Canyon Tales
Memorable Episodes
of My Past

by Bo Beck

Having been exposed to the great outdoors from an early age, thanks to parents who reveled in nature and the serenity offered, yet the excitement it always brought, I have continued my quest in search of new experiences. Spending early childhood camping at the lake, backpacking and hang-gliding, my fledge from the nest landed me in the USAF and the opportunity to teach survival and experience other aspects of the outdoors and human nature. My stint in the military was something that etched many rewarding memories and philosophies that I adhere to until this day.

Upon leaving the USAF in 1979, I promptly joined my parents again to complete their 7–year journey aboard ‘Tempo,’ a 53’ cutter rigged sloop, which they had spent the previous five years sailing and ‘gunkholing’ throughout the South Pacific until arriving in Hong Kong. I learned that sailing wasn’t all about ‘kicking back’ and sipping margaritas. For the next 2 years we sailed south through the Philippines, Micronesia, Hermits, New Guinea, Salomons, New Hebrides, Fiji, Samoas, Hawaii and finally home again to good ole USA. Along the way on a layover in Fiji I had the opportunity to navigate a 60’ Sparkman-Stevens 1960 vintage ocean greyhound back to New Zealand. Shortly after, the skipper requested that I crew on the same vessel in the Inaugural Rank/Zerox Sydney to Rio, Cape Horn Classic Yacht Race. After 40 days we took the race by over 4 days on handicap.

I spent one month in Rio where I met my soon to be wife, Maria, before being flown back to Fiji. She flew to USA in 1982 and we married in 1983. Since then we have travelled to several different states, as my job in the outdoor industry has had me opening and closing various retail Outdoor Stores. We landed in St. George Utah in 1990 and have been here ever since. I still work at the retail level which has catered nicely to my insatiable desires of outdoor adventure. In 1995 I became a volunteer with the Zion National Park Search and Rescue Team. My climbing and canyoneering background within the park was seen as a benefit, I guess? Anyway, going on my 13th year involved with the SAR Team has been very rewarding, but, as with any pursuit, there have been happy moments as well as saddening times.

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I was called at 9 PM to assist in rescuing a solo hiker that had somehow ended up in Englestead Canyon when he was supposed to be in Orderville Canyon. A night operation had been deemed too dangerous so I was to come to headquarters at 7 AM the next morning. A helicopter had located the stranded hiker the previous evening, so we were flown into a clearing ½ mile to the south. After bushwhacking through the thick underbrush, we arrived at the edge of the precipice. Unable to see the hiker below, we set up a lower with 600′ main and belay lines.

I was chosen to be lowered to his position. Down I went through the uneven terrain, sometimes just moderate 3rd class, and sometimes vertical 5th class. After a lower of around 250′, I arrived. He was clothed in only running shorts and a tank top t–shirt. I wondered how the heck did he get down here? Boy he must have been miserable during the chilly summer night? One thing for sure, he was elated to see me!

I asked where his gear was, and he replied that he had dropped it into the canyon during the night by accident. Being perched on a small ledge with a small tree for security, I was surprised that he hadn’t fallen as well. I would guess that his pack had landed in the bottom of Englestead Canyon some 400′ below? Fortunately he had his climbing harness donned, and a quick clip into my main and belay lines ensured that he wouldn’t be joining his pack far below.

I asked him if he knew where he made a wrong turn? He said that he wasn’t sure, but he didn’t know that Orderville Canyon had such long drops! I explained that he was not in Orderville, rather in a side canyon that joins eventually. He insisted that he was in Orderville Canyon. I insisted that he was not! Enough trying to convince ... let’s get out of here!

We were raised and he was hiked out to the awaiting helicopter, then flown back to his terrified wife. After further questioning, it was surmised that his wife had dropped him off well before the Orderville standard entry. I think he still believes that he was on track for ‘Orderville,’ and you know what? He was! He could have used a bit more equipment, a map, and a hiking partner.

This nearly tragic event turned out very positive, and I’m sure, before he attempts another canyon, a bit better planning will precede his adventure!


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© 2007 Bo Beck