A Christmas Pine Creek/Keyhole


Feb 15, 2013
The gathering for the 10th annual Christmas Day canyoneering trip was upon us. From Kalediscope day trips, to Imlay, to deep snowy Telephone's, Mystery's Russell Gulch Subways romps and much more, the tradition was hitting the decade mark. Tim and I had made every one of these December 25th forays, including many a Heaps attempt. Tom and Jonathon and Tre-C rounded out our group of 5. The passing of the mantle to a new generation had its expression this year, in a Winter Solstice descent of Heaps, including the Phantom Valley upper part. Kudos to the next generation and the pushing of boundaries. Tre-C who was on both our trip and the Heaps one, regaled us with tales of that day.

What to do? As has become the standard, it snowed and Springdale had a White Christmas. Susan and Tim came from California the day after Susan's wrist surgery. That was a sign of determination. I have wanted to do a snowy Behunin for years. I believe with its slickrock covered in snow, it would be quite the challenge. Tom thought it too risky. The group settled on the cautious side and planned a Pine Creek and Keyhole combo platter. After some confusion, we met at the top of Pine Creek, permits in hand. The canyon was very wet indeed, with many long swims, in water a few degrees above freezing. Cold hands, then warm hands, then cold hands. The lighting was nice and the exit a pit snowy.

As often happens with cold weather combos, partners dropped out for the 2nd act and Tim and I found ourselves the only takers for the Keyhole follow up. It proved to be a delight, with the highlight being huge snowflakes gently coming down, contrasting the dark walls, in the tightest parts of Keyhole. The descents were uneventful, which in these conditions, is desirable. The group gathered at Casa Hoover, this time with Susan freed from the task of making dinner. Jonathon and Massimo came over for dessert. A lovely evening was had by all. The next day, was the start of FreezeFest. Here is hoping that the Christmas tradition has many more chapters.


Checkerboad Mesa X-Mas AM

Driving to Pine Creek

Heading in

Minor flow in both canyons

Water on the lens


On to Keyhole



CASA HOOVER, post canyons

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