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Moab Abseiling (what?) And Arches The Easy Way

by Matt Zaffino

Bio | Email | Follow: @Zaffino

Posted on May 4, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 29 at 6:45 PM

Every time I revisit my Moab pictures it makes me want to re-visit Moab. Right now. Even when the sun is shining in the Northwest, there's something extra unique and distinct about desert light.

Like in the image below: a hole in the shadow caused by a looming arch, back-dropped by a rapidly receding rain shower. Which, by the way is refreshingly rare in red-rock country as  as opposed to oppressively omni-present in the Northwest. I'm not whining! Just wistfully remembering.

 Arches National Park is so easily accessed from Moab ( 2 miles from town) it almost feels like cheating when you're out of your car, treading the desert dirt and making fun pictures in the matter of minutes. I made the images above and below on a quick sunset hike after leaving town about 15 minutes prior.

There are a lot of easy hikes in Arches and it's a great way to ease into the rhythm of the desert.

But there's an easier way to get up close and personal with arches. Abseil them. More commonly called rappelling, I doubt there are many better ways to have fun on an arch. We approached Morning Glory Arch from above:

 Yep, hiking down is way easier than hiking up. As we approach the labyrinth of red-rock fins and slots, my adrenaline surges, because I love this stuff, but my brain reminds me how easy it could be to get lost in red-rock wonderland. So it's not a bad idea to go with a guide.

We had Matt from Desert Highlights. I can't speak more highly of how these guys operate. Low overhead, low frills, high competence and hospitality. I've done guided trips where those things are out of proportion and for me, there's no surer way to mar the memory of a great experience than doing it with someone with a bad attitude. Guide or otherwise. But none of that here. 

You want to not only be confident in, you want to LIKE the guy who is setting the ropes and rigging that will lower you 100 feet into a narrow box canyon. It's SO much fun! Matt the guide snapped the picture below. Robyn's already rappelled down, I'm just reaching a ledge about half-way down. 



 Oh, the other reason we used a guide: he had all the gear. Minor detail. Ropes, harnesses, helmets etc and the knowledge to use them.

I shot this video of my bride Robyn and Matt the guide doing a double rappel off of Morning Glory Arch:


Here's Robyn (her helmet fit better than it looks) after the rappel. 


It was about as easy, and way more exciting, as stepping out of the car in Arches.

Happy Trails,

Matt Zaffino