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UT: Cedar Mesa Black Hole 1-1-17

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Ram, Jan 27, 2017.

  1. Ram

    Ram

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    Happy New Year....January One 2017, was the 14th installment of the New Years Black Hole descent, in the 15 years of FreezeFest. Over the years, it has been in the 50 degree range a pair times, the 40's half a dozen times, below freezing about four times, including 6 degrees one morning, warming to maybe 20. There has been log jams 3 times, very snowy twice, flowing 3cfs once and icy to some degree almost always, sometimes creating great challenge. We treated one person for mild hypothermia and to my knowledge have not had any other reported injury of any kind. Our numbers were 6, 7, 4, 8, 12, 16 the first 6 years and has been in the 20's every year since, ranging from 22-28 brave souls. We had 24 folks this year, in party cloudy skies, with temps in the low 40's and less ice than normal. A bit scoured this year too, so a few more swims than normal.

    I would like to collect many people's Black Hole commentary and photo's on this thread, so post away and let your friends who don't frequent here know so they might post their pictures too.

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    Last edited: Jan 27, 2017
    hamid2010, Kevin, Alane Urban and 6 others like this.
  2. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Looked like a refreshing way to ring in the new year. :thumbsup:

    The adventurer's creed premise being that warning signs are intended to keep the other guy safe, for grins, I magnified it to find out what it said:
    "Experienced canyoneers feel safe passage is not possible at this time."

    Obviously that was in reference to non-FreezeFest blokes and blokettes; the pics shown looked rather tame (yes, the camera's eye is deceiving).

    So what's the story behind this particular sign? Seems to me that one like it could/should well be posted at the head of most flood-prone canyons - for what good it's worth. (At least there were no bullet holes or graffiti... violators with class. :twothumbs:)
    hamid2010 and Ram like this.
  3. Ram

    Ram

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    A story? Is there ever a story there!!!

    It was a mid October day, pretty sure it was the 15th or 16th 2003. I was at Natural Bridges observing a sky to the NW that was a sickly black with a touch of gray and perhaps it was maroon in there also? This is likely the storm that created the Herculean log jams in the Black Hole. As fall slipped into winter, Tom and I had heard rumor of the changes, but only rumor. No first hand accounts were heard. So on New Year's Day a group went for it. Tom insisted that we take harnesses and a short rope. This literally saved the day. The first mammoth jam, 80 feet high or more is generally a walk under, maybe stooping a little. But the one in the Hole proper was a different story. It is near impenetrable. Logs pile up and there is little space to move the log behind you and when you get to the shore...or what you think is the shore and try and climb out, the packed logs just peel off into the water. I recall that it took over 10 minutes a person to manage to get up on something stable. And you could not help your partner because as soon as he pulls on your arm, your spot slides into the soup. CRAZY!. When we finally got purchase, we ended up on a huge stack of logs with a similar sized one over the top of our heads. A "Journey to the Center of the Earth" type thing. When we were finally forced up or down, it was up to the top...where a few yards beyond, a 40-50 foot drop awaited, that was so severely overhung, that no down climb option was possible. Nice having a rope and harness there, let me tell ya!

    This log jam, the 2nd one, would erode in future floods and eventually become two jams and then erode away. The initial tall one was eventually wiped out in one single flood a few years later. But after our first encounter with these very dangerous conditions....I mean you could spin a log that weighed over a ton with your pinky.....we notified San Juan County of the situation. Pretty sure our partner and buddy Jarad Hillhouse confirmed the peril of the situation. San Juan put up a sign, that ended up on the ground from wind. One problem, they placed it at the top of a technical exit out of the canyon below the jams. Likely near no one saw it but us, as I liked that exit. Then it was moved the the regular exit, where the wind put it on the ground at most times. Months later it was finally brought to the top of the drop in spot, above the jams. It lay on the ground from winds. Was put up. Was knocked down. Was put up, was knocked down etc, etc, etc.. Finally the Kiosk was erected at the top, with the identical sign you saw, Kuenn. They put another half way down the entry, before bolting it to that rock. That is the one in the picture. That is why there is no bullet holes. One would have to walk a bit ;-D. The marvelous irony of the whole thing is, when they finally got the sign in the right place....the log jams had gone and the canyon was back to normal conditions. More fixed solutions, for dynamic systems...although I guess San Juan County is OK scaring away some folks, if they can.

    Here is pictures of the sign and the jams, including the log soup from FreezeFest II & III
    http://www.canyoneeringusa.com/rave/0401north/index3.htm
    and
    http://www.canyoneeringusa.com/rave/black-hole-jan-2005/

    And here is a trip report by Daughter Amy and then me, from our early March descent 2004, when Amy was 10 years old....she graduates college in less than 4 months. Where does the time go?
    https://www.math.utah.edu/~sfolias/canyontales/ram/?i=hole
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2017
    Taylor, RossK, Wes1 and 2 others like this.
  4. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Fantastic story(ies)!!!

    Ram, you may have missed your calling as an intervention counselor, social worker or even sucidologist. Scare them to the breaking point and then talk them off the ledge...or back on it, in this case. Good memories, lasting much longer than a life-time!
    Ram likes this.
  5. RossK

    RossK

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    One I found on the computer for starters (my others I'd have to find somewhere on a hard drive....and it's gone midnight and I need more sleep than you Ram !)


    Ross Black Hole 4_edited-2.
    Ram and ratagonia like this.
  6. Mike

    Mike epic blarneys

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    Some couldn't wait.

    P1080056.JPG

    Looking down on the rim of White Canyon. Theres a hiker in there.

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    Deeps.

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    Happy Bears Ears.

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  7. RossK

    RossK

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    Here's a few more. Was thinking, it's a measure of how much the scenery changes in this canyon, that in most canyons when people post photos you notice they've often chosen the exact same "best" viewpoints to stop at and photograph. In the Black Hole, people's pictures never really quite look the same.
    Sorry some of them have come out so big that it's hard to see them on a computer screen. Uploading offers thumbnail (a bit small) or full image (they come out too big to see without scrolling). I did try resizing the scale down, but that doesn't seem to have worked either.

    009_Panoramaimpsmall.


    029_Panorama (2)impsmaller.


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    066 (2)imp.




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  8. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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