Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dry Tooling Practice at the Local Crag

Some solo dry-tooling practice on a hot, humid summer afternoon in Phoenix, AZ. Route is mostly slabby with crumbly dirt that will try to tempt ya; slightly negative sloping start to vertical to overhanging finish. I don't trust my skill yet to go up and over the small roof on the left quite yet. I need to move to CO already.

The slightly overhanging, slabby route.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Horsetank Wash / Sandrock Canyoneering - Slightly Epic

Sigh... This is going to be a long entry. There's no way around it. Saturday, July 7th, our team of four spent over 16 hours in this canyon after a few events went awry. Let me preface by saying no one was seriously hurt, though there was certainly a close call during our escape from the canyon. At the end I will try to summarize the lessons learned, arising out of some of the decisions made that contributed to some not-so-ideal conditions.

Let's begin with the facts:

Horsetank Wash / Sandrock Canyon
  • ACA Canyon Rating: 3B R IV
  • Time Required:  8-12 hrs
  • Actual Time: 16+ hrs
  • Mileage: ~6 miles
  • Rappels:  ~6 raps: 45ft, 15ft, 20ft, 35ft, 80ft, 25ft
  • Swims: Tons of swims (more than 15 maybe?) 
  • Actual Mileage: 8+ miles (we took the full approach route in)
  • Location: North of Strawberry, AZ off the US-260 in the Fossil Springs Wilderness

My friend Charlie and I had been tossing around the idea of descending a canyon for a while. Recently I came to terms with the lackluster winter and accepted the grim fate of summer in the desert. Looking for any means of staying near and dear to my mountaineering spirit, I finally realized that canyoneering could be that temporary answer. It just might be a way of staying in tune with the art moving through harsh environments with ropes and a skill set to navigate terrain, mitigate risk, and make calculated, life-preserving decisions. Krystal, Charlie and I finally met up for breakfast and poured through Todd Martin's Arizona: Technical Canyoneering book searching for a good fit for our first excursion. Let me reinforce: Horsetank Wash should probably not be attempted by new people to the sport -- It is a very demanding, humbling, enduring canyon to say the least. With our background and our friend Rob's background (he was the veteran of the group, having previously been through West Clear Creek and Zion canyons), we decided it would be a worthy prize. We conducted the necessary research, synced schedules and finalized plans to meet at the pull-off on the US260, between mileposts 246 and 247 the night before. We met at around 9pm Friday night, polished off some brewdogs, and turned in for the night, sleeping in our cars.

The next morning we took turns emerging from the cars at around 6am. Krystal unfortunately, had hardly slept a hour the entire night, having been spooked by the eerie sounds of the wilderness. She finally snoozed as us three fellas cooked quick individual breakfasts and began packing for the day.

more to come...