Tom's Canyon Festivals - Survival Guide

Tom's Canyons Festivals are a chance for a diverse group of canyoneers to get together, enjoy canyons, meet new people and generally have a good time.

I believe that bringing people together to do canyons is good for the sport. It brings people into the community, allows cross- pollination of skills and styles, and improves safety. TCF's are primarily for people from out-of-state, and for those Utahns who enjoy hosting canyoneers from elsewhere.

Canyoneers of ALL ability levels are invited. TCF's are informal gatherings, however, so trips are NOT guided, and those with intermediate to advanced skills tend to have the best time.

Utah Canyoneers who have attended two TCF's as a participant are welcome to continue attending Fests as a host. You are expected to lead trips every other day.

The Yahoo Group Toms Canyon Festivals is used to announce and then organize the events. I recommend that people take the group in "Daily Digest" form.

This page is the "Survival Guide", but could also be called 'Required Reading'. Please read this from time to time to refresh your memory as to the duties and obligations of participants and leaders and all.

Signing up for Canyon Fests

Canyon Fests are scheduled and announced on a VERY irregular basis. Join the Yahoo Group above - that is where they are announced. Trips fill up fast, so check your calendar and sign up. There will sometimes be a waiting list associated with each Fest.

Sign UP by going to the Yahoo Group, then to the Database. Click on the database "Signup List for the jfdasdas Canyon Fest", then ADD a RECORD for your name. EACH person must have a RECORD for themselves - this helps me track how many people are coming.

A little later on, I will create a database for actual days of participation. You do NOT have to sign up for and come to the whole event - but it is preferred.

I place a limit on the number of people at each fest because they tend to get out of hand. On BLM land, groups larger than 40 people require an expensive and sometimes-hard-to-get permit. In Zion NP, I take a group campsite, and there is a limit to how many people fit in the group campsite. Some people will camp elsewhere, and that helps. AND, maybe more importantly, I want to have some sense of intimacy and control, that just does not happen if the events are too big.

Tom (The Emperor) is the ultimate authority in these things, and HE will add or subtract people at HIS whim.

Signing up for Trips

Once the sign up process has taken place, a few weeks before the event actually starts, I will start setting up trip. Leaders will be asked to set up trips. A NEW DATABASE will be set up called TRIPS or something like that. The Leaders will create a RECORD for their trips, and to sign up for a trip, YOU go into that record and add your name to the list of Participants. The trip should list a maximum number of people - do not increase this number.

Duties of Group Leaders

Group Leaders should be prepared to:

Figure out what is needed for group gear (rope, throw-bags, webbing, hookers, etc) and either bring it or assign someone to bring it. Leaders should hand around group gear for the young, strong ones to carry.

Know how to get to and into your canyon. Figure out how to get a permit on a timely basis, and have a backup plan in case you cannot get the desired permit.

Know who is in your group, and rally them to get off at a reasonable hour. Make sure everyone has a helmet, and other needed equipment.

Manage the group in the canyon, and provide leadership. You are not guiding, just providing leadership. Make sure people eat and drink when they should, and spread the work of ropework and problem solving throughout the group, trying to maximize fun.

Duties of Participants

If you are a participant (ie, not the Leader), you should expect the following:

- You are responsible for your own safety and comfort. No one can assure your safety other than you.

- The trips are not guided, they are lead. You are expected to do your part. If you are struggling or need help, or have questions about what is going on, you MUST communicate this to the group leader and other participants right away.

- This is just a bunch of friends going canyoneering. While leaders will attempt to 'lead' the trip and make sure everyone is taken care of, safe, and having fun, ultimately the responsibility is for each person to be personally responsible.

- If this is NOT what you are up for, then don't come.

- If you do NOT have gear that is on the suggested/required list, let us know now, so people with extra gear can bring it for you to use. Let's make specific arrangements for that NOW.

- People will not be allowed to participate on MY trips without a helmet. Other trip leaders are welcome to make similar ridiculous rules and regulations.

Costs and Fees, and Making a Living

Tom's Canyon Festivals are free. If you are camping with the group (in a pay campsite), you will be expected to pay your fair share in cash, to Tom, at your earliest convenience.

If you wish to express your support, there are several ways you can do so:

1. Join the Zion Canyoneering Coalition.

2. Buy a ZCC T-shirt (I will usually have ZCC T-shirts for sale) - $15.00.

3. Make a donation to Tom's Utah Canyoneering Guide by Paypaling me a few bucks at

4. Next time you need to buy canyoneering gear, shop at the CUSA On-line Canyoneering Store. This is how I make my living, and your patronage is appreciated. Your patronage also allows me to justify the time and effort required to organize these things.

If you need gear for the event, PLEASE order in advance. I will have a few items, but do not have space to bring down an extensive inventory.

Stuff To Bring

From time to time, I am amazed to find out that people have not read every corner of my website multiple times. What, you people have lives or something?

For those of you who have NOT been through it, I highly recommend reading my Introductory Section including the (obviously unfinished) section on gear.

Without the whatfors and whys, here is the MINIMUM gear that I expect people on my trips to have:

Rappel Device
3 Locking Biners (Mini-HMS) for rappelling with
1 Mini-HMS Carabiner for group biner blocks.
2 other Screw-lock Carabiners.
4 over-the-shoulder slings
1 clipping-in sling (not a daisy chain) already in place
room in your pack for a fair share of the group gear
a tasty treat to share with the rest of the group on breaks

On my trips, if you are a slacker and do not bring this stuff, then you will be summarily handed heavy group gear to carry. If the gear is all allocated, you will be handed rocks. Not kidding.


ps, you don't actually have to carry the rocks, but I will hand them to you.

Toms Canyon Festivals Yahoo Group   -=-   CUSA Community Page