Cold Weather Canyoneering advice? - Roost
I am planning a five day trip to the roost next week (Sat-Wed) and it's gonna be chilly! Looks like highs in the 40s and overnight lows in the teens are possible. I have quite a bit of experience canyoneering, but never this late in the year at these temps. And every time I've come to the roost it's been bone dry. I have yet to make it to the spur region so we are thinking about doing High Spur, Red Spur, Big Spring (any thoughts as to which fork is better?), and a return to Alcatraz. And maybe Water canyon or Low Spur if there's time. I'm open to suggestions if I'm missing out on something.
Anyway, a few questions about the temps:
1. Wetsuit advice? Sounds like there's gonna be quite a bit of water. I've got a 3/2 full, a 3mm shorty, and a 7mm. In general I'm thinking the 3/2 should be sufficient if we are in and out of the water often, but I'm concerned it may be too much in the drier canyons and not enough in something like Alcatraz which never gets any sun. What do you guys think? Not enough, too much, just right?
2. Low in the teens overnight. Any chance that some of the deeper, darker pools may start icing over? If so, would that present any difficulties or dangers in these canyons that I may not aware of?
2b. What do you guys like to do to prevent water from freezing overnight? We'll have a lot so the tent is not an option. The only idea I have is to bring a giant cooler to store several gallons overnight.
3. We're gonna be in the high spur area on sat/sun and there's a 30% chance of rain. If we make it all the way out there and get rained out, are they any fun side-trips nearby that we might check out instead?
4. If any one has some recent beta I'd love to hear it!
PS. I'm aware that 40deg temperatures are probably nothing for all of you Freeze Fest Folks. If we make it through this then I guess that would be the next step!
Thanks in advance.
11-15-2011 09:19 AM
I was just there this past Friday night and Saturday. We went exploring Friday night in the dark down to High Spur. Made it to the "The Circle" and climbed out without encountering any water. The water is most likely going to be found in the best part of the canyon, the corkscrew. We didn't have wetsuits and it was the first time for my brother-in-law in the Roost. Our goal was to do Big Spring Northwest and Big Spring East and West. Ended up only doing Big Spring East as it was the only dry (except for the pool at the end) canyon out of the 3. Big Spring Northwest will require a dead man or use a hook at the first rappel, which is basically the beginning of the slot. There was a pool of water at the bottom of that rappel, as well as water immediately after it. We didn't descend, but tossed rocks and heard lots of deep sounding splashing. We ran into unavoidable water on Big Spring West Fork right before the rappel too, climbed out and around and saw water after the rappel as well. So we headed to East and made it through dry....I did anyways. One person will have to get their feet wet, but some clever thinking helped us stay dry on the last pothole. I need to get some wetsuits as well.
Read the Beta on Red Spur, there is water, and some good challenges with one rappel.
We passed Mark (Olivares) who was coming out of Water Canyon. I believe they stayed dry despite there being water in it as well.
I'd keep your water in your vehicle. With temps in the 40s during the day, assuming there is sunlight, then it will be warmer inside the vehicle and your water won't freeze overnight.
I've personally nicknamed the High Spur area "Hurricane High Spur". The wind can blow like mad up there.
I've rambled....as soon as I get my video made I'll do a trip report.....
Bottom Tier Superhero
Water in narrow slot canyons normally does not freeze over in winter. I've done slots when the temperature is in the single digits and the slots will not be frozen over. My theory for this is that the slots provide some insulation in winter, same as summer, so the water in the slots is normally ice cold year round, but doesn't freeze or heat up....
Of course there are always exceptions.... also you will normally encounter less water in the slots in winter over summer. The cold dry winter air is conducive to a high evaporation rate.
But be warned.... 2011 is NOT a normal year. Everything in southern Utah is currently saturated to the max. Sandstone can absorb a large quantity of water and hold it for a long time. There is currently water in slots where I have seldom seen it before and swimming where it is not expected.
The one nice thing about the current high saturation rate is any route that requires a long sand slog is pretty easy at the moment as the sand is moist and easy to walk across. Something like the down Bluejohn and out Horseshoe route (The Ralston Route) would be easier than normal.
Thanks for the good beta Audilard, and thanks Iceaxe for the insight.
Iceaxe, do you have any recommendations for wetsuit choice for this time of year? Also, since it was your trip report on red spur that has inspired us to go for it, can you think of any reason in which high water levels may complicate things in that canyon (or any of the others I mentioned for that matter)? I'm thinking of the tricky rappel you discussed. Thanks again. And thanks by the way for all the great beta on climb-utah.com, It's been invaluable for years.
in freezefest like conditions, i usually like to have a 4/3 full wetsuit, but i've used a 3/2 in dry canyons. stuff like the black hole requires doubling up of wetsuits, or drysuits. it helps to have enough stuff to cycle through multiple days, or a way to dry gear.
the freezefest threads will have lots of good information, but i can't seem to find the lengthy thread from a couple years ago on bogley. damn site search... here's the one on the canyons though - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/canyons/message/58707
Bottom Tier Superhero
Bottom Tier Superhero
FWIW: I believe the biggest danger with winter canyoneering is not the cold, but the short daylight hours.... you lose a lot of your margin for error. A small navigation error in summer that eats up two hours and is really no big deal can have more severe consequences in winter.... same with an easy summer problem like a stuck rope or difficult pothole escape.
As a minimum everyone in your group should be carrying a headlamp and space blanket in winter.
I agree! Maybe also make sure you have enough clothing to survive (not necessarily comfortably) through the night. Actually, I pretty much carry a headlamp and space blanket 12 months of the year in canyons.
Originally Posted by Iceaxe
Those Freeze Fest threads are pretty amazing. Freeze Fest sounds like a blast!
Originally Posted by CarpeyBiggs
What about Zion?
I have definitely thought about the short days, and I always travel in canyons (year round) with a foil blanket, packable down puff, and first aid, plus a lamp.
One thing I failed to consider is how remote the Spur is and how treacherous the roads could be if it rains.
We may end up going to the North Wash, but since I have been there 3 times in the last year I'd like to do something different.
How is Zion this time of year? Is there much snow accumulating yet? Have any canyons closed or become treacherous? Any recommendations or reservations? We are not afraid of water, we have 7mm wetsuits.
Conditions in the Zion tech canyons are likely to be worse than anything in the Roost this time of year. There are plenty of roads in the Roost that are considered to be all-weather roads.
Utah is a very special and unique place. There is no where else like it on earth. Please take care of it and keep the remaining wild areas in pristine condition. The world will be a better place if you do.
Bottom Tier Superhero
I've done the Roost year round and the roads are normally not an issue. When they become a problem is on a warm day with snow melting on the ground, than they can turn to snot. If that happens the roads are normally frozen in the morning and not an issue, late afternoon travel can suck, but if you wait for evening and the roads to re-freeze they are again easy to travel.