The Dangers of Canyoneering

It’s been awhile since I’ve found a really good article on canyoneering, but leave up to the Backcountry Blog to deliver the goods. They’ve posted an excellent article that highlights some of the dangers of the sport, with a first hand account of someone running an “X” rated canyon.

Now anything “X-Rated” sounds like a good thing right? Well, not in the case of canyoneering. One thing I learned while reading this article is that slot canyons have a rating system not unlike that used in rock climbing. Where as you will see a pitch rated as a 5.6 or a 5.10 rating, in canyoneering the canyon can be graded as a 3B II or 4C V. You can find more about the rating system on this page. On some ratings, you’ll find an “R” or an “X” added to the end to signify that the canyon is abnormally risky (R) or may run the risk of death. (X)

Once the brief explanation of that above rating system is laid out for us, the rest of the article is a trip report of three canyoneers setting off to explore an “X” rated canyon. The article goes into some interesting, but scary details, of what the three men had to go through while exploring the slot canyon they decided to target that day. In the end, it’s certainly a risky adventure, and not one you should do if you don’t have experience in rock climbing and canyoneering, but it also sounds exhilarating, challenging, and fun.

Kraig Becker

8 thoughts on “The Dangers of Canyoneering”

  1. FYI, news is spreading fast. About a Seattle multi record claimer (!) has been offered hundreds to thousands of dollars each year since 2003 to, quite simply, do an officially timed run/speedclimb on Mt. Rainier. This is Chad Kellogg (Kellog) who ignores each huge offer. Including $5000 last year! And $2000 this year. Unreal. What do ya know about this apparently historic fraud Kellogg?

  2. I’ve been hearing the same stories about Chad being offered quite a bit of money to repeat his speed climbs on Rainier, but he continues to ignore the offers. I’ve even been in contact with someone who has personally extended the offer, but have refrained from commenting too much as some of the things exchanged were in strict confidentiality.

    We’ve had some discussions about Chad around here, which you can read here. Essentially the word is that he falsified entries into summit record books, used his close friends as “timing officials” and it’s nearly impossible to find any independent evidence to support his claims of speed records.

    On the other hand, the mainstream press seems to have taken his story and run with it, giving him more publicity than he deserves without any proof to back up his claims.

    I would say that while I wouldn’t describe $5000 as a “huge” sum of money, it sure is enough that you would think that he could give up a day in his life to prove his records, silence his critics, and pocket a decent amount of money. Yet he remains silent.

  3. I thought it was a very good article as well. I literally knew nothing about the canyoneering rating system, so that alone was quite informative, but then to follow the adventure that those three men undertook was also a really good read.

    Glad you liked it DSD! 🙂

  4. I’m actually the one who wrote the article for Backcountry, doing a blog search for Canyoneering and ran into your blog. Glad you enjoyed the write up. Canyons range anywhere from mellow hikes with a couple rappels to pretty intense stuff like the “X” canyon we did in the article. Next month I hope to do one that contains a HARD 5.11 off width crux climb in order to get through (can be aided but supposedly it’s still fairly tough), should be pretty intense. Fun stuff!

  5. Hi Eric,

    I very much enjoyed your article and hopefully you’ll write another one for the trip you’re doing next month. It sounds amazing, and incredibly challenging as well.

    Articles like yours inspire me to find some canyons of my own to explore. Sounds like a blast.

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