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Backpacker Magazine – September 2009

The Manual: How to Explore a Slot Canyon

Explore these redrock mysteries safely with expert tips on gear and technique.

by: Kristin Bjornsen and Rebecca Kane

(Illustration by Supercorn)
(Illustration by Supercorn)

MASTER 3 CANYONEERING MOVES

Flat-footing
When ascending, descending, or traversing angled slabs, place the entire sole of your shoe on the rock. Slightly bend your knees and keep your weight over your feet. "The goal is to maximize friction," says David Black, a 15-year ACA-certified canyon guide.

Stemming
To climb over obstacles (boulders, water holes) or descend drops in narrow slots, scissor your legs and push them into opposite walls. Press your hands into each wall and move your feet up one at a time. Repeat. "The opposing forces and friction act like brakes," Black says.

 

Chimneying
Move upward in a very narrow slot by pressing your back, hands, and butt against the wall behind you. Push both feet against the facing wall. Slide your back and butt up, then step your feet up to match. Repeat.



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