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Thread: American Canyoneers - Garden Creek service project

  1. #1

    American Canyoneers - Garden Creek service project

    As Ed Abby so eloquently penned, easy access to wild places can have unintended consequences. Often bad consequences. Garden Creek is that place in Grand Canyon. Bright Angel trail is the "superhighway" of Grand Canyon carrying thousands of people per year to Phantom Ranch. They all walk by the head of the fabulous Garden Creek slot cut in 1.8 billion year old schist and granite. Most never notice because their heads are held low with fatigue by the time they pass by. The few that do immediately back off when confronted by the initial traverse and tricky down climb with swift water blowing your feet off the wall. It's a foreboding place to the uninitiated. As a hiker, I poked around the top and bottom of the slot for six or seven years scouting and enjoying the secret recesses before Todd Martin, Albert Putzig, and I attempted a descent. We were dumbfounded that there was no sign of prior travel. A stunning slot hidden in plain sight. We later learned that an adventurous ranger named Michael Nash had a harrowing descent in the mid 90's. I spoke to Michael, who's now the Chief Ranger at Grand Teton National Park, and we shared stories of that great place. Michael never published the feat choosing to not encourage the uninitiated masses with a difficult and serious class C slot. Sometimes I wonder if we did the right thing by opening the World's eyes about that beautiful place.

    Since Grand Canyoneering was published, easy access instantly made Garden Creek the most popular slot in the Park. It has attracted many experienced canyoneers who return time and time again to enjoy the place. It's also attracted less experienced people with a few resulting incidents:

    1 - one group couldn't find the midwall bolt station so in panic they tied ropes together littering the canyon with 600' of rope and 100' of webbing. American Canyoneers did a service project to remove the trash.

    2 - another group failed to read the beta on sequencing the canyon and somehow managed to daisy chain eleven people at the midwall bolt station. The NPS reported this to me on a monitoring trip to determine if the helicopter long line could get into the canyon to extract people in trouble. Glad they're thinking ahead!

    3 - the NPS reported another incident where a guy had a prussik self belay above his descender which locked out of reach in the 400' waterfall rap. He couldn't communicate with his friends above over the sound of the water and hung there for 45 minutes (getting pummeled) until finally self rescuing.

    Most recently, someone went through the canyon and bolted EVERYTHING. All Raps and down climbs. The canyon is entirely different now. It's still beautiful but it doesn't take much skill to get down it. Progress? I have mixed feelings about it. It might prevent some incidents but it also might encourage less experienced people. New bolts are not allowed in Grand Canyon anyway. The bolting resulted in another American Canyoneers monitoring trip with Grand Canyon supervising rangers to assess the course of action. The NPS ultimately requested that American Canyoneers remove the bolts at the entry traverse hoping that it wouldn't "lure" the initiated into the slot. The remaining bolts will stay, for now, to collect data and assess if the incidents decrease. A monitoring system is being installed at the start of the slot to get accurate traffic data.

    Last Saturday American Canyoneers members did a service project to remove the first two bolts. You can read about it here:

    http://www.americancanyoneers.org/garden-creek/


    The future of canyoning in Garden Creek is murky at best. The NPS could simply close it to eliminate the headache. They did that at Deer Creek, for example, creating an uncomfortable precedent. Of my eight Garden Creek descents, five have involved some kind of NPS monitoring or cleanup trip on behalf of American Canyoneers. Please do your part to help keep this place open. Behave, be safe, be prepared, and don't damage the environment. More information on Grand Canyon rules can be found here:
    http://www.americancanyoneers.org/access-grand-canyon/

    Here's some motivation to go see this incredible place

    Name:  P1020905.jpg
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    Thanks for your help in keeping our canyons open


    Best Regards,


    Rich Rudow

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  3. #2
    Looking forward to someday visiting this place. Strong work maintaining a good relationship with the park. It looks difficult at times. Thanks!
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  4. #3
    Personally I am glad you opened it up to the world, I will be down there Saturday and have been looking forward to this for sometime!
    I hope they do not close it like Deer Creek, that is a canyon I have wanted to tackle and may never be able to see it completely. Nice photo, is that the one in the book?

  5. #4
    Todd has a similar shot in the book with even better contrast. The cover of Grand Canyoneering is also from this canyon. Report back on the conditions. It flashed hard 3 times this monsoon season and I understand a lot of the vegetation was blown out.

    Rich

  6. #5
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    Not going to be popular to say, but the closure of canyons is unacceptable. Period. I don't care what headaches they cause, these are our lands. Government serves us, not the other way around.

    Not that we don't work with the BLM and NPS, but when a closure occurs, disobedience is in order. Sorry guys, but this is one American unwilling to be a sheep.

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