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Dual groups Birch Hollow / Orderville timing

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Jeff Schaber, Jul 5, 2018.

  1. Jeff Schaber

    Jeff Schaber

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    All of my group wants to do Orderville at the end of September but some have never been in a canyon while others have experience and want a bit more of a challenge. I was considering splitting the group and having the more adventurous drop into Orderville through Birch Hollow and hopefully meet the others hiking down from the top.

    Was wondering what kind of lead time the Birch Hollow group would need to get to the bottom about when the other group hit that spot?

    I was thinking we would need to start about an hour before the other group but that's just a guess. Was figuring it would take them 2-1/2 hours from the Birch Hollow drop off point on the road to get to the entrance to Orderville then down to where Birch enters the canyon. That should give us 3-1/2 hours to complete Birch assuming that's the standard time?

    Has anyone done something like this or could give me some approximate times?

    Thanks!
  2. hank moon

    hank moon lovely ligatures

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    Too many variables / unknowns to give a precise answer, here's a few:
    1. Your groups' route finding skills & familiarity w/the planned routes (including approaches)
    2. Other groups in Birch (large groups are common, sometimes ridiculously large + incompetent)
    3. Your group size(s)
    4. Group technical skills and competence
    5. ...
    Short answer: one-hour lead time for the Birch group is not enough; suggest the Birch group get a longer* head start and (likely) be the ones to do any waiting. The mouth of Birch is a pleasant spot to wait (or perhaps practice ascending). You can mitigate #2 by getting an alpine start and/or by doing the trip mid-week: those large groups aren't often early risers, or well-managed.
  3. Jeff Schaber

    Jeff Schaber

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    Thanks Hank,

    We have Orderville permits for Sunday September 30th so mid-week is out. The group we have will be no more than 6 people however, having never done Birch before your #1 item will be our biggest obstacle (however I'm pretty good at route finding and do an extensive amount of research ahead of the route). We may have 2 relatively unseasoned people with us so that may be an issue for #4 and we have no control over #2 other than getting a real early start (we do have multiple vehicles).

    I don't mind waiting for the other group and actually prefer it so just trying to get the timing right.
  4. Mike Zampino

    Mike Zampino Canyon season never ends.

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    Two-way radios like the Motorola talkabout may be helpful to have.
  5. Jeff Schaber

    Jeff Schaber

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    I bring my Motorola's with me on every trip but always forget to pack them for the hike, this is a great idea for this trip so I'll have to write myself a note to make sure I have them packed.
  6. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    It's a 35 minute walk from the end of the road down Orderville to the bottom of Birch Hollow. Maybe an extra 15-20 minutes of driving past the Birch Hollow trailhead. I took a group of 10 down Birch Hollow, mostly beginners with <5 canyons under their belt with two competent leaders. We had extra ropes so we were doing two drops at once. We started before dawn (we were hiking by 5:45 am) and hit the bottom of Birch Hollow at 10:30 am.

    The speed at which a crew can get down Birch Hollow is HIGHLY DEPENDENT on rigging speed, rappelling speed, and size of the group. If the group is larger than about 3, taking extra ropes can speed things up a lot, but you'd have to slug them all the way down Orderville, which would be a pain.

    For the competent, Birch Hollow is a short downhill hike followed by 10 rappels or so with little walking or climbing between them and no swimming. I think two really fast people could get down it in 2 hours, but they will have spent more time stuffing/coiling ropes than anything else while they were in canyon. I can't envision doing it any faster than that.

    Bottom line? I think a 1 hour headstart isn't even close, a 3 1/2 hour headstart probably isn't enough, even if you're the first group in the canyon. I'd plan on a 4-5 hour headstart. It's not an alternate start to Orderville, it's a whole other canyon. And I agree the bottom is a nice place to hang.
    Rapterman likes this.
  7. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    Most old-timers have attempted some form of backcountry rendezvous at some point....
    Fodder for campfire tales
    Many epics begin with one group splitting into two....
    So ...... why not PLAN it that way and get a head start...
    Wait
    there is no popcorn munching emoji for the collective?
  8. Jeff Schaber

    Jeff Schaber

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    With the amount of time it may take to do this I'll probably save Birch for another trip and just enjoy Orderville. I was hoping to add something a little more technical to the trip but not having done either don't know what to expect. I imagine I'll enjoy Orderville just as it stands.
    ratagonia and Rapterman like this.
  9. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Smart move.
    Jeff Schaber likes this.
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