Having lived in the South West now for a number of years, I sometimes forget that many people have no idea what a Slot Canyon is. Now since the movie 127 hours with James Franco, the idea of visiting a slot canyon has grown in popularity. To re
ally appreciate a slot canyon you have to be given a little dose of fear. Slot Canyons are formed by flash flood events that are common during the late summer months. The high force of water carves the soft sandstone like a knife creating deep rifts in the earth. The water has such an amazing way of carving earth, they are truly amazing to see and walk through and even rappel through. However they can be one heck of a nasty death trap, and you will never know it cause its a scarce notion that you will live to tell the tale. Brian McInerny or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency in Salt Lake City explains the measurement of CFS or cubic feet per second as a cube of water weighing roughly 12 lbs. Now some of the data they have on flash flood events turns slot canyons into 25 ft hight walls of water. Numbers like 3,000 CFS are not uncommon during summer monsoon rain events. These floods scour all the debris in the canyons above them sending down with the water, rocks, limbs, logs, and anything dead or decomposing. If you happen to be in the way, three thousand 12 lb bowling balls won’t even notice you.
The sad thing is that bodies caught if flash floods usually are found (if they are found) badly beaten.
I say this out of no disrespect for those who have tragically lost their end in a slot canyon, only to scare you into understanding how vital it is you know what you are getting yourself into. Go into one with even a slight
chance of rain, is a recipe for disaster. Hire a guide, or go to the outdoor shops in the vicinity of where you want to explore. Look into the Yahoo Groups for Canyoneers and ask them a question about the area you are looking into.
It is said that since the release of 127 hours, the canyon where it was filmed has been the site for more than two dozen rescues. Between the years of 1998 and 2005, the Wayne County Sheriffs dept. had 0 rescues in the area. Now due to the extra traffic signs have been put up warning people of the dangers.
Look into a guide to help you explore these technical canyons (technical means you need a rope, gear, and knowledge of what you’re doing). Call Seldom Seen Adventures for more details on how to see Slot Canyons safely.