Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Egypt 3 Canyoneering Photos Utah Grand Staircase

Egypt 3 Canyon - Canyoneering Escalante, Utah

Egypt 3 is part of a series of Egypt canyons in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. One amazing feature of Egypt 3 is that if you are over 200 pounds you are not recommended to go down this canyon. The extreme narrows was something I had to see. The canyon report said there were stretches that would be only 8 inches apart.

The hike to Egypt 3 canyon was a short half mile from camp which led you to believe the total hiking time would be short. I have found no hiking time is short as it relates to canyoneering. Find the canyon was pretty easy though it is important to not accidentally drop into Egypt 2 or Egypt 4 as they require big ropes for long rappels. On a side note we did find the drop in point for Egypt 2 which is a sheer fall of some 260 ft. We found the walk in point for Egypt 3 though we decided to rap in anyway. The one person who did hike down had to be helped by bringing a rope to him as the last 15 ft are sketchy with a good 30 ft slide down if you slip.

Egypt 3 canyon consists of a series of scrambling around pot holes and extremely tight slot canyon walls. We did a lot of stemming including times when we were completely stretched with both hands on one wall and both feet on the other to reach.

It really is hard to describe how tight many sections of Egypt 3 is. When reports say don't be over 200 lbs they mean it. I am fairly skinny and at times had both by chest and back pressed up against the canyon walls.

There are two sections that are extremely tight. Most of the entire canyon is tight though two stretches take the cake. The first tight slot section you are about 15 ft off the ground completely stemming with your back and chest pressed against the rock. You don't want to drop anything as you will not be able to get down to the floor. I was wondering what would happen if I slipped though I realized that if I slipped I don't think I could fall any where it was so tight. One of our team that was carrying some of the ropes had to push with everything he had to get his pack through the crack. The second ultra tight section you are on the canyon floor which makes it easier though it was even tighter and I had to suck it in just to get through.

The temp was in the 80s and I was looking forward to getting wet to cool off. The water doesn't really come in till the end as you can climb around or stem passed the earlier pools. There is a long rappel close to the end that you need a 200 ft rope for. You would think that means a big drop off though you would be wrong. You tie off at a arch and then take the rope with you through a big pot hole where is the first legitimate place you will get wet. On the other side of the pot hole is a 30 ft drop which you rappel down. The whole distance is probably 150 ft of so though the rappel is pretty short.

If you thought you were done you would be mistaken as Egypt 3 winds through even more tight spaces and then finishes with a good 200 ft of more of wading through freezing cold water up to your waist at points and so tight I had to lift my backpack above my head. Two members which had bigger packs struggled through this area and had to submerge their packs to get them through.

Egypt 3 is an extremely fun canyon with many climbing and scrambling puzzles in the tightest slot canyon I have been down. I highly recommend bringing the smallest backpack possible though remember you do need ropes and the rest of your rappelling gear.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Neon Canyon Canyoneeing Photos Escalante Utah

Neon Canyon - Canyoneering Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

This Memorial Day I found myself canyoneering in Utah in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Neon Canyon to be precise on Saturday. Neon Canyon is a technical canyon famous for the cathedral which is a big hole in the rock that you finishes the canyon. With temps in the 80s and not a cloud in the sky you could ask for better weather.

The entrance to Neon Canyon is a 3.5 mile jaunt which we turned into a 5 mile plus route finding mission. In the sideshow you can see the nice photo of everyone hovering over the map. With most canyons getting there is just as much adventure as the canyon itself. The entrance to Neon Canyon is actually the finish point so you get to climb up the sides to look for a way to drop in. After about two miles or so there is plenty of drop in points if you have a 200 ft rope and pull cord which we didn't as the canyon info said we needed only 100 ft ropes. Eventually we found a crack to down climb though we did tie into ropes for safety. The down climb is easy though and could be performed by most people.

Once in the canyon you find tight slots and plenty of water to wade through and swim. Even in the 85 degree day you still need wetsuits as the water is cold. We all had 7 mm suits though I think 3 mm would have been fine. Everyone in this group was from Phoenix and sometimes we need the extra warmth protection.

Neon Canyon has plenty of down climbs to figure out and yes you will get wet. There is plenty of wading through water and a few swims. There is one really good swim of at least 200 ft or more at one point. For those of you who like to jump into a pool of freezing water, Neon Canyon delivers that too.

Only enter Neon Canyon with three or more people as there is one legitimate keeper pothole with requires some skill. I got to tread water for a while in the freezing water as we attempted a buddy climb to get out.

Neon Canyon finishes with the cathedral which is an amazing hole in the rock formation which you rappel through. Underneath the cathedral is assessable by hikers so there were plenty of day hikers from their campsites taking in the scene as these strange guys in wetsuits drop out of the big hole. It is quite the sight looking down through the hole seeing the completely still pool.

Neon Canyon is fun for anyone who wants to play in freezing water and find there way through a slot canyon. The rap at the cathedral makes the route though the entire canyon has plenty of fun spots.