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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Rescued From a Slot Canyon

Canyoneering the slots in southern Utah can be fun, exciting adventure. However, some of these narrow canyons are extremely difficult and can be dangerous. Some are technical, meaning specialized gear and knowledge is required.

Over the weekend a group had difficulty getting through Englestead Hollow, a hard-core technical slot canyon in Zion National Park. A friend, Jamie Carpenter, provided this interesting account and photos. It serves as a reminder that people need to take care when entering these canyons. (In the photo below, the small thing in the middle is a person rappeling down the cliff.)

“We did Englestead Hollow on Saturday and there ended up being 11 people in our group plus 4 guys that came up behind us. The canyon was way intimidating, a 300 foot rappel followed by a 60 foot and a 150 foot right after that. It went straight down and was like going into the depths of the deep unknown. It took forever to get all those people down those first 3 rappels; I wouldn't ever recommend a group size more than 5 on this.

“After the 3rd rappel the groups kind of spread out and we took off hiking to the next set of rappels. After waiting for some time, a couple of the others caught up to us and were in a panic. One of the guys was climbing over a huge boulder and the bottom of it broke off and landed on his foot, shearing off his big toe and breaking all his others.

“The rest of the hike was a scurry to get out of the canyon as fast as possible to get paramedics. Two of the guys took most the ropes and headed on ahead and I was with a group of 5: two kids their father and another girl my age. Four people stayed with the injured hiker.

“The first two guys made it out of the canyon at around 4:00 (we all started the trail at 8 am) and our group of five emerged shortly after 8 pm. It was quite the experience. On our last rappel, only we didn't know it was our last rappel, the rope got stuck. It was about 30 feet up. I started to use prussics to climb back up but it was way to sketchy. It was the only rope we had so we were hesitant to leave it. We hiked ahead and ran into the group of four guys that had come into the canyon after our group and passed us. We borrowed their knife and cut our only rope and moved on. Thank goodness, that was the last place we needed to use the rope so we would have been ok!

“After all, it was a long hike! The park flew in paramedics and they spent the night in the canyon Saturday night and Sunday morning they would hook up all the pulley's and gear and get the guys out of the canyon! I still haven't heard how all that went!

“Just another lesson: the canyon is a dangerous place; it should never be taken for granted!”

Update 8-23: "They did get the guy out the next morning but the park rescue team was very disappointed in how unprepared we were. No one had any matches and all we had for medical supplies was a wrap and some asprin. We didn't even bring extra food in case anything happened.

"Next time I go into a slot canyon, I will bring a KNIFE, matches, first aid kit, extra food, lots of ibiprofin, and extra water. If anyone even gets slightly injured it's almost impossible to get them down any more rappels let alone the swimming and down-climbing and mounds of tree branches and obstacles in the canyon. There is no way even 11 people could have gotten that guy out of there.

"Another great thing, if you get a permit for your hike in Zion, even if it’s a back country permit, and something does happen, search and rescue is FREE!

"Now I don't feel so bad about paying that $50.00 a year for a pass!"


  • At 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What a bunch of dumb@sses! Who does technical hiking/canyoneering without being properly prepared. Just because you get free search and rescue doesn't mean that you should put the rescuers lives at risk because of your ineptness. And you took CHILDREN down those rappels? Learn what survival equipment is and how to use it before attempting hikes like that and endangering others.

  • At 11:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for stating the obvious. It was already admitted that they weren't prepared and didn't know what to expect. I am sure that next time they do this they will be prepared. But thanks for your asinine comments. They are really useful for anyone else who plans on taking the same trip.


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