Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bluejohn Squeeze Fork

On March 18th, 2015, Mark B, Tony, Micah, Shawn, Andy and I challenged ourselves by heading through the Squeeze Fork of Bluejohn Canyon.

This canyon was very scenic with multiple challenging downclimbs (optional rappels). The third downclimb is about 25 feet and can be done two ways: downclimbing directly, or; stemming over a silo at about 28 feet, then sliding down the hallway on the far side of the silo. I opted to go over the silo and found this to be a rewarding step in my canyoneering skill progression (not bragging, it really was fulfilling). A bit scary, requiring full concentration, but not too difficult.

The crux was challenging, both physically and psychologically. The canyon narrowed to about 12 inches. We stemmed far from the floor, having no idea exactly how high we were. It looked like about 10 feet, but it was actually 30, the bottom 20 feet being pitch black. A fall all the way to the floor was entirely possible. In some spots falling and getting hopelessly stuck was also possible. Flashbacks of my bad day in Trachyotomy surfaced and were suppressed. "Think happy thoughts of Middle Lep", I said to myself.

Tony led the group through the crux. He is the right size and the right skill level to avoid trouble in spots like that. We were all happy hear him descend safely to the pitch-black ground level, completely invisible from above. His coaching from that vantage point helped us all avoid trouble.

We then headed down the fantastic East Fork, Micah and I headed back to the cars while the others climbed Middle Bluejohn. All of us completed our adventures at the same time, 6 hours car-to-car.

It was an outstanding day to conclude a great trip, with friends new and old.

Looking into the silo that some of us chose to stem over.

Mark heading down after crossing the silo.

Heading towards the crux.

Andy reaching the floor of the canyon after completing the crux narrows.

Mark in the East Fork.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Larry Canyon

March 17th, 2015, Mark B, Micah, Tony, Aaron, Perry, Cole, Shawn, Andy and I headed down Larry canyon. This was Cole's first canyoneering experience. Aaron and Perry of the Okie Crew again proved their toughness the day after completing a frantic Lost Park / Smallcatraz combo.

Larry Canyon proved to be a classic, perhaps not as good as neighboring Alcatraz, but very close.

Our car-to-car time was 6 hours with a shuttle (recommended for sane people).

Special thanks to the Okie Crew for carrying extra gear. You guys are tough as hell. We hope to do more canyons with you all sometime soon.

Canyon eye candy below. Special thanks to Micah for sharing his photos. Enjoy!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Lost Park Canyon

On March 16th, 2015, Mark B, Sam, Micah, Aaron, Michael, Cole, Shawn, Andy and I ventured through Lost Park Canyon. Aaron, Michael and Cole drove all the way from Oklahoma to have some fun in the desert during spring break. We deemed them the 'Okie Crew'. They are all great guys. This was their first canyoneering experience.

Lost Park is a good canyon with a lengthy section of tight narrows. Clothes were shredded. Those without armor suffered. Fun was had by all.

Our car-to-car time was a blistering 5.5 hours, mostly due to expert navigation by Mark B. The slog-to-canyon ratio is not very good. I'd recommend doing this canyon once, but most of us probably won't return.

Special thanks to Mark B for his creative and efficient navigation on this convoluted route.

Micah stemming.

Cole doing what I am doing.

Sam Goodhue upclimbing.

Andy completed this downclimb unassisted. A stage dive would have been much easier.

Mark B retreats while saying, "Thou shalt not get hurt while avoiding water." Michael below.