Tag Archives: Arizona

What is Canyoneering?

So, what is canyoneering anyway?  Technical canyoneering is the activity of exploring canyons typically by following a watercourse that is responsible for creating the canyons in the first place through canyon carving.  Watersheds channel hydraulic energy that travels  its from high point to low point creating a channel/canyon/slot canyon through the given landscape. 

These watercourses can be flowing, or dry and only flowing during rains or snowmelt.  Unique challenges are present in these canyons that are divided into three types, dry, water in the canyon sans current, water flowing in the canyon.  These canyons are rated A, B or C respectably based on this criteria.  It is typical in class A canyons to find rappels as the primary issue, having to create potentially complex natural anchors to connect your ropes to as to descend these canyons. 

Class B canyons can host what we call “keeper potholes.”  These features can be daunting, as in technical canyons you are typically so deep into the earth that retreat and escape is impossible.  With the only way out to continue onward, these keeper holes can literally stop you in your tracks.  Imagine a swimming pool without a ladder or any features that is water polished.  Imagine the pool has no shallow end and is 20 feet deep with vertical walls, the water is drained out so that the water level is 8 feet below the top of the pool.  With no way around this, how do you get across it?  The answer is some complex problem solving, tossing bags of sand over the opposite lip to produce a counterweight, taping a climbing hook to a tentpole, whatever the solution you must be prepared ahead of time with what you may need, most important of all knowledge, as going back is not a option most of the time. 

Class C canyons have current and moving water, rappels down waterfalls, and all of the hazards that come through operating near swift water.  Rigging systems are typically releasable, allowing the canyoneer on rappel to be quickly lowered by the system if drowning on rope etc.

These factors are not limited within one rating or class of canyon.  You can find any of these hazards, for the most part anywhere, and this text is a generalization to provide a basic overview of what canyoneering is.  Descending canyons is exploration in its most true form, and requires many skill sets and ability to adapt to keep yourself safe.

Over the years many training groups have offered short courses to students, and it seems that people have felt these classes adequate substitution for years of mentorship and experience.  You cannot learn how to do these activities safely in three days, or in any quick way for that matter.  Please take time to build actual experience, and be safe, protect the land, and have fun.


CenterFocus wraps up another season of adventure

It seems that the wave of adventure is starting to subside a little bit for our 2013 season.  This season was a blast, so lets review some highlights from this year.

Our guided Grand Canyon trips went well.  We kicked off with Spring Break visitors, and the weather on these trips was delightful.  After summer arrived, the heat came to us early this year, with heat waves in June that were above average for what we see during our Grand Canyon Backpacking Trips.  June and September require attention to planned routes to avoid heat, as these months can pose at times the same threats that July and August can. 

Coming into September the backpacking in Grand Canyon started out with some rain, and we squeezed through a trip on September 9th in the middle of the mess, catching a weather window and getting great pictures and experinences. 

By October things got really nice, and then the park closed due to the government shutdown!  Luckily we caught the tail end of October, and we guided Grand Canyon tours throughout the end of the month and up until today.  At this point winter is approaching no doubt, although it has been sunny and clear as is typical for November with great hiking!

Our Arizona guided canyoneering tours could not have went better.  We started the Spring with a little rain and cold, but then conditions set up just right.  We enjoyed the season through the Spring and Summer, where we had a lot of precipitation in August that we had to be careful of here and there.  The miracle month for our guided canyoneering tours and adventures in Arizona this year was September.  Salome this year started to flow once again like the Spring for a three week window.  The water was crystal clear, and the canyon charged up all over again.  This left quickly, but we were able to get many trips through the canyon during that time, and having guided there for years it made us feel quite special to be a part of this.  One of the trips a huge Gila Monster was sitting right in the center of the canyon, just hanging out on the top of a boulder, it was like the Spring had rekindled.

Lastly, our Sedona adventure tours were and are always, largely rock climbing based.  These guided rock climbing tours leave Sedona to spend a day climbing at the high elevation of the Mogollon Rim.  Spring is a great time up there, and the summer can be good to hide from the heat.  We slowed down here for some reason in September, and then started to get busy again as far as the climbing trips in October.   It has been getting cool at this point at the high elevations, so our guided climbing tours will start to wrap up for the year, although climbing in Phoenix is great throughout the winter.