Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fat Man's Misery

Calvin, Nick and I ventured down Fat Man’s Misery on Saturday July 14th, 2012. This was their 2nd technical canyon descent. Their first canyoneering experience was in Keyhole Canyon the previous evening.

Check out the video of our adventure HERE

Saturday morning we were greeted with a serious rainstorm. We slept in and casually ate breakfast knowing that our chances of canyoneering were fading with every passing minute.

Optimistically, we headed to Zion in hopes that the weather would clear up. We were intently watching the satellite imagery of the storm on the way. It was looking more promising by the minute as the bulk of the storm headed north.

Just as we reached the trailhead the cloud cover lifted and the sun started shining. We started down the trail at 11:20 AM. The temperature was a refreshing 65 degrees. We were greeted with the chorus of hundreds of happy frogs enjoying the fresh rainwater as we headed quickly toward the canyon.

After a couple of hours of speedy hiking we arrived at the first rappel. The canyon was full of water due to the storm the night before. Not noticing that the first rappel was bolted, I started digging around at the front edge of a pothole looking for a chokestone to rappel from. While doing this I pulled a large stone loose at the front of the pothole creating a bathtub-like drain. Perhaps a couple hundred gallons of water started flowing down the canyon. This created a nice little waterfall for us to rappel down. Sweet!

The rest of the canyon was fantastic! It was full to the brim with fresh-ish water from the night before. There are many, many problems to solve in the technical section. It took much longer than we anticipated. Many of the downclimbs would be simple when dry and require some care to negotiate when wet.

Eventually we arrived at Parunuweap and headed up the exit at 7:30 PM. It was cool and humid while the sun was setting, maybe 75 degrees at the warmest. A heavy cloud cover loomed overhead and only sprinkled on us occasionally.

We arrived at the Checkboard Mesa exit just as it got dark. We busted out some headlamps and kept hiking. We arrived back at the car at 10:40 PM. 11 hours, 20 minutes. Whew.

Just a couple of thoughts about the Fat Man:

We were very lucky that the weather was so cool. That hike would have been horrible; nay miserable, if it were hot. Seriously, if Misery is on your checklist, save it for a cool day.

We were somewhat lucky it didn’t rain while we were in the slot. We did make an informed decision with great satellite images of the passing storm system minutes before we started hiking. It was a calculated risk that I’m glad we took.

If you are heading to Misery for your first time, don’t kid yourself into thinking you can hike it in 8 or 9 hours (like some beta says, no disrespect). Like I said, there are lots of problems in there to solve. We were moving as fast as we could and it took us 11 hours. Now that we know how to conquer all of the obstacles, yes we could complete it in less than 9 hours.

Finally, it seems that people don’t talk much about how great that slot there really is. Everyone seems focused on bitching about the exit hike. So, for the sake of emphasis, the slot in Fat Man’s is amazing!! The grotto at the end of the slot is jaw-dropping and eye-popping.  So, get out and do it if you have 11 hours to spare on a cool day.

 One of many high-fives given during this day.

This is the view from the top of the overhanging rappel. Intimidating? 
For Calvin and Nick, it sure was. It was their first 35 foot rappel.

We lived! Not so scary from the bottom.

With a branch in my right hand I'm sliding wood chips and foam across the surface of a pothole.

An arch in the grotto. Amazing!

The second, larger arch in the grotto.

No comments:

Post a Comment