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 Peak(s):  Canyoneering - 6,000 feet
 Post Date:  05/26/2011
 Date Climbed:   05/21/2011
 Posted By:  Matt Lemke

 A great weekend for Technical Canyoneering...May 21-22   

Not sure if Utah trip reports are welcome here but here goes...
I have a bunch of Utah TR's if people here don't mind me posting them.


So the first week of my field camp had ended and we just finished mapping the bedrock right around Delicate Arch and Mill canyon in the Moab area. It actually rained on us for 4 of the 5 days which was a statistical anomaly for Moab but the mapping weather really wasn't that bad. I got to walk all over the area surrounding Delicate Arch and see the perspectives on the arch no one else gets to see when they are only allowed on the trails.
Here's a few photos from the week while I was out mapping.

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For the weekend, four friends in my class us joined me for a fun filled weekend of technical canyoneering. We had to head to Durango Colorado by 8 pm on Sunday so we decided to caravan down to Monticello and all group together in one car and head to the Lake Powell area. By early Saturday afternoon we made it to the starting spot for the first canyon. The east fork of Leprechaun Canyon was the goal and after having a snack, the five of us were off.

The hike started with the usual cross country desert hiking on the Carmel formation. When we got to the Navajo contact at the upper end of the canyon we dropped in and started through the canyon. Keep in mind I tend to not put photos with people in them in my trip reports so these photos you'll see here may be hard to grasp the scale of these slots.

For a reference, these slots were on average only a couple feet wide. The walls towered high above our heads and the diffused sunlight lit the walls beautifully.

We slowly worked our way through the canyons and I managed to get some sharp photos with the point and shoot by holding my breath and standing very still.

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Once we exited the slot which was only about 3/4 mile long, we climbed up the steep slickrock to the west of the canyon and made the cross country walk back to the car.

We spent the rest of the evening by taking a short walk to a swimming hole known as Hog Springs and found a great spot to go cliff jumping and cool off.

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The sunset was spectacular that night and we camped just off Highway 95 at the lower end of Leprechaun Canyon. Cooked ourselves a nice dinner and had a big campfire.

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slept great despite my sleeping pad not being able to fit in the car with five people and all our gear. Had to leave it at my car in Monticello.

For Sunday we had a long difficult canyon planned. The Middle fork of West Butler canyon also known as Shanagains Canyon.

We woke pretty early and was off back up the Cedar Point Road. This road leads east off highway 95. I have done the upper quarter of this canyon before but was anxious to be able to do the whole thing now that we all had rappelling gear.

The day started out with the traditional mile or two desert walk. We had to walk around the west fork but we finally made it to the first drop into the Middle Fork after only a half hour. Again, these photos don't have people in them so you'll have to use your imagination. It's cool to imagine yourself in these canyons.

The lower part of this slot got so narrow (about 10 inches wide) for a 150 foot stretch that even I, at 6 foot 9 inches and weighing only 180 pounds had a VERY tough time getting through. I found myself in one of the most awkward positions ever...turned sideways on my knees with one hand in front of me and the other arm pointed straight up the canyon with my head turned facing the ground.

In other words, I had to slither my way through. The thought of getting stuck did cross my mind but after enough forcing I made it through. The other guys with me also had some trouble even being a foot shorter.

Here's the photos from inside this canyon.

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Last rappel into the pool


Once we finished the last rappel out of the slot it was smooth sailing down the open Butler Wash for about a mile until we were able to climb out the exit route, a faultline canyon, back to the top where the car was parked. This climb wasn't easy and it sucked the remaining energy out of us all as it was a difficult class 3 upclimb.

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Walking through Butler Wash

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Views from the climb out


This canyon took us the better part of six hours and we got to the car at 3:30 pm...just in the knick of time since we had a four hour drive ahead of up to make it to Durango by 8:00 that evening.

When we made it back to Monticello we all basically scattered to our own cars in a matter of seconds and didn't even bother to re-claim our gear.

We made it to class with only a half hour to spare. Out of all the people in the class we had the best weekend (Well, in my opinion). Week 2 of field camp was then underway right at 8. I talked to many of my other friends who spent the weekend in Arches NP or Canyonlands NP and took their time getting to Durango.

I like the pace we set however on Monday we were all soar and tired and were pretty sluggish during our mapping exercises... lol



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
mattpayne11


Man     2011-05-26 19:46:11
That looks so fun. I really need to get back out to Utah, it has some amazing stuff in it.


mtgirl



Very nice !     2011-05-26 21:56:58
I was also in the Moab area last weekend for some canyoneering and mountain biking. Did Rock of Ages (aka Pool Arch).....just incredible !


Matt Lemke


Cool!     2011-05-26 22:11:04
Yeah...weekend before last I mountain biked the Amasa Back trail, Poison Spider trail and the Moab Rim trail. Also went to Corona Arch and attempted to climb Mt. Peale in the La Sals and spend a beautiful night near La Sal pass by myself.


Dorje1018


canyons     2011-05-26 22:20:37
Gravel, Cheesebox, and Fry canyons were very wet from the last storm cycle. Still enough water to flow from pool to pool.


dude9478

North Wash     2011-05-27 08:08:34
Nice! We did Leprechaun east fork the weekend before last and a couple others in the area. Nice pics


dubsho3000


very cool     2011-05-27 11:11:01
I don't think anyone minds Canyoneering TRs - keep 'em coming! Nice photos - I'm wondering why you don't include people? It would be nice for scale, as you mentioned. I realize you might not want the ”hero” shots in your TRs, but we'll understand


Matt Lemke


People in photos     2011-05-27 11:14:35
Some of my friends don't like to be posted online in my TR's plus I simply like to have landscape shots make up TR's.
If you want to see some scale you can look at this FB gallery:
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1907840628525.109743.1617101963


mtgirl



Amasa Back     2011-05-28 13:21:27
How was the biking on Amasa Back, Matt ? I was considering that during my annual fall Moab trip. Have you biked near Fruita ? I actually like it better than Moab. Kokopelli, Horsethief Bench, Mary's Loop, and the Western Rim are amazing singletrack rides !


Matt Lemke


Amasa Back     2011-05-28 14:23:36
It wasn't bad at all. Were lots of jeeps though but the scenery was fantastic. One of these days I'll post the photos from my week in Moab but I have limited access to a computer all summer. Been to Grand Junction many times but never biked there. May have to check that out.


randalmartin


Great Report...Beautiful photos     2011-05-29 22:33:32
As someone who has never done that sort of thing I suspect that normal maps are not completely useful since you are dealing with slots that wouldn't even show up. Can you give a newbie a recommended book or source for learning about it?


Matt Lemke


Book     2011-06-04 19:45:23
Absolutely! Look at Michael Kelsey's books. He has about 5-6 of them that act as a canyoneering guide. Best Canyoneering guidebooks out there.

He has titles:
Non-technical canyon hiking guide to the Colorado Plateau
Technical Canyoneering guide to the Colorado Plateau
Hiking and canyoneering Utah's Robbers Roost and Henry Mountains
Canyon hiking guide to the San Rafael Swell
Boaters Guide to Lake Powell

He may have more but those are the ones I have. Get out to Utah! Thats my second home...You'll love it



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