Garonne Canyon: October 1, 1998

Greg Horne, Yoshi Hayashi, Alan Dalziel, Steve Page (a visitor from Australia)
"What are you doing tomorrow?" asked Greg. "Nothing special," I lied, I was supposed to be working, but that could be changed "Why, what do you have in mind?" That was how the conversation started on the drive home after a trip down the Palisade Canyon. (Canyoneering is fun, you get into the canyon at the top and follow it to the bottom. rappelling steep sections and waterfalls on the way.) Early the next morning, Greg, Yoshi Hayashi, Steve page, a visitor from Australia, and I, canoed across the Athabasca river and hiked towards Mt. Colin. After 2 hours we reached a point on the trail where we could access the creek and from the amount of water we knew that we would be getting wet at some point. We followed the creek to the first waterfall, a 25' rappel down slippery, undercut rock. Further down the canyon we found a 40' cave, Which we explored, and another 15' dry rappel down overhanging rock. A short walk, another small cave and then a down climb took us to the lip of the canyon. We set up a belay and Greg took a look over the edge. he could see a ledge about 100' below, and lowered a single 9mm rope to see where it came to. it just passed the ledge. Greg came back up and we talked about whether to try it or not. We chose to go, I rappelled first, on a single rope but being belayed on a safety line. I went down about 20' on steep rock and stood on the lip of the canyon. It was awesome. For more than 200' below me there was nothing but air. The rock was cut away at such an angle that I would be 20' away from it for most of the descent. I eased myself over the edge and began my long descent. Once I was free of the rock, I started to slowly spin around, getting multiple panoramic views of the entire valley.
I must have spun around a dozen times, it was both scary and exhilarating. I eventually reached the ledge, it was further in than I had expected. I was still hanging out about 100' above the valley floor with 30' of rope left. I touched the edge of the rock with my foot, the ledge was very unstable, chunks of rock went crashing below. I tried to grab a large rock, but it too went screaming down. I jammed my fingers into a crack and pulled myself onto the ledge. It was a gross place to be. The ledge sloped away from the overhanging wall at a 10 degree angle and sloped downward along the face at 45 degrees, everything was loose and wet, every movement sent more rocks to the bottom. I managed to drive into a couple of pitons and secured myself. A gust of wind sent the full torrent of the waterfall in my direction and I got soaked. Well, I was down, I was cold and I was wet, but secure, it was time to start enjoying myself watching the others come down. Yoshi came next, he looked spectacular coming over the lip, 100' above and 20' out, with the waterfall in the background. He descended slowly and was glad to get to the belay. Next was Steve, who had only learned to rappel the day before, I think he held his breath the whole way down. Greg rerigged the ropes and rappelled down to us. The next rappel got us to the ground and safety. As we coiled the ropes, we kept looking at the cliff above, each with his own thoughts on what we had just done. For me it ranks as one of the highlights of all the time I've spent in the mountains. We walked down the canyon some more, then a 30' rappel into thigh deep water. At the next set of falls, Steve and I down climbed on a log, Yoshi and Greg rappelled from a tree. Below, at a small triple fall we rappelled off some boulders. Again an overhanging rap off a rock horn followed by a 15' rap into waist deep water. By the time we reached the mouth of the canyon we had slid and down climbed many more short waterfalls. The total trip took eight hours from top of the canyon and about 1550' of descent. We believe this to be the first descent of the canyon, we found no signs of any rap slings or pitons, and the cave entrance was undisturbed. We ended the day by crossing the river in darkness. A very memorable day. (Alan Dalziel)

October 1 '98 the canyon)ntrance was undisturbed. We ended the day by crossing the river in darkness. A very memorable day. (Alan Dalziel)