Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bull Valley Gorge

On October 13th, 2015, I finally got to do a lap through Bull Valley Gorge.

Some backstory:

The first time I saw this canyon was in 1998, while driving through the Grand Staircase. I saw it out of the corner of my eye as I zoomed across a narrow bridge, hit the brakes, backed up, then gawked in amazement. I got out of my car. Is that 400 feet deep? Why the hell is there a car lodged underneath this bridge? Should I even be parked on this bridge??

Back then the internet sucked, and my maps of Utah sucked too. I could not find a map that showed the name of that drainage. I actually made a special trip to the maps department of the University of Utah library to figure it out.

I looked and looked for beta on the canyon, but none existed (however, I did find the history of the truck under the bridge). So, I visited The Gorge again in 2001, determined to downclimb it. But I had no skills and no rope, so I was stopped by the 10 foot drop near the head of the canyon.

Years went by and the occasional photo of The Gorge surfaced on the internet. I visited The Gorge again in 2011, driving towards Page, but had no time to descend it. It continued to call to me.

Then, a couple of months ago, I read about an easy exit. *gasp!* Time to go back. Again.

The Gorge was even better than I had imagined, very scenic. Worth keeping on my to-do list for the past seventeen years. A fun journey, finally complete.

Easy downclimb when dry. Easy rappel when muddy.

Steph is up on the bridge, but you can't really see her in this photo. Can you see the car that creates the foundation for this bridge? It has been there since 1954. Three men were in the truck when they drove into Bull Valley Gorge, killing all three.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Round Valley Draw

On October 14th, 2015, Stephanie, John, Drew and I ventured through Round Valley Draw.

This canyon fit John's abilities well, and it was fun to watch him kick some ass. He did the entire route by himself (assisted at three drops). I hope he reads this report someday so it will remind him of how proud I was of his effort and positive attitude. The boy just radiates enthusiasm, there is no denying, it is contagious.

Our little guy, Drew, well... he did not like the canyon very much... probably because we dragged him through like a piece of luggage. It was no small feat to get him through safely. Let's just say that Round Valley Draw will be the last slot canyon that our kid-carrier will ever see!


The 2nd Downclimb

The 3rd Downclimb


I’d bet this canyon is normally muddy because it is deep, dark and cool. The mud has a high percentage of clay, very sticky, the type that heavily coats your boots, so upclimbing the canyon would be annoying and somewhat difficult, and is not recommended.

The exit route from of the bottom of the canyon is easy. The route back to the car is also very easy.

We encountered three noteworthy drops:

10 foot downclimb (easy/moderate)
15 foot downclimb through a rabbit hole (very easy)
7 foot downclimb (wide and overhung, challenging with muddy boots, easy partner assist)

The canyon was excellent, but a terrible choice for a small child in a kid-carrier. Drew hated the experience, and we had our hands full getting him through safely.

Our older son, John (4.5 years), had a great time in the canyon. However, it was an arduous task for him to climb the loose and steep exit route. Because of the hardships faced on the exit, we recommend leaving kids younger than 7 at home.

Helmets are recommended for everyone on this route. Harnesses are recommended for smaller children. We recently upgraded John’s harness to the Eldrid Fraggle II and it is awesome, a HUGE improvement from his sketchy Petzl Simba harness. All groups should bring a rope for lowering packs and assisting others.