes, slings, and rigging including – harness, helmet, a rappel device, and a locking carabiner. It also includes Wetsuits, Life jackets, Bottled water, Sports Drinks, and Snacks. Proper clothing for the season should be considered, as well as clothes that can get damaged. Cost does not include lodging, meals, transportation to and from Blanding, personal equipment, and gratuities (tips) for instructors/guides.
Trips depart from the Blanding Visitors Center at 8:30 a.m. only. Group size is limited to 10 unless special requests are made. The total time we will be together is 6-7 hrs. If you are planning to spend more time in Cedar Mesa and would like to drive your own vehicle to the trail head or meet us out there to be able to do your own exploring afterwards, that is O. K.
Posted on September 8th, 2011 No comments
We are ready to announce the winner(s) of our August Facebook Photo Contest. Things kind of took a little change in the original plans. Once we downloaded all the photos and turned them over to be judged we figured that we would get a winner back. Well, we did, however with a twist. During the judging it was determined that since we opened it up this time to all recreational interests and not just Canyoneering, there was some different points of view brought out with the photos. The judging did reveal an overall winner, but it was also determined that there was some good story lines behind some of the other photos as well that they should be acknowledged also. So based on the photos that were singled out during judging and were give back to us, not only do we have our overall winner of the SPOT Satellite messenger, but we have some runners up to whom we will give $20 gift certificates for our store. Thank you to all who participated in this photo contest. We hope that you will enter again next time for another chance to win.
Overall winner – Walking on water!!! Bald River Falls, TN submitted by Glen Hampton !! Congratulations Glen!
Our Runners up…….
Causway Campout by Will McFarland
No Title submitted by Crystal Broderick Cressler
A narrow corridor of Ringtail Canyon submitted by Ryan Hooper
No Title submitted by Teresa Jean Frazier
Winners please contact us to claim your prize. jhillhouse at northwashoutfitters dot com.
Posted on June 22nd, 2011 No comments
Well, I guess we should find out what constitutes plagiarism before posting this, but gonna do it anyway.
We were highlighted in an article this month depicting various activities you can enjoy in San Juan County while visiting. I will post the section about us here and then a link at the bottom to the entire article. It’s been a great year and the canyons this year are really in some of the most perfect conditions we have seen. Get out and have a good time this summer. Hope to see you in some of them.
Day three, canyoneering in Fry Canyon.
North Wash Outfitters in Blanding operates guided canyoneering adventures in a section of the great canyon country known as the Colorado Plateau. One of their best is a day trip into Fry Canyon, a fun and easily accessible technical slot. The route contains two short sections of narrows and a visit to some great Anasazi ruins. The canyon is quite pretty and the second narrows photographs extremely well. The route is short and is not really committing. There are many opportunities to escape from the canyon bottom if you’re a “never-ever” and begin to feel uncomfortable. The route contains one rappel, several easy downclimbing problems and a short swim.
At the get-go, right off of the highway, you’ll swim and wade through a gallery of light bouncing off of the red rock canyon walls, a wonderful spectacle in the early morning light. After this bit of narrows, the canyon opens up into a broad dry wash which gradually gets deeper with every bend. Soon the wash tightens up again and it is time to break out the ropes. Moving any further down canyon requires going straight down. Waiting at the bottom of this 50′ rappel is a wonderful cavern, usually filled with a cool pool of water! The swim is short but fun and breathtaking as you negotiate between the red rock walls of the canyon.
Soon you’ll emerge from this beautiful pocket of fluted and ornately polished walls of convoluted rock to the warming rays of the sun and view the history above you on the cliff walls. Waiting there at the end is a wonderfully preserved site of Ancient American History. The Anasazi used to inhabit this canyon and used the pools of water as a water source during the long dry summer months. After a short break and change in attire, you’ll continue down the canyon to the confluence of White Canyon. From here you’ll head up the canyon to begin the ascent to the rim and a quick return back to where it all started.
Fry Canyon is great for an introduction to canyoneering. The section that requires ropes contains an exciting and photogenic rappel, breathtaking narrows, and a bit of swimming. One great thing about Fry Canyon is that it lends itself well to an educational experience in both canyoneering skills and Native American History. North Wash Outfitters is accredited by the American Canyoneering Association. In addition to guiding services, they provide all the necessary gear and equipment. NorthWashOutfitters.com
Posted on May 28th, 2011 4 comments
Monday May 16th Jared headed to North Wash to do some scouting for a youth group. The group leader Jeff is planning on bringing a group to the North Wash area for an introduction to Canyoneering. Jeff wanted to get a good idea of some of the canyons there and what Jared had in mind to take them through as well as put together some videos and pictures to take back and show the group. The two of them hit the slot canyons hard, fast, and as light as possible that day and did both forks of the Blarney’s and then moved on to both forks of the Shillelagh’s. 12.5 miles of hiking 4 forks of canyons in 7 hours and Jared was back home in time for dinner. Here is the video that Jeff shot and edited down from 7 hours worth of clips and photos into this little gem. Enjoy Canyoneering North Wash!