Adventure Archive

The 68-Year-Old Canyoneer Legend Descending Death Valley

The 68-Year-Old Canyoneer Legend Descending Death Valley

Scott Swaney, a former oilman and current badass a couple years shy of 70, has more first descents in Death Valley National Park than anyone on earth. He spent the past decade looking for everything from tight canyons to massive drop-offs and is believed to have led or been involved with 203 of the 258 first descents in the park. Swaney has burned through partners who couldn’t stand the heat and hard labor of exploring his hellish playground, but he continues to recruit new ones, eager to keep exploring. This spring, photographer Ian Tuttle, who had never canyoneered, stuffed his camera—a film Mamiya 645 AFDii—into a backpack and followed along.

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