Friday, April 7, 2017

West Canyon 2017 - Porcupine Canyon

On April 7, 2017, we explored Porcupine Canyon.  We were a little nervous because the last section was impossible to scout from the rim, and based on the satellite imagery it looked serious.  I wondered if this canyon would stop us, if it would force us to retreat.

As it turned out, Porcupine was serious.  Imagine doing the most interesting two hours of Imlay without the bolts- it was sort of like that.  It was never scary, never physically hard, but it was tricky. If we didn't know one of the required tricks or have one of the required tools, then we would have been screwed!

Porcupine turned out to be another top-shelf outstanding canyon.  Not quite as good as Lion or Bobcat, but certainly in the conversation.  We are talking 9.9 vs 9.8 vs 9.7.  When thinking about the canyons on the other side of the lake, we all chuckled.  Few of them are half as good as Porcupine.


The water anchor placement at the first big drop was not good.
We got it done, but it the risk was high.  
If you find this pothole full, there's no shame in skipping this drop and walking around.

Looking down at the first drop from the rim.  Sam Lee on rappel.

Soon we got to THE BUSINESS.

Me, Steph and Tom.  Freezing our butts off, safely back in West.

The fellas at the top of the final drop were taking their sweet time.  We were standing at the bottom suffering from the cold, literally running in circles to stay warm.  We were all a bit tired and grumpy after doing our seventh canyon of the trip.  We wished that they would hurry.

Sam Lee rapped down then handed me his pack as he tippy-toed around the water at the bottom.  It weight a TON.  I know Sam is a beast, but seriously, his pack was about 50lbs, at least 20lbs heavier than any other pack.  It's time for Sam to share some gear, I thought.

Everyone else rapped from the water anchor.  We went to pull the Fiddlestick so we could pull the anchor down, then Tom said, "WAIT! Where the hell is my pack??"  We all looked around.  There were seven packs and eight people.  Tom had used his pack as a ropebag a couple of drops back, deploying a 220 foot rope to speed everyone down.  It had been over an hour since he had seen it.

Tom, who is as cool as a cucumber normally, said a few colorful words, then said, "Who was the last person to see it??"  We all looked blankly at each other.  Tom asked for a pair of ascenders.  I handed him mine.  We all looked somberly up at the 60 foot drop, where the water anchor was sitting and likely leaking (they slowly leak, that is normal).  Everyone understood the seriousness of the situation.

Just as Tom took a commuting stride toward the drop, Sam Lee said, "Oh, Tom, I have something in my pack!", then removed Tom's backpack and rope that was hiding within.

West Canyon ROARED with laughter!

You couldn't ask for a better friend.  25 years.  Man, it has gone by fast.

A stroll past Bobcat.  We did that only three days ago??  It seemed like years in the past.

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