Corporate Canyoneering

Categories: Commerical, Hiking

Part of my job for the last year has been active networking. One of the groups I belong to is called Corporate Alliance. I always wanted to be a member of a Galactic Alliance, but for now I suppose a Corporate Alliance is good enough. In addition to our monthly meetings, Corporate Alliance offers extracurricular activities and, from time to time, weekend gatherings. This spring Paul Hatch, the owner of the Southern Utah chapter, invited me to attend one of these sessions that was reserved for CEO’s or owners of local companies.

Jeff Johnson of Zaact, a Microsoft Gold Partner.

Justin Osmond, who does charity work to provide hearing aids for children in need and also puts on The Pioneer Legacy show in St. George. Behind him is Mike Thompson, COO of the quickly growing Skywest Airlines.

Paul Hatch, owner of Corporate Alliance St. George, stretches out to bypass a choke stone. Paul is an experienced Canyoneer.

The session was hosted by Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, which US News and World Report has listed among the Top 6 Adventure Resorts in the country. I did not know that, so I didn’t take any pictures of it. The ranch is huge, bordering most of Zion’s NE boundary and covering 4,000 acres.

We started off the first night with introductions and dinner. The plan for the next day was a canyoneering adventure. At dusk we went to a climbing tower on the resort to practice rappelling because some of us had never been. Driving from our lodge house to the climbing area gave me a bit of an idea of how large the resort is. Numerous times I have driven across parts of it to access Zion without realizing I was on property owned by the ranch.

Michelle Eberhard, CEO of Skyes Consulting and several other businesses.

Sarah Bowles of Urban Habitat Real Estate smiles next to Randy Ford, owner of Your Small Business CFO.

We approached the first cliff.

Our guides set up the ropes. They belong to some generation of people who don’t wear shoes. The coolest generation. Or the poorest?

A few people skipped the canyoneering but this was our group. In the white shirt is Koby Taylor, owner of Fusion Specialty Pharmacy. The tall guy in the back is Jared Dupre, publisher of Health and Wellness Magazine and owner of several other companies.

I wasn’t there to take pictures at all, but I did bring my camera because after the two day event was over I had planned on doing some hiking in Zion’s East Canyons. So after people got to know me it wasn’t long until I had the unofficial job of documenting a canyoneering trip that we did near Mt. Carmel Junction. The trip was guided by the lodge. We were driven for 30 minutes by van out to what looked like the middle of nowhere. I generally consider that a good sign because it means no crowds.

Michelle takes the first cliff while Diedre gets pumped.

Dierdra Turner, owner of DMR Virtual Services, maneuvers after what I think was her first ever rappel, (aside from the previous night of training). Dierdra was prepared for just about any situation.

Paul Hatch orients everyone about the longest rappel. Branden Knudsen, owner of Generation Labs, stands on the right.

Scott Leavitt of Southwest Tech in Cedar City, navigates the largest rapell and trickiest maneuver of the trip.


Team building doesn't always work. If only Mike had brought one of those airplane escape ramps...

The place wasn’t totally unfamiliar to me. I had been in the area a year before, walking along a high utility corridor, scouting for places to hike around off trail. I had looked over the very area we arrived at and thought it looked promising. We were there to do a technical canyoneering route through Huntress Canyon (also known as Diana’s Throne Canyon). It’s not a long hiking trip but it requires about 7 rappels, which takes hours for a large group.

Once we were back at the resort I felt like the trip was well chosen. I felt physically exercised but I wasn’t fatigued or otherwise worn out. It was a fun outing and I met a great group of people during the trip. Ironically once it was over I didn’t have the energy to carry out my original Zion climb, due to not sleeping well.

Mike Thompson going down what i thought was one of the more interesting areas. The canyon stream broke through a side wall and passed into what must be a boiling cauldron during floods. It then emptied out into a parallel canyon.

People rest in the cauldron room while Michelle tries to resuscitate a turtle.

Sarah and Michelle, who have been friends since childhood, had a lot to catch up on.

I really had to be sold on this outing by Paul. I’m generally very anti-social so the idea that I would get anything out of spending a weekend trapped with complete strangers made me extremely skeptical. I came away though with with a lot of new acquaintances who  seemed eager to help with whatever issues anyone was having.

It was a fun outing and I met a great group of people during the trip. Ironically, after it was all over I didn’t have the energy to carry out my original Zion climb, despite being so conveniently close!

Towards the back half of the trip the canyon turned into a real slot and had some great curves.

Justin Osmond enjoyed the slot.

Jaron and Randy get ready to descend an awkward tricky section.

The canyon ends suddenly, spitting you out into a broad sandy wash. From there it was a trudge up a long sand hill to get back up to the utility road.

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