Monday, November 11, 2013

Alcatraz Canyon

On the crisp morning of November 11th, 2013, Mark B, Dorothy and I ventured through Alcatraz Canyon.

Sporting the current Alcatraz fashion.

The famous bumper rappel.

Dorothy on a tall downclimb.  Mark snapping photos.

After doing Not Mindbender recently, and only being somewhat impressed, I wondered how good The Roost could actually be. Boy, did I underestimate…

Alcatraz is one of the finest slots on the planet. Deep, dramatic and exquisitely sculpted, its continuous narrows seem like they will never end. Though physical and challenging, I never had a moment where I wished to escape. It was a wondrous journey, and a canyon I hope to revisit many times in the future.

I’d read that there were some unnecessary bolts in Alcatraz, so we went prepared to remove them. Before you object, dear reader, let me first describe the location of these bolts.

The first two bolts were located in a very scenic hallway, about 10 feet from the canyon floor. Their placement was inexplicable because no serious obstacles where anywhere in the vicinity of the bolts. We saw nothing bigger than a 5 foot downclimb within 100 feet downcanyon.

The third bolt was above a 20 foot chute. It looked tricky. We unearthed a chokestone upcanyon and extended webbing from it. This proved to be a huge waste of time.

We removed the bolt above the drop, patched it, then Dorothy and Mark rapped off the chokestone. It soon became obvious that the drop was an easy downclimb/capture. I removed the webbing from the chokestone and downclimbled the top half of the drop. I then surrendered to my teammates who helped me to the floor. Very safe and very easy.

Mark removing a bolt while balancing on my shoulder.

Here I am applying epoxy putty.
I'm perched about 6 feet from the ground, pinned between the walls.

One of the holes we patched. Dark and blurry.

The hardware we removed.

Here are the tools I elected to bring:
1 adjustable wrench
1 flathead screwdriver
1 pair of Vice-Grips
1 tube of epoxy putty
1 pair of latex gloves

A lightweight and versatile kit, each piece proved somewhat useful. It only took minutes to remove the bolts and patch the holes. Once the epoxy was set in each hole, I smoothed the surface with a very wet rock, taking care not to smear epoxy on the canyon wall. I then patted sand/mud on the epoxy and left it alone. After the next flash we will see how good our handiwork is. Hopefully nobody will see it at all.

Special thanks to Tom Jones for sharing his bolt removal knowledge and wall patching technique.

Special thanks to Dorothy for waiting patiently while Mark and I removed the bolts and repaired the walls.

Extra special thanks to the strong and talented Mark B for tilting at windmills with me.

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