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Fat Man's Misery 2016 - this year's place for rescues?

Discussion in 'Accidents and Near Misses' started by ratagonia, Jul 18, 2016.

  1. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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  2. Yellow Dart

    Yellow Dart It's only hubris if I fail.

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    I'd wager uptick in the slots just outside, due to scarcity of permits for the common routes in the park mixed with ignorance of the other 30 canyons not listed in the Zion reservation system. Did Walker Gulch yesterday, on the walk in, and the walk out, saw a total of 5 different groups coming out of Birch. Granted it was a Sunday during peak season, but still, that's quite a lot to witness.
  3. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    I assume there have been a lot of rescues since the route requires route finding (too many "adventurers" these days can't even read a map) and because the last rappel has changed drastically (at least according to some reports).
  4. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Good possibility Scott. I know when I did it with a group, I missed an exit point on the return. Just continued to follow a trail...I had a topo map, took a "best guess" on where to go that would most likely ascend out, and it worked. Still keeping us on rock, and minimizing impact. In our case, it would have taken a lot of backtracking and fatigue to find the regular exit point.
  5. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Could you tell me more?

    I got lost following a trail that was the trail furthest right, a couple weeks ago. Can you characterize what happened to you?

    Anyone else get misled out there?

    I might go in and erase the trail I got misled by, especially if others have done the same.

    Tom
  6. skunkteeth

    skunkteeth

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    When I did it a couple years ago (the only time) I got misled by the trail on the right. We ended up going over a couple high points to get to the bee hives bluugnome had mentioned. Added about an hour to our exit time I would guess. I added a purple line to the map link below, but I am going off my memory from years ago.

    http://caltopo.com/m/Q56S
  7. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    I believe it may be the same spot as you where we got lost.

    Exit: After you climb the steep gully, continuing north, the trail evens out (a saddle). It then tends to take you to the right. I believe that is still the correct route for ~0.7 miles. But you must then climb again where there are some "bee hive formations" that Luke describes in his beta. We somehow missed those, although we we were looking for them. The correct route requires some additional climbing up another ridge rather than taking the well marked easy trail.

    Erasing "that" trail, and clearly marking the climb up and away point may be a good idea. If we are describing the same thing.
  8. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Same place I missed as well!
  9. Rich Bud

    Rich Bud

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    I am not sure about the recent rescues, but I attempted to do Fat Man's Misery with a group of 4 friends on July 8th, 2016. We got a bit of a late start, but planned it that way so as to be in the slot and East Fork of the Virgin during the hottest parts of the day. We made it through the first few sections of slot pretty easily and completed the 45' rappel into the confluence with Misery Canyon. We approached the final rappel into the Grotto and I started to rig the rappel.
    This is when things got really interesting! As I was rigging the rappel by threading my rope through the quick link for a simple double-strand rappel, we heard sifting below our feet. My buddy, who was right beside me, hollered "Go! Go!" as loud as he could and we all ran from the anchor boulder back up the canyon. Right at that point, there was a dramatic rockfall and a very large boulder fell onto my rope, shredding it in the process. The anchor was destroyed and we were visibly shaken and super scared. As we tried to find an alternate way around the rappel and down into the Grotto, a second rockfall occurred with at least one very large boulder and many smaller boulders falling down into the slot canyon right where we would have been rappeling. Here are a few pictures documenting what happened.

    The first attached picture is after the first rockfall. You can see my green rope coiled as I was threading it through the quick link. The giant boulder covering my rope is where I was kneeling rigging the rappel.


    The second attached picture is after the second rockfall. You can see the biggest of the boulders in now hanging over the rappel in a very precarious position. It would not take much for this huge boulder to fall down into the slot. You can also see that the anchor boulder is nowhere to be seen. We did not investigate further due to the very precarious nature of the rockfall.

    The third attached picture is a view from the top of the rappel down into the slot. When we arrived, there were zero rocks down there and it was just a flat, sandy landing area. We cannot remember if this pic was taken after the first rockfall or the second rockfall. Regardless, if we had arrived five or ten minutes earlier one or all of us could have died when that boulder fell into the slot.

    This was our first time leading a technical canyon after having gone through the years with more experienced canyoneers and taking a few classes to help prepare us. Not in a thousand years did I think something like this would happen. Thankfully, we were able to find a very steep scramble up out of Misery Canyon heading west toward the use trail that leads out. My buddy and I have relatively good route finding skills and we were able to make our way back to Checkerboard Mesa and out without any harm to anyone. I post this to warn any future canyoneers about doing this canyon. The rocks are very precarious and teetering on the top of this rappel. I let the Zion Backcountry office know of our experience immediately and they told me they would inform the BLM about the rockfall and handle it from there.

    [​IMG]

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    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 19, 2016
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  10. deathtointernet

    deathtointernet

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    I was backpacking Parunuweap this weekend. Hiked in from Carmel Junction to Poverty Wash and camped there. That evening I encountered 3 boys heading upriver. They were a bit disoriented, and explained that they had come down the Poverty Trail (between Rock Canyon and Mineral Gulch) and had hiked down the canyon to Misery. They did not say that they had come down Misery Canyon at all. They were planning on following the rest of their 'group' out the exit at the Powell Plaque, and located the correct place to climb up. However once out on the rim, they could not follow the group's path clearly and wandered for several hours before making a smart decision to retreat back down to Parunuweap as their water began to run low. When I met them they were hiking up river to return to the Poverty Trail, since this was the exit they knew. The plan was to get to the bottom of the trail and camp there that night, and hike out in the morning. With the amount of daylight left they should have had no trouble making it back to at least Rock Canyon, which I told them had good places to camp. They were not in any distress, and were in good spirits, with a reasonable plan to get themselves out of their predicament. I'm genuinely surprised they needed to be rescued at all, if indeed they actually 'needed' the rescue versus accepted it when it presented itself. When I last spoke to them they said that if anyone came looking for them let them know where they had gone and that they were fine.

    The next morning I continued down river to my own exit at the Powell Plaque (it did occur to me later that I while I mentioned that I was going out the exit the next day and knew the way, I didn't insist that they camp with me and come out my exit... I guess they seemed to be having a good time despite their mixup and had a decent plan, and determination to make it out themselves, so I left it at that). Along the way I met one of the leaders of the rest of the group, coming up river in search of them. After I explained what they had done he was relieved that they were okay and was happy that they had decided to make the decision to return to familiar ground. He turned back to catch up with others coming down the exit route in search.

    As I filtered water for the hot hike out, the rescue helicopter first came by. My first reaction was 'oh great, they had a whole chopper out here to search and those boys are just fine.' Still, understandable considering how inhospitable the desert above is during the midday heat. Two thirds of the way up the climb out to the rim, the helicopter returned, hovering very low over me. Not a pleasant experience, especially considering I was in a fairly vertical place at the time. If I thought the helicopter last year in Heaps (the recovery operation for the fatal accident) blew a lot of sand and debris on me, that was nothing. Thankfully they soon moved off, and I resumed my climb. Near the very top they came around again, this time below me, in the canyon, and I got to watch as the pilot made a fantastic approach to land on a small patch of sand at the river's turn by the plaque. Dropping my pack, I went back down the climb and spoke to Jim from SAR. I explained that the boys were fine, and he said that they had already gotten them that morning. Now he was here looking for a group that had reported an accident at Labyrinth Falls. He asked me how far the falls were down the river, and if they had landed near the plaque (couldn't have gotten any closer for sure!). I resumed my hike out. Several times the chopper came out of the canyon, circled around, and went back in. I have yet to hear anything about this second incident. Was it a false alarm? Certainly by now I would think something would have come out. Anyway, that's my take on it. It was an interesting weekend.
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  11. deathtointernet

    deathtointernet

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  12. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Thanks for the first-hand account Bud. I'd love to see the pictures.

    Unfortunately for this post, first time users are not allowed to post pictures. Find a couple spots where you can post: "nice picture" and do so. I think after 5 posts you can do pictures... maybe you can edit this post and add the pictures back in.

    Tom
  13. Rich Bud

    Rich Bud

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    I wonder why it shows me the pictures but not you. I just posted on a few folks trip reports so I can hopefully post photos now. Here they are.
    Picture 1
    [​IMG]

    Picture 2
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    Picture 3
    [​IMG]
  14. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    @Rich Bud It looks like you're trying to share them from your google+ account, check the privacy settings for that album. If that doesn't work try uploading the files directly to this site instead of sharing them from another site.
  15. Rich Bud

    Rich Bud

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    Pictures are uploaded on the original post. Hope you can see them now. Sorry to butcher this process! Thanks for being patient with me!
  16. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Here's the pictures, reduced in size for easy viewing:

    FatMans01. fatmans02. Fatmans03.
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  17. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    Rich
    Really glad you folks are OK!
    That anchor really bugged me when we were through a couple of years ago...
    Unstable stacked rocks in an unstable little gulley.
    Lacking a quick/reasonable alternate rap we just held our breath and hustled through it...
    Because of the popularity of this canyon I am assuming that some good citizens will establish a safer anchor.
    Congratulations on being alert and quick to get out of the way-
    You avoided the Darwin Award!
    :twothumbs:
  18. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    @Rich Bud Those are some hefty head knockers!! Way to go on being observant. Glad everyone escaped unharmed.

    Aha!! So that's how to minimize risk in sketchy terrain... must be back-of-the-book safety tip. :woot::woot:
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  19. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    Kuenn-
    It's an ALPINE technique :D
    With all of the guiding that is supposed to occur in Fat Mans
    I was surprised to see such a scuzzy anchor point...
    Guess it was OK
    Until it wasn't
    :eek:
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  20. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Not much guiding in Fat Man's, assuming you mean guiding = paid guiding.

    Tom
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