Into The Sandstone

I love spontaneous trips.

Doug, my editor at Elevation Outdoors Magazine, stopped by to borrow my LifeProof iPhone case because he was going canyoning in Utah for the next few days. He showed me some photos of where they were going: The Black Hole of White Canyon. My eyes opened wide. My jaw dropped. “That looks awesome.” I said.

“Do you want to come?”

And so, the next morning Doug and I were heading west to Utah. Not knowing exacaly what I was getting into (and neither did Doug), I overpacked. A wetsuit, a dry suit, PFD, two pairs of water boots, harness, rope, 2 helmets, camp chair, camping gear, etc. Thanks to the XXXL REI Classic Duffel, I can fit all of it easily, though it looks like I’m hauling around a body bag.

We stopped in Carbondale, CO to pick up Cory and more gear and continued on past Hinksville, UT and down to a small campsite called Sandthrax where we met up with Dan Ransom who was just about to debut his awesome canyoning film “Last of the Great Unknown” at Banff.

This turned out to be a great group of guys and the next morning we dropped down into White Canyon to follow about five miles of river. The team went with wetsuits but no PFD’s and that turned out to be just right. Between my wetsuit and my waterproof backpack, I had plenty of buoyancy to take time to compose photos. The other cool piece of gear I had along to allow me to keep my Canon 5D nice and dry was the Outex camera cover. I’m still testing that one so a full review will be posted shortly.

Anyway, the canyon trip was beautiful. We did find one section that was amazing but stunk to high heaven because of the rotting wood that got stuck down there. It felt like we were swimming though a huge, dark, sandstone toilet bowl. Ugh.

In the end, Doug and I ended up filming our first episode of Elevation Outdoors TV. I continue to learn about filming and audio capture in wet and adventurous environments like this, so yes, the audio isn’t always great, but with good speakers it should be understandable.

I also wrote this adventure up for Dorado Magazine in a longer magazine style format.

View Black Hole of White Canyon, UT in a larger map


About the author

Adventure Correspondent Cameron L. Martindell is a freelance adventure travel and expedition writer, photographer and filmmaker who founded in 2000. He has contributed to Elevation Outdoors Magazine, The Gear Junkie, National Geographic, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Outside, Backpacker, Wired, Australian Geographic, and others. He has been to all seven continents and lived on five of them, including a four-month stint at the South Pole. Cameron has more than 10 years of mountain search and rescue experience, is an Eagle Scout, has been an Australian bush firefighter, competes in sailing regattas, plans national and international youth programs, guides Oregon rafting trips and Australian bush backpacking trips.


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