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.


No comments:

Post a Comment