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Sad Cow Disease

Escalante beta posted by Dan Ransom
  • The Hype

    While the name may not evoke much positive emotion, this canyon is a stunning wingate slot that is short, sweet, and very photogenic. The slot is characterized by aesthetic squeezes, beautiful chambers, and long slanted narrows.

    The first known descent of the canyon was done by Bill Wolverton and Steve Cole. The name Sad Cow Disease was coined later by a team who descended the slot on Mother's Day to find a mother cow and her calf deceased in it's lower reaches, as well as in Little Death Hollow. As of May 2013, a few bones and cow skull remain at the mouth of the canyon.

    From Eric Godfrey:

    Getting There

    Access Road:
    The Little Death Hollow Trailhead is located on the Wolverine Loop road, south of the Burr Trail. Best accessed from Boulder, Utah, the trailhead is typically accessible to regular passenger vehicles in dry conditions. Please check current road conditions with the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center at 435-826-5499 as the conditions vary from storm to storm. The last stretch of road runs in and out of a wash bottom so if it has rained, it could easily become high clearance 4WD or even impassable.

    To reach the trailhead, drive east from Boulder, Utah on The Burr Trail for approximately 18.5 miles to a signed turnoff for the Wolverine Road (37.924265,-111.220581). The road is paved until this point. After leaving the Burr Trail, stay on the main Wolverine Road for approximately 13 miles to the signed turnoff to the Little Death Hollow Trailhead (37.784069,-111.180447). If you are dropping off a car at the Wolverine Trailhead (37.803829,-111.206696) for the point-to-point version of the hike, you will pass it about 2.5 miles before arriving at the LDH Trailhead. You may also spot a car near either of the next two canyons if you prefer to exit through one of them, see the maps tab for more information.

    For more information on hiking and backpacking in the Little Death Hollow area, please visit the Little Death Hollow Trail Guide at Backcountrypost.com

    Driving Map:
    Driving directions from Boulder, UT to Little Death Hollow Trailhead

    From the Trailhead:Begin hiking downcanyon from the trailhead descending a fairly wide open and exposed drainage. After a couple miles, the Wingate walls of Little Death Hollow will begin to close in, and you'll find yourself in the first hint of narrows. Approximately 3.75 miles from the trailhead, you will arrive at a break in the cliffs to the north. This crack and slab system needs to be climbed to gain the bench that will give access to the head of the canyon. The climb goes at 3rd or 4th class, and should never be too exposed if you pick your route carefully. Coordinates: 37.754674, -111.217749

    Once on top of the bench, contour the wingate rim for approximately 30 more minutes and find your way to the first drop of the canyon.

    The Canyon - Rating: 3A III PG   Longest Rap: 90'   # of Raps: 2

    Skills required: Sad Cow is a canyon that is somewhat remote and requires advanced routefinding skills. There is one entry rappel of around 90 feet, and is easily rigged using a retrievable anchor. Partner sequences can defeat the remaining obstacles in the canyon, and natural anchor possibilities exist when in doubt. Traditionally, this canyon has been descended leaving nothing behind. Consider keeping this tradition.

    Rappels: 2 rappels, up to 90'
    The first rappel is 90 feet, but depending on the anchor, you will likely want a longer rope. 120 foot is recommended. Retrievable anchors can be easily rigged off the tree 30 feet back from the drop.

    The second drop is 20', and can be anchored by sandtrap or using the nose prow of a chockstone, and anchored from below.

    The remaining drops are steep and narrow. Belays are recommended.

    Additional Risk:
    There are a few sections of very mild stemming, generally straight forward, and suitable for intermediate canyoneers.

    Water
    Often, the canyon will only hold water to knee deep. However, after storms it can hold much more. Be aware of recent weather trends in the area and plan accordingly.

    Drinking water can sometimes be found be purifying occasional seeps in Little Death Hollow.

    Anchor Conditions
    Natural anchors are abundant. Leave No Trace ethics apply.

    Gear Recommendations
    Helmet
    Pads - Knee, elbow
    Old clothes
    Gloves
    Daypack

    3-4 Liters of water.

    Flash Flood Danger: Low

    The Exit

    The confluence of Sad Cow and Little Death Hollow is not always obvious when descending the canyon. Pay close attention when the canyon widens, and you reach the confluence. Turn left and travel the roughly 4.5 miles back to the trailhead and your car.

    Red Tape

    BLM Land: Sad Cow Disease is located in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, and currently there are no access permits or applications required for day hikes. Permits are required only for overnight backpacking trips. There are, however, group size limits. The area in which this canyon is located has a group size limit of 12.

    http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/grand_staircase-escalante/Recreation/group_size.html

    Most slot canyons are found on public lands managed by the US Government, although a few can be found on private lands. The US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service manage these lands. Each area tends to have unique management issues. As a result, there is not a uniform set of rules governing our use of these lands. For current issues related to canyoneering access, please visit www.americancanyoneers.org.
  • Access Road:
    The Little Death Hollow Trailhead is located on the Wolverine Loop road, south of the Burr Trail. Best accessed from Boulder, Utah, the trailhead is typically accessible to regular passenger vehicles in dry conditions. Please check current road conditions with the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center at 435-826-5499 as the conditions vary from storm to storm. The last stretch of road runs in and out of a wash bottom so if it has rained, it could easily become high clearance 4WD or even impassable.

    To reach the trailhead, drive east from Boulder, Utah on The Burr Trail for approximately 18.5 miles to a signed turnoff for the Wolverine Road (37.924265,-111.220581). The road is paved until this point. After leaving the Burr Trail, stay on the main Wolverine Road for approximately 13 miles to the signed turnoff to the Little Death Hollow Trailhead (37.784069,-111.180447). If you are dropping off a car at the Wolverine Trailhead (37.803829,-111.206696) for the point-to-point version of the hike, you will pass it about 2.5 miles before arriving at the LDH Trailhead. You may also spot a car near either of the next two canyons if you prefer to exit through one of them, see the maps tab for more information.

    For more information on hiking and backpacking in the Little Death Hollow area, please visit the Little Death Hollow Trail Guide at Backcountrypost.com

    Driving Map:
    Driving directions from Boulder, UT to Little Death Hollow Trailhead

    From the Trailhead:Begin hiking downcanyon from the trailhead descending a fairly wide open and exposed drainage. After a couple miles, the Wingate walls of Little Death Hollow will begin to close in, and you'll find yourself in the first hint of narrows. Approximately 3.75 miles from the trailhead, you will arrive at a break in the cliffs to the north. This crack and slab system needs to be climbed to gain the bench that will give access to the head of the canyon. The climb goes at 3rd or 4th class, and should never be too exposed if you pick your route carefully. Coordinates: 37.754674, -111.217749

    Once on top of the bench, contour the wingate rim for approximately 30 more minutes and find your way to the first drop of the canyon.
  • Skills required: Sad Cow is a canyon that is somewhat remote and requires advanced routefinding skills. There is one entry rappel of around 90 feet, and is easily rigged using a retrievable anchor. Partner sequences can defeat the remaining obstacles in the canyon, and natural anchor possibilities exist when in doubt. Traditionally, this canyon has been descended leaving nothing behind. Consider keeping this tradition.

    Rappels: 2 rappels, up to 90'
    The first rappel is 90 feet, but depending on the anchor, you will likely want a longer rope. 120 foot is recommended. Retrievable anchors can be easily rigged off the tree 30 feet back from the drop.

    The second drop is 20', and can be anchored by sandtrap or using the nose prow of a chockstone, and anchored from below.

    The remaining drops are steep and narrow. Belays are recommended.

    Additional Risk:
    There are a few sections of very mild stemming, generally straight forward, and suitable for intermediate canyoneers.

    Water
    Often, the canyon will only hold water to knee deep. However, after storms it can hold much more. Be aware of recent weather trends in the area and plan accordingly.

    Drinking water can sometimes be found be purifying occasional seeps in Little Death Hollow.

    Anchor Conditions
    Natural anchors are abundant. Leave No Trace ethics apply.

    Gear Recommendations
    Helmet
    Pads - Knee, elbow
    Old clothes
    Gloves
    Daypack

    3-4 Liters of water.

    Flash Flood Danger: Low
  • The confluence of Sad Cow and Little Death Hollow is not always obvious when descending the canyon. Pay close attention when the canyon widens, and you reach the confluence. Turn left and travel the roughly 4.5 miles back to the trailhead and your car.
  • BLM Land: Sad Cow Disease is located in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, and currently there are no access permits or applications required for day hikes. Permits are required only for overnight backpacking trips. There are, however, group size limits. The area in which this canyon is located has a group size limit of 12.

    http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/grand_staircase-escalante/Recreation/group_size.html

    Most slot canyons are found on public lands managed by the US Government, although a few can be found on private lands. The US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service manage these lands. Each area tends to have unique management issues. As a result, there is not a uniform set of rules governing our use of these lands. For current issues related to canyoneering access, please visit www.americancanyoneers.org.
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Condition Reports for Sad Cow Disease

  1. Dan Ransom
    May 28, 2013
    Dan Ransom

    Difficulty:

    NA

    Skill Level:

    NA

    Water:

    NA

    Thermal:

    NA

    Group Size:

    NA

    Total Time:

    NA


    May 26, 2013 - Water to knee deep, amazing lighting at mid-day.

    Posted May 28, 2013
  2. ratagonia
    Apr 24, 2014
    ratagonia

    Difficulty:

    NA

    Skill Level:

    NA

    Water:

    NA

    Thermal:

    NA

    Group Size:

    NA

    Total Time:

    NA


    Posted Apr 24, 2014
  3. Deagol
    May 29, 2014
    Deagol

    Difficulty:

    NA

    Skill Level:

    NA

    Water:

    NA

    Thermal:

    NA

    Group Size:

    NA

    Total Time:

    NA


    we descended this on 5/24/2014 and took out an unnecessary webbing sling at the first rap. Used a Fiddlestick (Smooth Operator) on a tree on the left side LDC with no issues. A member of our group slipped in the pool below the second rap and cut his knee open very badly on a submerged sharp rock... needed stitches. A second member of our team stemmed the chamber to retrieve the rope when the rope became caught in the pinch. There was water to thigh deep.

    Posted May 29, 2014
  4. a.c
    October 08, 2014
    a.c

    Difficulty:

    Easy

    Skill Level:

    Intermediate

    Water:

    Deep (waist to chest)

    Thermal:

    1-3mm wetsuit

    Group Size:

    2 people

    Total Time:

    1 hour 5 hours


    There is a fair amount of clean-ish water up to chest deep . There weren't any slings present and we simply Fiddled the first drop and DC the rest. Heaps of slick mud (smelling pleasantly like pottery class)!

    Posted Oct 11, 2014
The information provided here is intended for entertainment purposes only. The creator of this information and/or Canyon Collective are not liable for any harm or damage caused by this information. Conditions in the backcountry are constantly changing, only you are responsible for your safety and well being.