Zion Canyoneering around June 20th

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I've never been canyoneering before but a friend in Flagstaff has and is a big climber with access to all of the gear that he needs. I wanted to know from you guys if you had one chance to get out to Zion for some canyoneering, besides the Subway, what top 3 canyons would you do?
 

Blake Merrell

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Pine Creek for sure. Combine that with Keyhole. Mystery is pretty good. Birch Hollow is a great canyon, even better if you exit down Orderville.
 

Absarokanaut

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I'm no Utah expert but in the event extant respondents haven't seen the forecasts lately keep in mind June 20th is forecast to be considerably HOTTER and WETTER than normal. That's a recipe for explosive weather with flash flooding.

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/long_range/seasonal.php?lead=1

Your friend could have every piece of equipment imaginable but if he doesn't know when to NOT even think about going in ANY canyon that could drown you in a flash you could get yourself in serious trouble. I understand you'll have ropes to ascend but your timing seems REALLY inappropriate even if it is just one chance. I'd plan on LIKELY having to punt and go somewhere else far more appropriate for the time.

Hate to be a downer but knew a young lady 30 years ago that paid the ultimate price. Have a great and safe trip.
 

Nick

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You pretty much always have to be ready to pull the plug on the slots in the summer time in Zion. It certainly takes some wisdom to identify poor conditions, but the BC desk also does a decent job of telling you it's a terrible idea or just not even giving you your permit. Those summer monsoons can really sneak up on you. But I wouldn't let it scare you away, just need to have a backup plan. If it really comes down, you'd probably have plenty of fun just kicking around tourist-style and watching the big waterfalls pop up all over Zion Canyon.
 
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[inappropriate even if it is just one chance. I'd plan on LIKELY having to punt and go somewhere else far more appropriate for the time.]

Any suggestions on somewhere in the 4 corners area that might be more "appropriate" for this time of year? I am completely open to suggestions. I am however, trying to keep this a canyoneering trip since I haven't gotten this opportunity before now.

Thanks, I needed to hear all of this. I wish our plans had freed up time earlier in the year or fall was a go time for us but it seems like late June is our spot. Usually the monsoon rains don't hit Colorado until those 1st few weeks of July and I figured that's when they would effect Utah as well. But weather is one thing that is becoming more and more unpredictable.
 

Nick

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Personally, I think your chances of suitable weather are good. You're correct, the monsoon typically doesn't really get firing until early July, but it can often start up in late June. I'm not sure how much the increased overall chance will really affect it, but it wouldn't stop me from making plans. And if it does, get stoked for some 300 foot waterfalls! :)
 

Absarokanaut

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Trek,

Like I said I'm not trying to be a downer, just know how deadly water can be and how it can come out of nowhere even when the sky is bomber if its pounding rain upstream. You live not far from if not on the Front Range so you know your weather. I don't know the canyons you are discussing, just that any watercourse can become deadly when the proverbial heavens open up. Since the temps are going to be above normal and moisture is as well you have that combustible recipe.

I'm just saying narrower canyons in general will be worth extra caution. Just use your best judgement and be as safe as possible. Keep your original plans but hopefully some of the great people here can give you options. Here's to hoping my caution is overblown, have an awesome time,

John
 

Blake Merrell

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I have had some amazing canyoneering trips in Zion in June. Go have a blast! But also have a couple backups, like you should with almost any trip that is planned.
 

Laura

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Mystery, Pine Creek, Fat Man's Misery

The hike out from the last one will be a little hot in June.

The guy said he'd never been canyoneering before. Are you sure these are good recommendations for someone at that level, experienced friend or not? My guide friend was nervous himself about Pine Creek so I scrapped that one. We're doing Keyhole and Echo, with the Subway thrown in if we can get a walk-in pass. Doesn't Mystery Canyon have 17 rappels, with the last one being over 100 feet? Maybe I'm overly cautious but I think that one might be better saved for when you get the hang of this.
 

Nick

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The guy said he'd never been canyoneering before. Are you sure these are good recommendations for someone at that level, experienced friend or not? My guide friend was nervous himself about Pine Creek so I scrapped that one. We're doing Keyhole and Echo, with the Subway thrown in if we can get a walk-in pass. Doesn't Mystery Canyon have 17 rappels, with the last one being over 100 feet? Maybe I'm overly cautious but I think that one might be better saved for when you get the hang of this.

With an experienced leader, yeah, I think it's totally fine. Hopefully he and his friend can accurately gauge whether their group's cumulative experience and expertise is sufficient to safely complete the canyons they choose. There's plenty of beta out there to help figure it out. I certainly can't judge, but I can give my recommendations based on his question. Those are somewhat tame canyons compared to a lot of others in Zion. I think most would call them intermediate at most. I wouldn't hesitate to bring a noob through any of them with competent leadership. A noob fearful of the simple concept is another story altogether though. It's hard to lead someone who's petrified of stepping off the edge. Number of rappels isn't really a great way to judge how difficult a canyon is. And 100-120' isn't really a huge rappel either. Behunin, Heaps, Spry, Engelstead, Imlay - those have big raps and other challenges that really up the difficulty level.
 

Nick

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A more comprehensive, and arguably much more accurate list is available on Tom's site. All of those recommendations are in the 'Moderate Classics' category.

http://www.canyoneeringusa.com/utah/zion/technical/

But per the original question, this thread is about which ones we like the most, the ones we'd do if we had one chance. The question isn't which ones we speculate any particular person with unknown skills, unknown support and unknown conditions can accomplish, right? Be smart, don't get in over your head, read up on the canyons you're interested in. Make sure you have the skills necessary. Don't do canyons when flood risk is significant. Done deal, now go have fun.

 
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