Imlay Canyon

| August 28, 2009 | 5 Comments

Before being distracted by black books and red leafs, I was talking about slot canyons, and more specifically, the best one I think I’ve ever done – Imlay Canyon in Zion National Park.  I suspect it is other people’s favorite as well, as there is even a Canyoneering company named after it.

Utah has had a fairly wet spring and summer, so I was surprised to see that Imlay was almost completely dry.  I pussed out and wore a 3/4 wet suit, but everyone else was able to survive in t-shirts and shorts, which is unusual as Imlay can have some long, cold swims, even when it is over 100 degrees outside.

The approach to the start of Imlay is long, hot and semi complicated the first time you do it.  The suggested roundtrip time is anwhere from 12 hours to two days.  Done as an overnighter, this is the suggested bivy spot, which is right near the start of the action.

The approach to the start of Imlay is long, hot and semi complicated the first time you do it. The suggested roundtrip time is anwhere from 12 hours to two days. Done as an overnighter, this is the suggested bivy spot, which is right near the start of the action.

Some canyons have little snippets of this type of scenery.  Imlay has tons.

Some canyons have little snippets of this type of scenery. Imlay has tons.

A fun chunk of Imlay - rap into a pothole, swim/wade across it, pull out some hooks, hook your way up, find the anchors, thread the rope, continue on.  Repeat many times.

A fun chunk of Imlay - rap into a pothole, swim/wade across it, pull out some hooks, hook your way up, find the anchors, thread the rope, continue on. Repeat many times.

Hooking out of potholes is MUCH easier after someone has already drilled the hook holes.  An early descent of a similar canyon involved drilling holes while treading water in a pothole with a dead deer in it.  Super-dog yummy!  We only got to see a dead squirrel and a snake.  Kind of disappointing.

Hooking out of potholes is MUCH easier after someone has already drilled the hook holes. An early descent of a similar canyon involved drilling holes while treading water in a pothole with a dead deer in it. Super-dog yummy! We only got to see a dead squirrel and a snake. Kind of disappointing.

Fun for the whole/hole family.  It is impressive to think what this would look like during a flash flood.

Fun for the whole/hole family. It is impressive to think what this would look like during a flash flood. Boom-lakaka.

Imlay goes out with a bang, or at least a 100' free-hanging rappel.  (For KatieC's sake, I should say that Brad is clipped in, but he is using an invisible rope.)  Brad Barlage staring down into the Zion Narrows before doing the big rap.

Imlay goes out with a bang, or at least a 100' free-hanging rappel. (For KatieC's sake, I should say that Brad is clipped in, but he is using an invisible rope.) Brad Barlage staring down into the Zion Narrows before doing the big rap.

Wet, sandy ropes are tough on rappel biners.  This pair only as two canyons on them and they are pretty much shot.

Wet, sandy ropes are tough on rappel biners. This pair only as two canyons on them and they are pretty much shot.

For more photos, check out the Imlay Canyon Web Gallery.

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Category: Trip Reports

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (5)

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  1. Andy_L says:

    Yikes on that ‘biner photo! Otherwise, very nice!

  2. KatieC says:

    Well, even if he’s not clipped in, at least that frayed, faded webbing looks bomber! It’s fine for me to see this, but I’m NOT going to show this to his dog. He would be very upset.

  3. Conrad Anker says:

    Nice Andrew. Having the desert as close as you do makes for lots of weekend adventures.

    Drilled hooks! Wow… Do they wear out and do canyoneers tie them selves in knots over ethics?

    radster

  4. Andrew says:

    I don’t know about the drilled hooks, but drilled anchors verses natural anchors is a hot topic. I recently heard tales of Tom “Jrat” Jones spending hours digging a hole to bury a rock or log with a sling on it to use as a rap anchor for a big free-hanger instead of drilling bolts.

  5. Jeff Stevens says:

    Andrew,
    As a skiing/mountaineer/desert rat voyeur of sorts I enjoy you’re site. Conrad it’s good to see somethings don’t change!

    Cheers,
    Jeff

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