Sunday, June 17, 2012


Canyoneering: A client of mine and a couple of other people in his ward invited me to go Canyoneering a week ago. I thought this would be a nice pedestrian walk in the wilds of Zion’s with a little rappelling and a time to hang with the guys. So I said yes. There were 6 of us and I was about 20 years older than anyone else and the youngest was a slight 14 year old.

During the 12 hour drive we read several stories of people getting stranded in the canyons for days, running out of food or water and freezing in the stagnant water spots. There are things called “potholes” where the sides are so steep you can’t crawl out and the water is so deep you can’t push off the bottom to rescue yourself. This wasn’t going to be the walk in the Park, with a picnic lunch I thought…. I kept thinking; just avoid the “potholes”.

We got a very late start; 9:30 instead of 8:00 am, but made great time hiking up to Angel’s Landing. The sign told of 6 people falling to their death since 2004. What had I gotten into? We hiked far beyond that point going up 2 thousand feet in 4 miles. Mike, one of the guy’s legs gave out to cramps, and I felt like gramps with my hips starting to give me fits. I was determined to not slow down the group and stumbled along in a little pain. We finally got to the right canyon and started bushwhacking down the mountain. We went a ways and stopped for lunch. It was now afternoon and we hadn’t got to the rappelling part yet and Mike was hurting. We gave him a blessing and he was OK for the rest of the day. Thank you for the priesthood.

We finally arrive in the heat of the day to a steep place and misread the map and went to the left instead of the right.We had to scramble up the side of a scary bowl shaped rock face to a tree to rappel down.It took lots of time and now we started worrying about the pace we were setting. We got down to this fairly level place and if it had been wet at all it would have been super slippery aaannnddd super scary. The view was great but this was very intense.

All 6 of us rappelled straight down a 120 ft. cliff to a ledge the size of my office with another 140 ft. cliff as the only way off the ledge. My client chose to tell us this story while we were on that small ledge. He said there were two other canyoneers traveling through the canyon in a similar situation on a ledge with no way down except by rappelling. The first guy went off and halfway down discovered the ends of the rope were uneven and he thought he could manage with only one rope through the mechanism. Well it didn’t work and he fell 40 ft. to his death but that caused the rope to run through the top hitch so the remaining climber was now stuck on the ledge. He was there for 5 days until he was rescued. I think my client took great delight in sharing that scary story

After an incredibly beautiful hike through the bottom of the canyon the next rappel was a little different….we had to tie off on a rotten log. The guide book (published in 2006) actually says rotten log. It was a 70 foot rappel into an icy pool of green brown water. No luck in keeping my pack dry, we all came out soaking wet cold and stinky. But the rappel was really fun. We were all laughing and joking at our insanity. Then we came to the pothole rappel and sure enough the first guy down, Dave, was reaching out for the rope and fell in the pothole. We were all up on the ledge, with no easy way to help, listening to him splash around trying to crawl out of the hole. After 45 mins we started a rescue hitch when in some miraculous way Dave figured how to crawl out of the hole. As I went over the lip of the ledge and saw this massive deep and steep pothole I thought that angels must have lifted him out.  

 That rappel was also tricky because the rope got caught up on the rocks and we couldn’t pull it down to use it on the next cliff. We tugged and pulled and finally we were able to whip the taught end off the hang up and the rope was free and we could continue on.

We came to the last rappel and the sun was leaving the valley and light was now a precious commodity. We had to scramble over and around this huge boulder and hitch onto the decender rope on a steep section of rock 165 feet above Emerald Pools. The rappel is 40 feet on rock and then it is a 125 foot free hang all the way down to the bottom. Getting started is always the worse and it was terrifying to go next to last, because the anxiety really builds up the longer you wait. But what a fun rappel going down that far that fast. It was great. I loved it.

When we finally all got down and packed up the light was gone and it was totally black out and there was no trail. We had to bushwhack down a stream bed in total darkness and I was stumbling over rocks and in the scrub oak. What a mess, we got lost and separated and that was also terrifying. We finally connected with the trail and had a pleasant mile walk to the last shuttle of the day finally down the mountain at 11 pm.

The whole time was supposed to take 9 hours and it took us 13. We were hurting but no one was hurt. Just glad for the incredible experiences and I plan on making sure my client buddy has lots of life insurance for him and his family.


Brad said...

Oh my goodness dad! What an insane trip! I'm so impressed with you doing all that "young" stuff. I sure it didn't help to hear all the "encouraging" stories either. Brad would have loved this. What to go again????

b-ryce said...

Such amazing pictures. Potholes = bad, priesthood = good. I'm going to live vicariously through my dad, since I wouldn't go on crazy trips like that :)

Danica McDonald said...

I'm super impressed you went AND survived. What a cool trip dad. This young and crazy stuff dosent have anything to do with you upcoming birthday does it?

Que Sage said...

hey Bro Barrand, how are you and the family doing?
This is Elder Boyer!
contact at