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A trip through Paradiso Canyon--Dante Canyon System and...um...other stuff!

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Pikan, Mar 1, 2014.

  1. Pikan

    Pikan

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    Photo courtesy of @Mountaineer

    In January Penny emailed everyone (Me, Blake, Mark, and Tyler) to invite us to coordinate and plan another canyoneering trip, this time to the Dante Canyon System. Our initial date was set for the beginning of February, but had to postpone the trip to the 22nd due to bad weather. In our email conversations back and forth we decided to explore Paradiso. We decided to include Dave, Penny's new husband, and at the last minute we added Josh to the roster. In order to save on gas we decided to carpool in my Pathfinder to Ticaboo Friday night where we would stay at the hotel and meet Penny and Dave the next morning at the trail head. (I mention the carpool thing because this will become pertinent later on in the story [​IMG])

    At 8:30 am on the 22nd we were at the trail head overlook and soon we were on our way around the high peak that sits at the head of the Dante Canyons to get to Paradiso. The views from on top were AMAZING!!!
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    I was glad to have Dave and Penny as guides since getting there and back out could be a little tricky if you don't know just where to drop off or climb back up through the narrow ledge bands that separate the canyons from the top. There are several Fins that run down into the canyon system, but you have to know which ones are safe to take down and up in order to make this a quick and somewhat easy trip. This was not always that obvious.

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    Photo courtesy of @Mountaineer

    The canyon starts off with a bang, leading into some nice down-climbs that stretched my abilities a bit.. so the hand-lines we rigged were very much appreciated.

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    Photo courtesy of @Mountaineer

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    Photo courtesy of @Mountaineer

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    Photo courtesy of @Mountaineer

    In several spots things got a little bit too narrow for my large frame. For the most part I was able to get through just fine, but one spot in particular, I almost got myself wedged right on the center of my chest, but quickly realized I wasn't going to make it, backed out a little and went through a wider spot that was down lower. I put my shoulder to the sand and wormed my way through, but it was a TIGHT fit! I'm kicking myself for not getting my camera out at this spot because the way the light shined into that narrow slot was incredible... But I was a little distracted with the task of getting out of it. [​IMG] I think Blake probably got some good shots of it on his GoPro though, so we'll see if he sees this thread and posts some pictures and video. [​IMG]

    Towards the end of the canyon we came to the first required rappel that drops into a small but deep pothole that we had to hop over to avoid. We set up a sort of "quasi" guided rappel for some, but the set-up wasn't ideal for this, so I didn't even use it...truthfully the hole was small enough for me to just step over while I was still attached to the rope in case I slipped.

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    Photo courtesy of @Mountaineer

    We kept the rope attached to the anchor and used it as a hand line to get past the next down-climb. We left Josh at the top of this to pull the rope and Blake and I assisted him down.

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    Photo courtesy of @Mountaineer

    I think this might have been better if we had used a bit more rope and had us all stay on rappel to the bottom of this obstacle except the last person. The pull from the bottom would not be ideal, so i don't recommend everyone rappelling all the way to the bottom. A partner assist from the bottom isn't too bad, it just would have made things a little safer for everyone but the LAPAR.

    After this rappel the canyon opens up into a BEAUTIFUL corridor, where you navigate down to the final rappel and hike around the exit.

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    The exit was fun, scenic, and a bit strenuous. The most challenging part about it was probably the route navigation...again, we were glad to have Penny and Dave there to help guide us in the right path which was again, not always obvious. We made it back to the car by 1:00 pm I think so that puts us at about 4 hours car to car. (the others can correct me if I'm remembering this wrong)

    Thoughts about the canyon:
    -GREAT canyon! I had a blast. It was some-what challenging (physically)... probably a little more so for me since I think I might have done more stemming than I really needed to(I like the practice and the exercise anyway). This was the first canyon where my size was a REAL concern, and I'm grateful that everyone was there to help make sure I didn't end up stuck! :)
    -WONDERFUL area! The views on this trip were breath-taking!!!! This was my first peek at Lake Powell and I was NOT disappointed!
    -AWESOME team! It was a privilege to meet and get to know Dave and learn from him and Penny. These guys are amazing and loved experiencing this canyon with them. Their experience, insight, advise, expertise, etc... were priceless, and they are just GREAT PEOPLE!!! It was great to spend so much time with Mark and Tyler, and learn from them as well. Their drive and passion for this (for lack of a better word) sport is inspiring and their experiences were great to hear and learn about. I wish most of that extra time we spent together could have been under better circumstances, like doing a second canyon :) . Blake and Josh are great friends and I ALWAYS love canyoneering with them.

    Note: This is where information about the actual canyon ends and other, non-canyoneering related adventures begin...so if this doesn't sound like your thing, stop reading here and continue your way [​IMG].

    Okay so now let me summarize the "the REST of the story" :)

    When i told my wife the names of the canyons in the area we were going, she said, "So what your saying is, you are going to hell!" We didn't realize how true those words were! :)

    Anyways, here is what happened:
    After getting to the car, everyone who was in my car decided that we should do one of the mini-slots (Morocco) up near Hanksville before heading home. As soon as we hit the pavement, however, these plans were completely dashed when we started having problems with the transmission in my car. We limped it as far as we could before the car would not go any further. We flagged down the next vehicle that passed who graciously offered to tow us. I decided that the driver had never towed or been towed before. This was a little bit of a hair-raising experience...going 50+ mph while being towed on a ~12 ft rope was NOT ideal and by the bullfrog turn-off, my brakes had HAD it. They offered to take me into Hanksville so that I could make a phone call. As soon as we got to a point where I could make some phone calls, they wanted to turn around and go back, so I went with them, passing everyone else riding with Penny and Dave (who had stayed at the TH for some RnR) going into Hanksville. I got back to the car and saw that everyone was gone, realizing that they had gone into Hanksville, I decided to try to drive the car again and I started limping it into Hanksville (max speed of 20 mph) Dave and Penny graciously went back and found me, so I parked the car again and they brought me into town with the others. By then my dad was on his way from Castle Dale with a car dolly. Dave and Penny continued on but later found someone else to rescue (I'm convinced that these guys are super-heroes!!!). After 4 hours at Stan's my dad pulled up and I jumped in with him to go pick up the car. As soon as we were able to get that loaded we went back to Hanksville to get the others and we were on our way....or so we thought! About 10 minutes out of Hanksville we blew a tire on the car dolly!!!!! My dad wasn't able to find a spare before he came so we moved all the gear from my car to my dad's truck, left the car on the dolly, and headed for Price. you would think that we had found our share of bad karma by now....NOPE!!!! Going through Wellington on the way to Price we were pulled over by the Police for...get this...a license plate illumination light that was burned out!!!!! It was at this point that my dad came to the conclusion that we must have thrown a whole truck load of black cats under our car and then threw a bunch of mirrors at them!!!! I was beginning to wonder. Luckily the cop let us off with a warning and we were able to continue on into Price. Once there, I had arranged with my in-laws to borrow a suburban for Blake, Josh, Mark, and Tyler to get to Spanish Fork. I decided to stay in CD so that I could go find a spare tire and bring my car back to a more civilized setting. All the information that I got about Blake and the others in the suburban was that they made it to SF without any further incident. I was relieved!!!! Once I got to CD at around 11-11:30, I realized that my bag with all my clothes was on it's way to SF... icing....that's all I have to say...icing!!!!! That night I said several fervent prayers that the next day would go better!
    The next morning I had to start early so I could get some key people who know about that dolly contacted before they went to church so that I could track down a spare tire that would fit (it was made by my great grandpa probably 25+ years ago and only a few people knew anything about it). The problem was that the tire was kind of an odd size for a trailer: 7.00X14 I think...and we could not find an exact match on anything we had access to (cars trucks, trailers, etc...)! We even considered "borrowing" from trailers we saw while roaming around town! We found that a more standard sized wheel (15-inch wheels) would fit the lug pattern, but the over-all diameter of the tire was slightly bigger. We thought that it was possible that they would fit inside the wheel well, but were not sure. Long story short, we ended up with two tires from my dad's horse trailer, two from my grandparents 4-wheeler trailer (all the bigger wheel size but the two trailers had slightly different over-all diameters) but we finally we found a trailer that my dad's brother had on his farm that had the correct size tires, so we took both of those as well. I felt we were set (we probably resembled a Big-O-tire truck at that point) and we headed for Hanksville. I should mention here that while acquiring tires we DID break a mirror....AND while driving through Ferron a black cat DID cross the road in front of us!!!! (no joke...this did happen!!!!) I considered turning around...but couldn't. All this didn't seem so effect our second trip down there, however, since we were able to get the car to Price without any further problems (we did leave the lug wrench back in CD but luckily we had other options that worked out). We dropped the car off at my in-laws house for storage while I figure out what to do with it. After that, we went to Burger King to grab some lunch where we helped a lady change her tire on her car...we needed the good karma, and by then, we were pros at it anyway. ;) We got back to CD, and replaced all the pillaged tires and I caught a ride to SF with my sister who was down picking up a load of hay with her fiance. My wife picked me up there and I was home by about 7:00 pm, about a full 24 hours later than planned.

    Moral of the story: When you go to hell, you should expect...well...HELL!!!!

    Anyway, while this wasn't the most enjoyable trip I have been on in my life, I did really enjoy the canyoneering aspect of it and I would go on a trip to the same area with any and all of the same people ANYTIME! :)

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  2. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Ha ha, great story and TR. Thanks Pikan.

    Tom
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  3. Ram

    Ram

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    HELL of a trip report. I feel your pain. I lost a trannie between Bluff and Natural Bridges a few years back. I think Canyonbug remembers that, right? Thanks for the rescue Jared. The payback is forever.

    Tad of naming history. About 9 years ago, Dave Black, Jim Wright and I were on the system about the same time and were chatting about it. They were focused on what was called #2, me more on #5. We agreed to do one of them soon. I called one early November and said we were headed down there and would you like to join us, us including Dave and Penny, along with Aaron Ram, Tom and Hank. Ahhhh,ehhhhh, ummmm. Seems they had gone and done #2 a couple of weeks before. Ah well, we figured to stop in and do the canyon they did on out way to our exploration of the nearby Warm Springs canyons, just to get a feel for the area.

    Dave and Jim named the canyon Purgatory. We went and did it and were looking to drive to Warm Springs that evening. BUT on the way hiking out, we got a look at the bottom of #3. OH MY! It looked awesome. On Google Earth #'s 1 ,3 and 4 looked rather small and uninteresting. The reality was quite different. INSTANTLY we put off our plan for Warm Springs and put the descent of #3 on for the next day. The story can be found here
    http://www.math.utah.edu/~sfolias/canyontales/tale/?i=inferno

    We went off to Warm Springs the next day. Back then, there were not many exploring so you could take your time, picking them off one at a time. As the Inferno story hints at, explorations can be scary, tense business. In the days before sandtraps, aquanchors and fiddlesticks, it was a lot more serious.

    With Dave and Jim having named #2 Purgatory, we followed their lead and named the others in the Dante's theme, its proximity to Good Hope Bay adding another layer. #4 Limbo followed late December
    http://www.canyoneeringusa.com/rave/0701freeze/index271.htm

    Did #1 Devils Thumb in February, it named not with a Dante's inferno names, but for it appearance on the map, as the thumb to the hand shape of the whole Dante system. Last was #5 Paradiso that March. It was last because it scared us the most. We scouted its end from the hike out and it looked like it could be super deep potholes. We scouted the start and really....how many canyons you know start with stemming mover like that? Stemming usually gets harder and more serious as a canyon develops, not from the get go. Add the cross jointing which makes rim team impossible...Well the canyon turned out to be not too terribly hard and pretty darn nice.

    Thanks for posting the TR.
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  4. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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  5. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Enjoyable and entertaining TR. Murphy had nothing on y'all that day. So, does it make me a bad person to find comfort in other's misery! :)

    Glad you finally made it back safe and in one piece. My take with these events; it only helps solidify the experience and makes for great campfire stories down the road!
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  6. Pikan

    Pikan

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    Not at all! :) Glad you liked it. It's definitely going to be a tale to tell the grandkids in 20 years.

    -Luke
  7. cirrus2000

    cirrus2000

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    My son and I did Paradiso during FreezeFest a couple months ago - what a great canyon.

    Sounds like quite an adventure after the canyon! I wondered about the vehicle on the dolly when I drove by on Sunday morning, then put it out of my mind. Fun to get some closure on that!

    Saw you guys in the Dantes on Saturday (vehicles, that is) while we were in Montezuma. Wish I'd been able to see Penny and Dave - it's been too many years, and they're wonderful people!

    Thanks for the post!

    Kev
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  8. Pikan

    Pikan

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    Yeah, I really enjoyed No Kidding with Penny and the rest of the crew last October, and I loved Paradiso with Penny and Dave and the same crew + Josh....they really are great people... very kind, knowledgeable, and generous.

    -Luke
  9. Blake Merrell

    Blake Merrell Lovin' Utah's Backcountry

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    here is my TR (click here) and Video of the trip :) Enjoy!

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  10. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Nice. Thanks Blake.

    Tom
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  11. Ram

    Ram

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    Oh Luke, the spot you had to crawl through? It is much easier than it used to be because people are visiting more often and the sand is scooped out regularly. I have been down there with you before too!:)

    Blake, Great video. It was great seeing Dave in a canyon again. Note his fantastic elevator form around 1:15! Style!
    The pothole at 2:22 thru 2:30 is often partially full of water. The pothole at 2:34 thru 2:52 I have never seen dry before. More often a swimmer or deep wade than anything else. See here. It is often stemmed over, which is intimadating but not too hard
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  12. Pikan

    Pikan

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    Yeah I was going to mention the dryness in my trip report, but I forgot to work it in. Many in our group were surprised that there wasn't more water, in fact some even put on wet suits near the top, expecting the pot holes at the bottom to have at least some water, but MOST of us didn't even get our feet wet! ;-)

    -Luke
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  13. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Put on the wetsuit at the sign of first water. Usually the best idea. Dave and I guessed wrong this round. Ha.
  14. hiac

    hiac

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    Best canyoneering video so far!
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