| Short & Sweet: U-Turn Canyon et al.
March 02, 2012
~1.9 Miles, ~600 Gain (For U-Turn Canyon and 4980)
Trailhead: South TH for Park Avenue (U Turn Canyon)
A snowy forecast. The result? A desert trip. Dwight and I met up Thursday night and made the long drive to Moab. We ended up camping out in the Kane Springs area since we were planning on aiding a few short towers in the area.
To our surprise, we woke up to an inch of fresh snow. The aid climbing wouldn't mind the snow fortunately. From our campsite, we walked over to the base of Happy Turk Hoodoo. This definitely required a cheater stick to clip the first bolt which was a bit tricky due to just having a small chain link to clip. As I made my way up the tower, I felt the second and the last bolts were a bit spaced apart; looks like I need to work on my top stepping.
Aiding up Hoodoo
Summit of Hoodoo
Rap off of Hoodoo
After the Happy Turk Hoodoo we made the short drive to Homer and Marge. Another short aid but on some really questionable mud rock which will make a fine warm up for the fishers. The opening 5.5 moves were a bit awkward with an unpleasant off-width crack. At the first bolt, I realized it was a good thing I brought rivet hangers as one was needed. Although Homer and Marge was a neat formation, the quality of climbing, even for aid, was pretty low.
Aiding up Homer and Marge.
Homer and Marge.
Dwight had enough towers for the day so we decided to run a short canyon since we were meeting up with some of Dwight's friends later in the evening. U-Turn Canyon fit the bill with point 4980 as a bonus. We made the short drive to Arches and parked at the south trailhead for Park Avenue. We headed west on the road and followed a wash to an angling ramp. A few class 3 moves later we were on the top of the angling ramp and a short hike to the southwest we were on the summit of 4980. Amazing views. We returned to the top of the class 3 gully and followed a slick rock rim east bypassing two slickrock domes to the top of U-Turn Canyon.
Angling ramp up to Point 4980 and the beginning of U-Turn Canyon (same ramp for Tier Drop and Not Tier Drop Canyons)
Class 3 ramp to U-Turn.
Views from the summit of 4980. I love the desert.
Near the entrance to U-Turn.
Looking down the start of U-Turn Canyon.
Heading down canyon, Dwight and I were able to down-climb the first 10 foot rappel. The bolt for the first rappel appeared to be in good shape (located under a large boulder on the right side of the canyon). The second 15 foot rappel came up quick and we found the two bolts located on the left side of the canyon behind two toad stools. Shortly after the second rappel the canyon opens up and the views are amazing. The Tower of Babel is quite sobering.
Location for the bolt for the first rap.
Looking down canyon from the top of the first rap.
Location for bolts on rap 2.
Looking back up rap 1 which can be down-climbed.
Looking down rap 2.
View from the base of rap 2.
Dwight on rap 2.
We angled down some slickrock and found our short 3rd rappel of only about 10 feet. Since the sandstone was damp and slick, we decided to not risk a tricky down-climb. Our anchor for our third rap was a sandstone horn.
Dwight on rap 3.
Dwight on rap 3.
From the broad ledge at the bottom of the 3rd rappel, we hiked northeast to "Wily E. Coyote" Rock. We scouted around for a hike-off ledge but didn't find one; however we did find a rappel anchor near the base of "Wily E. Coyote" Rock for a fourth and final rappel. Since we only brought 2 30 M ropes, it was very questionable if our rope was going to reach the bottom (guessing 110 feet). We hiked back to the base of our third rappel and found the normal anchor for the 4th rappel in the middle of the canyon. The last rappel was about 60-70 feet down a steep angling ramp.
Walking the ledge to "Wily E. Coyote" Rock
"Wily E. Coyote" Rock
View from "Wily E. Coyote" Rock
Dwight on rap 4.
Short and sweet. We hiked northeast from the bottom of the 4th rappel and intercepted the Park Avenue trail back to our car. Outstanding little canyon and well worth the views.
Still having some time before meeting up with Dwight's friends, we decided to go exploring. From the Park Avenue trailhead we made the short drive to the Garden of Eden parking lot. I was thinking about climbing Owl Rock real fast but we decided to check out Ham Rock instead. From the Garden of Eden parking area, we hiked to the north side of Ham rock. Odd, there was a bikers helmet at the base of the a steep dihedral. I noticed some bolts at the top of the dihedral and soloed up to the bolts.
All Dwight and I brought for protection was about 60 feet of webbing. I set up a quick hip belay for Dwight with the webbing and he followed me up. We took a sinuous route up slickrock ledges before we were finally thwarted by a steep hand crack (5.7?) only about 7 feet tall ~80 below the summit. The moves wouldn't be that difficult but the moves were tricky in boots and the consequences of falling would be bad news. Various knots in the webbing were shoved into the crack hoping to gain a short aid advantage. No luck. It was beginning to get dark so we retreated back to the car. Might have to go back to bag this unique tower.
Dwight on a ledge system on Ham Rock.
Elephant Butte (no photoshop on that one)
Route for U-Turn Canyon and Point 4980.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):