Sunday, January 29, 2017

No Kidding

On January 29th, 2017, Tony, Meg, Tom, Steph and I did a quick lap through No Kidding.  Not much of a story, but we did have a great time and took a few fun photos.

The following photos are courtesy of Meg Allyn.

Monoxide - West Fork

On January 29th, 2017, after a fun morning in No Kidding, we did a quick lap through the West Fork of Monoxide. There isn’t much of a story to tell, it is a pretty straightforward canyon. However, we did discover four needless bolts that might be a fun repair project for somebody.

Please send me a message if you plan to pull the bolts in Monoxide. I’d be happy to help make your repair job look invisible.

Tom and Tony downclimbed the ledges to the right.  That looked hard.

Amateur hour. There is a nice chokestone anchor 10 feet behind these bolts. 

 Amateur hour continued. These bolts were tied to a deadman with four different pieces of webbing, some 15 feet away. Can't be too safe!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Burr Slot

On January 28th, 2017, Steph, Tom Collins, and I stemmed, pushed, and climbed our way through Burr Slot.

Burr is relatively short, but it packs a punch. The technical portion lasted maybe 45 minutes and started out pretty mellow. The first obstacle was a wide-ish 15-20 foot silo that Tom and I stemmed over (going over was optional, a learning moment for me). That was followed by a long stretch of high stemming with no penalty points, the slot below was too narrow for anyone to fall into.

Soon we found ourselves at a REAL silo, 40 feet tall with water in the bottom. The entry side was offwidth; Tom downclimbed it with some difficulty by the time we arrived. Halfway down on the entry side of the silo was a rappel anchor draped around a chokestone, a seemingly desperate option because the entry side was so narrow.

Tom suggested that we go over the silo then downclimb on the exit side. I went first, feet-to-back, making good use of a shelf on the foot side of the silo. It was a hair-raising and serious move. A fall there would have meant broken bones followed by a slow, wet, frigid death. As I crossed, my focus was so intense that the world below me vanished, for a few seconds it was a black void. No Tom, no silo, just black. After making it across, it was sobering to look down into the silo. It was another step forward in the progression, and it felt good.

I downclimbed the far side of the silo. Like the entry side, it too was offwidth, but a slightly friendlier geometry. I then rested in the slot below, feet still not on the ground, as I watched Steph cross high above.

Steph began to the downclimb the exit side of the silo, then started to struggle. I could see no way to help her from my perch below. Then Tom then made an amazing move. He stemmed up 25 feet to Steph and took the weight of her pack. He then offered to let her use his shoulder as a foot hold (!!). He stayed just below her on the way down. Keep in mind, from the top it was a 40 foot fall backward into a wet pothole, or a 35 foot fall forward into a tapering slot. It was the most incredible assist I have ever witnessed.

Then the canyon got HARD. The slot after the silo was an unfriendly width at every level and tried to funnel us into the bottom. Getting the ropes through (400 feet) soon became the crux of the canyon. It only lasted for 15 minutes, but the experience was scary and tiresome.

With a sense of relief, we found ourselves at the final rappel. We were happy to find new webbing that draped over the sharp edge so our ropes did not get nicked. We made the rap, pulled the rope, then made the looooong hike back to the car, tired and satisfied, with no interest in adding a second canyon to our day.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Return to Shenanigans

On the wall above our bed hangs a large picture of the Grim Crawl. Even though it looks great, it has bothered me a little every time I've looked at it. I had never been across the Grim Crawl, nor had I done the downclimb adjacent to it. I just felt like I hadn’t earned the right to display a canyon obstacle that I had not yet conquered.

You might recall that we had a difficult day in Shenanigans back in 2012 that taught us a few hard lessons– don’t underestimate the tricks a canyon can play on your mind, don’t underestimate the Grim Crawl, be realistic about you body size; and most importantly, do not ever, ever lay down in the skinny section.

I’ve probably told the story a hundred times, about inching along on my side to get through the crux narrows. It was terrifying, I remember it like it happened yesterday. I swore that I would never go back.

Years passed and I lost some weight. We learned mental tricks and physical tricks that help us through tight places. We learned to downclimb.

Finally, on New Year’s Day, 2017, Steph, Tony and I returned to the canyon that had haunted me for so long. This was Tony's first time through.

On this day I weighed 154lbs and Tony weighed 194lbs*. Like any good buddy I wanted to see him suffer through the skinny sections. I knew this was unlikely, but I was still hopeful.

The first section of the canyon was simple and mercifully dry. The second section was excellent. The leaning hallway was better lit in January than it was in September, which was rather odd.

Then came the main event. We found the Grim Crawl to be free of dust, so it seemed extra grippy. I asked Tony for a belay (really a psychological belay) and made my way across easily. Steph rapped off Tony, then Tony made his way across the Crawl to join me.

Sliding off of the Crawl into the downclimb was far more intimidating than the Crawl itself. The short move, onto a large chokestone, was not particularly hard. However, there was no way to protect it. If you botch the slide you will fall 40+ feet; in January the consequences would probably prove fatal. Thankfully, we didn’t botch it. It was fun and rewarding to make that move and the subsequent downclimb, a step forward in the progression for me.

We made our way to the crux narrows. I made it through easily, shifting my ribcage up/down/diagonally at places to micro-route find my way through. No helmet stands were necessary. Tony had to go up a foot or two to get over a pinch. A simple heel-to-toe jam was all he needed. Dang! Minimal suffering!

Overall, this was one of my favorite canyon days. It was fulfilling to conquer old demons with two of the best people I’ve ever known. I couldn’t dream of a better way to spend New Year’s Day and look forward to visiting Shenanigans many times in the future.


*If you weight more than 180lbs and are thinking about doing Shenanigans, please take a moment to check yourself. Realize that Tony has no body fat and moves like a ninja. Going over the crux narrows would be easy for him.

Our car-to-car time using the Kelsey exit was 5h34m.