Coalition of American Canyoneers Newsletter • Fall 2014

The Coalition of American Canyoneers (CAC) continues to grow, with membership more than doubling this year. We now have over 850 members! Thanks to all of you for joining and welcome to our new members! When dealing with issues like the Eaton Canyon closure in Southern California, or the recent winter shutdown of Kelly Point access in Grand Canyon, the power of a large membership makes a significant difference. And of course a larger member roll helps us better know and address the needs of the canyoneering community and supports our mission of Access, Conservation, Education and Safety (ACES). As always, please encourage all of your canyoneering contacts to join – it’s free and easy to do: Join CAC

Eaton Canyon Clean Up

In conjunction with the Angeles National Forest, CAC sponsored the second Eaton Canyon cleanup on Saturday, October 25. Eaton Canyon is one of the prized canyons in Southern California’s San Gabriel Mountains, although access is currently jeopardized (see below). Twenty-five people attended the October project. Splitting into two teams, one team descended the entire canyon, while the second ascended from the bottom until they met the first.

One of the primary objectives was to clean up the extensive graffiti at the bottom of Eaton. In August, we attempted to chip the graffiti off the rock with hammers, but that proved to be physically demanding work and we did not make much headway. After additional research, this time our approach was to cover the graffiti with a mixture of Portland cement and sand. Research suggests that rough surfaces make less attractive canvases for graffiti artists, so by painting on cement and then throwing dirt/sand on it, the likelihood of more graffiti is diminished. And the finished product was terrific. The Forest Service was extremely impressed by the CAC membership efforts and results.

There is still much more to do in Eaton Canyon. CAC will schedule a third event. We will need at least 25 people to ascend from the bottom and finish the job. When that date is set, we will announce it on Facebook and the forums.

Thank you to everyone who has participated in either of the Eaton canyon service days. You are great ambassadors for the CAC and canyoneering. Follow the CAC on Facebook to find out when activities and projects are scheduled in your areas.

Donations to help us cover the cost of materials are always welcome: DONATIONS

Eaton Canyon Access

The CAC has been working with the Angeles National Forest to create a permit system for Eaton Canyon, which has been closed since August 1, 2014. After meeting with the Forest Service and soliciting member input, we proposed a permit process similar to those successfully used by other federal agencies. It meets our objective of a system that can be executed online vs. by mail. Our recommendation has received initial positive feedback, and was turned over to the USFS attorneys for review. We are eagerly awaiting the official response and will keep our members posted.

As noted above, Eaton Canyon is a San Gabriel treasure. Unfortunately, it has also been the site of fatalities, numerous injuries and rescues. Almost all of these are the result of recreational hikers ascending to the second waterfall from the bottom along a sketchy and dangerous user-made trail. The CAC’s position is that canyoneers making technical descents of the canyon do not represent an unusual risk. We are optimistic that the CAC recommended permit system will be approved and the canyon reopened for technical canyoneering.

One note—the Eaton Canyon clean-up project was organized before the issue of a potential closure was surfaced. It really turned out to be serendipitous. As we negotiated potential solutions with the Angeles National Forest leadership, our good faith efforts to clean up Eaton Canyon reinforced our message that the canyoneering community is responsible, dedicated and environmentally conscious.

Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument • Kelly Point Access

On October 15th, 2014, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument Superintendent Rosie Pepito announced a seasonal road closure for Kelly Point (NPS Road # 1203) beginning this winter. Kelly Point is in Western Grand Canyon and forces the Colorado River to make a huge 50-mile detour to go around it. It’s bordered by Parashant Canyon (river mile 199) on the east and Surprise Canyon (river mile 248) on the west. Access to more than 20 slot canyons is affected.

To be fair, access to this area in winter is hit and miss. Many years the canyons are inaccessible because of snow and mud. Last year (2013-14), however, you could access the canyons for nearly the entire winter. Of note, the 105-mile-long Hualapai Indian Reservation, which does not issue permits, cuts off access from the South Rim via pack raft. This new closure of the Kelly Point road effectively cuts off access to all of the technical canyons in the area.

The CAC’s position is that this decision should not be made unilaterally by the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument (GCPNM), but rather should be preceded by a public comment period. We have communicated this to the GCPNM leadership and have scheduled a meeting with the superintendent and chief ranger. As always, we will keep CAC membership informed via Facebook and our website. If necessary and appropriate, we will solicit support to contact the appropriate officials to urge public comment and community input.
Grand Canyon Backcountry Plan

The CAC has previously met with the GCNP leadership to provide initial input into the forthcoming backcountry management plan. We continue to await the release of the initial recommendations, which will be followed by a public comment period. When the backcountry plan is made public, we will notify the membership and solicit input.

What’s the Plural of Rendezvous?

Dark Horse Leadership and Retreats presented this year’s Zion Canyoneering Rendezvous on Sept. 17-21. CAC board member Rich Rudow gave a presentation on the discovery of Obsession Canyon, which set up a screening of Dan Ransom’s film “The Last of the Great Unknown.” Dark Horse plans to continue the Zion Rendezvous as an annual event.

The Rendezvous International for Canyoneering (RIC) is planning its August 9-15, 2015 event in Ouray, Colorado. Ouray has some prime Class C canyons. Registration is currently open on the RIC website.

Get Involved with the Coalition of American Canyoneers

The annual election for the Board of Directors was held in August. Four Board members were re-elected: Felicia Bicknell, Sonny Lawrence, Steve (Ram) Ramras and Rich Rudow.

However, AND THIS IS IMPORTANT, you don’t need to be a board member to be involved. In fact, as the CAC grows, we need the involvement of members more than ever. We’re looking for everything from social media, public relations, communications, service projects, access projects, and more. If you’re interested, please contact: Alane Urban or Wolf Schuster

The Coalition of American Canyoneers is a non-profit, non-partisan, member-run organization.