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Thread: Blue John Canyon Trip Report

  1. #1

    Blue John Canyon Trip Report

    Went and did Mindbender and Blue John Canyons earlier this week. I went down with brother-in-law Chuck, and friends Mike, Sarah, Ben, and Josh. I can't do a trip report for Mindbender yet because I didn't have my camera with me in that canyon. Josh had his camera in that canyon, so I'm waiting for him to send me pics that he took in that canyon.

    Mindbender is a great little technical slot. It terminates in a 170 foot free-hanging rappel. Sweaty palms, good stuff. Look for a Mindbender TR to come.

    Blue John was a pretty sweet slot too. We entered Blue John through the west fork, and continued down the main fork, passing the site where Aron Ralston chopped his hand off.
    For more info on that, go here: Also passed by some great petroglyph panels in Horseshoe Canyon (Blue John empties into Horseshoe Canyon).

    Overall, it was a great trip. Probably one of the best canyoneering trips I've ever been on. It was freezing cold the entire time (it even snowed lightly on us for about 2 minutes), but I think I prefer the cold over the bugs and heat of the summer months.
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  5. #4
    Awesome are a real pro. Those have got to be the best pictures that I have seen on here. You da man!!!!!!

    Sounds like an awesome trip!!! You need to ge those other studs on here.

  6. #5
    Ben is already a registered user. He posts under the pseudoname "rock-ski-cowboy."

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by rockgremlin
    Ben is already a registered user. He posts under the pseudoname "rock-ski-cowboy."
    Ok yeah I know him. He is the one after an enduro. I am looking forward to seeing his pictures.

    So where did you guys camp? Any good places around there? Did you bring firewood? Smores? So how far up that dirt road from Goblin Valley are these canyons?
    You didn't eat those nasty MRE's again did you? Diet too!!

  8. #7
    These canyons are on the other side of the valley from Goblin Valley. Good camp spots are all over the place out there. Much less crowded than Goblin Valley too.

    You would've been proud, I brought along the filet mignon this time out.

    But no Smores...

  9. #8
    Man! you lucky sucker! That looks awesome.

  10. #9

    Where are your lids?

    Great pictures. I did the same route last October. Did you guys rapel down the West Fork or did you just downclimb? We rappeled, my downclimbing skills are not so good. Plus we had one member of the group that had limited rappeling experience. So him and I got a practice run in before the Big Drop. I to was very amazed how dark, technical and short the "Ralston" section was.

    One more thing, you guys should really have helmets. I may seem over cautious but in my shot canyoneering history I have found them to be invaluable. Many an injuries avoided by havng one on.

    Sorry if I come off as an ass, but I thought I should echo what Tom Jones said.

    Keep the TR's comming.


  11. #10
    Hey James!

    No offense taken!! Frankly, I KNOW I should wear a helmet, it's just a matter of getting my butt out there and buying one. It's at the top of my "to-do" list.

    No rappeling in West Fork. Some of us downclimbed/jumped, and others hand-lined down.

    Aint that slot sweet? I've never been in a slot that dark before! It was great, love to do it again soon!

  12. #11

    Dark ones

    Bluejohn by far is the darkest canyon I've done. The only one close would be Brimstone. Although Upper Chute and Echo have some pretty dark slots. Just thinking about them makes me happy. :D

  13. #12


    After recieving several reprimands for my pictures without helmets from my latest adventures, I'm tempted to get pissy-- it should be known that I am an indendendent, prideful dude and I hate unsolicited advice or censure, however sage it may be (just ask my dad)-- but I won't, because you have a point. However, folks should realize that wearing a helmet is a personal choice and you shouldn't feel obligated to tell everyone without one how wrong they are and consider them an idiot as long as they are making an informed adult decision not to. Be warned, what started as a simple post has turned into quite the blathering exposition.

    I know I should wear a helmet and I actually usually do. However, of all the canyoneering I did this week, the only canyon I wore one for was Mindbender. Now y'all are making me feel guilty, but honestly, before I started reading these egroups, I've always done a lot of scrambling, climbing, and exploring that has exposed me to the same dangers of canyoneering and never given helmets a second thought.

    Why I didn't wear a helmet on Bluejohn? Given the large amounts of hiking in the sun that day (12 miles), and the very short amounts of technical slot we were going to do, I decided to excercise my freedom not to wear a helmet on this one, and took my favorite hat. ;0 I consider this to probably be among the least technical of the class 3 canyons I've done, and I chose to leave the extra weight at home. Personally, I assess the canyon before I go in and decide wether or not I'm taking the helmet. Honestly, about 80% of the time I do. I imagine most people do this, but they just have different thresholds of when they put the helmet on. Do you wear a helmet in the Subway? Orderville? The Narrows? The point: YMMV. Everyone has a personal preference, and unless you are a guide book author-- in which case you're justly obligated to tell everyone to use helmets-- you're preference shouldn't be the standard by which you judge others. I know for a fact that there are very skilled canyoneers out there that rarely or never use helmets. I bet that really bugs some of you, but I don't think it should. That would be like me getting bugged by all of you that decide to destroy your livers and lungs with the popular addictions of today... I'd rather just let it go, and chances are I won't be lecturing you about the dangers of doing X potentially harmful thing any time soon because you already know.

    I see helmets in the same way that I see seatbelts, it could be the difference between life and death or the difference between serious injury and no injury at all. An example why helmets are important:

    After taking some newbies sans helmets on some easy technical routes this weekend in Moab (feeling guilty about that too), I told them if they ever plan on going canyoneering again, the first thing they should buy is a helmet. I imagine the one or two that are now considering it as a potential hobby will take my advice.

    Benny R

  14. #13


    Quote Originally Posted by rock_ski_cowboy
    I'm tempted to get pissy
    I love it!!! We should start a topic specifically on the pros and cons of using a helmet. You da man rock, just do what you gotta do man.

    Quote Originally Posted by rock_ski_cowboy
    the only canyon I wore one for was Mindbender.
    Speaking of that.......where are the Damn pictures? I have been waiting to see them and if you have a helmet on you can say to the fun police. Although I dont think ole James was hounding you.

  15. #14

    I agree with you 100% about the helmet issue. It's like going up to someone who's smoking and saying "You should stop that filthy habit!!" Before I even heard about the Canyons forum I had never heard of nor considered wearing a helmet in a slot canyon, and if I would have seen anyone wearing a helmet in a slot canyon, I would have been laughing at the "canyon fairies" with the girly helmets.

    That said, I have been in instances where a helmet would have come in real handy. A few years ago, Mike and I were doing Quandary Canyon, and Mike literally walked into a really jagged underhang and split his head open. Luckily, we had a first aid kit, and were able to treat the wound, but a helmet would have saved him a lot of grief.

    Personally, I think you were justified in wearing no helmet in Blue John. I think the necessity for a helmet is directly proportional to how many technical manuevers are required in the canyon. In other words, helmet ok for Quandary, but no way for The Subway.

    BTW, those Mindbender pics are coming soon. I should have them by next week some time, so keep your pants on!!

  16. #15

    don't diss the Subway, man!

    Quote Originally Posted by rockgremlin
    :Personally, I think you were justified in wearing no helmet in Blue John. I think the necessity for a helmet is directly proportional to how many technical manuevers are required in the canyon. In other words, helmet ok for Quandary, but no way for The Subway.
    Depends on when you do the Subway :P If it's flowing like it was last May - a Helmet + a Kayak would be in order for the Subway...

    (but in July... yeah... probably not needed)
    "It's a miracle curiosity survives formal education" - Albert Einstein

    For a good time, check out my blog. or update the CanyonWiki

  17. #16
    yep, the bj system is a nice one. don't know if the "full meal deal" is worth it though - out horseshoe past the great gallery. if done in 2 days definitely. lots of cool area to explore between the upper and lower slots. LOTS of damn deep sand to 1 step forward, 1/2 step back through as well that lower slot where it terminates and drops is one of the most picturesque scenes i've seen.

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