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UT: Cedar Mesa Fry, Short, Fortknocker and Duckett Slot Canyons

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Downward Bound, Jun 9, 2013.

  1. Downward Bound

    Downward Bound

    Flagstaff, AZ
    I look forward to May each year, as I graduate my students (I'm a professor at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff) and have a few weeks to head to southeast Utah for some canyons before the heat and gnats run me away. In both 2012 and 2013 the wife and I have headed to the White Canyon area for some car camping and canyons. We camp somewhere along the road from Duckett Crossing that heads out towards Fortknocker. You have to look really hard to find shade, but there is one great spot with both a good shade tree and a shady alcove. We spent five days there last year, and only saw one car drive by the entire time, and no other people anywhere. This year we did four days, with the same great lack of people and traffic. Amazing to have such a great area all to ourselves.

    I've been a rock climber since 1977 but the elbows and shoulders are getting a bit old for 5.11 crimpers and the wife just won't rock climb. We've taken up canyoneering and are loving it. We are still newbies, so we take it easy and don't try anything that will scare us away from wanting more.

    This year, we headed out on May 13 and stopped by the Frylette on our way in order to try out the new wetsuits. The water seemed low relative to some published reports, but it was fun and quite scenic, if short. We're really glad the brought the solar shower and enough water for daily showers.

    We drove to Duckett Crossing and out Horse Tanks Rd. to set up our camp near the head of Fortknocker. The next morning, May 14, we drove back to the head of Short Canyon and headed in. This is a great starter canyon as it has a bit of everything (rappels, swims) but not too much of anything. We go slow and double check everything. I belay her on the rappels for an extra margin of safety. We have a wonderful day and do the full hike out of White Canyon rather than the somewhat dicey shortcut climb.

    The next day, May 15, we decide to do a non-technical loop down one arm of Fortknocker and up another. I take a rope and some webbing just in case, which proves to be a good call as we encounter an upclimb on the return that can I try to boulder, but don't like the last move. I use our drybag as a potshot and manage to get past the obstacle.

    On our last day, May 16, we go for Duckett Slot, which is our most serious canyon so far, though still not too much for us. All goes well, except one of the swims near the bottom smells like a sewer.

    We camp out for the last night and finally see the only other people in four days, a water utility company truck. Maybe they are on an extended lunch break?

    For a team of newbies with an average age of 56, we feel pretty good about our effort and look forward to many more.
    Dan Ransom, Michael Walsh and Ram like this.
  2. Ram


    Wonderful. Thanks for taking the edge off another work day far from the canyons.
    I had never heard of the Fryette short variation by name. You make it up of hear it called that somewhere else?
    I enjoyed your Short video. Have heard good things about it, but have never been
    When you did the Fortnocker loop, did you have info that you would be able to ascend one fork or the other? Often it can be impossible to get up. Did you have knowledge of another exit below the confluence if necessary? Nice work on the chockstone.
    Duckett rocks! Thanks for sharing. All that time alone while people got in lines in Zion. Love it.
    Oh and finally, I am old enough to get the reference to Downward Bound and the picture of Warren Harding in your avatar. One of the most hilarious books ever. Its on the shelf behind me. Irreverent soul was he not? Was sorry to hear of his passing a few years back
    Oh my, he has been gone more than a decade? Time flies! Below for those too young to know.
    Downward bound. How apropos for a canyoneer
    The last one signed by Royal Robbins. Much of the book was making fun of him! Priceless!
  3. Dan Ransom

    Dan Ransom Staff Member

    Salt Lake
    Great stuff! Thanks for putting those videos together. :twothumbs:
  4. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

  5. Downward Bound

    Downward Bound

    Flagstaff, AZ
    Got that from Tom's web site, as Scott indicated in his reply.

    We were going to hike down the western fork as far as we could and turn around if needed. The chockstone was encountered in the northern fork on our way out. We could have just reversed the western fork, but it would have made for a longer hike. So, we decided to see if we could continue and the potshot made it possible.

    I was curious to see if anyone would catch on. You are the first to mention it. Rock climbers are always upward bound, so I thought the title of Harding's book would make a great nickname for a canyoneer, since we are going the other way. I saw Harding in person at a slide show he did in Flagstaff a few years before his death. Quite the character.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the videos.
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