The first time I found myself doing Pine Creek had to have been close to 10 years ago. A close family friend called me up one day and invited me on a trip to Zion to go canyoneering. This same friend, Bobby Bills, had exposed me to freeskiing, skeleton (similar to luge, but belly down and face first), aerials, water ramping and I’m sure a handful of other random sports. So, when he offered up the invitation to join him on another adventure, regardless of having no idea what it was, I didn’t hesitate to accept. Now, over a decade later, it’s still one of my favorite outdoor adventures and I take advantage of any opportunity I get to experience it. And just like Bobby did for me, I love bringing new people along to experience it. Jen and I had been talking about doing it together over the past couple years and we finally made it happen, along with my brothers and sister-in-law Lindsay, this past weekend!
Pine Creek is a technical canyoneering route inside Zion National Park. It’s rated 3B II with three stars and, depending on the amount of water flowing through it, has 4-6 rappels, with the largest being 100+ ft. I’ve been through probably 10-15 times over the years and have hiked it in trunks, drysuit, wetsuit and once in my limited edition Life Aquatic speedo (I should probably find those photos). We’ve gone through with first-timers and old-timers. The oldest champ being in his late 70’s!
Spring is my favorite time of the year to hike the canyon because of the higher volume of water. Luckily, this trip through had almost the ideal amount of water, but it came at a cost. The water temps are typically cold because sunlight has a hard time reaching the bottom of the slot canyon, but this trip was probably the coldest I’d ever felt because of cooler air temps and snow/rail fall from the night before. So, the wetsuits were definitely needed, but provided little relief from the icy water.
We’ve gone through with GoPro’s a couple times, but this time I wanted to bring my 5D in there and take some real photos to try and capture the beauty a little more. So, I’ll let those tell the rest of the story…
The crew placing gear and getting psyched for the first rappel!
Jen | first rappel entrance
Jen | The Cathedral rappel
Jen | ice bath
Spring foliage creeping through
Me | the guts
Jen | the guts
Jen | waitng and wading
Sam | final rappel – top angle
Jen | final rappel – mid angle
Me | GTS’ing from my photo line
Steven | final rappel – bottom angle
Mirrored pools after the last rappel
Our exit back to the road.
Wetsuit, Climbing Package (Harness, Locking Carabiner, Belay Device, Chalk Bag)
Disclaimer: Proper experience or a guide, as well as a permit, is necessary to attempt this slot canyon. Many people have died doing this route from lack of experience or preparation. For more info about Pine Creek, please visit: http://www.canyoneeringusa.com/utah/zion/technical/pine-creek-canyon/