Saturday, March 26, 2011

Waterton Canyoneering

Just a quick post on canyoneering options in Waterton.

Upper Cameron Creek
Start at the Expert's choice pullout where the Deja Vu rapid is located.  This is the last official pullout before McNealy's pic-nic area.  Head down to the creek on a very good and very well defined fisherman trail.  You'll have to exit the canyon right at the hairpin turn.  This is just upstream of where Alderson Creek comes in.

There is one mandatory jump into a pool.  You'll need to wait until August for this trip.  You don't need any ropes.  You'll be wading in water for most of the way.  There are a few short canyony sections, but this is more of a creek walk than most of the other "canyoneering" trips around here.

Lower Red Rock Canyon
This is a family favourite. It is a pretty easy trip to go from the middle bridge (the lower one at the parking lot) to the upper bridge.  The main fun is seeing if you can do it without getting wet.

There is a big log jam just above the upper bridge.  Some years you can worm up through it, other years you can't.  The creek above this jam loses it's slot like nature.  Return the way you came up.

Note: The park service does not encourage this activity, but for many people this is a big part of their connection to the Park and a source of many fond family adventures.

Red rock does start to have a slot feel to it right as you approach the upper bridge.  Unfortunately the section feels all to short.

Upper Red Rock Canyon
Things aren't quite as dramatic as the lower canyon, nor as long.  You'll have to wander up the creek for a couple of km. Luckily the views are great.  The right hand fork (kayaker's left) has a ~20m or so 5th class slab to bypass, challenge, or depending on your direction of travel -rappel.

Red Rock has a slot feel to it in places.  However, this is not a dry slot canyon.  The upper right fork is typically dry in the summer.

Alderson Creek
You'll have to hike up the trail about 5km or so. Bash down to the creek and follow it out to Cameron Creek.  You'll need to bring a rope for one section.  I did it in two 25m raps.  You may be able to get away with a 30m rope and do it in 4?
(Location of rappel.  A short closed in section follows.  Mandatory swimming).

View from the part way in the closed section after the rappel.

There are a couple of very nice closed in sections.  Unlike the red argillite canyons like Red Rock, this doesn't feel much like a slot canyon.  It has more easy scrambling around numerous low angles chutes.  

Watch the pools - I broke my tailbone part way down this creek.  Lots of swimming and cold water on this one.

I've only been down this in a kayak, but it would make an excellent summer canyoneering trip.  You'll need to be prepared for one mandatory rappel.  A 20m rope will get you down off a sketchy jammed log, but I'd bring a few extra meters and go off a more secure tree.  There is a very nice, short slot section on the way down.

South Drywood
An OK trip down another Red Argillite Canyon.  The major falls are easy to walk around, so you don't get the fun of a real canyon experience.  I have slid the falls on my bum in August, and they are fun - and much less scary than in a Kayak at high water.  See the kayaking description for more details.  While the section above epi-pen (the major waterfall) isn't very closed in, it does have a different feel from the red-argillite canyon below.

Things are pretty shallow in the later summer, so you shouldn't expect continuous swimming.  I think there is only 1 true pool jump, and 2 others that you can sort of fudge if need be.

Other Possibilities
The final 300m of Hell Roaring Creek which comes out of Crypt lake.  It is mainly long slides into 5m diameter cauldrons.  Do you slide or jump (anyone can rappel!)


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ideal April Trips

Its Spring planning time. Our plans are for a much needed resort trip for Anne. We're looking into last minute deals down to an all-inclusive in southern Cancun: ideally a remote spot by Tolum.

However, we all need fall back plans. Our's is the Utah desert. Perhaps a trip to Vegas, but more likely than not some easy canyoneering in Zion's. However, if I really dream, here would be my other options.

  • Jarbridge & Bruneau river.  I'd probably warm up on a day trip on the Jarbridge and try the West Bruneau as a 2-3 day trip, starting above Jarbridge and seeing if I could make it to Bruneau.  I'm a sucker for new country and hiking side canyons never excites me as much as just hauling down the river.  I loved our trip down the Owyhee a few years back and the beautiful hotsprings up there.  Another link for kayakers. (Image from  I expect my trip planning would lead to an easy epic with some long days and an extra day or two.  Of course that is how I tend to enjoy things.

    • Zion's Subway.  I've done the approach, but haven't entered the canyon.  You really can't beat slot canyons.  I've never found things nearly as cold as people say.  Early April isn't too bad for true Canadians.  (Image from US National Park Service)

    Wednesday, March 09, 2011

    Castle Falls set for logging

    Looks like the area around and south of Castle falls and over to Lynx creek is being set up for logging.  Balancing the economic value of logging, recreation and ideal character of an area are important.  Having worked as a tree planter, I don't find clear cuts much different from a natural burn.  However, I remember when the Kishenina was logged back in the 70's and how much it ruined a beautiful valley that is only now starting to come back.  More info on the proposed logging is here

    Saturday, March 05, 2011

    March 5, 2011

    Beautiful day for skiing or climbing.  We just got back from a short ski trip up the little dipper trail.  The chinook line is right at the Lineham trailhead right now.  That means Crandell was sitting at about -9, the townsite at -11, and the little dipper trail at about +2.   The tracks are in pretty good shape there.  A group of 6 or so was on the trail ahead of us.

    Lots and lots of new light snow.

    The main lake is also frozen over, so if people are interested in getting into Crypt, it is possible.  The avalanche danger would be atrocious in the humungous terrain traps you need to cross.

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