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Beginner Canyons on Oahu?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Davis Eichelberger, Nov 27, 2022.

  1. Davis Eichelberger

    Davis Eichelberger

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    Hi all,
    I've recently began canyoneering after years of rock climbing, and I'm hooked. In the past three months I've done canyoneering trips to Zion and many other areas in Utah and I can now comfortably say that I can lead a small group down beginner to moderately difficult canyons.

    But alas, Utah is not my home turf. I was born and raised on Oahu and Ill be coming home to visit this Christmas so I'm dying to explore some canyons on the island, my only problem is that all the routes posted on this site and others are way out of my league. I'm looking for a canyon with the longest rappel being 100' or less, and no more that 5 ish rappels. Water is not an issue, just looking for something that can be done in a day and is relatively friendly for me to figure out with a friend. I've been thinking a lot about places like Mo'ole stream or Lulumahu falls where there are also trails so one can walk down in case the rappels don't go, but I have no idea if this is even possible. Lulumahu is also crowded these days, so I guess I'm looking for something similar in my mind.

    Thanks in advance to anyone who might have information on this. I know that Oahu canyoneering beta is sparse so I'm open to suggestions of any kind.

    Mahalo,
    Davis
  2. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    That's because it is illegal in most of Hawaii and especially Oahu.
  3. Davis Eichelberger

    Davis Eichelberger

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    I may not know much, but I’m almost certain you are wrong. There are multiple trip reports from Oahu locals on this forum detailing their canyoneering trips on Oahu specifically, and as a former long time resident I know for certain that rock climbing is legal on state land. Where did you get this information?

    Edit: this sounds snarky when I re-read it, I didn’t mean to convey that tone. I guess I’m just surprised it may be illegal because I feel like I should already have known that if that’s really the case. I’m very open to new information and curious about what the law states, I’ll be looking into that now.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2022
  4. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    Rock climbing and canyoneering is legal on state land, just as you say. The problem in Hawaii is the lack of state land or public land in general. There are very few legal canyoneering routes on Oahu because they have private land issues. Combined state and federal lands in Hawaii only cover 19.0% of the state and Oahu is even worse in this regard. Also, more than 20% of what federal lands are in Hawaii belong to the Department of Defense making the number even lower. So for more than 85% of Hawaii, canyoneering is illegal without permission from the land owners, thus my comment that it is illegal in most of Hawaii and especially most of Oahu.

    I have beta on several Hawaii canyons, but all have access issues so I do not share it. If they didn't, I'd be happy to share.

    Ropewiki does have beta on several canyons on Maui and the Big Island, but even several of those routes aren't not exactly legal.

    http://ropewiki.com/Hawaii

    If you do find some canyons on Oahu that are all on state land, I'm sure a lot of people would be interested in hearing about them if you would be willing to share. Unfortunately though, I don't have any beta in this regard for you (I wish I did). Canyoneering routes in Oahu that are on state land probably do exist, but as I said earlier, for the majority of Hawaii, it's illegal (because of private land).

    I do wish you luck in finding some good canyons on state land though. They are probably there somewhere.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2022
  5. Davis Eichelberger

    Davis Eichelberger

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    I have some places in mind- we’ll see if they go. One place I’m thinking about is mo’ole stream, it could be great for basic rappelling practice since there is a trail down the valley that avoids all of the falls, and I think there’s multiple waterfalls under 100’. I’m staying hesitant to do anything too crazy though, since this is my first time canyoneering in such a different environment. I’ll be sure to post about my journey if it ever happens!
  6. Yellow Dart

    Yellow Dart It's only hubris if I fail.

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    Seeing as you've been doing canyons here in SWOotah, where it is nice and dry, be mindful that canyons on those islands are frequently Class C, some with impressive flows.

    You can find other threads on this forum listing hazards in Class C.

    From floating disconnects, to making sure your lid is closed, to trying to stay out of the flow, to the perils of swirling hydraulics.

    Not saying "dont do it," but be mindful that flowing canyons are wildly different than the calm and quiet ones we are generally accustomed to here in Zion.

    Good luck, and look forward to hearing about your ventures. :thumbsup:
  7. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I'm saying "Don't Do It", but in a friendly way.

    There are no beginner canyons. There are canyons that are appropriate for experienced canyoneers to lead beginners down.

    A better question, Davis, is "Who would not mind too much taking me canyoneering on Oahu?". Especially in an area with very different canyons that you have done before, best to hook up with experienced locals. Heck, that is what I would do if I visited Hawaii.

    Tom
  8. Davis Eichelberger

    Davis Eichelberger

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    Thanks for the advice you guys, I really appreciate it. I understand how water can drastically change the dangerousness of a canyon, which is why I'm making it super easy at Mo'ole stream. I hike there all the time, and the flow is usually super weak (no more than 1 cfs) if you go on a dry day. The pools at the base of each falls are very shallow and the canyon never gets slotted at all or steep, you can also bail at any point and take the trail down.

    I'd be content with completing just one 40' rappel down a tiny trickle of water if that's all I end up doing due to safety concerns. I may not know much about canyoneering in Hawaii, but I do know some of the valleys out there like the back of my hand and thats where I'm sticking to as long as I'm searching for an experienced canyoneering partner out there. Maybe the people at Climb Aloha can hook me up with somebody. Thanks again for the advice y'all, and have a wonderful day.

    Below is a picture of the tallest of the 7 (8?) falls on a medium-to-high flow day. Moole_12_falls_2_sm.
    ratagonia likes this.
  9. Yellow Dart

    Yellow Dart It's only hubris if I fail.

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    Given the width of open area, lack of vegetation, and that it is basalt, I'll bet that thing blasts on a rainy day!
  10. 2065toyota

    2065toyota

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  11. 2065toyota

    2065toyota

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    I use ONX mapping as you it will clearly distinguish private vs state vs gov etc an also gives you landowners names in case you are able to contact to make access arrangments for hunting, hiking, etc. As you zoom in closer on their maps it also will show all roads, hiking trails, access points. The yearly subscription for all 50 states is the best value. I use it for almost all of my outdoor recreation as they also have 3d capability. You can really plan your routes well.

    I think there are plenty of canyoneering opportunites in hawaii and plenty on land you could use, but if you live there, you would know hard even hiking to get the heads of the canyons could possible be as much of it is really remote and inaccessible
  12. Canyon.406

    Canyon.406

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    While I have little experience with the state of Hawaii, I would also be mindful of the public land that exists on the islands. While ghosting techniques are effective in leaving little to no trace within the canyons, these lands are culturally significant to the respective Indigenous populations that call Hawaii home.


    I am not telling anyone to do anything, after all it is public land. I just would be careful in your choice of drainages. Rappelling waterfalls of cultural significance would be tragic. I think this is an amazing sport, however just like climbing, skiing and hiking our impacts within the canyons are not just environmental.


    I wish you best of luck finding an awesome canyon and a great trip! I’m in the same boat up here in Bozeman Montana. Finding canyons is just the first challenge. Descending them is a whole other monster!
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