I’m crouching in a narrow crack between the rocks, shivering uncontrollably as the cold wet seeps through the clothes, my lips cracked from the dry wind. As I sit here on this, our impregnable sandstone perch, 300 feet above the canyon floor, in the deep dark shadow of the towering walls above us, I wonder how long before hypothermia gets the best of us. The desert sun shines bright over the valley below us, warm and inviting; so close, and yet so far….

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My boyfriend is on another ledge, just below me, untangling the ropes and rigging for the last couple of rappels that will take us out of this icy prison. The jingle jangle of the carabiners and the rest of the vertical gear, along with his trembling breath, punctuate the indifferent howls of the gelid wind. Why the hell are we here, freezing our asses off on the cliff walls of Zion National Park, rather than at home, on a tropical beach in our home country of Costa Rica, piña coladas in hand? How does this even qualify as a holiday? Who said that canyoneering was fun?

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It’s a great way of being alone in spectacular backcountry. Looking down into Spry Canyon

That thrilling feeling you get when you first rappel down into a narrow slot. Spry Canyon

Feeling tiny and insignificant before the majesty of rock and nature is a rather humbling experience. Echo Canyon

Mastering the techniques needed to explore canyons makes you feel like a pro. Rigging for rappel

Not knowing what waits around that next corner. Echo Canyon

Being one with the cold water that sculpted labyrinths in the painted sandstone. Swimming in Echo Canyon

The subtle play of light and dark. Echo Canyon

I mean, come on… Wow! Echo Canyon

Inside a slot canyon, the elements are few and bare, yet everything seems more meaningful. Behunin Canyon

Relying on your own navigation skills builds confidence. Behunin Canyon

It’s a great chance to get rid of your fear of heights. Behunin Canyon

Did I mention the views are spectacular? Above Behunin’s last two rappels. Not pictured: Me freezing to death.

The exhilaration of doing that last rappel after a 10 hour day canyoneering. Behunin’s Last Rappel

My boyfriend and I. Obviously, we did not freeze to death. While we still might, someday, in the meanwhile we’ll continue canyoneering. For now, we’re back home, enjoying a piña colada.