• Image about Utah
John Burcham

One avid indoorsman gets outside his comfort zone — 100 feet above it, in fact — at Utah’s Red Mountain Resort.

The rope should be red. Or black. A powerful color. Rifle green, maybe. Or battleship gray. Instead, it is orange. Dull orange. The color of butternut squash. And yet, to this rope I have affixed my existence.
  • Image about Utah
Rappelling down the 100-foot drop-off that is Cougar Cliffs
John Burcham

I’m standing at the top of a sandstone canyon in southwestern Utah, butternut-squash rope in hand, trying to convince myself to step off the edge and rappel 100 feet down the canyon to the muddy floor below. Before I came to this series of canyons two hours northeast of Las Vegas, I never would have considered standing on the edge of something 100 feet high, much less jumping off of it.

But this is why I’m here: to do things I would not normally do. Manly things. Things like taking a half-day, off-trail hike in the desert or scrambling up rocky cliffs or rappelling down canyons or, something just as frightening, a spa treatment that will require me to be naked. I live most of my life, and do most of my traveling, where the canyons are made of steel, not sandstone. I am most comfortable in layers of well-pressed clothing and Italian footwear; I know nothing about hiking shoes and backpacks with built-in water bladders. But sometimes a man has to take a step outside his comfort zone to remind himself what life is all about.

That, at least, was the thinking that brought me to the top of this canyon. But now that I’m here, looking at the ground so far below, I’m wondering if I can, literally, take that step.

I am a proud and accomplished indoorsman. Among my achievements: scaling to the top of hundreds of barstools in dozens of cities on four continents. Someday, if I keep up my training, I hope to up the count to all six. (For this purpose, Antarctica doesn’t count. Unless, of course, someone opens a South Pole W.)

But even though I’m glad to have acquired the skills to navigate from watering hole to museum to café in cities around the world, I also realize that I should occasionally take a trip that requires me to ditch the sport coats, risk the sunburns and bug bites, and navigate my way up a mountain or down a canyon. These things, too, make a man. After all, the Dos Equis guy isn’t the Most Interesting Man in the World just because he knows how to puff-fold a pocket square. He’s interesting because he knows about the pocket square and because he goes swimming with snow monkeys.

If You Go...
Red Mountain Resort
1275 E. Red Mountain Circle
Ivins, UT 84738
(877) 246-4453

There are no snow monkeys at the place where I have chosen to add balance to my life, but there is something called Snow Canyon. The canyon slices through massive, craggy, white-and-red sandstone cliffs and borders Red Mountain Resort, a property that sits on an ancient lava flow in St. George, Utah. Red Mountain is an “active lifestyle resort,” a place where you bike before breakfast, carry granola in your backpack for lunch and visit the resort’s full-time “Shamanic Spirit” guide before dinner.