Introducing the newest, most comprehensive, and simply best southwest technical canyoneering book ever produced by Michael Kelsey–or any other author for that matter! In this all new second edition of Technical Slot Canyons of the Colorado Plateau you will find over 330 pages documenting over 110 different major technical canyons plus many, many more smaller (though no less challenging) tributary canyons. Several of the canyons in this edition have never been published before. Divided into nine different geographic regions spread out through both Southern Utah and Northern Arizona (with a few in western Colorado,) this book will provide many seasons worth of gear wearing, skin scrapping, heart pounding canyoneering adventure to any moderate to expert canyoneer. With over 370 amazing full color photographs this book is also an amazing canyoneering photo pictorial–if the books format was larger you would what to use it as a coffee table book in the off season.
As point of clarification and warning, this book is not for the beginner, novice, or out of shape canyoneer. This is a technical canyon guidebook. All canyons found in this guidebook require moderate to advance climbing techniques and a majority of the canyons require the use of rope and or other specialized equipment to safety traverse them. For canyons that do not require a higher degree of climbing knowhow or specialized gear see Kelsey’s Non-Technical Canyon Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau.
336 pages, 377 full color photos, perfect bound, 15cms x 23cms (6”x9”) ISBN 978-0944510-23-0.
US$19.95 (Mail orders $22)
Guidebook Updates and Corrections
September 19, 2015; Photo found after flooding reveals final image of 7 hikers
Victims remembered by family members as avid hikers and outdoor enthusiasts Tami Abdollah and Michelle L. Price ASSOCIATED PRESS
SALT LAKE CITY — Seven avid hikers in safety helmets, wetsuits and climbing harnesses smiled for a group photo before heading into the mouth of a narrow canyon in southern Utah’s Zion National Park. The 50-something men and women from California and Nevada posed with their arms around each other before trying to climb and swim through the popular sandstone gorge. Days later, rescuers searching for their bodies found a camera that revealed the final image of the group before they died. Within hours of them entering Keyhole Canyon, dark skies unleashed fierce rains that sent water surging through the chasm, sweeping the seven to their deaths Monday. Their bodies were found throughout the week, the last coming Thursday. It’s the same day authorities recov- ered a 33-year-old man killed by flash flooding near the Utah-Arizona border, raising the death toll to 20 from the violent rainstorm. At least 12 other people, includ- ing nine children, died in a nearby polygamous town when two cars were swept away. A 6-year-old boy was still missing. Some of the seven hikers took a can- yoneering skills course just before the excursion, park officials said. Others in the group were passionate about the sport and knew each other through a hiking club in Valencia, California, loved ones said Friday. The photo was taken on a “tragic last adventure” for the group who regularly hiked and backpacked, the childrenof Linda and Steve Arthur said in a statement.The couple from Camarillo, Califor- nia, were outdoor enthusiasts. Steve Arthur, 58, was a sergeant and 21-year veteran of the Ventura County Sher- iff’s Department, sheriff’s Capt. John Reilly said. “If he wasn’t at work, he was out with his kids or grandkids, hiking all the time,” Reilly said. “He loved the Sierras. He loved the outdoors.” Mark MacKenzie, 56, of Valencia, California, was an avid hiker who looked out for others, particularly in the outdoors, according to his mother, Deanna MacKenzie Sisung.
“He’d carry a watermelon in his backpack, and he’d usually be the first one up there, and he’d serve every- body,” Sisung said of her son, who worked for the city of Burbank and had three kids. Don Teichner, 55, of Mesquite, Nevada, met members of the group through a California hiking club. The father and grandfather moved outof the state earlier this year and was an executive at Almore Dye House, his family’s Los Angeles-based garment-dyeing company, according to his cousin and business partner, Jeff Teichner. Gary Favela, 51, of Rancho Cucamonga, California, was adventur- ous and outgoing with a love for can- yoneering, while Muku Reynolds, 59, of Chino, California, was a grandmother and a passionate hiker, their families said in statements released Friday by park officials. Robin Brum, 53, a wife and mother from Camarillo, California, was a self- less person who cared for those around her, her family said. “She leaves a hole in our hearts and our lives that will never be filled,” a statement said. Park officials say they warned the group of the risks when they got their permit Monday, telling them that there was a 40 percent chance of rain and some canyons would flood. Rangers give similar warnings nearly every day during the rainy season, officials say. Park policy prevents rangers from assessing visitors’ skill level or stop- ping them from entering canyons. Zion is investigating what led to the deaths and reviewing its policies, but the process for canyon entry permits is decided at the national level, park spokesman David Eaker said. Rangers closed the canyons after the storm hit, but there was no way to warn those already inside the majestic slot formations, which can quickly fill with rain water and leave people with no escape. The children of Steve and Linda Arthur said Friday that their parents were extremely cautious and had been watching weather reports closely. They texted family for updates before they headed into the canyon, but they didn’t get cellphone service at the trailhead. “This is nothing but a freak accident and a true case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time,” the couple’s children said.
Sept. 18, 2015; Death toll from flash flooding rises to 19
ASSOCIATED PRESS; ZION NATIONAL PARK, Utah
— The death toll from flash floods that ripped through southern Utah reached 19 on Thursday after searchers found the final body from a group of seven hikers that were trapped in a narrow canyon in Zion National Park. At least 12 others, including nine children, died Monday in a nearby town on the Utah-Arizona border (Short Creek) when two cars were swept down- stream by the raging waters. Search teams were still looking for a missing 6-year-old boy. The seventh body was found Thursday in Zion after the group set out Monday, Washington County sheriff’s Detective Nate Abbott said. Park officials have not released the identities of the seven victims, six from California and one from Nevada. But the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department in Southern California said one of the dead is Sgt. Steve Arthur, 58. Arthur’s family told the department that he had been confirmed dead, and his wife, Linda Arthur, was on the trip and remained missing, sheriff’s Capt. John Reilly said. “Steve was known for his tireless efforts working with local youth both on and off duty and possessed a huge compassion for humanity,” the department said in a statement. The couple were in a group that, like thousands before them, were attracted to the majestic slot canyons of the desert Southwest by unique geological quirks, which also make them deadly. The curved, narrow sandstone walls glow in the sun with a cathedral-like light. When it rains, however, they can fill with raging rainwater in an instant, leaving people with no escape. That’s exactly what happened Monday evening when the group became trapped by floodwaters in Zion’s popular Keyhole Canyon. The canyon is as narrow as a window in some spots and several hundred feet deep. “That little bit of rain can turn what was a very comfortable day- long excursion into a horror story, literally in a split second,” said Colorado-based canyoneering expert Steve Allen. The flood marks one of the deadliest weather-related disasters at a national park in recent history, park service officials said. It evoked memories of a 1997 incident near Page, Arizona, where 11 hikers died after a wall of water from a rainstorm miles upstream thundered through Lower Antelope Canyon, a narrow, twisting series of corkscrew-curved walls located on Navajo land.
On September 7, 2013, Lubos & Suzanne Pavel and myself (MRK) went through the lower end of Eardley Canyon and Little Iron Wash (same day) in the east central part of the San Rafael Swell in Utah. Lubos put together a short video on our trip. https://vimeo.com/74221895
Update–Accident in Birch Hollow near Zion NP.–Pages 285-289
Woman, 19, dies rappelling in Utah; Michelle Rindels, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: A 19-year-old West Jordan woman died in a rappelling accident Monday after falling about 120 feet at a popular climbing destination east of Zion National Park. Shelby Collette Christensen was confirmed dead by a Utah State Parks ranger who responded to a call from Birch Hollow about 9:30 a.m. Her death was the third serious rappelling accident in Birch Hollow this summer. “All three were caused by inexperience,” Kane County deputy Alan Alldredge said. “It doesn’t take long to get in trouble.” Christensen had been hiking and rappelling with four other people at the time of her fall, according to Kane County deputies. Three people in her group had already rappelled down the ledge and were waiting at the bottom. Deputies said Christensen had begun her descent when her hand apparently became trapped between the rope and the rock ledge and she let go of the rope, falling to her death. She didn’t come out of her harness, Alldredge said. A Department of Public Safety helicopter crew worked with the Kane County Search and Rescue team to recover the body, deputies said. This summer’s other two serious accidents in Birch Hollow happened a day apart in a separate part of the canyon, but the victims didn’t fall as far. Those accidents resulted in non-life threatening injuries and required helicopter rescues.
Update–Little Segers Hole & Quandary Canyons, San Rafael Swell–pages 50 & 54
(Submitted July 8, 2013)
On June 29 & 30, 2013, Bridger Park, Dan Logan, Lubos Pavel and myself went down Little Segers Hole (9 hours from Hidden Splendor) & Quandary Canyons (7 hours from the normal trailhead). Below is a link to a video Lubos Pavel put together about our trips.
Update–Low Spur Canyon, The Spur & Robbers Roost Country–page 122
(Submitted June 2, 2013)
I recently got a letter from Ben Capelin of Durango, Colorado. He and 3 friends had just completed a canyon that this writer didn’t quite finished. It’s Low Spur Canyon in the north end of the Spur Country just east of the Roost. They found no webbing, so they were likely the first to do this entire canyon. Go to pages 122-125 in my Technical Slot Canyon Guide; or pages 32-35 in my Henry Mountains/Robbers Roost book.
We stopped at the Big Drop because it would have been a long day to do that and get back to the trailhead, but here’s what Ben & friends did. They did this in conjunction with a rafting trip down the Green River. From their camp on the river, they walked up Horseshoe Canyon to the Angle Trail, scrambled up that, then road-walked to the Little Butte & trailhead as shown on both maps in either book. From there it was down the 2 slots to the Big Drop. They tied about 12 meters of webbing around one of the chokestones and fixed up their 60m rope plus other webbing as their pull rope. They made it down OK, but didn’t have enough on the pull side to reach the ground so they had to leave everything there. It’s about a 45m free rappel from near the chokestone. What is needed for that Big Drop is one 60m rope, and an equally long pull cord or rope, plus some webbing around the chokestone.
After the Big Drop, and when they got close to Horseshoe Canyon itself, there was a dropoff of about 20m, but they managed to work & contour their way along ledges going downcanyon until they reached Barrier Creek itself. From there, they walked right in the small stream back to camp on the Green River. There is no bushwhacking if you stay right in the stream channel. For them a 15 hour day, but a full moon helped in the end.
To make this a reasonable day-hike, at the end of Low Spur Canyon, walk down Horseshoe Canyon to the Angel Trail, walk up it to the Low Spur, then road-walk back to the trailhead. Or, if you have two 4WD’s, organize a shuttle and save about 2 hours walking at the end. Another book which shows the Angel Trail is; Hiking, Biking and Exploring Canyonlands National Park and Vicinity, 2nd Edition, by this writer.
UPDATE–FOR SCORPION WEST SLOT, ESCALANTE RIVER DRAINAGE–page 226
(Submitted June 1, 2013)
A year or two ago, Steve Brezovec, Aaron Ramras and Landon (?) made it through West Scropion for the first time. Here’s a website to go to for their adventure. Their adventure started where we gave up! Read about our trip on page 226 of the Slot Canyon Guide. Congratulations guys.
UPDATE–Deer Creek, Grand Canyon–Page 310
Word is that the Deer Creek Slot & Narrows in the Grand Canyon has been officially closed by the Grand Canyon Nation Park. Part of the reason seems to be that it’s sacred to one of the Indian tribes (?). However, it’s not known if there are signs of this closure posted at the beginning of the narrows or not (?).
An update for all Technical Canyons:
Recently I got an email from Steve Ramrus (Ram) urging me to let everyone know that with all the winter canyoneering going on these days to warn people that snow & ice can built up on north facing slopes which changes the whole dynamics of an otherwise simple climb. Apparently someone had a problem getting out of the North Fork of Robbers Roost Canyon via the Moki Trail (?). That climb is about 5 vertical meters and if snowmelt runs down on it and freezes, it would have to be chopped off somehow before climbing. 3/30/2012 MRK
Video–The Subway–page 258
In early September, 2011, Isabela Brozyna and Milan Petrik went through The Subway in Zion National Park with a gopro camera. Click on the following link for a kind of birds eye, or fishes eye, view of most of their hike. In the first part of this video, it shows lots of swimming, but you can avoid some of that by scrambling along a hiker’s trail above and on the south side. If you decide to swim through that part, a wetsuit would make it more enjoyable; but few use wetsuits, at least in summer. In cooler weather, wetsuits would be pretty much mandatory.
Video–The Black Hole—Page 172
In July of 2011, a young married couple went through the Black Hole of Upper White Canyon with a GoPro camera. It recorded their adventure which included lots of swimming which is normal for the Black Hole. They did it without wetsuits but were happy to see the sun whenever possible. Milan Petrik is from Ceska–he wore the camera most of the time, while Isabela Brozyna is from Polska. They’re living and working in Chicago.
UPDATE–Quandary Canyon—Page 50
There is a new semi-keeper pothole in Quandary Canyon just before the “genuine technical keeper pothole section”. Unless you are alone, getting through the pothole itself isn’t that big of an issue , but it throws off the current route description in the guidebooks and websites.
Since the pothole is located right before the standard bypass of the keeper section (Steep Ramp & Boulder Bypass–Left Side), by using current route descriptions, it “tricks” people who are doing the canyon for the first time into thinking that they have reached the technical keeper pothole section and looking for the exit a little too early. There is a steep gully just after the last rappel on the standard route, but it’s the wrong one and leads to a dead end above the cliff. We went up it and found slings left by (at least) two different parties, but we were wondering why anyone left their slings on the ascent. Once you get cliffed out, you either have to downclimb or rappel back down the steep chute (which is why the slings were there).
Anyway, it’s not a life threatening obstacle, but it’s worth passing on the info (it cost us 2 hours and is evident that others are making the same mistake). If you are doing Quandary and reach a semi-keeper, the real exit is after the keeper (until it fills up with sand again). The semi keeper is a struggle to get out of, but it’s nothing like a real keeper. The real exit (before the TKPS) only requires climbing up 100 feet (30m) or so, so if you are climbing up several hundred feet, it’s the wrong one.
UPDATE —Neon Canyon—Page 208
There is a keeper pothole in Neon Canyon, but it isn’t the same one that is at the end and in your book. The new (?) keeper may be where R6 is on your map (in the last narrows or slot section just above the last rap into the Golden Cathedral). It looks intimidating at first (water was about 2.5 meters below the lip), but you can climb up on the bench on the left and rappel from a bolt and bypassing the pothole. Because of the bench and rappel, the pothole is less serious than it may otherwise be.
UPDATE —South Fork Choprock Canyon —Page 208
The bottom of the old trail near the mouth of Choprock Canyon has been washed out by a big flash flood and is now a vertical cliff of 3-4 meters. Right now, you can climb up on tree roots and get up, but they may not last much longer. It is probably better to climb up the slickrock half way between Neon and Choprock Canyons instead, especially after the roots rot out. Or start out from the PET panel just above the mouth of Neon Canyon and walk northeast from there into the upper end of South Fork of Choprock Canyon.