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.

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