During the first weekend in July I was given an impromptu invite to go down to the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument to descend Neon Canyon. Neon is a beautiful sandstone gorge that starts deep in the canyon country of Escalante and finishes spectacularly with a drop through triple arches into the Golden Cathedral, an amazing room with curved walls. The highlight of the room is a ceiling of arches and light reflections that dances off the water. The cathedral itself is awesome enough that most visitors to the canyon are only going to see the room without ever venturing into the slot canyon above.
Our morning started late by canyoneering standards due to a late-night drive but we were on the trail by 8:30. The hike into the canyon is a very easy descent given that fact that we are plowing straight down slick rock slopes. We knew that this was going to make the exit very miserable in the July heat.
We reach the Escalante River and hike past Native American Petroglyphs on the walls of the canyon. Once we reach Neon canyon we hike along the rim until we reach our entry point.
The canyon is fairly dry and most obstacles are easily by passed. We took our time in the canyon not wanting to skip an opportunity to practice our keeper-pot escape skills.
The final obstacle is an 80 foot rappel through the sandstone arches into the cathedral. The perfect encore to a remarkable canyon.
We spend time enjoying the Golden Cathedral in all its glory and prepare for the three-hour ascent out of the desert bottom in afternoon temperature. The hike out is long and taxing and uses up all of our remaining water but is worth every bit of it.
My Gear List:
Camelback Crux Reservoir 3l Great for hydration on the go. Just remember to make sure you put the bite in your mouth when you enter a nasty pot hole of water and filth.
Nalgene Wide Mouth Canteen 32 oz. Great because is rolls up small for packing once the water is used up and I have yet to puncture one.
Overboard Pro-Light Clear Tube I like the flexibly and pliability of the TPU. The bag stretchy and making it easy to take camera bags in and out without much trouble.
Five Ten Guide Tennie My go to canyoneering shoe. The climbing rubber soles are perfect for canyon environments. I also size my shoes so that I can get a neoprene sock in it.
Edelweiss Canyon rope 9.6mm x 200’ The water retreatment keeps your rope from becoming water logged.
Grivel TAU Wire Lock As much as I like the twin gate carabiners for sandy canyon environments this may become my new favorite as it does not require that I retrain my hands to a new carabiner opening sequence.
Kong OKA Multi Descender Easy to add friction on the fly, a must for skinny canyoneering ropes.
Singing Rock Garnet Harness My dedicated canyoneering harness, not too bulky but beefy enough to handle the abuse of sandstone rock.
Cypher 3 Stripe Tubular Webbing I always take 50 ft of webbing. Great for using as a handline when down climbing and for building anchors
Christian Weaver is a father of five, canyoneer, and business analyst at Liberty Mountain.
Share this article with a friend: