Grand Canyon, AZ: Gondola??


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Hobart, Australia
Dec 16, 2012 - 02:57pm PT
Crunch, you really should take a weekend to explore around there. There's a couple ways down from rim to river, I'm certain that some moab-based adventurers will have some beta, or just drive over to Cameron and head off exploring the off-road routes along the Little Colorado rim and find one of the routes yourself (that's how I first made my way down there--thinking like, and following in the footsteps of the ancient ones). It's a most magic spot in the southwest.

EDIT--another tip has to do with a town named after a musical instrument as a starting point...

Trad climber
Dec 16, 2012 - 03:17pm PT
If our country would spend a little more time trying to help create economic opportunities for people who choose to continue living on tribal lands, perhaps they wouldn't continue to propose development ideas that many of us find objectionable.
the albatross

Gym climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 16, 2013 - 12:57pm PT
Interesting letter to the editor with a local perspective:

Navajo Times, 1/3/2013

Why not nursing home at Confluence?

I lived in the Confluence area for 33 years herding sheep with no running water, no electricity, no paved roads, no housing for our large family although we lived in a comfortable small hogan, and taking care of my father's cattle until he passed away six years ago. He was laid to rest about five or six miles within the Confluence area where he gave his offering and prayed for his people to live in happiness and love one another, not fighting between each other. He loved to be among nature and the quiet surroundings. He passed down his grazing permit to me before he passed on.

Today my cattle are still out in the Confluence area. We still go to the sacred prayer sites to give our offering and pray for our people's needs. We don't want to share the sacred prayer sites with the camera-toting tourists.

Bodaway/Gap Chapter voted in October (barely) to develop the Grand Canyon Escalade project. What I don't understand was twice passing the resolutions earlier in the year in opposition to the development. Didn't that count?

What's wrong with our chapter officials? We voted for them to help other chapter members, not work against them. The new chapter officials aren't any better.

The supporters of the project stated there were tourists already at the site. To this day I've only seen a few tourists trying to find their way out. They say the tribe would manage the site better. The tribe would have to hire private security. They'll have to pay a fortune to do that. The Navajo Police won't do the job.

Instead of building an expensive resort why not build a nursing center for our elders so they won't be sent off the reservation? They'll be closer to their home and livestock where they grew up, a place where they call home. There will be jobs available for sure.

Our sacred sites will be destroyed forever. It will never be the same again. We will witness the greatest destruction of one of the Seven Wonders of the World by a non-Native organization.

My grandmother and my mother would get after us young kids to not throw rocks down the canyon. The Holy People live down there, they would say to us.

I have made it to those meetings and I didn't see any threats of violence although there were some people yelling at each other. The whole thing is causing division of relatives and friends in the communities.

One Hualapai I've met in Flagstaff said it all: "That Skywalk is a piece of junk. Don't let them build the resort on your land." He mentioned the Hualapai Tribe is paying big money for the Skywalk ever since the stockbrokers started pulling out.

Mr. Albert Hale, you and your Confluence Partners LLC have betrayed, backstabbed, and lied to us. Come on, Mr. Hale. Come back down to the Native world and join the right people. I'm totally against the Grand Canyon Escalade Project.

Robert Wilson
Page, Ariz.
the albatross

Gym climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 16, 2013 - 08:15pm PT
Great insights, Bruce.

It is my understanding that the Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world. There are already many ways for persons of all abilities to experience the incredible beauty, including hiking, burro rides, rafts, airplanes, cars, movies, youtube, bicycles, etc. Around five million people a year enjoy the place in person each year already.

As our wilderness vanishes at astonishing rates, perhaps we need to rethink our ideas about making it more accessible for everyone. Do we want a rebar ladder route to the top of El Cap so people can experience climbing? What's next, a climate controlled Gondola to the top of Everest?

Edward Abbey wrote something about how the wilderness experience was so much more valuable with a little blood from a scraped knee, being thirsty, hungry and tired, and unsure of the outcome. I tend to agree with his assessment. Some things in life seem a little more rewarding with a bit of suffering.

Check this link:

I stand against the proposed Gondola, motels and restaurants.

Long live the desert.

El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
Jan 16, 2013 - 08:48pm PT
Good post ^^^^

I 100% oppose the project.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 16, 2013 - 09:31pm PT
Maybe if the US guvmint provided a few more viable options to making a decent
living they wouldn't feel compelled to go this route?

Social climber
Jan 16, 2013 - 09:46pm PT
Like what? Truth is that most of the res is in the middle of nowhere. There is no economy beyond goat herding and desert farming and there is not going to be another. This Gondola, unless it's completely on BIA land, is not going to happen. Nor should it, the area is easily accessible by boat or foot.
the albatross

Gym climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 17, 2013 - 12:44am PT
The Colorado River system drains nearly 250,000 miles of seven western states (CO, UT, NM, WY, NV, AZ, CA) and has created hundreds of thousands of climbs, of all types, in many rock strata, plus tens of thousands of miles of cool hiking, biking and boating. Chances are you have explored there?
I bet we could easily list 500 roped climbing areas in the Colorado River drainage.

Imagine the confluence of the Colorado River and the LIttle Colorado River as being a contender for crown jewel of this massive river system. An unbelievable natural area inside one of the most spectacular environments in the world. A sight that is magical and unreal at the same time.

I believe about 25,000 people a year go to the confluence, most all by boat, a hardy handful hike.

Do we really want a Wendy's "tram through", an IKEA, a bunch of people selling "Authentic Made in China" turquoise at the base of a tram at the confluence? Should we not keep just a few places wild?

Here is Edward Abbey introducing his masterpiece, "Desert Solitaire":

"Do not jump into your automobile next June and rush out to the Canyon country hoping to see some of that which I have attempted to evoke in these pages. In the first place you can't see anything from a car; you've got to get out of the goddamned contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thornbrush and cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail you'll see something, maybe. Probably not. In the second place most of what I wrote about in this book is gone or going under fast. This is not a travel guide but an elegy. A memorial. Your holding a tombstone in your hands. A bloody rock. Don't drop it on your foot - throw it at something big and glassy. What do you have to lose?"

April 1967
Nelson's Marine Bar

Written nearly 46 years ago.
Thank you for all of the comments...


Social climber
Jan 17, 2013 - 12:50pm PT
The people who own the land should vote for whether they want this or not. The rest should STFU. That's what a democracy is.

Social climber
Jan 17, 2013 - 01:25pm PT
Um, it's federal land, either BIA or NPS.
the albatross

Gym climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 17, 2013 - 05:57pm PT
I agree with those who say this project is unlikely to continue due to it being in one of the premier national parks in the entire world.

But, stranger things have happened in the history of this country.

In the 1950s the government wanted to build a dam which would have flooded Dinosaur National Monument (north of Moab, Utah). The Sierra Club vigorously opposed this flooding and agreed to let Glen Canyon be flooded instead. David Brower, one of the gurus of the club, was able to take a float trip down Glen just before it flooded and it is said he came to a horrible realization that one of the great wild areas of the Colorado Plateau would be lost. Today, Lake Powell covers much of Glen Canyon.

I believe near Yosemite there is a place called Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. If my history is correct, this area was flooded and I think some claim it lead to the death of John Muir. (help me out here, folks).

One of our greatest rights in this awesome democracy we live in is called "freedom of speech". This allows us to share ideas, opinions and beliefs. The purpose of me starting this thread was to educate other folks about an issue they might be interested in. canyoncat- have you been to the Grand Canyon? The confluence? Just curious.

Social climber
Jan 17, 2013 - 07:58pm PT
From what you describe it doesn't remotely relate to the GC proposal. I suppose I'm an idiot for even posting because this project has 0% chance of happening, but it's the middle of nowhere in a national park, not off some highway in Vancouver.
the albatross

Gym climber
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 25, 2013 - 07:02pm PT
New confluence news, it is sounding better for team wilderness...

Shelly still pondering Confluence

By Cindy Yurth
Navajo Times, Tseyi' Bureau, 1/24/13

TUBA CITY - Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly said on Jan. 10 that, contrary to claims by developers he has not made a decision on whether or not to endorse a proposed $180 million resort and tramway at the Confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers.

In a Dec. 24 email interview, Lamar Whitmer of Confluence Partners LLC said he understood Shelly had given his blessing to the project last fall after the company presented him with a petition with more than 1,600 signatures in favor of the proposed "Grand Canyon Escalade."

Since then, however, competing petitions for and against the development have each garnered more than 2,500 signatures, according to their circulators.

The Hopi Tribe and the Grand Canyon Trust have also taken official positions against development at the Confluence, which figures prominently in both the Diné and Hopi creation stories.

Presidents of both the Diné Hataali Association and the Navajo Medicine Men Association have both decried the project, but nine medicine men have sided with the developers.

In October, Shelly sent a letter to Whitmer saying he would give his blessing to the project only if it had "solid public support"
by Dec. 31.

During a brief interview at the Western Agency inauguration, Shelly said he has not yet made that determination, and would like to talk with both the new Bodaway/Gap chapter officials and
other residents in the area that would be affected by the resort.

"I'm not going to lead the charge," Shelly said. "I'm going to see what the people want and get behind that."

Under the previous chapter administration, Bodaway/Gap voted
twice for resolutions against the Escalade, but then passed one in favor of the development by seven votes.

Escalade opponents say the votes were miscounted and there were other procedural problems with the meeting, and have filed complaints with the Ethics and Rules.
the albatross

Gym climber
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 22, 2013 - 08:35am PT
Another local perspective:

LeRoy Shingoitewa: Hopi Tribe Against Grand Canyon Project
February 18, 2013

The following is a letter from LeRoy Shingoitewa, chairman of the Hopi Tribe, addressing the Hopi Tribe’s position on the Grand Canyon Project.

Our beautiful state has many points of pride, but none compare to our namesake, the Grand Canyon State. One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon attracts nearly 5 million tourists a year. But the true value of the Grand Canyon goes far beyond that of a tourist attraction; it is a place of history, culture and is a link to the people of yesteryear, spanning dozens of generations.

Carved out centuries ago by the Colorado River, the Canyon was – and still is – home to several Native American tribes including the Hopi, Havasupai, Hualapai, Kaibab-Paiute, Navajo and the Zuni. Sacred sites dot the river and canyons, one of the most important areas being the confluence, where the Colorado River meets the Little Colorado River. The sacred area serves as a connection to the Hopi tribes’ ancestral past and is home to ceremonial trails, shrines and ruins.

But now, driven by the allure of tourist dollars, the Confluence Partners, LLC is threatening the beauty of this natural wonder with what they are calling the “Grand Canyon Escalade.” They have proposed a 420-acre tourist attraction that will include a gondola tramway linking the Canyon’s rim to its floor where a man-made walking path will take tourists to a restaurant and museum mere feet from what the Hopi value as sacred land.

While they expect a large economic impact to come from the development, it is clear that the developers value the potential dollars to be made from this sacred area rather than respecting the beauty and sanctity of a pristine location that is so dear to many tribal communities.

The Hopi Tribe has issued a Hopi Tribal Council resolution in September of 2012 to formally oppose the Confluence Partners, LLC, commercial initiative led by Arizona State House Representative Albert Hale and his business partners.

The Hopi people are not alone in this opposition. Many Navajo tribal members who reside in the area have communicated to us their mutual opposition to the proposed Escalade project. Grand Canyon River Guides and Grand Canyon Trust are all against the project. In addition, other local groups have formed to express their opposition, including Save the Confluence, and all are urging that there be further investigation into the proposed development site’s cultural significance. The National Park Service, which has been notified of the proposed project but has yet to release an official statement, has a longtime, ongoing concern with the land management jurisdiction, including an area of the park known for its endangered species.

As President Theodore Roosevelt stated on May 6, 1903, "In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it."

On behalf of the Hopi Tribe and in consideration of other tribes who uphold stewardship of the Grand Canyon, please take action and speak out to protect this pride and joy. The Grand Canyon is a breathtaking destination, and construction of the Grand Canyon Escalade will irreversibly compromise this natural wonder for many generations to come.


the albatross

Gym climber
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 6, 2014 - 01:58pm PT

4 Corners Area
Feb 6, 2014 - 02:21pm PT
Thanks for that albatross.

People need to make their voices heard on this!

Please sign the petition:

Trad climber
Starlite, California
Feb 6, 2014 - 03:33pm PT
This is completely OT, but has anyone looked at George Steck's guide to offtrail, multiday, loop trips off the North Rim? With time limitations, plus the inability to carry min. 1 gal//day, + food and gear, to reach the 1st campsite with water (a 2 day hike), I contented myself with a drop beneath the Rim near Pt. Sublime, with Flint Col as my dayhike objective. This is usually the 1st campsite, but is a dry one.

I would say that this was far and away the most rugged hike I've ever done. It took almost 2 hrs of bushwhacking and traversing side arroyos just to reach the Big Jumpoff. Slides and ladders between rotten limestone cliffs bands, traversing game trails on outsloping scree ledges to find the next break in the cliff band. 90 degrees in the shade, late May. It's been the only time I constructed cairns, within sight of one another, so I could find my way back through the sole break in the Toroweap cap rim.

No sign of prior passage; an indulgent illusion. No one back at the Pt. Sublime campsite, for that matter. Except for one insular individual who sat, without a break, inside his SUV, for 2 days straight. When I was driving back out to the hwy at the Lodge, I noticed his car parked at the hike's start point. Sometimes I wonder if he found what he was, evidently, searching for.

As Abbey writes, there's an initial impression of the desert to embrace all of its mystery, intimately and immediately, as one might try a possess a beautiful woman,

Mountain climber
Enron by the Sea
Feb 21, 2014 - 01:42pm PT
Thanks for the posts. I'm late to the party, and to this news, but like all of you who have been there the thought of gondola access to this spot left a sinking feeling in my gut. For anyone interested and able, it is actually not that hard a hike via the Beamer Trail. Take the Tanner Trail (from Lipan Point) to the river then hike up river a mile or two and you'll easily find a spectacular beach campsite you'll have all to yourself. From there you're highly unlikely to ever see anyone aside from the odd passing raft or dory.
From that campsite, wherever you choose it, it's a long but almost entirely level day hike to the confluence and back, and the scenery the entire route is, well, spectacular. For much of it you're about 500 feet directly above the river along the very edge of the Tapeats. We hung out for a few hours at the confluence before hiking back to camp, and I'd do the trip again in a heartbeat. We made no attempt to sneak up to the Sipapu, and I'd guess (and hope) that most who take the time to hike that far respect the wishes of the tribe regarding that site. Just don't F around with water, haul plenty, drink a lot, and make sure you're peeing "frequently and clearly" as they say at the Backcountry Office.
At least compared to a George Steck "Loops" route, this is truly easy. Can't remember the exact total mileage, but it's at least twenty miles one way from Lipan Point, give or take a couple miles.
No question the effort to get there enhances the experience. We saw no one at the confluence or along the Beamer trail, nor have I ever seen anyone out that way on other hikes into the area. Again, about as easy as non-burro routes get in GC, just long.

I'm sure others have better pics, but here's the confluence as you approach on the Beamer Trail:

The start of the Beamer Trail, looking upriver from Tanner Rapids:

Here's where we camped, a couple miles upriver from Tanner:
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Feb 22, 2014 - 12:33am PT
Thanks Festus, nice post, I went down Tanner to the rapids a couple of weeks ago, wish I had time to do the Beamer, but it is on my list. The remoteness of the confluence is magical, would be a shame to destroy it.
John M

Feb 22, 2014 - 12:37am PT
Thanks for posting that Festus. Looks like a beautiful place.
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