Send us a suggestion!

Choprock

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by bhalvers2002, Jun 12, 2020.

  1. bhalvers2002

    bhalvers2002

    Messages:
    61
    Likes:
    152


    A couple of years ago, our plans for Choprock, Neon and Ringtail were modified. We didn't get over to Choprock and vowed to return.

    Finally, our group of 4 was able to coordinate the trip and we had an amazing trip through Choprock. We arrived about 6pm on Thursday evening and hiked down to Fence canyon, noted the camping spots were occupied and crossed the river and set up camp near the up ramp heading to Choprock. For those familiar with this time of the year, the prominent features of this "delightful" camp were the many biting flies and strong cattle aroma. Luckily it cooled into the 60s from the 98F afternoon temps we had hiking in. We met a group from Colorado who mentioned they were attempting the canyon Friday as well, but we never saw them.

    Friday morning we awoke at 5:30 am, ate, filtered more water and headed up to Choprock at 6 am. We were fortunate to have no navigation errors, especially since none of us had done the route and dropped into the canyon proper at 8:30 am. Almost from the beginning things got very narrow and spicy. The first 45 minutes we felt like we had gone almost nowhere - it was tight, narrow and doing some challenging down climbs or quirky rappels. This was all before the named first rappel that drops into the alcove. It was great terrain, but in the moment had us a little worried because this wasn't even in the beta we had - which made us wonder if this place was this hard all the way through and what time would we actually get out.

    Soon enough we were in the riparian section and yes a lot of poison ivy. I don't know how many people get reactions from this stuff, but we are all fortunate to either avoid it or be harmless. But there is a lot of it and some places tough to avoid. We suited up after that section and soon were in and out of cool, but not freezing water. It was a hot day down in escalante with temps approaching 100F, but with the sun shining the water was a welcome feature.

    We estimated this must be in lower water mode, which frankly made the whole thing pretty fun. There are some tight spots and a fair number of problem solving situations. We lost track of time as we moved through the canyon and were quite surprised when we reached the final rappel around 1:30 or so. We were all down about 2 pm. The grim section is long, but with the sun dancing on the walls most of the time and the ability to skirt underneath the bell shaped constrictions above, we didn't receive the full brunt of why these passages are grim.

    After relaxing at the end of the canyon for an hour, we hiked back to our camp and arrived about 4 pm. We had originally planned to stay overnight and hike out early Saturday. But the biting flies convinced us we had had enough and we made the trek back up to the car. We enjoyed immersing in the river, which was running cool and clear, before hoofing back up to the top. A couple of hours in the heat and we back to the truck and soon on the way home shortly after 7 pm. Extremely rewarding trip.

    This is among my favorite canyons for its length, beauty, solitude and relentless challenges. This is a jewel in very rough country. Watching this video makes me yearn to go back and try it again.
    Kuenn, stefan, madman_lee and 6 others like this.
  2. Canyonero

    Canyonero

    Messages:
    980
    Likes:
    1,026
    Thanks for the report. Thinking about a trip in a couple of weeks. Anyone been in there since the recent rains who can comment on water levels and whether there are any new logjam issues?
  3. CRNPRES

    CRNPRES

    Messages:
    284
    Likes:
    146
    I am planning to do it in less than 2 weeks. Also interested if anyone else has been through recently?

    I already saw photos from this trip and at least in the Zion area we have not gotten enough rain to flow canyons.
  4. ratagonia

    ratagonia

    Messages:
    5,180
    Likes:
    6,369
    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah
    Sweet report Bhalvers... if that is your real name...

    Wonderful canyon. Thanks for bringing back memories.

    Tom
  5. Canyonero

    Canyonero

    Messages:
    980
    Likes:
    1,026
    We're looking at the 26th. Will you be before or after us?
  6. CRNPRES

    CRNPRES

    Messages:
    284
    Likes:
    146
    looking at choprock 21st and micro death hollow via dirty jobs on the 22nd
  7. Canyonero

    Canyonero

    Messages:
    980
    Likes:
    1,026
    Perfect, please update on conditions here when you get back.
  8. CRNPRES

    CRNPRES

    Messages:
    284
    Likes:
    146
    copy waiting to hear from a friend that lives in escalante to confirm it hasn't rained enough to flow the canyon.
  9. Ram

    Ram

    Messages:
    2,433
    Likes:
    4,578
    This reminds me of a story.......What doesn't?

    I descended Neon in late October 2001. Had been descending it regularly for 7 1/2 years. Throughout that entire period, the section above the Golden Cathedral, with the small natural bridges, had a flat gravel walk out. Mostly softball sized rocks. My first trip with Tom was the following March. Goodness, there is a lot of stories from that trip too.....Not now. For later. Back to the story......We arrive at the the bridges, 100 yards before the top of the Cathedral and find a couple from Montana in a desperate struggle at the famed keeper pothole. They made it out and lent us a hand....WAIT A MINUTE!!!! What famed pothole? In the previous 7 plus years, this was a flat and dry walk through spot!!

    OK, new features pop up all the time. A big scouring event occurred in the 4.5 month period, between my descents, revealing the double scooped pothole feature so many of us know so well. A powerful weather event, had occurred, one would surmise. Unusual for non monsoon time of year. While unusual, floods can and often do, occur all year around.

    So, why this story now? There was NO measurable precipitation in the town of Escalante, in that time period. The canyon is maybe 20+ air miles from town. The canyon was almost totally dry. Something violent must have came through, likely late fall or early winter that did not hit town at all. Canyon conditions, like politics, is often local.

    RAM

    PS "We the people" decide what we call canyons, in most cases. Why the first descenders (Jenny Hall (AKA West) and Mike Bogart, in 1982) name, for the southeast fork of Choprock is not called their quite eloquent and descriptive name of "Kaleidoscope," by more folks, is a mystery to me. BTW the 38th anniversary of that descent is next week. Kudos to the pioneers.

    PPS the pothole was under that gravel, all along. When had it last been scoured? Decades? Longer? Who if anyone ever saw it before 2001-2? The Black Hole of White Canyon had been a walk through canyon in the 1920's all the way until late 1950's, according to historian Steve Allen, if I recall correctly. WOW!

    PPS from that first trip with Tom

    https://www.canyoneeringusa.com/rave/neon-canyon-and-the-golden-cathedral-escalante-ut
  10. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

    Messages:
    1,360
    Likes:
    1,263
    It's because they didn't tell anyone about there name until years after the canyon was published under different names. Hiker's Guide to Utah and Utah Mountaineering Guide called the canyon Choprock as early as 1982, but it can be argued that that refers to the main fork.

    Steve Allen published the canyon's name as the East Fork Choprock until 1998 and Kelsey published it as South Fork Choprock in 2003. The first decentionist didn't mention the name Kaleidoscope to outsiders until long after that. Canyons tend to be known by their published names, rather than the names that someone came up with, but who never told anyone about.

    Also, almost no one younger than their 40's knows what a Kaleidoscope is. I am 46 and have only seen one once. Even at 46, they were before my time.
    Dan Ransom, Ram, Ali Miller and 2 others like this.
  11. Ram

    Ram

    Messages:
    2,433
    Likes:
    4,578
    Thank for the reply. I hoped my little plug would not get lost in the "PS's"
    All your points are valid. Yet many canyons names changed due to public consensus over the years. The South Fork of Oak Creek also know as Cave Canyon, is now known as Eye of the Needle. Soooo you brought attention to my "advocacy" and now many more people know a new great name for this great canyon. "The people" have the last word. Some will shift what they call it. Mission accomplished. We are very lucky to have both Jenny and Mike as members who both view our fare and contribute when the spirit is upon them.
    R
    Tom Collins, Ali Miller and Jenny like this.
  12. Jenny

    Jenny

    Messages:
    206
    Likes:
    579
    Here's a bit of my perspective of this canyon's history. Before the Google Earth method of exploring canyons, USGS maps were used. This too, may be well before a Kaleidoscope appeared in any of your Xmas stockings. Depending which map was used, (7.5 min. or 15 min.) this canyon was not identified but the broad bench that it sliced through was called Choprock Bench. When Mike and I descended the canyon in 1982, this lovely fork was not named on our map. So, the name sprang from our first drop into it's depths. Recall that we referred to Poe and the next door neighbours as names from our USGS map? ("S", for the shape of Poe. "O" and "L" for the canyons beneath the words "Waterpocket FOLd" on the map.)

    As many of you know I/we never imagined that the names of our early canyon explorations would be tossed around. Nor do I really put much energy into what they are called. It was a privilege to consider a name, based on the experience, like naming an unborn child. "Choprock", for me doesn't come close to describing my experiences in this canyon. Bogart and I have chatted about writing up the tale some day so I'll spare you the details for now.

    Were we the first descenders? Surely NOT, in a least portions of the slot canyon! Look closely at between minutes 3:02-3:06 on the above video and you'll see the old chipped steps just right of the watercourse rappel. Hmmmmmm. Again, the Ancient Ones were the earlier explorers. If one is observant, frequently Moki/Moqui steps can be seen crossing and/or accessing deep slot canyons.

    Anyone who has descended this beautiful canyon might agree that it changes shapes and colours at every turn. Also, it has many complicated sets of circumstances, even with today's numerous anchor options. Recall the awe you felt when you first witnessed the changes? Sort of like the turn of a Kaleidoscope? Or did you think, "Chopped Rock", perhaps at the Moki steps. Haahahhaha. I'm jesting. Call it what you wish, for sure! You just may risk me offering a "correction" when you are out with me.

    Scott, this one is especially for you, you youngster.

    ka·lei·do·scope
    /kəˈlīdəˌskōp/
    1. optical toy for producing symmetrical patterns by multiple reflections in inclined mirrors enclosed in a tube. Loose pieces of coloured glass, paper, etc., are placed between transparent plates at the far end of the tube, which is rotated to change the pattern.
    2. any complex pattern of frequently changing shapes and colours.
    3. a complicated set of circumstances.

    kaleidoscope_image.
  13. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

    Messages:
    1,360
    Likes:
    1,263
    Yes, this was the case until the 2000’s.

    Even when I was the kid, most of the maps didn’t even show I-70. Most canyon areas only had the 15 minute maps available, rather than the 7.5. The 15 minute maps were from the 1950’s and maps weren’t updated until later in the 1980’s. In places like the Swell you had to figure out where to turn off I-70 because it wasn't on the maps, even though the dirt roads were.

    I’d consider our first real canyoneering adventure to be in 1981 with our descent of the Lower Black Box in high water. I was 7, my brother was 5. My dad and uncle took us down because they heard of the canyon by word of mouth.

    In the 1980’s my brother and I were able to climb up canyons without ropes that are usually done with ropes from the top down. We climbed all the way up canyons such as The Subway, Music Canyon, and North Fork Iron Wash (coincidentally I just did that one two weeks ago and looked at our route rather horrifyingly). I didn’t remember it being that hard or scary, but now days looking at the keeper pothole, I can’t believe we would climb around that bottom up with no ropes).

    It wasn't until a friend and I descended Imlay in 1990 that we started using ropes and at least a few years after that before we started using the safely and competently.

    As far as I am aware, 1982 is where two books published the name of Choprock Canyon (not only bench), but the name may only refer to the main fork.

    The canyon name database has part of the story:


    Kaleidoscope — Called by some Choprock, Jenny Hall (AKA West) and Mike Bogart named it Kaleidoscope, since the canyon seemed different at every turn. Forced to climb out and bivi during the first partial descent, due to its many pools and hypothermia, they rapped back in and continued, missing only a short section of canyon.


    June 24–25, 1982 — First partial descent by Mike Bogart & Jenny Hall (AKA West).


    October 28, 1982 — First descent by Dennis Turville & Lisa Hubbert.


    My cousin had one when we were a kid. That’s the only one I have ever seen.

    Anyway, I have learned that canyon names stick by being published and usually early on rather than first descents.

    The only canyons I have named (some of which were named by others before we ever saw them) where the names stuck were Alcatraz and Zebra.

    In 1992 we called Egypt 4 Bloody Slot. Egypt 3 was Easy Slot. One of the Egypts we named Beaver Dam.

    In 1992 we named Secret Falls Canyon and Boundary (a different one) in Zion.

    There were a lot of canyons we did in the 80's and 90's where the names never stuck.

    More recently kids named Chamber of the Basilisk, but since it was written up as Goblins Lair, it was Goblin's Lair name that stuck.

    Some of my dad's friends and others referred to what I thought was Neon as Caverns Hollow, but I do wonder if that name was really supposed to refer to what is now Ringtail.

    When we were in the Escalante area backpacking in 1988, Steve Negler was the one who told us about Neon and Imlay (technical sections) so I assume he must have know either you, Dennis, or some of your friends.

    For better or worse (some would argue worse), I have found that it's usually only published names that tend to stick around, especially since the internet has come into play.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
    stefan, Ram, Jenny and 2 others like this.
  14. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

    Messages:
    1,048
    Likes:
    1,119
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    Too funny...I played with a Kaleidoscope as a kid a bunch. Of course, I have a few years on Scott.

    The etymology of "Choprock Bench" according to the Utah Place Names book by Van Cott, describes the area as "extremely rugged benchland cut by numerous deep canyons, washes, and impassible eroded areas of rimrock."

    From Steve Allen: "Burns Ormand from Boulder ran cattle extensively in the area starting in the early 1920s (his name is etched in a wall in Choprock Canyon from 1927). He helped build the trail from Choprock to Neon, but again had no name [for Neon Canyon]. He was familiar with the Golden Cathedral, but as a stock watering place and a darn good place to corral his cows! (And Choprock, called Widemouth by the cowboys, was named because Burns and others had to ‘Chop the Rock’ to make the stock trail out of the canyon.)”

    Place names and their evolution are interesting. Even in climbing, the original FA names aren't always preserved, even when the history of the name comes forth. Luxury Liner to Supercrack of the Desert to just "Supercrack".

    I remember chatting with a friend who'd done Choprock (aka Kaleidoscope) a few times back before I did Neon in the 90's. He'd knew it'd been done but no one seemed to recall any other name for the canyon than Choprock although I think the different forks sported different names.

    Made sense it was called Choprock Canyon. The "Choprock Bench" name runs right across both forks on the Silver Falls Bench quad.

    Anyhow, Choprock is easier to spell. Ha ha.

    stefan, Dan Ransom, Ram and 1 other person like this.
  15. Jenny

    Jenny

    Messages:
    206
    Likes:
    579
    Scott, in the name of trying to offer a historical (hysterical) perspective, I have to add that this addition to the "database" was from one person's perspective and that fella was not on the descent. Mike and I see it differently than D. Turville wrote but again, that tale may yet be told.

    No one could do a finer job as caretaker of our Canyon Tales than the brilliant Stefan Folias. History is an illusive critter and makes it tough to capture all the angles. Stefan's efforts are near flawless and his goal of accuracy is known by many. Steve Allen's opus, Utah Canyon Place Names, is a prime example of one method to attempt to cover it all.

    Brian, it is so funny you mention VanCott's book. He's one of my early Mormon ancestors. So right on, Kaleideoscope, Kailidoscope, Kaliedeoscope is a tough one to spell.
  16. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

    Messages:
    1,360
    Likes:
    1,263
    Yes, that's why I said "part of the story". It would be great to hear your story about the canyon sometime.
  17. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

    Messages:
    1,360
    Likes:
    1,263
    If anyone is curious, here is the earliest Kelsey book I have that used the name Choprock Canyon. It was my first guidebook and as you can see it has been used.

    I bought it with the birthday money my grandma gave me. I believe it was my 9th birthday.

    Anyway, the name Choprock Canyon is used, but as you can see it doesn't refer to the South Fork specifically as being Choprock.

    20200618_123744.

    20200618_123725.
    stefan likes this.
  18. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

    Messages:
    1,048
    Likes:
    1,119
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    I recall friends refer to it as "Chop-slot" as well.

    Good times.
  19. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

    Messages:
    1,360
    Likes:
    1,263
    And Moe's Slot.
  20. CRNPRES

    CRNPRES

    Messages:
    284
    Likes:
    146
    Just found out the area got a storms of almost an 1” the beginning of June based on weather station but found out from a friend that works on the hole in the rock road that it was all hail and didn’t flow canyons.

    He was at the exit rap a last week and saw no signs of recent flow so we will move forward for Sunday and I will let you know what we find. Should be a fun day.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2020
    ratagonia likes this.
Similar Threads: Choprock
Forum Title Date
Trip Reports Choprock/ Kaleidoscope Nov 13, 2019
Utah Choprock Current Conditions Jun 1, 2018
General Discussion Choprock water level Mar 1, 2018
Trip Reports Choprock, Neon questions May 22, 2017
Trip Reports Escalante Neon/Choprock/Ringtail Conditions 2017 Apr 4, 2017
General Discussion Choprock Conditions? May 20, 2016