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TR: X-Fest! (canyoneering)

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

PART 1 Big Tony

I started my journey on Friday a week before memorial weekend, and it takes me right about 12 hours from my house to arrive at camp. I pass through familiar ground for a bit until I leave Hanksville, and then I’m greeted by beautiful new scenery. I pass through capital reef and really enjoy the sights.

The road takes me over a high pass and I get a good overlook of where I’m headed, seams like a way down there from the up here. Eventually I get down past Boulder and enjoy the great views as I make my way down again into Escalante for some gas.

I drive back to the hole in the rock road and start making my way down. Not long after this I’m very tired so I stop for a nap on the side of the road hoping my partners will cross my path and lead the way.

Sure enough I see a car that looks like the one I’m searching for, and so I take off after it. Sometimes I feel I’m being a bit aggressive as I am really trying to get a view of the plates to see if they are from Colorado.

After a while they get sick of me and pull over and so I pull up next to them and stop. No luck, wrong people… Go figure, I apologize and take off in the lead this time. Eventually I arrive at the junction for chimney rock so I sit and wait again.

This time, after a while my partners do arrive and we head down the road to camp. It was a long drive, and the last bit really wears on you as it’s really rough for like 30 miles then even rougher for about a mile.

We woke up and headed for Big Tony, I had no idea what I was in for. From what I can recall it was to be a rude wake up call. The approach took us down a good bit of sand, then slick rock into the bottom of coyote. Then back up and out the other side, nice way to start an X rated stemming day.

The starting point, just beyond chimney rock.

The approach.

Nice views on the approach.

The car and chimney way out in the distance

This however was actually the easiest approach of the whole trip.

The canyon had a bunch of nice shallow pot holes at the head where it was fairly open, we decided to suit up here. Then I was offered the lead as I was the only one who hadn’t done the canyon yet.

The head of Big Tony.

It started out with water filled pot holes, so we were desperate to keep our feet dry for the tough going ahead. There were maybe 5-10 of them and some were pretty challenging to cross. Rough start to the first long day, but super cool none the less. If nothing else it was a good way to warm up; with less penalty points for a mistake, then would be accrued in the stretch of canyon that lay ahead.
Wide stems above water!
Reflections in the pool to let you know your looking at water.
This was tricky! Landon "TRYING" to keep his feet dry, to no avail...

A couple of the holes are dry and we down climb them with a little partner assistance from time to time. After this stretch things turn X rated rather quickly and remained that way for a little over an hour.
Steve B working into the X rated stretch of Big Tony.
Let the fun begin!
Going down?
Caution silo crossing ahead!
Back up!

As was often found (but not limited to) in the other canyons on this trip; the difficulties mostly involved steep walls, a lack of easy to use features, and a good dose of exposure.
Talk about penalty points! looks like the mouth of a monster.
More x-rated goodness to go.

The colors were really nice including but not limited to the green moss that seems to be so prevalent in this region. This part of canyon is also beautifully sculpted; especially the lower narrows which look very complex and convoluted, not to mention terrifying.

Luckily for us the sun is shining nearly at the level we are traveling at, so we often don’t really notice all of the exposure through the many high and wide sections. During all of this I had fallen to the back of the pack and was getting semi worked (mostly working too hard instead of working smarter).
Blinded by the light, the exposure's in the shade and so it's kept out of our site.

It relents for a little bit (walking through nicely sculpted and colored narrows); then eventually we come to a nice view and a rap. The walls right here are nicely streaked.
Fnally it relents.
Lovin the green.
It's pretty, and I'm happy to be on the ground again.
Nice lighting.
So nice...
Aaron trying to down climb a rap on belay.
Beautiful walls.

We are back at it in no time flat with more R rated high stemming; this time not nearly as high or as hard, but still very tiring after already having spent a bunch of energy. It seems to go for a bit but I do remember some walking thrown in. Eventually we work back to the floor.(Landon decides to stay high though)

Back at it.
Nice moves!
Nice lighting.

There is a really cool section ahead of us where you shuffle in the dark through a narrow subway type deal. Turns out, there was actually some water in there too. I’d say we shuffled (I felt very merry and giddy) in near darkness for at least 200 yards, until we got pinched out and forced to climb up the Bombay with slimy feet.
Some tight walking.
More awesome green moss, approaching the darkness.
Nearing the end of the darkness; and the begining of the tough climb up out of the water, through the bombay and up top again.
Climb sucka!
The spot I climbed out was extra tough in particular, as it was flaring and overhanging below my rip cage. After a bit of work I got up and out and moved onward. It relents again from here as we pass through more beautifully streaked sheer walls.
Almost opening up again.
It finally relents.
We work through some breakdown tubes/ tunnels and down into the riparian opening that flows back to sleepy hollow and they coyote. This stretch had beautifully soaring ampetheaters.
Riparian canyon stretch
Oh yea!
After slogging back to the car we hung out for a bit and mulled over the plans for the next day and the remaining days of the trip. After that we waited for RAM to show up for a bit and decided to move camp to a spot perhaps less windy. (the wind was raging for the first couple days at least if not longer).

OH here are my partners pics from big tony:…

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

PART 2 P.I.N.T.A.C (Pain In The Ass Crack)As far as we know we got the 3rd known descent of this canyon!

After doing “Big Tony” I was having a little bit of anxiety, wondering if I would hold up for the trip or if I would fold like a little girl. The original plan was to do “DDI” the following day. We started mulling it over and it made more sense to do “PINTAC” next if there was any chance of knocking all of the canyons that were planned off. Or more should I say the important ones (“PINTAC”, “Long Branch of Sleepy Hollow”, and “West Scorpion”). Unfortunately I already knew I was going to miss WS because of time constraints.

I personally felt that I didn’t want to have to do both xx slots back to back, and the others felt they didn’t want to deal with 3 xx slots back to back. So it was decided that unless RAM shot the idea down then we were going to do “PINTAC” the following day.

From that point on I became very nervous, as I was exhausted already from “Big Tony”. I think I felt just as I had before the first time Eric Harvey, Steve Crisp, and I had done “Sandthrax”. Very unsure of what was to come or if I could hang. I think the fact that I was so far from home and so far out on bad roads was getting to my head a bit. Also that I didn’t realize how involved these canyons really were, the approaches and exits are no cake walk as far as effort are concerned.

It’s not like “Sandthrax” where you show up and your only like a ½ mile from the top… No; no, my friends. You drop down at least 500’ into a creek bed, then your approach starts from there (generally down stream then up and out the other side). Once you finish your canyon and you hike back up the creek bed, you get to climb back out (sandy grueling uphill at the top).

It wasn’t only the mile or so of hard high stemming ahead of us, it was the long approach and trek back on top of all of this that was really pushing the envelope for me. Considering “Tony” was the easiest of the X canyons and closest of them all and I was already feeling kind of worked (during and after), it’s easy to understand my butterflies.

The other issue was we had to get an early start (sunrise hiking basically) and I was whooped. I went to bed wondering what I was going to do, unsure of how I would react when the morning rolled around. I sure didn’t want to let the opportunity pass me by but I was tired, sore, and scared.

The morning went something along these lines:

‘Knock, Knock,’ “Hey man, it’s time to get up” (A. Ram). “Oh man ugh…” “damn it”
“you coming?”(A.R) “UGH… IDK… What do you think, based on how I did yesterday, will I hold up???”
“Uh, I don’t know man (as I’ve not been), probably…”
“Soooooo……” (A.R)
“Uh, alright I’m on board…”
It was a rough start, sorry bout being a pain in the ass Aaron. So I wake up and get dressed, and stuff my face as much as I can as I know I will need the calories today!
This was after all to be the longest approach of the entire trip. I also tried to hydrate decently.

We were off hiking with the sun rise and, as was the nature of the whole trip I would periodically have to stop and dump sand out of my shoes. We continue down the creek for a while until we spot the climb up to the head. We climb out and hike on nice ridges on domes until we arrive at our planned cache of food and water.

Aaron rounded up the stuff we wanted to cache and took it down. There is a break between the upper and middle section of “PINTAC” which allowed us to do that.

Next thing I know we’re off again and hiking around a good size formation (I think it’s called the great ridge). Once we skirt it we arrive at the head of the canyon, which promptly gets to business. We walk around a pot hole and maybe 100-200’ down canyon to a low angle slab which allows us to walk down into it onto flat ground.

We take this opportunity to suit up as we know it’s time, its obvious when you look down canyon that the fun has already begun. Off we go, moving through strenuous sections with steep walls covered in sand and a lack of useable features. Oh and some rotten rock thrown in for good measure.

We carefully move through the worst of it (the rotten bit) and down we go (1st 100 yrds or less)! On the ground already! Not for long though as just around the bend it forces us back up, and I mean literally we are climbing.

This was to be the nature of the majority of the canyon. It had lots of downs and ups, and a surprising amount of ground to stand on. The rests sure came with a price though, which was mostly paid for with lots of energy and muscle expenditure going back up.

Aaron in the lead, beautiful light!

At one point we had acknowledged at least 5 serious climbs, but I’d guess it was more like 10 by the time it was said and done. I don’t think any of them were harder then 5.9 or maybe even 5.8??? But they sure took lots of work, and were very long and unprotected for the majority. I’m sure they could be harder for some people as different people do things different ways (body proportions, and having a realistic body image play a big role too).
Aaron in the lead at one of the up climbs near the begining. Great light!

The canyon had 3 stemming sections with a little bit of open riparian features near the bottom The upper 2 are for sure the real deal, X rated goodness(WTF is XX anyway, I thought x was fall and be seriously injured/dead). Both are very physical and scary as the walls are un-friendly to travel (steep walls, very little to work with most of the time, sand and exploding moki balls, rotten stretches, silos etc.). Oh and don’t let me down play the exposure, it is rarely fleeting especially with all of the climbing.
Tons of air time!
Steve B working his way up one of the many long, physical up climbs.
I was getting pretty worked because I wore fleece pants under my shorty and jeans, thus overheating and dehydrating. Also I carried a trout in there and less snacks because of it and alas found no time or place to enjoy it until the end.

The problem was that there is still a section of r rated stemming after all of this madness! The stemming in this section is mostly a lot lower, but still a lot of work. I definitely felt like I was near “hitting the wall” and I wanted it to be over. My partners coaxed me to eat but I didn’t feel I could digest anything, and if I could it was a loss of energy diverted to doing so. Luckily for me Steve forced some water and power shots down me (thank you a ton), we powered through it and it was essentially over!

There were some really pretty stretches in the middle section. We were fortunate to at least have some good light through the day. There was lots of fluted, convoluted, sculpted stone through out the narrow bottoms of most of the canyon. Also a bit of moss graced the walls adding color. Occasionally you could shuffle along the floor, but only when it was obviously worth it as you were climbing enough already.

If that didn’t make it worth it already the open section is gorgeous, beautiful streaked ampetheaters and sheer walls. Also a very unique (to me) cathedral subway with awesome carved out old erosion patterns down the walls and floor. It also had great colors (moss and salt or calcium deposits perhaps), and spots where the land had slid from above and piled up. Gorgeous! (this paragraph mostly sums up the visual aesthetics of the open section of the canyon)

We come to a rappel and find no anchor, then we realize the water course takes you through poison ivy and we look up on the bench to the right where we find a cairn deadman anchor. We dismantle it and replace the webbing then re-assemble it and rap diagonally to avoid the ivy with a meat anchor (me) and last man at risk (me).

Eventually there is another drop with no anchor and after a fair bit of effort we find a way to avoid it and all of the poison ivy that seems to thrive all around it. This involved a bush whack up against the wall on the left (LDC) and down the precarious hillside once the ivy relents.

Then we arrive at the final rappel and find no anchor, this time it was really swept out. We work down to the lip and find a small pot hole and build an equalized deadman cairn anchor after a bit of rock hauling from a little ways up canyon. I go first then Aaron (on meat), and then Steve B takes the last man at risk position as he had the privilege of building it and wanted the honor.

We marched back out like zombies, taking a short break to share a trout. I don’t think there was too much time messing around but I could be wrong. The canyon took us 4.5 hours of stemming and 11 total car to car… BIG DAY!!! I took the next day off while Aaron, Landon, RAM and Jenny explored a new find. Steve hiked them in but otherwise also took the day off, we enjoyed the afternoon in Escalante.

Here's my partners photo's from PINTAC:…

Jon H · · MD/DC · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 121

Badass TR. I wish we had some canyons up here in the Northeast. Gotta find a way to move westwards!

Dirty Gri Gri, or is it GiGi? · · Vegas · Joined May 2005 · Points: 4,115

Love your adventurous canyoneering TRs! Kinda funny...when we were in Escalante a few months ago to do a canyoneering route, and were somewhat uncertain of the condition of the keeper pothole we'd be encountering, I said, "I hope we don't have to pull a Jason Kaplan."; It just slipped out of my mouth. I had flashbacks of your pictures of some of the sketchy looking moves you guys did on some of the canyoneering routes you posted awhile back.

Thanks for sharing!

We're spelunking this weekend, woohoo!! : )

Edit: Here's a crazy pic of yours you posted that I remember well.

going swimming in ice water Jan. 1st! Happy New Year! (this was just a little wade before the 3 REAL swims)


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

Nice Gigi, What cave are you going to? details???

Glad you enjoyed the TR's so far, there is still 1 more on it's way...

BTW thanks for the great reminder of the black hole, I need to get 2 wet suits of my own neo socks and a hood for next years Freeze Fest!

I think I know the move your talking about, you should check the video from my last sandthrax trip of the reversal of that spot...

We had a couple interesting ones in Big Tony as you can see with the pic of landon, I got to figure that one out first and on my own...

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

After resting in Escalante Steve and I went back to check on the others. They hadn’t come back down the 4x4 trail to where Jenny’s car was parked but it was still light so they had some time.

As dusk started to set in I started getting concerned, and I acted as I would like others to act if I was in the same situation. I’m sure it was a bit annoying as I approached Steve with the questions…

So… Uh… what time do we start to get concerned?
What is the possible severity? What do we do?

I of course am the nervous ninny, new kid on the block. I was erring on the side of over preparedness, and over analyzing what ifs. Steve was way more calm, cool and relaxed then I was, which provided a much needed balance. Mostly I’m trying not to be caught with my pants down, in a time of need.

We mull things over and decide to take both cars back out the 4x4 trail to the trail head. That way we can have anything we need to react to the situation at hand. At that point we would chill out there for a bit with our head lights on to aid in their trip back to the cars.

I don’t think either of us wanted to try to find our way down there in the dark to try to find them who knows where, and I for one was really relieved when I saw headlights coming down the road. Luckily this was not long after we got down the road so we didn’t have to deal with the worst of the road, which was the other part I was dreading.

We all meet up back at the junction at the hole in the rock road and say our goodbyes. This was after all RAM and Jenny’s last day on the trip, and we were sad to see them leave.

At the same time it was getting late and we had another huge day ahead of us, so we high tailed it back to camp. We made plans for the following day to get up early and tried to re-fuel. I had eaten a lot already trying to re-supply the calories I had drained in PINTAC, but I figured the more the merrier as I needed to stock up for the punishment ahead. I also tried to hydrate really well ahead of time, I think I was better prepared for this then I was for PINTAC.

PINTAC was semi fly by the seat of my pants style in comparison, I felt well prepared and confident going into Long branch (not to say there was no anxiety). The morning rolls around and this time I’m nowhere near as reluctant to get started. This time it’s more like Alright, sounds good!

We mosey down the road to the trail head and we are off, the departure time is close to the same as for PINTAC I think. I head down first as I tend to be slow, not to mention I have to dump sand regularly.
We are moving at a quick pace and I find myself jogging to keep up from time to time! Before long we are headed up sleepy hollow trying to find our climb out onto the rim to the right. We end up finding the spot that lets us up with out much trouble and we are walking on the rim.

As was a trend on this trip we left a cache of water, food and wet suites between the mid and lower stretch. This was lowered with our 130’ rope (which we needed for the lower section but nothing else) in Aaron’s Kolob pack.

Walking the middle stretch after dropping the cache was intimidating as all you could see was steep sheer walls leading into black doom as far as I was concerned. Staring at the beast seemed to make my confidence wane. I had to keep making remarks about it to make sure I wasn’t just being a wuss, prying for comments from my companions.

I was thinking, you know I could maybe skip a stretch. Maybe I’ll just wait at the break in between the 2 x sections and do the lower half…. NO!!! That would be BS I tell myself, you’ve come all this way, your just driving home tomorrow… It doesn’t matter how much this thing beats you up as afterward it’s all over.

We leave another cache of food and water and packs (mine and Landon’s) at the break between the upper and middle section. We hydrate pretty well, and we head up along the rim to the head of the canyon. The upper stretch really isn’t looking any friendlier, and I continue to make remarks of that nature.

At this point I think I had another bit of anxiety set in and I was like “well, if it’s too gnarly you can always bail at the 1st break” To be quite honest I don’t think this mentality died until I was at least midway through the upper section. I really had to get over self doubt, and come to grips with the fact that I came too far. Not to mention I had stuff cached in the lower stretch that I didn’t want to make someone else carry out.

Obviously I couldn’t live with myself if I had come this far just to chicken out when I am just getting what I am asking for.

Eventually we arrive at the head of the canyon and we suit up. This time I forgo the fleece, as I’ve left it cached down in the lower section.

We start down a wide stem/ friction slide down climb and the stemming begins, at first low as we pass through some wider openings that are like mini silo pot hole type deals. There was some water in the bottom so we all tried to keep our feet dry, and I think we all managed that task.

The first downclimb into long branch.

I believe that not long after this we encountered the first; and really, only serious up climb. I think a little walking preceded this section and what happened was the canyon pinched in front of us.

The problem was that the bottom of the climb started on a boulder with wide walls, the floor dropping below before pinching (a little Bombay like). At about mid chest height the walls pinched.

So you stand on the rock (which probably was once attached to the lower part of the wall on the left) lock off the upper body with arms out to the sides, and reach up on tip toes on one leg. The trick is that you need to get your knee up high enough to make progress.

All of this while trying to be gingerly as I was worried that the wall would blow out on me making the lip of the overhanging left wall that much higher, or worse…(I’m talking huge, rotted, hollow sounding blockage).

The only other option was to try to walk back, kind of under the death block and try to progress up the overhanging OW or squeeze chimney that starts above your waist.

This spot probably scared me more then anything else all day, as it seemed to have an uncontrollable risk factor. Like if the huge block came off and squished your ass, you don’t get much say in that.

I’m pretty sure that from this point on it was the real deal x-rated business until just before the break. It was very similar to PINTAC in the respect that it was very physical and unfriendly for the most part. Lot’s of steep, sandy, featureless, high and wide stretches had to be overcome.

I was feeling really on point this day and I feel like I ended up being up front for a decent portion of this section. We come to a drop that plays well to partner assists and Steve is down first giving me a thigh belay as I come down.
Steve B standing by the sweet arch!

After I pass under a beautiful arch/ natural bridge I work down another little down climb. I cleverly leaned/fell into the wall to my left which allowed me to turn and put my back on the wall and go down on shoulder blades and toes.

Shortly there after I come to what appears to be the “keeper” pot hole which signifies the end of the upper section.

This looked to be the complete package at first, with a tall exit, and a mylar balloon. I work closer and upon inspection I notice a hole in the lower right side of the pot hole…

Turns out I found the key to make the pot hole a wade in the park. I go down first after taking my jeans and pads off and I find the water is less then nip’ deep, more like waist deep. I venture over towards the semi camouflage natural bridge and duck under after taking a moment to really cool off and soak up some coolant in my shorty wet suit.
Aaron above the supposed "keeper".

Shortly after a couple smaller drier pot holes we arrive at the break and re-fuel and take about a ½ hour break. The upper stretch took us right around an hour so it seemed we were moving well. We didn’t want to stop for too long so we could keep our rhythm and good timing on the ball.

We also didn’t want to get over confident and caught with our pants down. After all the report we heard on the middle section was 4.5 hours with out touching the ground, no salvage, no respite for the tired. 4 hours of complete concentration was to be expected, every bit of progress to be hard earned.
Steve B in the middle stemming section.

For the most part the middle lived up to every bit of it’s hype, it had very sustained exposure and hard progress. As was the case in PINTAC, there was plenty of rotten rock to go around. Also there were plenty of wide sections to navigate, but not really any “show stopper” silos or anything too serious that I can recall.
Scared yet?
On and on it goes.
Workinn hard.
Steve B working low, Aaron a little higher.

There was a fair bit of down and up, but generally not to the ground which meant less lengthy, less draining climbs back up.

I was really in my groove up front, out on point and apparently I was a little hard to keep up with (Ah and how the tables have turned). I spent a lot, perhaps the most time up front this day, but tried not to be too greedy hogging the honor by letting others have the spot if they wanted it.

We tried to pace ourselves saying we’ll take a break around x minutes when we get to a decent spot (pods to sit in or ½ decent ledges to sit and re-fuel). It seemed to help keep the energy going by keeping the supply of fuel on tap. I however find myself pushing a little bit further often, “I’m just looking for the next good rest” I state…

The whole canyon so far has been beautiful, every bit of it worth seeing again. The shapes, textures, colors and variety are amazing. I’m taken aback as I never conceived that an x-rated stemmer could be so varied and beautiful. We are generally stemming at a height where the walls are straighter, wider, smoother, more parallel, and less featured.
How do you like that exposure?

Seems we have learned that it’s generally easier to stay high and deal with the exposure then it is to fight it and go down whenever possible. It seemed there are ample opportunities to go down lower and work the tighter, more aesthetic, sculpted and convoluted walls. However often it’s not worth it as you pay by climbing back out, but I do recall occasionally doing so (I recall seeing the ground from time to time but not often getting down to it).

Eventually I come to another down and up section and I notice lots of moss, in fact I think probably the largest concentration thus far in this canyon. It’s a beautiful emerald green chamber and with out thinking I shout out “The Green Room”!!! “Is it???”
The legendary "Green Room"!
Down in then back up and out the other side, a price I'll gladly pay to visit such a place.
A pic of me in the green room, by Aaron.

I’m a little surprised that we’ve arrived here this soon but I continue on as high as possible to avoid the moss as much as I can. Especially since you have to climb back up and out very shortly after climbing down into it, and the climb back up the moss has a reputation of being hard/ slippery.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the moss I encountered on the climb back up and out seemed to grip like dry astro-turf. Maybe I was just really on my game who knows.

At this point the only real worry left in my head is the silo that was reported as scary and crossed with a horizontal belay, but supposedly not too hard.

I can’t say for sure that I ever really acknowledged this spot, however there was one spot I didn’t feel like going down to cross this silo and did it in a full bridge. There were plenty of other spots that it could have been though, as there are lot’s of deep, steep, wide sections with big penalty points.

For some reason I get the feeling that wasn’t the only time I did that but it’s the only one that really stood out exceptionally.
Good Times!
Probly the best perspective ever for this type of thing... Photo by Aaron.

Sometime around this period we checked the clock and we were approaching 2 hours in the middle section. No one wanted to count chickens before eggs hatched but I half joked saying another 2.5 hours to go still hu boys? (based on the report). Also something was mentioned about maybe we’ll be done in 2.5 hours total, which I believe we could almost all agree would most likely be the case at that point in time.

Sure as hell, after all the un-relenting hard work and exposure we reached the final rap and we are in the open section 2.5 hours after starting the middle section. We only had to do the one rap at the end after replacing about 25’ of webbing.
Landon at the drop into the lower section.
Steve and Aaron working on the anchor.
Landon working down the drop into the bottom section.

We continue on to find Aarons pack had landed in the worst possible spot in this stretch of canyon. Completely surrounded by poison ivy, but somehow miraculously not on it, can’t say the same for the rope… I mostly lounge while the others work valiantly to retrieve the pack.
Cool! a native grainary.

I guess maybe I felt less compelled because I didn’t really need any of that stuff besides the rope, but that still doesn’t make up for it. I’ll admit it was kind of an A-hole move, and I’m going to attempt to pass the blame on my fatigue from racing along in the lead… Weak, I know…

After retrieving the bag everyone else gets their wet suits on and we lounge out for a while as we’ve earned it a bit. However I’m very anxious to get moving through these pot holes. So much so that I hardly eat, or hydrate and don’t feel compelled to put on my fleece (maybe I was kind of tired it seems).

Eventually I grow impatient and get through the first couple on my own, passing the first high on the left wall instead of risking what looked to be a nice, safe, semi short jump. I would often lower myself with my pack and daisy as a counter weight hand line into the hole, then swimming/ wade and beached whale out the back side.
Nice jumper that I avoided for some reason.
Nice! unfortunately I avoided the nice jump into the pool by scrambling on the right side.

On one of them I tried to do a pack toss to aid in getting out but the pack just got in my way. I come to a nice place to stop in the sun and wait for the others to get moving. I’m just dyeing to get a move on so once Landon is ready I take off through the next couple in the same fashion. I manage to work through all the pot holes and down climbs on my own and next thing I know I’m at the final drop and only real keeper of the whole canyon IMO.
This is like the lazy river in comparison to what's up top.
Beautiful reflections!
I wait here, looks a little chilly beyond here.
This took some trickery on my own, pack counter weight anchor, lower into soulders vs. toes stem.
The final drop into the riparian section, there is one hidden obsticle that lies between us and easy street.
I wait for the rope to arrive and then head off down into the hole that seemed totally avoidable. The anchor is a perfectly located natural bridge type deal. I get cocky and say “you call this a keeper???” right as I come close to even with the opposing lip. It didn’t look too bad but my depth perception was off from this vantage point.
Into the keeper!

The plan was to toss my pack with my webbing over the opposing lip and down the final drop to assist in climbing back out should I fail to do so on my own…

I tie off my belay and give the pack a couple girly tosses… I get made fun of and make a manly throw clear over the lip. I then proceed into the hole. I find it impossible to climb back out so I fold and go for the webbing/ pack counterweight. I end up hauling the sucker all the way back up onto the lip!

CRAP! In hind sight I could have gone down into the hole and filled my empty water bottles with pot hole water for weight. Then climbed back up the rope with the belay device attached pulling up slack and tying off at the lip again with my pack down in the hole with webbing attached. I would then pull it back up and toss it with the needed added weight, and hopefully succeed. Also my webbing wasn’t long enough and came taught before the pack touched down.

Anyway Aaron came down to my rescue and boosted me up in his hands, it wasn’t enough so I step up onto his shoulder. I then desperately fight to jump off and stem up and out after an extended stand and problem solving effort. I almost peeled shortly after getting off of his shoulder begging for “a little boost”.
Good luck!
Luckily he complied and I fought hard and made it, just barely! I waited and helped him out and we re-rigged the ropes so I could go all the way down (we still had to tie the 2 ropes together). I’m on the ground before long and next thing I know we are all down! It’s a done deal! Hell yea! WELL DONE BOYS!

We’ve made good time (even though we wasted 2 hours in the easy bottom section) and feel like relaxing a little but Steve insists car to car time is important too, we can still shoot for 10 hours if we don’t mess around too much he says. I feel semi reluctant as I’m sure we all do but we understand and comply fully after a little breather.

We arrived back at the car with a time of 9 hours 51 minutes car to car!

This was a hell of a canyon, perhaps my favorite yet to date, I’m sure I’ll be back.

As far as we know we got the 3rd known descent of this canyon as well!

Interview after the trip:…

Partners photos:…

That's all, Enjoy!

Dirty Gri Gri, or is it GiGi? · · Vegas · Joined May 2005 · Points: 4,115

Congratulations! So awesome, and inspiring! Escalante is a beautiful place I'd love to go back to. We're heading to Zion for some canyoneering this weekend- your pics, and TR you posted got me more excited to get out. Thanks again for posting, Jason!

BTW: some of those "moves" you do, I would not fuc*ing do! Unless I had no choice, that is.. ; (

And some of those keeper potholes look really intimidating!

Brian in SLC · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Oct 2003 · Points: 14,421

Why is Stevee B wearing clothes? Is he ok?

Ha ha...

Nice shots.

-Brian in SLC
(if I only had a slide scanner...!)

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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