Fat Man's Misery

Last Candition: April 3, 2021


5 out of 5
Date of Trip: April 3, 2021

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Fat Man’s Misery (West)

Upper canyon: Water levels have lowered considerably since 2 weeks ago. Nothing over waist deep. The water is not warm. But considering the open sunny stretches in between each narrows and afterward, unless it’s a cold day or you run abnormally cold, you will probably regret wearing a wetsuit.

Lower canyon: Another couple waist-deep pools, followed by the usual very short neck-deep wades (swims for short people) below where the cold spring feeds in, near the double-arch room. The warm spring comes very soon afterward, and then the end with open sunlight. So, maybe small people might want a wetsuit, but people who run warm will be fine without one and thankful for less weight on the hike out. (Unfortunately, I carried my size-3XL all the way down and back out without ever using it, haha.)

Abnormally warm temperatures for early April

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: February 21, 2021

Canyon is completely dry until the final narrows and warm spring. Beautiful time of year to be out with pleasant temperatures on the long desert hike. Easy navigation on well defined paths both into and out of the canyon. Car to car 10 hours with four folks. We replaced frayed webbing and removed hollow aluminum rap rings at anchors. Water is clear and pleasant for a canyon.

4 out of 5
Date of Trip: July 13, 2020

Did West canyon. Group of 6, car to car 15.5 hours (started hike in at 7am). We stopped and played in the river, visited the falls and took our time enjoying the pools. Lots of water in the lower pools, super nice to cool off in. Didn't encounter much water the first half of the canyon. No wetsuits needed. Added webbing to some anchors that looked ok, but wanted to be safe so we just added another loop.

Easy canyon and fun! We used knee and elbow protection, turned out to be very helpful. Took water filter and were thankful for it! Drank 3 L in and 3 L out with some to spare.

Hike out was 3.5 hours. We ended up not starting the hike out till 7pm, wasn't bad heat wise. Cairns made navigation fairly easy for the hike out but would recommend a gps especially for hike in because it could be easy to get lost. The uphill climb was difficult for some members...long hike out.

3 out of 5
Date of Trip: June 16, 2020

We did the East Fork as part of a backpacking trip. With the exception of a thigh deep pool at the beginning, the East Fork is entirely dry. Water (cold) is not encountered until just before the double arch cathedral after the confluence with the west fork. Same water height (max chest deep) as it was last October 2019 when I did the west fork. Could do it w/o wetsuit in summer heat, but would be chilly for a few minutes. My opinion on East vs West: If you are doing a day trip from Checkerboard Mesa, then the East fork gives you very little extra bang for your buck given the additional 3 miles or so of hiking required. If you are only doing one fork as a day hike, the West Fork is the better option because it has more rappels, almost as much slot length, and will give you more time to relax in the Barracks before the long hike out.

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: October 26, 2019

East Fork. 11 hours car to car. 75 degree, sunny day. Water only in last narrows section, maybe 15 minutes total. A few different chambers with water, but only one swimmer. Final warm-spring-fed pool delightful. Opted for minimal clothing in water rather than wetsuits and worked out fine for party of 8 with mixed experience. Hiked Parunaweep 15 minutes to exit and warmed up in sun there. Lovely, long day!

4 out of 5
Date of Trip: October 13, 2019

To those doing this canyon in the hotter months: TAKE A WATER FILTER to avoid dehydration. West Fork Conditions: Mostly dry until the very end. Water before the spring was cold, but relatively short wading. There may have been one short swim before the spring. Warm spring was refreshing. I was glad to have a wet suit. One person in our party did not carry a wetsuit and was glad to not have the weight carrying it out. The official trail is over a lot of sand (hence the 4 instead of 5 rating). There are ways to do it where much more of the hiking is on sandstone, which makes for faster walking. The slot sections are short but stunning.

2 out of 5
Date of Trip: October 11, 2019

East fork. 8 hours car to car with a team of five. Very dry until very end. One short swim, a few wades. Not really

Worth it at this level. Kept the wetsuits in the bag all day.

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: July 14, 2019

West Fork. What Slot Machine said. :) There were two ways to do many obstacles (stemming a chimney, walk around, rappel, downclimb, etc.) if we stopped to look around. That could make things easier if you are nervous or harder for more fun. This cold person was glad to have NO wetsuit and start at 6:30 AM. Drank 5.5 liters of water and ran out a little early.

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: July 14, 2019

Anchors were in great shape. Canyon was mostly empty. The swim at the bottom was welcome on this 100 degree day. Leave your wetsuit in the car.

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: June 12, 2019

Did the east fork. Great conditions, lots of water. All of us had shorty wetsuits and were glad we did.

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: June 1, 2019

Did the East Fork. A few did it without wetsuits, but they were a little cold in spots. Most put on wetsuits just before the first rappel. Beautiful conditions.

4 out of 5
Date of Trip: October 19, 2018

Lots of water in the canyon right now. Had multiple swims and a lot of wading. Everyone in our group had wetsuits and we were glad we had them. One anchor that will need a lot of webbing will probably need to be replaced soon.

4 out of 5
Date of Trip: June 23, 2018

3 of us did the East Fork with a 6:30am start. One pool near waist high just before the convergence with the West Fork. Standard waders and swimmers the rest of the way. No wetsuit needed, the water was refreshing. Raps looked to be in good shape. Soaked myself in the river before heading up. That along with a breeze make the hike out rather tolerable.

4 out of 5
Date of Trip: June 9, 2018

Really enjoyed this canyon. Do not underestimate the amount of water/electrolyte needed on the hike out. A filter is MANDATORY in summer to refill bottles from the river. We took a wrong turn and had quite the time backtracking to find the correct trail, a gps will avoid this issue easily but pay close attention either way.

The rockfall looks the same. We hiked around on the left to a ~30’ drop followed by an easy down climb, or a longer rappel. Rigged off of a small tree and backed it up/soft started without issue. I didn’t check but I’m unsure if you can upclimb the narrow section you miss by taking this route.

Two swims and some waist deep pools, nobody wore wetsuits. Only got cold while everyone was photographing the arch section for awhile. The warm springs were amazing.

4 out of 5
Date of Trip: September 30, 2017

little water. Rockfall at rap below confluence seems stable. Avoid touching and have those that have rappelled move down canyon.

1 out of 5
Date of Trip: August 8, 2016


First, read kyleclark's report from July 8, 2016, Danger!!! Rock slide!

The rockfall-related conditions described by kyleclark still exist, with a gigantic rock slab tilting over the edge of the rappel, and much loose rock on the slopes above. We tiptoed around and touched as little as possible, apart from cleaning some slings and as much of KyleClark's abandoned rope as possible. Until the rockfall / slide area stabilizes, great care and caution must be taken in this part of the canyon (or avoid it altogether).

That said, the rest of the canyon was in fantastic shape. First rap landed in a swimmer, with many wades and swims throughout the canyon. Mud-slickened short drops, normally downclimbed, made the rope come out more than usual, so the going was slower. Super cool to see it with so much water, a rare treat.

1 out of 5
Date of Trip: July 8, 2016

Danger!!! Rock slide!

At the final 30 foot rappel before the grotto, we witnessed two major rock slides a few minutes apart. We jumped out of the way with just seconds to spare for the first slide which dumped the boulder the anchor was attached to into the canyon floor along with other rocks and debris. A few minutes later a second large slide occurred leaving a very large (maybe 4-5 feet across) slab hanging right on the top of the rappel. Our rope what cut in half and melted. We had to leave half of it because it was pinned on the top and the bottom. We wrote a note on the rock in front of the rappel, scrambled up canyon right to avoid the rappel, called the Zion back country office, and the BLM. We do not think this rappel is safe until the loose boulders and the very large slab is knocked down. The best future option is probably to put a couple of good bolts in the wall on the right which is a nice solid wall, and avoid the loose drainage to the left all together.

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: October 3, 2015

Our group was of the consensus that FMM is a real gem. Very beautiful narrows sections. Saw a large owl nesting high up in the first narrow. Several swims and wades and the water was not stagnant and smelly, but was cold. Added a cairn anchor for a short undercut part that, in retrospect, we should have used a meat anchor and partner assist to do. We went high over the last couple narrows sections that had water because one of our group did not take a wetsuit and was hypothermic. Everyone should have a wetsuit this time of year. We got extra clothes on him, warmed him up, and went quickly through the section after the dry wash to the exit point, enjoying the warm swim just before entering the EF of the Virgin. We stayed in the sun for the while to eat and get our friend fully warmed, then hiked out. 11 hours car to car.

5 out of 5
Date of Trip: August 14, 2015

Used Climb Utah Beta. Lots of water, several swims, plenty of wading. Water temperature was great with an air temp in the 100's. No wet suits. One Rap was longer than the 35'-40' stated in most of the beta. It was more like 55' off a large tree near the confluence of the West and the East. Great canyon, not sure why it took us so long to get to it. Caution, the exit would be brutal in the afternoon sun. We got lucky and had cloud cover and rain sprinkles. Don't under estimate the warnings in the Beta about the exit. Plan to pack lots of water or filter additional water out of one of the springs at the bottom to get you out.

4 out of 5
Date of Trip: May 2, 2015

Lots of water. I would say the first half (before the confluence of the forks) is about as full as it can be and the "grotto" narrows were full as well. Around 10 swims (most short), lots around chest or waist level and a bit less below the belt. All but the grotto's was frigid.

Anchors all in good shape and handlines are in place for the sketchier drops.

If not for the water being super cold the canyon would be a 5. Wetsuits would have been nice on the cloudy/stormy day we had. With more sun and higher temps I'm sure the water would have been less of an issue.