American Apline Club Live Your Dream Grant 2019

I am excited to share that I was chosen as a 2019 Live Your Dream Grant recipient! And, the American Alpine Club is willing to push the deadline for me to complete the trip until I’m back in the states next fall!

I applied for the grant before the opportunity came up to move out of the country. I’m really fortunate that they are willing to extend the deadline since I’ve been really excited about the potential for this trip. So I guess I have more of a plan even though I went into this whole thing with no plan – work at the KMP (Kalahari Meerkat Project) for a year until June 2020, travel around South Africa/surrounding countries for a couple of months after, head back to the states end of summer 2020 (still trying to figure out if I can find a way to sail back), then move into my van and head to Utah for this trip! And then maybe act like an adult…

Here is my proposal for the grant:


The Grand Staircase – Escalante was one of the last wild places to be explored in the United States. The controversial construction of the Glen Canyon Dam, creating Lake Powell, was one of the most extensive river resource developments in the world. Sixteen years after the construction of the dam, Lake Powell reached its full depth of 3700 feet, halting the Colorado River. This massive water body buried canyons that had once only been accessed by bottom up hiking. Now some of the most remote places of Southeast Utah are accessible only by waterway, encouraging paddlers and canyoneers to visit what is left rising from the lake’s consumption. The access provided by the lake comes with acknowledging the role that humans play as ecosystem engineers. Exploring this area requires respect and appreciation for what is left wild.

The rugged landscape of the Grand Staircase-Escalante is riddled with cracks and canyons creating a topographic work of art. Explorers can’t help but spend hours studying maps, and tracing lines of canyon recessions dropping into the Escalante river and eventually dumping into Lake Powell.

Canyoneering requires advanced rope skills, and often involves technical climbing and scrambling. I have been rock climbing for almost 5 years now and find that the skills and mentality are shared with canyoneering. I have done both canyoneering and packrafting trips but have yet to include both means of travel into one trip. The canyons I would be exploring are more remote and rugged than what I have experienced so far. This would be pushing my limits as a climber, canyoneer, rafter, and explorer. There are few places left unexplored in the world and this landscape offers a challenging opportunity to push limits in a wild place.


I propose an exploratory trip investigating side canyons of the Escalante River, Utah. The route would involve two methods of human powered travel: canyoneering and packrafting. Beginning at the Egypt canyon trailhead, the team would descend the technical canyon into the Escalante River. We would then travel the 40 miles to Lake Powell by packraft while exploring side canyons throughout the route. The team would be skilled with advanced canyoneering techniques, including ghosting, pothole escape, and involved rappels as well as rafting whitewater. Canyoneering is a unique way to travel what is above and also below. The objective of this trip is to link two unique methods of travel to explore the wild terrain of the Escalante River.

3 thoughts on “American Apline Club Live Your Dream Grant 2019

  1. I realize I keep saying “amazing” about your blogs and your adventures, but what else can I say?? The highlight of my day is seeing there is a new blog from you. Follow your dream is a common saying, but you certainly live it to the full! Keep dreaming, Kelly!

    Liked by 1 person

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