| The Slot Canyons of Arches
March 03, 2012
~7.6 Miles, ~1,300 Gain
Trailhead: Winter Camp Ridge Road (4WD probably a good idea)
I dropped Dwight off with his friends Thursday night and we departed our separate ways Friday morning. He was planning on mountain biking while I was planning on some more canyons. Back in town, I was able to get ahold of some of my friends driving up from Durango and decided to meet in Crescent Junction. MMI and Lost and Found Canyons were on our mind. I met them around 9:45 AM and we started making our drive to the trailhead.
The directions for the trailhead if driving from Grand Junction:
Take Exit 204 for Cisco. Head south on the road and take the first right turn onto the frontage road heading west which is ~.1 miles from the exit. Follow the frontage road for ~1.9 miles and make a angling left turn at a pipeline gauge. Go another ~6.8 miles and make a left turn onto another dirt road. Travel ~3.8 miles and make another left turn where there should be a sign for an arch. Follow this road for ~1.2 miles and make a right turn onto a less traveled dirt road. Take this road ~2.8 miles until a gate at a fence. This is the trailhead.
After a somewhat short drive, we reached the parking area at the only fence in the area. We all geared up and started our hike to the head of MMI canyon around 11:15 AM. From the gate we followed the road west-southwest for about 100 yards before we started our trek cross country to the right side of a flat small butte in the distance. Once on the northern side of the butte, we found the mouth of MMI canyon.
The head of MMI Canyon.
Heading to the northern fork of the mouth of MMI canyon, we found our webbing anchor for our first rappel. The beta we had was a bit incorrect for what the first rappel entailed. In theory, we could do a single rappel (200 feet) to the bottom of the floor of the canyon. Looking at the angle and how far back the anchor was we figured the rope pull would be near impossible from the bottom. I started down first and found a decent webbing anchor around a boulder (~80 feet) and decided to let everyone else do the rappel in one stage . Once everyone else was at the bottom, I re-rigged the rope and descended on my second stage ~60 foot rappel.
Setting up for the first rappel into MMI.
First stage rap of the first rap in MMI. (Photo by Tony)
First rap into MMI. (Photo by Tony)
Dave making the first part of the rap into MMI.
Dave on the 2nd half of the rap in MMI.
At the base of rappel, we were deposited in a boulder field which we had to crawl under and down to gain the base of the canyon. The walls quickly opened up and we encountered our second rappel. Two of us down-climbed the short drop while the other 3 set up a quick anchor off of a tree and rappelled down (~8 feet).
Wider canyon after the first rap in MMI.
Without much walking after the second rappel, we reached our third and final rappel. It was a good thing we found a long webbing anchor since there are several scarring rope groves on the lip of the drop. Due to having 2 different ropes, in theory 60M each, we were unsure if one rope, given the beta we had (mentioned a 100 foot drop), would reach the bottom. We set up a double rope rappel and made the drop ~80 feet (a single 60M should do).
Tony on the “3rd” rap in MMI.
Jessi on the 3rd rap in MMI. (Photo by Tony)
Bottom of the 3rd rap. (Photo by Tony)
Bottom of the 3rd rap in MMI. (Photo by Tony)
Ah !@! The rope wasn't pulling. Everyone joked as I thoroughly enjoyed jugging back up the rope with a ascender/prussic mix. The knot got jammed hardcore in a rope groove/boulder near the top. A short re-rig later and I was underway. That ate up some time. Continuing down canyon we found our slickrock exit on the south side of the canyon. It would be hard to describe but was marked by a cairn. The ramp was a steep slickrock climb to the rim and some people in our party were not excited about ascending an somewhat exposed steep slickrock ramp.
Enjoying the jug back up the rope.
Off to exit option B. We continued slogging down canyon until we intercepted Lost Spring Canyon and then headed up/north canyon to the base of Fish Seep Draw canyon. ~.4 miles up Fish Seep Draw, was a northern side canyon. This was our exit. A bit tricky to find at first, but an easy walkout exit to the rim.
Beautiful Canyon lower in MMI.
Sweet overhang in MMI.
Covert Arch at the bottom of MMI canyon.
The walk out exit in Fish Seep Draw.
Once on top, we split up. It was getting late and if all of us descended Lost and Found, it would certainly be and dark. We only had about 2 hours of daylight left. Tony and I work together fast so we headed to the top of Lost and Found. Within no time we were working our way down canyon. I could tell this canyon was going to be a bit more spectacular than MMI.
Looking down Lost and Found Canyon.
Narrows in Lost and Found.
In no time we reached our first drop; an overhanging ledge ~30-40 feet through a neat arch. The anchor was a single bolt that was high, and hard to reach, on the right side of the canyon. After the drop, the canyon slotted up for a bit and we reached our second drop with a double bolt anchor. Again, our beta was off a bit as we were expecting a 90 foot drop. The second drop was only about 50-60 feet. At the base of the second drop, was a large log jam that we had to down-climb through to get to the base of the canyon. The down-climb around the log jam was a bit tricky. Maybe the rappel was 90 feet if it didn't include the log jam?
Tony on the first rap in Lost and Found.
Me coming down the first rap in Lost and Found. (Photo by Tony)
Good light in the narrows of Lost and Found. (Photo by Tony)
Tony at the start of the second rappel in Lost and Found.
Log jam at the bottom of the second rap in Lost and Found. (Photo by Tony)
Heading down canyon, the narrows were spectacular. I wasn't expecting narrows this good in this part of Utah. Again, it slotted up and was a bit tight. All of a sudden the canyon opened up and we were positioned on the top of our final 130-140 foot rappel. We had only one “60 M” rope so I set up a biner block and Tony started down first. Luckily, I packed some extra webbing as our pull line was a bit short.
At the top of the long 3rd rappel in Lost and Found.
Tony starting down the 3rd rap in Lost and Found.
Me on the last rap in Lost and Found. (Photo by Tony)
From the bottom of the third rappel, we quickly hiked to the junction of MMI canyon. We then hiked ~150 yards up MMI to our previously scouted slickrock exit. Daylight was starting to fade fast. Climbing out the slickrock ramp was steep but overall not too bad (4th class). I was definitely glad to have well soled shoes. A bit exhausted, we reached the rim as the sky really started to darken. We made it back to the car just a little after dark. Good timing. Now, it was time for some brews.
The key to the 4th class exit (Taken earlier in the day).
Tony on the slickrock exit.
Sunset near the car.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):