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!)



At 3/26/2011 09:48:00 PM , Blogger sigob said...

On the creeks with lots of swimming and jumping, I'd consider being soft and getting a shortie wetsuit. They really do make a difference for warmth. They also don't overheat you as much as an expensive dry top.

I tend to wear neoprene socks and sandals. Mesh shoes without insoles would be a nice step up.

On Alderson I found a small drybag was a great extra to have around. It gives you a bit of extra floatation when swimming across pools and allows you to keep some emergency essentials dry. I used a 5 gallon bag. I found the flotation it provides also shortens how far you sink into the water with those shallow pool jumps.

At 3/27/2011 04:13:00 PM , Blogger TF said...

It was pretty much dry when we went through.

At 3/27/2011 08:47:00 PM , Blogger sigob said...

Which canyon is that? Upper redrock?

Nice to have a link to some good pictures which show the type of canyoneering we have around here. Thanks


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