Canyon Tales
by Dennis Turville

A Selection of Canyon Descents
by Dennis Turville, Mike Bogart, Jenny (Hall) West, et al.

—  Zion  —

Troll’s Treat — aka Imlay Canyon. 28 rappels, 13 bolts. We used a 300–foot rope to enter the canyon. Subsequently, I have entered and descended the upper section four different ways, including another first descent which goes down the imposing headwall right where the water drains out of Potato Hollow. We called it Troll’s Treat since we felt like trolls ferrying our packs through all of the obstacles, especially with that damned 300–foot rope ...

June 7–9, 1978 — First descent by Mike Bogart, Mary Dern, & Dennis Turville.

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Heaps Canyon — We were the first people through most of the canyon, including engineering the spectacular set of large raps at the end. Due to an imminent storm and not wanting to spend the night in a technical part of the canyon with floods possible, we climbed out of the canyon (a 5.8 chimney protected with one bolt midway, scary...) to spend the night. I am known in certain circles as ‘the worm’; chimneys are my cup of tea. We traversed along the rim in order to find a level place to bivi and then rappelled back into the canyon. After rappelling back in, we walked back upcanyon and discovered the section we avoided was only about 200 feet in length. (This may have been further up the canyon than we thought since, when walking back up from where we re–entered the canyon, it was difficult to tell exactly.)

We did the final rappels just canyon right of the stream course; I thought it provided a more likely place from which to set intermediate rap stations, which turned out to be true. We did what we came to do, which was to engineer the very scary and technically difficult final series of rappels into the Emerald Pools area from Heaps Canyon.

A later attempt by Trapier ended in rescue as he was just following our bolts (by his own admission to Mike Bogart), which ended where we climbed out. Subsequently, Trapier et al. returned and finished the short section of canyon we avoided. Therefore, we did the final drop first as Trapier finding our bolts indicates. The second variant over the final drop which goes down the watercourse must have been engineered by later, less thoughtful parties.

September 23–25, 1981 — First partial descent by Mike Bogart & Dennis Turville, including the 290′–drop at the bottom.

October 15–18, 1982 — First complete descent of the canyon, largely using a route established by us, would go to Royce Trapier & Norman Harding.

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Four Fire Canyon — aka Main Fork of Kolob Creek. Named for the four fires we made, while bolting, to stay warm. We were definitely the first to do the upper canyon with its big rappels in waterfalls. We were not following anyone else’s bolts. (It was starting to rain while Mike was on the biggest drop, before we even knew where it ended ...) The Wasatch Mountain Club had done early descents into that drainage, but ignored the upper very technical section, thinking it “was impossible” ... and came in via Oak Creek and then on down to the Narrows.

September 1978 — First descent by Mike Bogart, Mary Dern, Janice Hansen, & Dennis Turville

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Dry Fork of Kolob Creek — The south arm of Kolob (Boundary Canyon). Done by accident. Flashfloods encountered in the narrows on the way out ...

May 18, 1977 — first descent by Mark Freed, Scott Bowen, & Dennis Turville.

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Goose Creek

Summer 1977 — First descent by Paul Peterson and Steve Wilson.

Summer 1977 — Second descent by Dennis Turville & Janice Hansen.

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Starfish Canyon — (aka Keyhole Canyon) Named by locals who thought it looked like a starfish on the Zion map.

August 10, 1979 — First descent by Ken Gronseth & Dennis Turville.

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Middle Echo Canyon — One rappel bolt.

August 12, 1979 — First descent by Ken Gronseth & Dennis Turville.

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Pine Creek Narrows — Although Park Service personnel did the middle of the canyon from the trail above, they avoided the initial section which leads through what we call the Cheeserock Factory where there are several holes through which flashfloods have cut. The Park folks also avoided the final big rappel and went off to canyon left. For the final rappel on the initial descent, we rapped from bolts on canyon right on a ledge of sand and big logjams of trees. This rap put us into a small alcove which we climbed out of, placed another bolt, and did another short rappel. (This is downclimbable, but we didn’t know that then.) This series of rappels is now impossible since the ledge from which we placed bolt anchors washed completely away. Subsequent descenders established the current rappel location in a hollow from which an entirely free rap leads to terra firma.

September 21, 1977 — My first technical descent with Dean Hanniball.

—  Escalante River  —


Edge of the Earth Canyon — some call this canyon Neon (I had not heard the name until after the millennium changed) but, when we were on an early reconnaissance of the canyon, I looked back at my friends walking along the rim and thought they looked like they were walking on the edge of the earth. It stuck. We did it from the top coming in from the Moody side. All the potholes. Three days round trip from the Moody drainage.

October 22, 1977 — First descent by Mike Bogart, Janice Hansen, & Dennis Turville.

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Middle Fork of Choprock — Non–technical, called ‘I Told You So Canyon.’ This early party actually ice skated through parts of the canyon.

April 1977 — First descent by Mike Bogart, Karen Carlston, and Dave & Annie George

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Nasty Ass — aka West Baker Canyon. Acronym for ‘Not Another Squeeze Thank You, Another Squeeze Sucker.’ Packs wouldn’t fit through the narrow sections, so we left them, went for it, and returned, found them and carried them back to our camp at the waterpocket above Edge of the Earth Canyon in one long day. No bolts in upper section, six in lower, 6 raps, 5 from bolts

April 10, 1979 — First descent by Ken Gronseth, Mike Bogart, & Dennis Turville

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Tight Ass — aka East Baker Canyon. Much swimming and worming, little rappelling. Forbidding right angle corner leading into dark convolutions — what we call a ‘Frozone,’ short for frozen zone which we first coined in Troll’s Treat (there are three frozones in Troll’s).

June 21–22, 1982 — First descent by Mike Bogart & Jenny Hall (AKA West)

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Kaleidoscope — Called by some Choprock, Jenny Hall (AKA West) and Mike Bogart named it Kaleidoscope, since the canyon seemed different at every turn. Forced to climb out and bivi during the first partial descent, due to its many pools and hypothermia, they rapped back in and continued, missing only a short section of canyon.

June 24–25, 1982 — First partial descent by Mike Bogart & Jenny Hall (AKA West).

October 28, 1982 — First descent by Dennis Turville & Lisa Hubbert.

—  Waterpocket Fold  —


‘S’ Canyon — named because of its obvious shape on map. 5 raps, none longer than 120′, 7 bolts. Severe chimney work (which we call ‘worming’). Wet suits required. 4 hours required on first descent, a nice half day cruise.

May 16, 1978 — First descent by Mike Bogart, Mary Dern, Janice Hansen, & Dennis Turville.

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‘O’ Canyon — which was named for the ‘O’ in Waterpocket Fold on the topo map. 2 raps 130′ or less getting in, 3 more bolts going downcanyon and one 1/4′′ bolt. (We used 1/4′′ bolts for short drops then. Still do.) A good day trip. Some swimming. Wetsuits nice.

Oct 17, 1978 — First descent by Mike Bogart & Dennis Turville

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‘L’ Canyon aka Poe Canyon — Originally called ‘L’ Canyon for the ‘L’ in Fold on the map, it was later called ‘Poe’ Canyon because of its ‘pits and pendulums’ ... A difficult canyon, one of the toughest ones Bogart recalls. 5 major pits negotiated with a variety of aid moves, 5.7 climbing, removable bolts, partner boosting. Easiest when water is high. 13 raps, 11 bolts, 17 bolt holes. Severe worm work and serious downclimbing required. Wet suits required. The first descent party barely made it out in one day, very exhausted from drilling.

August 23, 1981 — First descent by Mike Bogart & Jenny Hall (AKA West)

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Burro Wash

April 1988 — First descent by Lisa Hubbert, Dennis Turville, & Jim Williams.

—  San Rafael Swell  —


Terminus Canyon — Called Eardley by some.

— First descent by Mike Bogart, Mary Dern, & Dennis Turville.

—  Dirty Devil River  —


Flashlight Canyon — Some now call this abrasive worming adventure ‘Alcatraz.’ A couple bolts.

June 1, 1988 — First descent by Mike Bogart & Anne Winter.

And you thought we didn’t keep records ...

Dennis Turville

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© 2008 Dennis Turville
edited by Stefan Folias