| Leprechaun Canyon Main Fork, East Fork.
~6.4 Miles, ~1600 Gain.
April 5, 2011
Having to work an extra day threw a wrench into my plans but I was still able to salvage a “full” day of canyoneering. After work, I drove down to Durango and met up with my friend Tony and the next day we woke up and made the quick 3 ˝ hour drive to the North Wash. Originally we were planning on completing the entire drive on the 4th and do a short mini slot that evening. Nevertheless, it was nice to break the long drive into two sections. We arrived at the North Wash, and after consolidating gear, we were hiking towards Leprechaun at 11:30 AM. The approach wasn't too bad, as we hiked up slick rock to gain the rim of the canyon on the west side. With topo in hand, we were able to find the entrance to Main Leprechaun without too much difficulty.
Approaching Main Lep.
The very start of Main Lep.
There are two very small forks at the start of the main canyon, and we entered on the western fork with a short 30-40 foot rappel off of a deadman anchor. Shortly thereafter was a second 40-50 foot rappel. After this rap, there was enjoyable canyon and we meandered our way downward. Several down-climbs and some slides. The third rappel we encountered was off of a chockstone which had an awkward start. It seemed a chimney down for the first 5 feet was the best way to start.
Tony on the first rap in Main Lep.
Looking down the first rap in Main Lep. Photo by Tony.
Tony on the second rap.
Tony on the third rap.
Things got narrow and the travel slowed down as managing a rope bag and a pack became a lot of work. At one point, it opened up and there was a tricky 10-15 foot down-climb. There was an anchor about 20 feet back that Tony rappelled off. Since it was a short drop and looked down-climbable, I slung the rope off of a fin on the right side (looking down canyon), and used the rope as a handline. Then things got tight again. Being a caver, I found the length of the tightness in the slot too long and somewhat obnoxious. Not to get me wrong, it was still fun and beautiful.
Start of the slots.
Making my way through the slot. Photo by Tony.
Tight spot in Main Lep. Photo by Tony.
Climbing around in Main Lep. Photo by Tony.
Wide section in Main Lep. Photo by Tony.
I think we got lucky. As we worked our way through the tight slot, the sun was beaming straight down on us. At last, we made it out of the tight section and had a down-climb into a dark chamber. Once in the chamber, there was some crawling under and around boulders. Then another controlled slide to the bottom where we walked out into a beautiful deep wide canyon. The sun made for some excellent photos.
More neat rock.
What are the odds of that kind of light?
Wide section in at the end of Main Lep.
End of Main Lep. Photo by Tony.
The end of Main Lep. Photo by Tony.
Near the exit.
As we hiked out, the walls descended and we looked for an easy exit on east side which we found. We scrambled up the slickrock back to the canyon rim and hiked towards the entrance for East Leprechaun. The start of East Leprechaun had an interesting but short down-climb. Within 15 feet of the down-climb was a short 20-25 foot rappel. It was enjoyable slot for a few hundred feet with many down-climbs. The canyon opened up again and we slogged for a bit until we reached rappel number two which was only about 20 feet. Continuing downward, we reached the third rappel which was about 30 feet anchored off a deadman in a unique setting. After the rappel there was one last down-climb to join with the main fork. At the junction there was some angering graffiti. WTF is up with these Gumby's?
Tony on rap 1 in East Lep.
Tony on rap 2 in East Lep.
Second rap in East Lep. Photo by Tony.
Second rap in East Lep. Photo by Tony.
Down-climb in East Lep.
Again, more neat rock.
Somewhere in East Lep.
East Lep. Photo by Tony.
Tony on the 3 rap in East Lep.
A familiar hike out as we continued through the tall canyon which became a sandy wash which took us back to our car arriving at 6:15 PM. This is where we camped. I thought East Leprechaun was more enjoyable than the main fork due to the fun down-climbs and beautiful narrows and just a bit less work.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):