This particular slot is good if you are looking for more of a challenge. There are some tricky areas that will test your canyoneering skills. The first surprise is one of the first ledges with a severe undercut. Most of the team that rapeled over the edge ended up swinging into the wall, and sometimes upside down headfirst. It taught us the importance of helmets and not letting go of the rope under any circumstances. Once we had someone at the bottom, they could hold the rope and perform an emergency belay in case anybody lost control on the descent.
Other challenges included the creation of an ad-hoc anchor where there were no convenient boulders or bolts nearby to attach our webbing for one of the raps. We applied some of our previous training by creating a wedge shaped anchor arrangement with smaller rocks that we were able to scrounge nearby. Much like an arch, it is important to maintain the shape by keeping the tension on during the descents. This was easy when you have someone up top to help meat anchor as a backup to the rock arrangement, but requires some real trust in your anchor building for the last one down.
The most exciting part of this trip is the final rappel (as shown in images 14, 16, and 18). It is about a 150' free rappel into a large alcove, looking fairly ominous from the top pour-off. Given the height, a single line configuration was necessary. As a result, braking is a more important consideration, that I realized on the way down after picking up a bit too much speed. After having the opposite problem on a previous canyoneering trip through Pine Creek in Zion with a wet rope, I may have under-estimated the friction requirements on this rapel by using the non-teeth side of my ATC belay device.
On this particular trip we had Cliff Hall, Don Van Dyke, Randy Campbell, Tucker Hammerstrom, and myself. The overall route took a bit longer than expected due to getting backed up behind a group of french ladies and their guide who were taking their sweet time, but not offering to let us pass. As a result, we spent most to the day to get through this canyon, cooling our heels at the various rap points, getting back to the vehicles at sunset, after the usual haul back out on the open sandstone slopes via a more open path.
More background of this area can be found here.
All content and images are property of Stephen Fischer Photography, copyright 2014. Last updated: 11/20/2014