4/6/18

VAUDE Makes its Way Towards Becoming 100% PFC-free


VAUDE is determined to completely eliminate the use of ecologically harmful fluorocarbons (PFC) from all of its products. With the upcoming Spring/Summer 2018 Collection, the outdoor outfitter has taken another major step toward achieving this goal: All textile materials in the apparel collection are now fully PFC-free. 

VAUDE’s achievement in this area was anything but a given. Over ten years ago when VAUDE made the decision to eliminate the use of harmful materials –and PFC in particular – the company was a lone wolf in the industry. PFC was the standard technology for water-repellent finishes and also a very convenient and cost-effective solution. Consequently, interest in developing alternative solutions was low. In addition, public awareness was also very limited. But these facts didn’t discourage VAUDE. “In view of the serious environmental impacts caused by PFC, our only choice was to eliminate it completely,” said Antje von Dewitz, VAUDE CEO. Since that time, VAUDE has been striving toward the elimination of PF at all levels.

Waterproof apparel with PFC-free membranes
The first step in 2011 was to give all VAUDE waterproof apparel PFC-free membranes. The membrane is a thin layer that keeps water out and is breathable at the same time. PFC is still required for the production of most conventional membranes.


PFC-free water-repellent gear – a feat of strength 
In the next step, VAUDE set itself the goal of eliminating the use of PFC for all water-repellent finishes. A finish is a surface treatment that causes the water to bead up on the outer surface of a textile. Without this waterproofing, also called Durable Water Repellency (DWR), the outer material would absorb water and create a clammy feeling. However, this presented VAUDE with great challenges: Until then it hadn’t been possible to produce waterproof finishes without PFC, that actually worked well causing water to pearl up. So VAUDE set to work with material suppliers and the chemical industry to find alternative solutions; its influence as an individual mid-sized company, however, was small. It wasn’t until Greenpeace launched its Detox Campaign in 2012, drawing attention to the global spread of PFC in the environment and lambasting the outdoor industry, that things began to change. The pressure that Greenpeace was exerting on outdoor brands also reached the chemical industry. From that point on, suppliers began to seriously consider PFC-free alternatives.

The chemical supply industry had to change direction, develop new standards and build competencies. In order to move forward as quickly as possible, VAUDE initiated close cooperation with all parties involved in its supply chain as well as with competitors. “We organized round-table discussions and joint exchanges with our suppliers to determine the right formulas and the optimal processes for new finishes. Because each individual material – each individual color even – reacts differently and this technical expertise first had to be jointly developed,” said Antje von Dewitz.
VAUDE also conducted extensive research itself in order to develop testing methods and standards that were then given to the suppliers. These were assessed by VAUDE in the company's own laboratory as well as in field tests. At times, materials that passed laboratory tests failed in field testing. When that occurred, planned production had to be cancelled and tests had to be rerun with other alternatives. With considerable time and effort, more than 300 fabrics with various PFC-free finishes were tested to ensure that VAUDE’s high performance requirements for waterproofing were met. “This is what our customers expect from a rain jacket, no matter how environmentally friendly its production,” said Antje von Dewitz. As a result, the outdoor outfitter succeeded in its transition to ever more products with PFC-free technologies; these are summarized under the name “VAUDE Eco Finish.”

All apparel fabrics PFC-free
Following VAUDE’s transition to 100 % PFC-free production of water-repellent apparel such as softshell jackets and trekking pants for the Summer Season 2015, the phase out began for all outer fabrics for waterproof products such as rain jackets and rain pants. With the launch of the Spring/Summer 2018 Collection, all apparel fabrics are 100 % PFC-free, made with Eco Finish and the next major milestone in VAUDE’s voluntary commitment to the Greenpeace Detox Commitment has been reached ahead of schedule. VAUDE voluntarily undertook the elimination of all harmful substances from the entire supply chain by 2020 at the latest. The only exception: to date there hadn’t been PFC-free alternatives for waterproof zips in high performance products from suppliers. Starting in summer 2019 VAUDE will be one of the first outdoor manufacturers to phase out its use here as well.

VAUDE is working hard to make its footwear, backpacks and tents PFC-free. However, the transition is extremely complex, as these consist of numerous components from many different suppliers. Nevertheless, VAUDE has made considerable progress – 96 % of backpacks and footwear are already PFC-free – and the company is confident that it will reach its target of 100 % by 2020.
“For us, the PFC phase-out for our apparel fabrics was an enormous feat of strength. We mastered this challenge by years of working with our partners from the chemical industry and our material suppliers focusing strongly on the solutions themselves as well as on process reliability and by carrying out countless tests. I am very proud of the fact that today, we can show that it is possible to offer PFC-free alternatives without our customers having to forego important functionality.” said Antje von Dewitz.

“VAUDE has taken the PFC issue seriously from the beginning and has now set a very ambitious timeline to eliminate these hazardous chemicals by 2018 from its entire supply chain. VAUDE is one of very few outdoor manufacturers that is committed to Detox and is consistently following this path with all its challenges. This is a true pioneering achievement that requires a lot of commitment and perseverance”, explained Chiara Campione, Senior Corporate Strategist at Greenpeace.

The VAUDE milestones to its elimination of PFC 
  • Winter 2011: PFC-free membranes 
  • Summer 2015: PFC-free water repellent apparel 
  • Summer 2016: all sleeping bags PFC-free 
  • Summer 2017: first PFC-free backpacks and tents 
  • Summer 2018: all apparel fabrics are PFC-free 
  • Winter 2018: 96 % of backpacks and footwear are PFC-free 
  • Goal for 2020: all VAUDE products will be 100 % PFC-free 
All VAUDE products with PFC-free Eco Finish 
https://www.vaude.com/en-INT/Products/Eco-Materials/Eco-friendly-Water-Resistance/

PFC-free rewaterproofing service
http://help.vaude.com/impraegnierservice-per-post/

References to PFC in the VAUDE Sustainability Report: 
http://csr-report.vaude.com/gri-en/news/pfc-free.php
http://csr-report.vaude.com/gri-en/product/water-repellent-materials.php
http://csr-report.vaude.com/gri-en/news/VAUDE-announces-Greenpeace-Detox-Commitment.php


Sustainability Report: http://csr-report.vaude.com/
VAUDE makes functional and innovative products for mountain and biking sports activities. As a sustainable innovative outdoor outfitter, VAUDE is contributing to making the world a better place so that the people of tomorrow can enjoy nature with a clean conscience. In doing so, the family-owned company sets ecological and social standards worldwide. VAUDE (pronounced [fau’de]) stands for environmentally-friendly products made from fair manufacturing. At the company headquarters near the southern German town of Tettnang, the company employs approximately 500 people.

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4/2/18

Employee Spotlight - Alex Talbot


I was lucky to grow up camping throughout Utah with my family and with the Boy Scouts. Our summer trips included camping in places like the Uintas, Nine Mile Canyon, Moab and the Wasatch mountains near my home. A self-proclaimed purist, I often opted to sleep alone in a tent while the rest of my family slept in a camper trailer. Books like My Side of the Mountain left me dreaming of running away and living alone in the mountains – an idea I still haven’t fully abandoned. As I got further in the Scouting organization, my love of the outdoors was further cemented and I began mountain biking near my house almost daily.


Fast forward several years, I applied to work at a local gear shop, and Liberty Mountain customer, as a summer job between semesters of school. I ended up working there for two years, managing the shop for some of that time. It was here that I developed my love of climbing. I started climbing in the gym, but was more drawn to climbing outdoors and mountaineering. A 2015 trip saw me to Mt Rainier, and I began looking at other big mountains to climb. My time at the shop introduced me to Liberty Mountain and I decided to move up the supply chain and get a part-time job there while I finished school. I have since become the Returns Supervisor and currently finagle full-time school and a full-time job.

My main interest now is climbing. Whether bouldering, traditional, ice, or most recently aid climbing, any vertical venture draws me in. If I’m not hanging from a rope, I’m likely mountain biking, ski touring, hiking, fly fishing, or backpacking. My dream adventure is to take a 4 month road trip from Utah to the Bugaboos, over Squamish and back through California and Nevada hitting every iconic climbing location along the way.


Interview Questions
Name: Alex Talbot

Time working for Liberty Mountain: 1.5 years
Job title: Returns Supervisor

Short description of what you do at Liberty Mountain: Oversee all returns and warranty matters and put out fires.

What do you like most about your job? The friendships and access to all the gear I could dream of!

Active in the following sports/activities/hobbies: Climbing, biking, skiing, hiking, backpacking
Favorite activity: Moderate, multi-pitch trad climbing


Favorite outdoor areas: San Rafael Swell, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Custer State Park SD, Point Reyes National Seashore

Piece of outdoor gear you most wish you had: Popup tent for my Honda Element

Most interesting place ever lived: UTAH!


Top-five favorite movies: Meru, Hot Rod, Nacho Libre, anything from Warren Miller

Top-five favorite books: My Side of the Mountain (Jean Craighead George), A Granite Guide (Nate Smith), The Push (Tommy Caldwell), Alone on the Wall (Alex Honnold), For One More Day (Mitch Albom)

First memory spending time outdoors: Looking for petroglyphs in Nine Mile Canyon

Inspirational Hero: Jimmy Chin and Tommy Caldwell


Dream vacation: Four month climbing road trip through Utah, Idaho, Montana, Alberta, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and back home.

Favorite food to eat outside: Anything that makes my friends jealous. Gourmet in the backcountry!

Cake or pie: Pumpkin pie

Dogs or Cats: Dogs every day.
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3/7/18

Michigan Ice Fest Recap



Ever wonder what it's like to attend an ice climbing festival? Liberty Mountain Sales Rep, Thad VanDenBerghe walks us through his week in a frozen little wonderland known as Munising, Michigan. Thad attended the event representing Grivel.

We sent out a very large demo fleet of crampons, ice tools and helmets to help support the event.
Total numbers of demos sent
  • Ice tools: 42 total sets (Tech Machine Carbon, Tech Machine, North Machine, Lil Monsters)
  • Crampons: 38 pairs (G-20+, G-22, G14)
  • Helmets: 6 helmets (new Stealth HS)





A comparison of the front point on the traditional G-20 crampon vs the new G-20 Plus that Grivel had available for demos at this year's ice festivals.


The Grivel booth ready to go in Michigan

2/14/18 - Valentines Day
Wednesday I taught an intro to Ice Climbing clinic at the Curtains area.
There were 8 participants in the clinic and I got them all to do a lap on a pair of Grivel tools
During the clinic, one of the participants was climbing in a pair of crampons from a competitor. Halfway up his first lap, HE BROKE THE FRONT POINTS RIGHT OFF THE CRAMPON! This happened in front of the entire clinic. Luckily, I had a both the G-22 and G-20 plus with me. I lent him my pair of G-20 plus and got him back on the ice. This time he cruised the line all the way to the top and came down exclaiming the crampons worked fantastically! After that, everyone wanted to try them.


Grivel athlete and Michigan native Angela VanWiemeersch teaching a women's clinic during the fest

2/15/18

Thursday I spent most of the day in the Grivel booth educating both the public and many of the Down Wind Sports employees about the merits of Grivel and also the broad offerings of Liberty Mountain. I was able to get a lot of facetime with the locals, over all there is a lot of love for Grivel in the area, with people rocking tools and crampons from up to ten years ago!

Also went out in the afternoon and dropped in on Angelas Vanwiemeersch and Anna Pfaff’s womens clinic to bring a big insulated vessel of latte coffee (with almond milk)




2/16/18

My one free day of the festival. Teamed up with Lowa athlete Carlos Buhler and we set out at the crack of dawn for an area classic HMR. https://www.mountainproject.com/route/107482822/hmr

This lakeshore testpiece is guarded by a 7 mile skin in (and out), but once you get out there you are rewarded with a very unique climb that requires you to rappel off of the 200’ cliff edge to a hanging belay right above the crashing waves.


The view from the top of HMR
The money shot of Thad making his way to the top
2/17/18

Saturday was the biggest day of the festival. The lineup for demo gear was at least 100 people long for well over 3 hours. I think in the end Bill Thompson (director of the festival) said that they outfitted close to 500 people! Again myself and Frank and Paulie Abissi manned the Grivel booth and helped move product into the hands of end users.

I also conducted a community education clinic, “gear maintenance and selection.” This class had about 15 participants and we talked about the differences in crampon styles (binding, and front points) and the differences and merits of straight shafted and also recessed grip ice tools. 



Angela leading a pillar while filming for a Redbull video project. Photo: Andy Mann

See more from the shoot here

Later that night was Grivel athlete Angela VanWiemeersch and Sasha DiGiulian's Red Bull movie premiered. Grivel athlete Aaron Mulkey also presentated on his first accents climbing around Cody, WY and out in Norway!



2/18/18


Taught another intro to Ice clinic, this time it was an AM teaser class that was only four hours long and ended at 12:30. Because of this, I was able to sneak away and join up with a couple of fellow festival goers and get a snowmobile ride over to the fabled Grand Island ice climbing areas. 



Map of the island and all the known ice climbs
This was the first time in my 3 years of attending that the ice was frozen enough to allow people and snowmobiles to safely travel across the channel of frozen ice to the island. The Island is covered in incredible blue ice.





Final Thoughts

Michigan Ice Fest is one of the fastest growing ice festivals in the nation while at the same time still capturing the wild and remote feeling many ice climbers seek out. 

With a fantastic Midwest local crowd and an all-star cast of presenters and instructors, this festival continues to guide the stoke of the sport, while also making it accessible to any one interested in giving ice climbing a try! 



Grivel and Liberty Mountain should be very proud to be a part of this special event.


Final Registered climbers count for MIF 2018: 991!



Thad VanDenBerghe is a climber, breakfast food connoisseur, and sales rep at Liberty Mountain.














12/4/17

Employee Spotlight - Adam Kittell






I spent my early years growing up in Tennessee and then in Ohio for the greater portion of my life. My dad was the leader of my Cub Scout troop when I was little, and he taught me about camping and enjoying the outdoors. During my angsty teenage years my interests were elsewhere, but at the end of high school my friend introduced me to mountain biking!

I grew up taking art classes and loved to draw, so I went to ITT Tech for an AAS in Multimedia and then to The Ohio State University for my BFA in Art & Technology. At OSU I started climbing at the campus gym and took to it quickly. I found out about a group called The Mountaineers Club and signed up for a Spring Break trip to Moab, Utah with them. They taught me to lead climb on Wall St and I fell in love with bouldering at the Big Bend boulders. I spent the remainder of college going on climbing trips with them to the Red River Gorge and the New River Gorge, and made a few return trips to Moab.


After college I started doing some freelance design work but wasn't very into it and started reevaluating how I wanted to spend my time. I decided Ohio was too flat and boring and I needed to be out in nature more. I heard that Asheville, NC was a cool place for nature lovers, so on a whim I packed up all I could fit in my car and head there with no real plan. I got a seasonal job as an instructor for a Wilderness Therapy company called Trails Carolina and had some fun playing in the Blue Ridge Mountains for a few months. After the gig was up I determined that Asheville just wasn't the place for me long term and head back to Columbus to reevaluate. I spent the winter there working at Gander Mountain while I figured out my next move. My heart was in Utah so I lined up a job at another Wilderness Therapy place called Aspiro. This time the gig was permanent and based out of central Utah! During my off-time from guiding I did tons of climbing and biking, lived out of my car for a while, traveled a bunch, and made great friends.


When I got burnt out on guiding I wanted to stay in Salt Lake City, so I lined up a job in the warehouse at Backcountry.com with the intent of working my way up in a career in the outdoor industry. I worked there a couple of years and moved up the ranks some. I learned enough from my various roles there to land a job as a Buyer at Liberty Mountain. I have been enjoying everything there so far and look forward to the future!

During my time in SLC I met a wonderful woman that I am now engaged to, and we have a boxer/pit mix dog that is a lovable doofus. I am more of a weekend warrior these days and try to take every chance I get to head out on a short trip to one of the amazing destinations nearby. Between those trips I retreat into the local mountains for the amazing climbing and biking that the area has to offer.



Name: Adam Kittell

Time working for Liberty Mountain: Since July 2017

Job title: Buyer

Short description of what you do at Liberty Mountain: I buy products for- water sports, winter sports, electronics, biking, fitness, clothing accessories, and k9 to make sure our inventory is filled and relevant. 

What do you like most about your job? Playing with the gear!

Active in the following activities: climbing, mountain biking, slacklining, hiking, drawing, and making things


Favorite activity: bouldering

Favorite outdoor areas: Moab, UT and New River Gorge, WV

Piece of outdoor gear you most wish you had: a whitewater kayak

Most interesting place ever lived: Out of my SUV

Top-five favorite movies: I like too many movies to pick.

Top-five favorite books: Harry Potter series minus 2 of them, but which….

First memory spending time Outdoors: Playing in the woods behind my house in Tennessee with the neighbor kids.

Inspirational Hero: Kyle Maynard


Dream vacation: deep water soloing and relaxing in Mallorca, Spain

Favorite food to eat outside: Burritos

Cake or pie: Cake

Dogs or Cats: Cats as a species. But my stepdog is better.

Anything else that the world should know… I workout-danced on stage with Richard Simmons in one of his videos. 


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10/17/17

Riding the White Rim in a Day


A couple months ago I mentioned to Brayden, one of our Graphic Designers, that I was thinking of biking the White Rim in Canyonlands National Park. I figured that doing it in two days was probably the most realistic option, but quickly saw that most of the campsites along the trail were booked out months in advance. Brayden optimistically said “why don’t you just ride it in a day” and was soon committed to attempting the feat with me. 


Opting for more mental training (aka laziness) than physical in the weeks leading up to the ride, I told myself that I’d be able to push through it and finish the loop. A little more time on the bike would have definitely been helpful. The White Rim is a 100 mile loop that goes around the Island in the Sky portion of Canyonlands. It is almost all double track dirt road except for a few miles of paved highway riding that must be traveled in order to complete the loop. There really aren’t many technical aspects to the ride (unless you’re not comfortable riding through sand, in which case you’re in for a treat) and more than anything it’s a test of endurance. 

Our 6:00am start provided the full sunrise experience 

Looking down the Shafer Switchbacks

After reading a few blog posts and speaking with friends who have ridden the trail, we decided to start riding from the top of Mineral Bottom. This way we would start with a gradual 10ish mile climb to keep warm before the sun came up and then not have any more “major” climbs until the final two miles of the day. We started riding at 6:00 am and were on pace for our 10 hour goal and feeling pretty good for about the first 75 miles. 


The trail winds through some incredible desert scenery with formations different from those seen anywhere else in the area. We debated whether the ride should be done on a gravel bike, but were definitely happy to have some suspension after miles and miles of rocky, bumpy riding. Also, we don’t have gravel bikes. We did see one guy on a wide tire gravel bike, probably a quicker option if your body can handle the beating.

Maybe why it's called the White Rim? Also, Corn Nuts!

While the White Rim is a popular tourist destination, only a limited number of permits are given out each day for both overnight and day use riders. This gives a feeling of remoteness although you will almost certainly pass (or be passed by) other riders and their support vehicles. Even so, it’s best to be prepared with plenty of food, water, and tools/parts for any necessary repairs. Luckily we planned our food and water almost perfectly and had zero bike issues other than a clunky, sandy chain by the end of the ride. I took about 6 liters of water, 3 in a camelback reservoir in my backpack, 2.5 in a handlebar pack, and a water bottle on my bike frame that I filled with Gatorade powder. Foodwise I went with delicious, high calorie options, i.e. Honey Stinger waffles, Probar Bolt chews, Duke’s meat sticks, Corn Nuts, Pop-Tarts, nut butters, etc. Next time I would definitely bring something a bit more “mealy” as it’d be nice to load up on calories 50 or 60 miles in. I would also highly recommend some sort of frame, handlebar, or seat pack so as not to ride with a fully loaded backpack. 


Around mile 80 the trail rides alongside the Green River, creating an explosion of (you guessed it) green erupting from the otherwise red and rocky landscapes experienced for the majority of the ride. At this point we were starting to get pretty tired and a big climb at 90ish miles didn’t help much. After the climb, the trail drops back down and rides alongside the river for another 5-6 miles. Starting above the mineral bottom switchbacks provides the “opportunity” to finish the ride with a grueling climb from river level up to the top of the canyon in just a couple miles. By that point we were worn out to say the least and inched our way up the final climb, eagerly anticipating a big dinner and the chance to sit and relax during the 3 1/2 hour drive home. Total car to car time was about 11 1/2 hours. Longer than we had hoped, but not terrible considering our lack of time spent on a bike this summer.




Overall it was an awesome experience. We had perfect weather, enjoyed incredible scenery, and ate at Arby’s on the way home. Arby’s is really pretty good. I’m fairly certain that both Brayden and I will be back for another go at the loop soon, hopefully much faster now that we have the beta worked out and understand that you should be in decently good shape for this one.





Tyler Jones is a mediocre climber, terrible runner, self proclaimed campfire cook, advocate of playing outside, and Communications Specialist (whatever that means) at Liberty Mountain.







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10/16/17

THE CANYON - Poe Canyon Trip Report



Liberty Mountain business analyst, Christian Weaver, shares a trip report from his recent "stroll" through Poe Canyon in Southern Utah.

The canyon has been in the works for 4-5 years and is what I would consider to be a bucket list canyon. The canyon is often described as one of the more technical canyons in the Colorado Plateau and any descriptions that you can find of the canyon often come with a page full of cautions and warnings.

Last year in the late spring my buddies and I attempted the canyon but failed to even reach it. Accessing the canyon requires a 6-mile cross desert approach to a nearby creek where a basecamp can be established. From the basecamp it's another 2-hour approach to the entry point of the canyon.  Unfortunately, that week of the attempt we had an early heat wave with temperatures approaching triple digits coupled with a delayed mid-afternoon start due to a highway traffic jam causing a few members of the team to suffer heat exhaustion on the initial approach. Ultimately the decision was made to not do the canyon and to seek shade from the heat during the second day and retreat back to our cars in the cool of the evening. To make things even more interesting, my buddy gave birth to a lovely kidney stone on the hike out, making us grateful that we wisely chose to not attempt the canyon.

This year we decided to change up the calendar and attempt the canyon in the fall. Hoping for cooler temps, we chose the second weekend of October. This time we were blessed with perfect weather and no traffic. We started the approach late in the morning and got to the basecamp by late afternoon, half the time it took us the previous year.


A look at the sandstone slopes in which the slot canyon resides
Entering the main creek on the initial approach to the basecamp.
The next morning, we woke up at 5am and started the 2-hour approach to the entry point of the canyon. We hoped to enter the canyon right at sunrise so as to maximize our daylight. Even though the canyon is only a mile long we knew it would take us most of the day to get through. We made the first rappel into the canyon at 7am and immediately began to navigate through the labyrinth of obstacles.


Alpine Start
Massive features of the canyon
One of the major obstacles of the canyon is fact that there are not many bolts in the canyon, and placing new bolts is prohibited due to its geographic location. Without fixed anchors you have to get creative with what you rappel off of. For this canyon we utilized a special anchor called a sand trap (a releasable anchor that is filled with sand from the canyon itself). The procedure for using the sand trap is to send the heaviest team members first with a backup tied to another individual. As you observe the heavier canyoneers descend the rappel you can make the determination of whether or not there is enough sand in the anchor. If the anchor moves then you need to add more sand, if it does not move than you probably have enough sand in the anchor for the last (and lightest) person to rappel off of without the anchor being backed up. Once everyone is down the release cord is pulled which dumps the sand out of the trap and allows the anchor to pull over the edge of the cliff.


Matt starts his rappel with the sand trap in place
The anchor starts moving while Mike is on rappel and everyone jumps on the backup (Brady) to prevent the anchor and him from going over the edge. We need more sand…
Brady rappels off of a sand trap in to the arch room
The water level determines the difficulty of the canyon. When the water is high you swim over many obstacles without any issues. When the water is low, keeper potholes (potholes that can be difficult to climb out of without proper equipment and know how) emerge, upping the difficulty of the canyon. When we descend the canyon there was very little to no water in the canyon itself putting it in what we call “Full-Keeper-Mode.”

The canyon is known for its massive keeper potholes, the largest of these potholes is about 40 feet deep and 20 feet wide. This gigantic pothole has been known to take some teams most of a day to escape and has caused a few overnight bivies. We started off by throwing potshots (small canvas bags filled with sand from the canyon) across the pothole trying to wedge them back behind the lip of a “V” shaped slot 40+ feet away. If a potshot did not land in the right position we would have to pull the potshot back and try again. Sometimes it would take 8-10 attempts to get one potshot positioned just where we thought it needed to be in order to hold a climber. Just the process of throwing the potshots ate up an hour and a half of precious daylight. Once the potshots were in place, I rappelled into the pothole and attempted to climb out using the bundled-up strands of 6mm cord attached to the potshots. Unfortunately, not all the potshots had landed in the correct position and they failed to support my weight as I climbed, forcing me to retreat and ascend back up the rappel line that I had descended.

A look at the big keeper pothole
Video of the big keeper pothole:

I spent almost 25 minutes treading water in the ice-cold pothole. The cold water had gotten to me and I had no desire to re-enter the pot to try again. Plan B was to attempt to bypass the pothole by hooking aid style through a series of small removable bolt holes that have been drilled 30 feet above the bottom of the canyon and then using a stick clip to reach a set of bolts from which you could then pendulum swing to the other side of the pothole from. 3 hours later we finally had everyone safely across.

Mike being assisted across the pothole
With a 6-man team, progress is slow while waiting for everyone to rappel, so we split up into 2 teams and used two working ropes in the canyon. The first team sets up the rappels, rappels off and then takes the second rope and proceeds to the next rappel. The second team takes down the rope and then passes on that rope to the first team so they can continue to progress down the canyon. 

Matt using the cord from a thrown potshot to climb out of another keeper pothole
All together, we ended up spending 10-hours in the canyon, exiting right as the sun started to set. 13-hours from basecamp to basecamp. The canyon was the full experience and had a little bit of everything. Definitely worthy as a line item on my bucket list.

Mike working his way out of a keeper pothole
Phil on rappel to by-pass the below keeper pot.
Once we got back to our basecamp, we filtered some fresh water and hiked the long slog back to the car, arriving at the parking spot around 2:30am.


Final rappel out of the canyon just as the sun starts to set. 

Gear Used


CANYON ROPE 9.1MM X 200' ED  Tough, durable and the Everdry coating makes a huge difference in weight you have to carry once it get wet.
KONG OKA MULTI DESCENDER With the ability to add friction on the fly when rappelling on skinny cords, this is my go-to descender.
3/2MM WETSUIT MENS BLU/BLK MD  and 160258 2MM SHORTY MENS BLU/BLK MD I wore 2 wetsuits to stay warm as the canyon does not see daylight.
SEIRUS NEOSOCK M 6-8.5 This sock keeps your feet warm and prevents blisters in sandy environments.
TECNU SKIN CLEANSER SINGLES We ran into poison ivy at the bottom of the canyon and needed these to keep us from getting a rash.  Life saver!
FIVE TEN GUIDE TENNIE My preferred canyon shoe.  Lightweight and supportive for hiking but handles well on wet rock.  No blisters, no lost toe nails.
BEAL HYDRO BAG Used this bag for the first time and I loved it.  The PVC material did not get heavy when it got wet and was surprising comfortable for the approach into the canyon.
GRAVITYWORKS 4L FILTER SYSTEM My buddy brought this for the trip and I am sold.  It filtered water quick and with little hassle.  I will no longer pump my water.
LM EMERGENCY BLANKET A great emergency blanket for cold, wet canyons.
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