Rappelling Alongside Pool Arch

April 25, 2022
Going down the first rappel with Pool Arch in the foreground

To commemorate Sadie’s and my recent marriage we decided to go canyoneering. To avoid any trouble with Timed Entry permits to Arches we decided to descend alongside Pool Arch in Pritchett Canyon, outside the park. So six people and two dogs started out on the 4×4 road called Pritchett Canyon Trail.

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Descending the River Styx (North Fork)

March 14, 2022
Descending one of the last rappels

For a friend’s big 3-0 birthday party in Death Valley we decided to do two big canyons, the first being Styx Canyon (North Fork) (3A IV 22r). Styx was another canyon starting from the high point in the park (Dante’s View  5400 ft) to the park low point (Badwater -200 ft). This is one of the more traffic’d canyons in Death Valley with no need to replace any webbing or fix any anchors. Therefore, it felt a lot more chill than Typhon Canyon, but still an adventure with many 100 ft rappels.

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Surprise rappels in Typhon’s South Fork

January 19, 2022
A short, more slotty section of the canyon

We were driving out of camp at 5am, an hour and a half before sunrise, for my first big canyon. Our beta was we were going to descend Typhon (South Fork) (there are many forks) rappelling 18 times down 6.5 miles of technical canyon. It was a good crew, that worked well together and a great day of consistent efficient moving that reminded me of multi pitch climbing. (Typhon Canyon (South Fork) IV)

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Dapper Canyoneering with Fossil Snails

The reason I met my life partner is because I was at a climbing meet up in cosmic leggings which gave the opinion I must be fun. This would not be the last time I wore bright colored leggings, costumes and even a wig climbing. I do this to express some flair and inject some fun in adventure sports that some approach very seriously. After the camp lightened up at 6:30am I brought smiles to my friends as they saw me in my gray three piece suit ready for a long day exploring a canyon filled to the brim with fossil snails. (Fossil Snail Canyon IV)

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Apollo Canyon-eering

January 2, 2022

The day after our canyoneering clinc a few of us got off to a late start to do Apollo Canyon (3A IV). Like many Death Valley canyons, the only beta was a Facebook photo album from First Descentionist Scott Swanny. As I am getting the feel for these ground up, 2/3000 ft approach canyons, getting off the chossy ridgeline was maybe the highest risk thing we did that day. It was a fun, rarely visited canyon that with a 200 ft rappel off a cairn anchor.

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Vinegaroon Canyon Clinic

Where to go at the end of December that isn’t too cold or snowy? Death Valley! (It was cold, windy and rained half the trip though) Over the New Years Eve holiday block, a group of us from Mammoth and friends arrived in Death Valley for a 5 day canyoneering trip. I classify Death Valley canyoneering as advanced canyoneering because it typically involves Cairn Anchors which could also be classified as ‘piles of rocks’. Thereby needing additional measures to counter the increased risk.

The group had a variety of skill levels so our trip organizers arranged a clinic going from rappelling and team dynamics to cairn anchors and fiddle sticks in Vinegaroon Canyon. I would call myself an intermediate canyoneer with about a dozen canyons under my belt, but cairn anchors were always very intimidating since I outweigh most men by 30-60 lbs (I’m ~210lbs) so this clinic helped a lot move them from mysterious things to trust to inspectable protection.

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Canyoneering 1000ft Down Yosemite Falls

August 16, 2021
The final rappels down Lower Yosemite Falls

Middle Earth was a challenging canyon route starting at the base of Upper Yosemite Falls, descending ~1000 ft to the bottom of Lower Yosemite Falls. It tested and broke my nerves but I still had a number of firsts including my first class B+ canyon involving several swims.

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Caves and Canyons in the Volcanic Jungle of Costa Rica

April 19, 2021
View of Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

I recently took a trip down to Costa Rica, a country with nearly zero COVID restrictions and abundant English. The highlights were definitely rappelling alongside waterfalls and some very moderate cave exploration in the Arenal volcanic region.

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Exploring Unmarked Mines in Death Valley

December 2, 2020

Sadly, Thanksgiving 2020 (like everything in 2020) didn’t go as expected. I canceled our amazing Turkey-Holiday in the San Rafael Swell desert wilderness and instead I slept 12 hours a day with the flu (luckily not COVID-19). However, Sadie “Alpine Babe” Skiles and I did get out to explore around Death Valley in some unmarked mines…

Another beautiful vein in Monarch Canyon
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Scrambl-eering on the Island in the Sky Traverse

March 10, 2020

Inside one of the best hidden gems in Utah is a sandstone behemoth called Island in the Sky. Most climbs go part way up its face, but there is a traverse which gains its summit and traverses a labyrinth of short canyons with scrambling ascents between them. RoadTripRyan has the best beta, but doesn’t utilize or follow all the rappels I found and published on ropewiki. Regardless of tools (map, gpx or physical markings), good route finding intuition is a must. However, none of this took away from the five hours of fun which ends in four rappels!

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