If your looking for class C canyons with swims, waterfalls, and great scenery this is the place to come! Several world class canyons exist in the California Sierras and many more are waiting to be explored. Canyoneering here is still in its infancy. There are several great routes that see considerable traffic. However, there are also quite a few others that see very little, even though they are great routes.
Trip Planning and Logistics:
The Sierra canyoneering season runs generally from late spring/early summer to about early November, when it starts to get cold and winter rains start. Exactly when the season starts varies from year to year depending on rainfall and snowmelt. Certain canyons may not be doable at all in an exceptionally high water year. For more info on estimated snowpack, check the California Department of Water Resources snow surveys. If not familiar with a particular canyon, ask others who have done it to ensure that water levels are within safe limits. There are several dam-controlled canyons which are less affected.
For most of the currently established canyon trips in the Sierras, there are few access issues as most of the routes are on public land. However, there are a few exceptions. Also, there are many canyons which have not been done because they are surrounded by private land (most notably in the Tahoe region).
Lower Jump trip: the exit for this canyon crosses PG&E property, and Paul Martzen (a local canyoneer) has negotiated access around the property. Currently, PG&E maintains a trail skirting around the edge of the powerhouse. Please respect the area and try to maintain a low profile, which will help maintain access in the future.
More info on Sierra Canyons may be found on these websites:
RopeWiki Sierra Canyon Information
Chris Brennen’s Beta Site
Please respect local traditions and don’t add bolts to existing routes. Most routes are bolted where needed for safety, but there is also a tradition of using natural anchors whenever reasonably possible. As many of these canyons see considerable water flow early in the season, anchors often change or disappear completely and will need to be carefully evaluated at the beginning of each season.
The Sierras covers a wide range and cell phone reception is often non-existent. Before entering any canyon be aware that self-rescue is often your best option.
American Canyoneers Access contact: Jef Levin