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UT: Cedar Mesa Fry Canyon Sept. 2010

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Stephanie, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. Stephanie

    Stephanie

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    Warning: Lot of words, not many pics (as explained below)

    Background: When my then-fiance asked what I wanted to do for our honeymoon, I said that I wanted to stay close to home. I wanted to explore amazing places close to us. I did not, I said, want to deal with airplanes and all-inclusive hand-holding and a whole bunch of other people all up in our space. I had never been to the Grand Canyon or Zion, I said, and I really wanted to see them. I had already learned by this point that he never does anything half-way. So I really should not have been surprised that his response to this request was to buy us a camper-trailer and teach himself canyoneering techniques. He put together an amazing 2-week itinerary that did not leave us time to visit both national parks, so he made me choose. I chose Zion (and extracted a promise for the Grand Canyon for our first anniversary). Our itinerary included two technical canyon routes – Fry Canyon in Cedar Mesa and the Subway.

    The Canyon: The night before our first ever technical canyon, we camped at Hite and watched an amazing thunderstorm over Lake Powell. We had seen thunderheads in the distance all day and were relieved that the forecast for the following day was clear and sunny. That morning, we found a spot to park our trailer (that necessitated an additional mile of hiking on either end of our journey) and started down the canyon. The top part of the canyon was uneventful (except for the part where he knocked his camera off of his helmet, prompting an extra 15 minutes of fishing around in brown water trying to find the battery and memory card. We have since learned on other occasions that cameras and my husband don’t mix well in canyons). We saw a lot of evidence of the previous evening’s flash flood, and encountered some brief swims in addition to some wading.

    FRY CANYON_004.JPG
    Our beta suggested that the first and only rap was 80 feet, but we were able to see down into the pool below, and the rope obviously reached it with more than enough to suggest that it wasn’t nearly that long. I managed to control my nerves enough to rap into the pool below, followed by my newly-minted husband. Only AFTER he pulled the rope did I make my way over to the edge of the pool to peer down and see what came next. Whoops. It instantly became abundantly clear that we were supposed to rap into the pool below, rather than stopping where we did. We both learned a whole lot about canyoneering in about 15 seconds. I learned that I could NOT be a passive tourist in these situations. Upon disconnecting, I should have immediately looked ahead to assess what was waiting for us, informed my husband of the next drop, and he could have adjusted the rope length accordingly so we could rap the full length. We both learned that we need to thoroughly assess the situation before committing ourselves. If we had paid more attention at the top, we could easily have seen where we should have ended up. Fortunately, he is a quick thinker, a good climber and can keep his cool when the pressure is on. And fortunately, he did a LOT of homework in getting ready for this trip. After some quick thinking, he rigged a second rap for me using himself as a meat anchor. The drop into the second pool wasn’t terribly long, and after getting me safely down, he was able to downclimb enough to jump into the pool.

    FRY CANYON_002.JPG

    FRY CANYON_007.JPG

    All in all, Fry is a fabulous beginner canyon. After the rap, we swam through long sinuously-curved canyon walls where we could reach out and touch either side. The water was achingly cold after the previous night’s storm – in fact, it might still be the coldest canyon water either of us has experienced to date. When we finished the swims, we made our way out to the confluence with White Canyon and after some creative route-finding, found the exit point and a nice big warm rock where we could change into dry hiking gear. We were exhausted and wide-eyed at the end of the day. We both agreed that the best word for our first technical canyoneering adventure was “intense!” We both want to revisit Fry some day so we can get it right! (Also, it packs a whole lot of gorgeous into a short, easy canyon.) Oh – and we did make it to the Grand Canyon the following year, although we have yet to explore any technical canyons there. Obviously, we need to go back.

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    Ram, John Diener, Deagol and 3 others like this.
  2. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    This is my wife's favorite.
    Stephanie likes this.
  3. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Great story, thanks Stephanie.

    Tom
    Stephanie likes this.
  4. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Great pics Stephanie.

    We used Tom's beta when we went, from his site. Let's see, how did he put it? A "Refreshing*Oasis*in*the*Stinking*Hot*Desert"? :)

    Thanks for writing that one up Tom. A huge hit.
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