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NV: Red Rocks Ice Cube Canyon in Class C Conditions

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Austin Farnworth, May 5, 2018.

  1. Austin Farnworth

    Austin Farnworth

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    Location:
    Mapleton, Utah
    To celebrate the end of the school year, Olivia and I decided to spend a few days in Las Vegas, with plans to descend Ice Cube canyon nearby. Heavy rain and flash flooding in Red Rock Canyon almost ruined our chances of doing the canyon, but luckily it stopped the night before we planned to do the canyon. We arrived at Red Rock Canyon before its opening at 6am to find a sign reading “Closed due to flash flooding”. We waited until 6am and were pleased to see the flash flooding sign removed and the gates opened. Bluugnome’s beta referred to a fantastic descent of Ice Cube right after heavy rains, and it was looking like we were going to be in for similar conditions.

    As we arrived at the Ice Box Canyon trail-head, I noticed that the storm had covered the upper reaches of bridge mountain in snow, a very unusual sight for Red Rock Canyon in May! On our hike into box canyon we observed the final rappel of Ice Cube canyon and decided that the flow was reasonable and that it was worth doing the approach. We struggled for 45 minutes to find the location where the sneak route leaves the wash in Ice Box Canyon, finally finding it farther up canyon from where we thought. The sneak route keeps you in fourth class terrain for much of first section, with a few sections of fixed lines protecting the 5th class sections. LRM_EXPORT_20180503_223858. 20180503_093426 (1). Though it had rained heavily the day before, the rock was solid and we did not encounter any wet-rock related issues on the climb up. The route up was very fun from a scrambling perspective and got progressively more beautiful when waterfalls, that were hundreds of feet high, became visible as we neared the top out.
    20180503_101820 (1).
    Four hours after leaving the car, we arrived in Ice Cube canyon to find the wash running with crystal clear water. The huge Ponderosa pines and blooming wildflowers made me forget that we were in the desert. 20180503_120138 (1). We suited up and headed down the creek, bypassing a small drop, arriving at the first mandatory rappel. The roar of the water was deafening, but the flow was low enough to keep things safe and give you a good soaking at the same time. We set up a line to get safely to the bolted anchor in the watercourse and rappelled into a full swim. 20180503_123339. 20180503_124806. A lush green section of high walled canyon led to an amazing 100ft rappel, right down the watercourse into a long swim. LRM_EXPORT_20180503_222531. LRM_EXPORT_20180503_222012.

    The canyon then narrowed with an awkward rappel off a bolder pile and a small elevator slide into narrow slot. This was followed by a repeating pattern of short rappels into swims, followed by lush green walking sections. The small drops were not bolted and had plenty of natural anchor options, other than one 30ft rappel that was anchored with a submerged log, with few other options for the drop. A toggle was very useful for a few of the shorter rappels that had anchors very far back from the edge.
    LRM_EXPORT_20180503_221640.
    LRM_EXPORT_20180503_215605. 20180503_133528. 20180503_134303. We soon reached a very long and narrow swim that led to a boulder choked area. The next rappel deposited us underneath the boulders in a dark and beautiful room, followed by a swim out. This spot was easily one of the most beautiful places I have been in a canyon. LRM_EXPORT_20180503_214741. LRM_EXPORT_20180503_214414.
    Around the corner, the canyon opened up into the final sequence of rappels and a big view of the desert. By this time, my wife Olivia was getting really cold, even though she was wearing a 5mm full wet-suit plus a 2mm vest. She wanted to move quickly to get down the final big rappel and get warm. The last rappel was anchored off a bolts and puts you right in the flow for a good chunk of the rappel. Olivia went down first and I followed second, getting blasted with water on the way down. The rappel was about 190ft into a pool with a short swim.
    LRM_EXPORT_20180503_214024.
    We changed into dry clothes and started on our way down the boulder field that leads down into Ice Box wash. It took about 1 hour to get down from the the last rappel to the trail-head. Car to car it took us 8 and a half hours to do the sneak route, even with some route finding difficulties. I definitely want to come back to Ice Cube Canyon and do the full route from the top, in class C conditions again if possible. Class C Ice Cube is now in my top 5 canyons list and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has the chance to descend it a day after heavy rains.

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    Ram, Rapterman, townsend and 14 others like this.
  2. spinesnaper

    spinesnaper

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    I was hoping to see a picture of the corkscrew with water in it. Amazing pictures. Ken
    Austin Farnworth likes this.
  3. MB_HD

    MB_HD

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    My back yard and I am ashamed to say I have not been in this canyon. That will change soon.
    Austin Farnworth likes this.
  4. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    Blue would know best,
    but I think only a few have experienced the Cube with significant flow
    Congratulations!
    Austin Farnworth likes this.
  5. Sutitan

    Sutitan

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    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Incredible photos! what kind of camera did you drag in if you dont mind me asking?
  6. Austin Farnworth

    Austin Farnworth

    Messages:
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    184
    Location:
    Mapleton, Utah
    Just my phone camera from my galaxy s6

    Sent from my SM-G920T using Tapatalk
    ratagonia likes this.
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