Every Mistake I've Ever Made Canyoneering

June 20, 2019


Contents

Caveats

  • I probably forgot a lot - I'll add things as I remember them.
  • The events are randomized within the year they occurred. I'll update the post as each year concludes.
  • If you have any questions about any of them feel free to ask when we're in a canyon together.

2018

  • I got a hook super stuck. It was kind of a practice canyon so someone walked around back to the top of the rappel and retrieved it.
  • We underestimated the length of a rappel with a tough pull. Last person went DRT and didn't realize there was a knot in one strand. We anchored the knotted strand and I talked them through transitioning onto one strand. Took just a couple of minutes.
  • I brought too many clothes and food on a trip where we backpacked to our canyons.
  • I tore my tent bag while backpacking to a set of canyons.
  • I forgot to bring a water filter on a large canyoneering trip.
  • I brought too many clothes and food on in an overnight canyon.
  • I went through a canyon that was far above my skill level and might not have made it out were it not for the other person.
  • I abandoned my rendezvous to descend a canyon with friends who were not part of the rendezvous.
  • I was in a large group descending a seldom visited canyon. I sent someone down a drop without adequately checking the anchor. I had them on a meat top-rope belay. Someone pushed the anchor to see if it would fail and it easily failed.
  • I took a beginner through a beginner-friendly canyon but forgot to check how much water they had. Near the end I had to run back to the car, get more water, and help them up and out of the canyon.
  • I got serious blisters on my feet on a multi-day canyon.
  • I underestimated the difficulty of a pair of canyons and we ended up only doing one because it was really cold.
  • I forgot to bring knee pads and neoprene socks on a large canyoneering trip.
  • I thought I was in shape for a trip and I wasn't.
  • I was not physically prepared for a long, strenuous canyon and was exhausted on the last day.
  • Someone got stuck for a bit in a skinny canyon, had to take theirhelmet off, and I dropped it into the crack. We went back the next day with hooks and retrieved it.
  • I slipped in moss on the last rappel and all the hikers at the bottom watched.
  • I had trouble leading a group to a set of canyons in the dark using a GPS.
  • I rigged a very poorly placed CEM expecting it to get stuck but curious if it would. It did so someone walked back up the drop and cleaned it.
  • I went DRT on a large rappel that ended up being short on one side. I had someone hook a sling to the short side, transitioned to one strand, and finished the rappel. This exact same thing happened on the very next rappel and I think I now realize that DRT on long rappels where the pull isn't necessarily hard is a dumb idea.
  • I descended a canyon when there were rain clouds surrounding us. It thundered at the only rappel and I didn't enjoy the canyon because I was too worried about the weather.
  • I was struggling to get a potshot across a large pothole for various reasons. Someone pulled me out of the way and threw it since there was someone already in the pothole and speed was important.
  • I went into a canyon that we thought would be dry and it turned out to have a couple of swims. We needed wetsuits and got really cold.
  • My group needed to pump water and kept putting it off until it was too late. We were really thirsty by the end of it.

2017

  • I slipped and gashed my knee at an awkward rappel start.
  • I rigged a rappel at a really bad place instead of going back up canyon and rigging at a better place.
  • I completely tore a pair of pants on in a high-stemming canyon. It had no rappels so I didn't bring my harness withbutt protector.
  • I pressured someone to come on a trip with me even though they were pretty sick.
  • I was in a group that stuck the rope on a big rappel. One member of the group was about to ascend and I strongly pressured them to not do it, knowing how much work it is to ascend this drop. We eventually got it down by pulling really hard.
  • I took a long time to try and find a place for a toggle and we just gave up and used a sand trap.
  • I was in a group that took the wrong road, got lost, and we spent probably an hour or more backtracking to get back on track.
  • I encouraged my group to bring wetsuits and we didn't really end up needing them.
  • I got frustrated with a large group of canyoneers who were not taking things seriously and just expected to be guided through the canyon.
  • I accidentally dropped into the wrong canyon. I recognized the first drop and we chose to descend the wrong canyon because we knew we had enough rope and we didn't want to bother walking back to the original canyon.
  • I didn't properly train someone for down climbs and they really shredded their body on some tougher down climbs.
  • I was the last person on rappel, a group came up as I was preparing to start the rappel, I lost focus, and started rappelling without being clipped into the rope. I caught myself before going over the edge, but it's something I will never forget.
  • I rigged a drop that was only rigged on a single tree and not two separate, independent anchors. A guide in a large group told their clients I was stupid. Definitely ask me, Bruce, or Shane about this story some time. It was hilarious!
  • I soloed a canyon. When someone in that same canyon discovered what I was doing they sarcastically said, "That sounds safe".
  • I got invited by someone to descend a canyon and they didn't bother showing up. This was the second year in a row that this happened with this person.

2016

  • I refused help from someone who was training to be a guide. They needed people to be cooperative so they could focus on learning and I was not that. I should have just gone with the flow instead of being a jerk.
  • I completely underestimated the difficulty of a canyon and ended up taking many hours longer than I thought it would. This is the only time to date that I have unintentionally exited after dark. This is also the most tired I have ever gotten on a trip.
  • I wore a wetsuit through a long high stemming section, got really sweaty, and had to drink a lot of water afterwards.
  • I did a pretty strenuous canyon when really sick and didn't ever eat or drink water the whole time because I just felt so sick.
  • I panicked and froze at a very exposed climb and had to have someone toss down a rope so I could get up safely.
  • I had someone bring a bottle of water without a backpack into a skinny canyon. The water bottle survived but was pretty damaged.
  • I was extremely arrogant when descending a short, beginner friendly canyon, knowing I would have to wait behind many large, slow groups.
  • I accidentally left a 200' rope in my backpack and descended a canyon with it. When I realized it was in there it was already completely soaked through so much heavier. This canyon had one of the most difficult exits I have ever done.
  • I yelled at someone for grabbing a frog.
  • I got mad that someone in my group core shot my rope. I should have been mindful that it could have happened. This is the only time I have ever had a rope core shot. Entirely preventable.

2015

  • I didn't go canyoneering nearly enough.
  • I was throwing up and descended a canyon anyway. I couldn't keep any food or water down in the canyon.
  • I had someone go down DRT and the rope was short so I had to perform a cut-and-lower (I cut the webbing).
  • What was supposed to be an easy exit turned out to be a very difficult problem that took us an hour to solve.
  • I descended a canyon in cold weather and didn't have enough neoprene to keep me warm.
  • I descended a drop in a bad spot and it took us an extra 30 minutes to get down.
  • I watched some people tossing a hook over a pothole and didn't yell for them to simply walk around. The hook fell in and was lost.
  • I descended a canyon during light rain and worried about flash floods rather than enjoying the canyon.
  • I was spotting someone when it was super muddy. They somehow ended up sitting on my face so I had butt mud on my face and helmet.
  • I was supposed to make an exposed climb, ended up having to do it with muddy feet, got cliffed out, and had to have someone anchor a rope and lower me. Probably the most scared I've ever been in all of canyoneering.

2014

  • I did a canyon with a specific person.
  • I was with a group where none us knew how to get out of a box canyon and we spent half an hour wandering up, down, and then back up the canyon before finally getting out.
  • I entered a canyon with a high chance of rain, it kind of flash flooded, and some of us experienced a scary rock fall.
  • I took someone through a canyon that was a little too far beyond their ability and fitness level.
  • A specific person was doing something incredibly stupid and I didn't say anything because I wanted to watch them fail.
  • I got my rope tangled in a waterfall and had to untangle them while hanging at a rappel station.
  • I was with a large group at a rendezvous, knew where we were supposed to drop in, and watched everybody go past it and then start to argue about the drop in point, and then pointed out the correct location.
  • I didn't eat or drink enough in a canyon and we didn't stop for lunch. When hiking out I was exhausted and lost my footing.
  • We went into a canyon in the hot afternoon and got overheated on the way out. I ran out of water with like half a mile until the end and was pretty miserable.
  • I put my wetsuit on way too early in a canyon and got pretty hot.
  • I underestimated the difficulty of a canyon that I had done before and had some people come who had a lot of difficulty with moving through the canyon.
  • I tossed a rope and rope bag down and the bag wasn't tied to the rope. I had to rappel down to a different spot to retrieve the bag and then finish the rappel as normal.
  • I did a canyon with a long exit, one person had a lot of difficulty, and we didn't slow down to accommodate them. I don't think they enjoyed the canyon nearly as much as the rest of us because of it.
  • Someone on my trip got really tired and we bailed on canyons for the rest of the day.
  • I tossed a rope bag to someone who I thought grabbed the rope. It ended up falling into a small puddle and it took me a minute to find it because it was just under the surface of the water so I couldn't see it.
  • I started a difficult down climb, realized I couldn't finish it, and had to have someone toss me a rope so I could finish it safely.
  • I forgot to bring beta and didn't realize it until we were at the top of the canyon.
  • I got a rope stuck and had to ascend 30 feet or so to get it unstuck.
  • I didn't adequately teach my family about proper partner capturesand watched them have a couple of slips and falls before getting them to do it right.
  • I descended a canyon solo.
  • I didn't bring a sufficiently large backpack through a canyon and was constantly yelled at by a specific person.

2013

  • I bailed on a canyon and said it was because of weather but in reality I was scared to lead this group.
  • I didn't speak up enough when I knew someone was going the wrong way and we wasted like 10 minutes wandering around.
  • I went with a large group to a local cascade early in the morning, did the route, and two of us left most of the group behind so we could make it to work on time.
  • I followed the first path I found to a canyon rather than walking to the drainage.
  • I didn't pack nearly enough water for a backpacking trip, thinking there would be water along the way. I found out on the trail that the spring was dry.
  • I contributed to rope grooves many times in many canyons.
  • I lost patience with a guided group in front of me and ran up the trail to pass them rather than taking the drainage out, which was the correct way to go. The guide mentioned to their clients that we were going the wrong way and I took offense, even though they were right and I was wrong.
  • I took the wrong route up, got cliffed out, and had to carefully make my way back down. I considered rappelling because it was so treacherous.
  • I got mad that someone ran up to get ahead of us and took the last camping spot. Thinking about it still makes me mad.
  • I lost the trail on an exit and we ended up doing a really exposed climb to get out.
  • I zip-lined my backpack down without the person at the bottom knowing proper technique for a zip line. They dropped the pack and my GPS shattered.
  • I rappelled off a super sketchy anchor without thinking twice about it.
  • I unknowingly dropped a water bottle and had to run half a mile back to get it.
  • We went up the wrong way to a canyon. I knew it and voiced my opinion, but we did it anyway and spent like 20 minutes of time wandering.
  • I was leading a canyon and put someone on rappel on a sit start without knowing their experience. I discovered when I saw their stance that they had never rappelled before.
  • I jumped with a super heavy backpack, did something bad to my knee, and ended up walking on it 23 miles that day. My knee was messed up pretty bad for months afterward.
  • I was in a group where our DRT was short and we had to carefully down climb the last 20 feet. I wouldn't have known how to fix this problem at the time.
  • I went up the wrong drainage for a canyon and we ended up only doing the last half of the canyon because of it.
  • I was doing several canyons in a row and didn't realize we wouldn't be stopping in between canyons to get more food and water and wasn't adequately prepared for the last canyon we did before we stopped.
  • I descended a canyon solo while it was super muddy and snowing. PLBs weren't really a thing yet so I didn't have one.

2012

  • I walked into what I thought was a shallow pool of water and it turned out to be a pothole.
  • I touched a petroglyph. I thought I would feel some connection to the person who created it. I didn't feel anything. I later learned that I shouldn't do that.
  • I called something a "stack of rocks" when it was really a cairn.
  • Someone was hesitating jumping into cold water and I pushed them in. They later said they got giardia from me pushing them in.
  • I was led by a beginner and didn't realize they were a beginner.
  • I, for a long time, had the mindset that only the methods I learned and used are safe and other groups, no matter what, were basically unsafe.
  • I criticized our designated leader behind their back. I later learned that what they were doing was perfectly safe even though it was different from how I had learned it.
  • I threw a helmet like a Frisbee.
  • I was a beginner and led a beginner through a canyon. I had them on their first rappel, they didn't rig enough friction, and were on a figure 8. As they were rappelling their hand got hot and tired and they said they couldn't hold on any longer. They dropped the last few feet. Their hand got burned through the glove enough that a blister formed.
  • I studied too many canyons and too much beta that I got everything confused when I was actually in the canyons.
  • I lied about the number of canyons I had descended to the people I was canyoneering with so they would think I wasn't as much of a beginner.
  • My group went into a canyon just to explore for a bit and didn't bring any water and it was a very hot day out. Someone saw us go in and left water bottles for us at the end of the canyon.

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