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TR: I've been longing for the desert!

Original Post
Jason Kaplan · · Glenwood ,Co · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 3,385

We arrived late Saturday evening in the campground for the Fisher towers. As was the case last time I was visiting this surreal location, there were no open camp sites. Go figure when you show up @ 12 or later hu...

Well just as we did last time we just slept in the parking lot and woke up early, mainly because we were tired and had no back up plan.

We got started in the morning and there was a call for a water run, problem was the car was stuck in between gears and we weren't leaving the parking lot! "GREAT" I thought, just like last time, tranny's going to crap out on us and I'm going to have to hitch back home...

Well with a couple auto savvy individuals on board we discussed what to do, and I came up with a plan. The idea was to see if we could get it to shift by rocking it back and forth with the motor off. This we hoped would triggering a make shift back-lash situation to get the syncro to slip back with out all the force that the motor would have created. Turns out it worked and we were back on track.

My friend Scott and I waited while the other 2 took a test drive/ water run, and there was another party geared up to get on the same route ahead of us.

A little while passed and I was getting anxious, wondering if everything was alright still. Turns out the car was fine but the Colorado River clogged our water filter before we got much(which was mostly silty even after filtration). Off we went leisurely trying to allow the other party a good head start to avoid complications on route.

Once we arrived at the base of Ancient Art we hung out for a little while watching the party of 3 ahead of us summit and rap down before we geared up and soloed up to the ledge at the start of the first bolted pitch.

I made an anchor to protect the moves to get to the first bolt for my friend Scott who was leading, maybe not necessary but I didn't want to get ripped off the thing if something went wrong.

Scott cruised the first bolted section with some good stemming.

Spread um'!

A couple funky moves thrown in between good stems.

You can do it!

A little more funk between stems.

Piece of cake!

Scott stopped at the bolted anchor and then I proceeded up. Mark, our third member was taking pictures and generally just lounging during all of this. Somehow he knocked Scott's camera off the ledge, and he was off to get what might have been left of it. He gets down a ways and finds the camera case, but low and behold... No camera! So he comes back up, and on the way figures out the camera came out of the case a lot higher up.

Mark retrieves the camera as I finish up, and soon he's climbing. He arrives and since there's no one else in line behind us we take a minute to enjoy more medication. During this process we find out the camera still works. We're all done with the session and I'm headed off.

Next thing I know I'm up a ways and I hear the Scott dropped his camera case, and we're now with out lighter as gravity has stolen it from us too! I continue on as we come to a consensus that Mark is going back down to retrieve the lighter as we will want to medicate up above.

I end up linking the trad chimney pitch with the upper bolted pitch which I found to be really excellent. I was a little nervous on the bolted stretch, because I ran it out from the anchor to the first bolt and was out of sight after that. The climbing was lets say, a little bold.

I wasn't in the mood to grab a draw or to take, even though I was a little nervous. I just tried my best to persevere and next thing I know I'm at the anchor!

In the chimney, maybe 1/2 way.

A little higher.

I belay Scott up and get off the hanging belay and onto the sidewalk where I manage the ropes. Mark then comes up to join us at our airy belay. We converse a little and it seems there is a consensus between Scott and I. We are both glad that it's Marks turn to lead as the next pitch seems a little funky and very exposed to boot. Plus we already took our turn, so we had to let him have some fun too ;)

We relax and medicate while Mark takes a rest and prepares himself for the task at hand. He doesn't want to medicate because he's pretty lit from the "treat" that he ate this morning (it was nice of him to bring enough treats for all of us for the whole trip, multiple servings a day).

Mark is off, and he's making it look pretty smooth. He is a little stumped at the section right after the diving board, up then down, up then down. He's got the beta now and so he launches up to the ledge above and around the corner to the next tricky mantle. He cruised the mantle and then went up on to the summit!

The famous "hump shot".

Crank it!

Almost there!

Nice Mark!

Scotty's up next and on the summit in no time! Despite the scary appearance it puts off, it's really pretty casual for the most part.

Walk the Plank!

Giddy up cowboy!

Atta boy! It's easy from there.

I'm up next following in a similar fashion, I find the spot Mark struggled with slightly tricky but managed just fine. Next thing I know I'm standing on top with a light breeze. I'd come all this way and I was on the coolest summit I've ever stood atop. I had to take the limited and slightly rare opportunity to be a photo slut on the summit. So I waited for the breeze to calm and pulled off a shaky one leg pose.

Yea Ha!

Despite how nervous I was and how hard it was to just balance there off axis on one leg, I felt I had to up the ante as usual. I tend to go above and beyond, and I took the opportunity to quite literally do that. I was stoked and I knew it might be a while till I'd be back again so I jumped for joy before departing, only it took three tries to get the shot to prove how cool/retarded I am ;).

Catching some air!

After the tower fell over I swung pretty good and had to ascend back up the rope, we then preceded to rap down what was left of the route...

After some more meds and a couple beers we were on our way back to the car. We arrived pretty quickly and the heat was killer on the way back, unfortunately we had no water. So we raced off to moab to eat and hydrate and drink more booze. We took off out of moab around 6 or so and enjoyed the sunset as we drove towards hanksville.

I think it's safe to say that the sunset was a lot more visually appealing for a couple of us as we had stumbled upon some tainted sweet-tarts to liven up the drive so to speak...

ANYWAY! We were headed for this canyon in the Robbers Roost called Chambers and we were supposed to take the Roost access road. I had only been to the Roost once or twice before and I was never driving.

I drew a map up off what resources I had, and tried to pin point where the road to the canyon intersects 24. I thought it was supposed to be by the airport. Problem is when we came to a road that might have been the roost access road (it said ranger station 40 some odd miles, which should indicate the Hans flat ranger station in the roost) We kept going because we weren't by the airport yet.

Well we get off on some dirt road by the airport, Mark is trying to navigate off of my hand drawn crappy map. He thinks were on the right road, but it's hard to tell because it's dark and it's the desert (pretty flat).

We get about 10-15 miles back on dirt roads (semi rough with a few good sand washes) and hit a 4 way junction what isn't indicated on my map, nor described in the hand written directions. So we stop for the night as we're tired and confused and unsure of how to proceed at this point in time.

Sunset in the desert.

Getting dark.

I grabbed my sleeping bag and pads and stumbled around the intersection for a little bit, trying to figure out how I was going to figure out where I was to sleep with no sign of my headlamp or flash light in sight. I wandered in circles until Mark got his stuff laid out then I just decided it was safe to lay next to him.

I had a very uneasy feeling and was starting to get chilled after baking in the sun all day so I just crawled into bed and passed out while everyone else hung out and drank by the small fire.

I awoke early in the morning with the sun and found myself very restless, at first because I had to explode after dinner in moab. Then I just ended up wandering around cluelessly trying to figure out where we were, and what to do next.

Hell the wandering came from boredom after a while because everyone was still fast asleep. I watched some insects for a little bit, saw some cattle, heard a fairly large pack of coyote's not far off harassing the cattle numerous times. Eventually everyone was up and we ended up seeing a scorpion while discussing the plan of action.

After beer and "treats for breakfast; we decided with our limited resources and time frame it was best to just high tail, to an area we know better. An area where there was still a canyon that none of us had done that's regarded as being quite nice.

It's called the middle fork of the leprechaun canyon system. It's supposedly skinnier and harder then it's next door neighbors, both of which I've visited in the past(going up one of them and then returning to go down it with no rope).

I've found that in canyons that are tough and skinny it's very nice to have some padding so I always advocate bringing knee and elbow pads. After my first sandthrax trip my back was like hamburger meat so I've also adopted the idea of a shortee wet suit for padding.

I knew it might suck in the heat, but I figured I'd be happy to have it in the canyon. So I suited up before leaving our make-shift camp, putting on the shorts like boxers and putting my regular clothes on over it(leaving the top flapping behind me. I had my thrasher pants and my neo-esque long sleeve top for less friction and more protection from the sand paper which is the walls. I had them packed in my canyon pack with my knee and elbow pads for the time being.

We arrived at the bottom of the canyon to see quite a few cars, and what's this??? Porto crappers!?!?! Whaaaa... Oh yea that's right there's supposed to be a film crew out here!!!!

I get out of my nice casual clothes and put on the shortee suit top and deem I'm going to do the approach like this! HA HA what a freaking joke I am!

Go ahead, laugh it up, this one is on me!
We head up canyon a ways, past the last narrows at the bottom(by passable but why). and we run into a couple dudes lounging out with literately shit tons of gear strewn about ranging from ropes and cameras to who knows WTF, rigging maybe? Oh yea a big ass generator!

Crates and crates that were apparently flown in by a chopper! We chatted for a bit, they are making a movie about Aaron Ralston called 127 hours and filmed some of it in the leprechaun system. Right on, up we go!

Subway, eat fresh!

The approach I'm planning will take us up the gut of the canyon to where the middle and west fork join. This is a considerable stretch of skinny slot. Unfortunately since this was a random act that we ended up here we had no beta on rappel lengths. So instead of just bringing some light webbing we had to bring a 60m rope as we had nothing else(no shorter ropes that is, we had webbing in 30+' lengths that would have worked fine). This practice of bringing a 60m through skinny slots is hell, be warned it's no fun!

Anyway we get to the junction of east and main and run into another guy, he's all alone. His friends went with out him because he's too big to fit, bummer!

We snake off up east lep to the last drop where there is a nice opening to burn one and suit up with my pants and shirt and pads. I also offer to take the rope as I have the only real pack among us.

Shortly were on our way and I'm climbing up off the floor in no time, up and over Belfast boulevard. We stop for a break on the chock stones before another skinny but manageable section where I can stay on the ground.

The chock stone rest.

Next thing I know were at the junction of middle and west! Great, now we just have to hike out on the slick rock ridge/ dome system in between the two!

After a little sketchy, sandy, soft, loose slab climbing we could walk pretty easily for a little while.

Rim walking.

Don't slip!

Keep on trucking.

Eventually we get to the top and drop in.

the fun continues.

Shortly after this shot we stop for a smoke, some water, and a couple "sweet tarts" to enhance the experience. On we go!

Going down?


Good light.



Gettin some.





Last one for now, pleanty more great shots to come.

Tell Ya what, the rest is mostly pictures, and I don't have time to upload them all right now (still a lot of good slot pics left to post up) so I'll finish up some time later(BTW in the end we got some good pics of the cool chopper they used to fly the gear out, the thing was super trick).

Jason Kaplan · · Glenwood ,Co · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 3,385
Glowing rock.

Warm lighting.

Nice down climb.










  • ** I still have quite a few more pictures to add, so I'm going to tell the rest of the tale and add the rest of the pics in installments.

So obviously based on the pictures we were heading down canyon seeing alot of nice canyon along the way. We would stop occasionally where there were cozy openings for 4 for a smoke and some water, oh yea and Scotty brought a beer!

Eventually we hit a drop that we decided to use the rope for a hand line on. It was maybe 15-20 feet and the only time we used the F'in rope! Bummer for sure but oh well, we were cruising anyway. Especially because Mark took the pack after a little while and moved quickly up front, he traded off with Sasha after we got back to the junction of west lep I think.

I think they were moving quickly by throwing the pack down canyon form one easy spot to the next. Mark did mention having to get the pack through at certian levels like above his head a couple times I think. Been there, done that! No Fun.

Luckily they didn't really have any hang ups and were moving faster then I was. Mostly because I was super busy trying to get as many good shots as I could, the lighting seemed really good through most of the canyon too which made me really slow.

We are getting closer to the bottom and hear the chopper comming in! It was intense...

The reverberations from the rotors in the narrow canyon were so intense, you could feel vibrations similar to being next to a large base amp at a concert! It kinda made us worry a little bit about loose crap comming down from above.

We keep cruising along and next thing we know were back at the bottom. We pass the movie producer or who ever it was and another pretty large group of people headed up canyon. Just then we're rushed off out of the way as the chopper is headed back and is comming in hot!

Quickly we scurry out of the way, but stay close enough to get a great view of the action! The thing was so close that if something went wrong we would probably have died.

It was super intense! The chopper was unlike anything I had ever seen, super skinny and two props mounted offset to an angle side by side and no tail rotor. Wierd, sure worked well though, even though it was intense to watch the percision work taking place.

Here's one of the chopper to hold your interest for now...

David A · · Stockholm, Sweden · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 350

Sweet, looks like you had a great trip.

Jason Kaplan · · Glenwood ,Co · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 3,385

Indeed, we did have a great trip! Sorry it didn't work out before man.

Here's some more pictures...

more of the great light that was everywhere.

The warm glow.




Nice textures.

Some more really nice texture and color.


Narrow and dark.



There's still another installment on it's way, I just need a little break for now, enjoy!
Allen Hill · · FIve Points, Colorado and Pine · Joined Jun 2004 · Points: 1,410

Your photography is really getting good. I'm envious of your trip! Take me along next time.

Jason Kaplan · · Glenwood ,Co · Joined Jul 2005 · Points: 3,385

Right on Allen, I think our next outing is Saturday may 8th. We're headed back to the north wash because 2 of my friends want to do sandthrax and I want to go up sandthrax. I've been talking to my friend ben, the only guy who's been up it and he's going to join me. I think the plan will be we'll go up, and fix a rope with a couple big bro's at the crux for my buddies and pass each other somewhere in the canyon.

The idea is kinda that we are planning to get the first ascent with out having any fixed ropes, so basically the first clean free solo style ascent. Could be pretty damn exciting with alot of 5.8 - 5.10 chimneying and OW. Ben originally left a fixed line near the top of the canyon just incase and used it as a belay with a prusik.

Your more then welcome to join my friends going down also, they've never been down it either so I'm sure you all would be entertained and probably challanged. Like I say the crux 5.11 OW will be fixed so you'd only encounter mostly 5.8 ish up climbing stretches. I guess let me know, if you think your interested I'll post up a bunch of links to different sandthrax trip reports so you can see what you'd be getting yourself into. The canyon is X rated with lot's of high stemming, it's only like 1/2 a mile but your 30-70' off the ground for almost the entire canyon.

Anyway here's another installment of pics, who know's maybe the last.











Inverting in canyons can be fun sometimes, after seeing me catch a nice back stretch Mark decided to do the same!


Sasha getting some stemming practice.

Nice light.



Comming in HOT!!!

Talk about exciting!

That's everything! ENJOY!!!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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