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Heaps Canyon Rescue: The Devil's Hole, July 8th, 2013

Discussion in 'Accidents and Near Misses' started by TPax, Apr 21, 2014.

  1. TPax

    TPax

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    This is slightly overdue, but per Tom's request, here are the facts about our rescue from the infamous "Devil's Hole" last summer:

    The trip started on Friday, July 5th. Our permit holder had done the canyon before and suggested we start hiking the night before, despite not having an overnight camping permit. We hiked all the way to the first rappel and spent the night there.

    The next morning (Saturday) we woke up early and started our descent through the canyon. The first half of the day was fairly uneventful. The first couple rappels were extremely breathtaking. Once we finally got to the narrows section, the canyon got a little less beautiful and a little more exhausting. Pools were cold, and pothole escapes went from exciting to frustrating. The adventure wasn't really any surprise to us. Our permit holder had done the canyon before a few years previous, and we were fairly prepared for the hard work the canyon presented. Sometime in the late afternoon we were jumping across potholes and saw the canyon took what appeared to be a sharp 90-degree turn left. After rounding the corner all we saw was a large canyon wall. We had reached what I now know to be the Devil's Pit.

    We surveyed the scene as best we could from our little platform. The exit was farther back, but we missed it, and our one group member who had done it before didn't recognize the spot we were in, probably due to different water levels. We quickly went into survival mode and got prepared for a long stay in the case that we couldn't get out. At this point we had one Nalgene bottle of pure water and one Nalgene that we filled at the spring on the way up. We had several granola bars and fun size Snickers. We rationed our food and figured if we made it last until Tuesday we'd be good.

    We did several things to pass that evening by. We tried starting a fire, but our lighter wouldn't start. We tried rubbing sticks, but to no avail. That basically summed up our night's activities.

    The next morning (Sunday) we sat and told stories of our LDS missions while we waited for our 30 minutes of sunlight for the day. The sunlight must have raised our spirits enough that we decided to try and climb out. We had lashed some sticks together in an attempt to aid the climb up the first pitch. At the top we lashed a crossbar that leaned against the side wall and stabilized our ladder. Our ladder didn't quite get us to a safe spot to start the climb, so we attached a Piranha and several carabiners to a knot and tried to toss it into a crevice on the right side of the climb. After a couple attempts we were finally able to get the rope stuck. It gave one member of our group enough protection to help him up the first pitch.

    The second pitch was easier and considerably shorter, only about 25 feet. The canyon narrows from three feet wide to one foot wide, just wide enough for a comfortable stem. The only tricky part was that the ledge sat at the narrow end, a little too tight for an easy stem. It didn't take long for us all to get to the top of that pitch.

    At this point it was getting dark, and we were fatigued, famished, and dehydrated. We decided to spend the night huddled together on the ledge, the same ledge that the people who named the spot must have slept.

    Monday morning came, as did the time for us to climb up the last pitch. By this point all we had were several ounces of spring water left in our Nalgene bottle. We said one of our many prayers, tied a rope to one of our party and he stemmed up the last 50 feet to the top. No sooner did he top out than the SAR helicopter flew over for the first time. The timing couldn't have been better if we were in a movie. After several fly-by's they finally stopped and air-lifted us one by one off the plateau.

    It wasn't until we made it out that we realized we were still in Heaps. Our best guess was that we took a wrong turn, like the one mentioned in Tom's book. It didn't make a lot of sense, especially since the canyon was bolted, but it was our best guess at the time. It wasn't until just recently that we finally put all the pieces together and found out that we were trapped in the Devil's Hole.

    I have a couple pictures posted in another thread. If you're curious about what the canyon looks like at the Devil's Hole, I'll redirect you to that post: http://canyoncollective.com/threads/three-rescued-from-heaps-dead-end.18621/page-2
  2. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Thanks TPax. Sorry for your misadventure, but at least you got a decent story out of it!

    Tom
    TPax likes this.
  3. TPax

    TPax

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    And a cool helicopter ride ;)
    hank moon likes this.
  4. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    bump... just for fun, and Monsoon Season, and...
    Tyler likes this.
  5. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    And again, just for fun, kinda sorta.

    Be careful out there.

    T
  6. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Worth bumping again...
  7. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Time for the annual bump...
    Rapterman likes this.
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