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UT: Ticaboo Mesa Montezuma Canyon

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Austin Farnworth, Mar 23, 2018.

  1. Austin Farnworth

    Austin Farnworth

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    Location:
    Mapleton, Utah
    Bad weather across the state forced us to cancel our plans for a canyon trip to the King Mesa slots, so we opted to head down to Ticaboo Mesa instead. Though I had really wanted to get into some of the King Mesa slots, I have also been very interested in doing Montezuma Canyon ever since I camped at the head of the canyon on a previous trip. When we got down to Ticaboo Mesa, we were greeted by dark skies and hoped they would clear up soon like the weather report had suggested. 20180321_104639. As soon as we dropped into the top of the slot there were signs that the canyon had flashed recently and every spot that could hold water was full. My wife Olivia and her cousin Kenna had opted to not bring wetsuits because of how warm the day was while the rest of us put on our neoprene. I put the option of going back up to get the wetsuits out there but both of them were convinced that they would be fine. Upper Montezuma had some really fun downclimbs and I wished that I had not put on my wetsuit so early because the upper section doesn’t hold much water and it was a very warm day. The water was chest level at its deepest point in the upper section, though a committed stemmer could stem around all of the pools without getting wet. 20180321_111557(0). 20180321_120739. We reached the open area the marks the end of upper, and the start of lower Montezuma. The clouds were now gone and the sun was out in strength. From this point on the canyon transitions from the somewhat shallow slot it was in the upper section, to the deep, beautiful and twisty one that it becomes in the lower section. Soon after starting the lower section, we hit our first swim across a full pothole. We got a good laugh out of watching the shock on Kenna and Olivia’s faces as they hit the cold swim without wetsuits on. LRM_EXPORT_20180322_175052. Following the swim was an awkward down climb off of an overhanging spout-like pour-off to a ledge 6 feet below, with another 6 foot drop below that. It was a tricky place to give a spot but we discovered a hand hold near the lip that allowed one to hang and drop with the assistance of those below. The first rappel was next and it deposited you into a dark swim with an amazing arch that kinda resembles a miniature golden cathedral overhead. The water there was deep and 12 year old Sam jumped instead of rappelling. LRM_EXPORT_20180322_174904. The earthen rock dam that was holding the water in the pothole we just crossed started to give way and water started pouring down canyon. The next section of canyon was tight and dark with great lighting. The flow of water beneath us added to the atmosphere, causing me to get lost in the moment and I didn’t take any pictures. We reached a beautiful pothole with maiden-water ferns growing thick around it. LRM_EXPORT_20180322_173845. Sam immediately jumped in and swam to the other side, struggling and failing to get up the exit lip on the other side. It was funny watching him attempting the beached whale maneuver to no avail so we let him struggle for a while before his sister Elsie jumped in and helped him escape. LRM_EXPORT_20180322_174143. I traversed around the pothole while Olivia gracefully slipped in and Kenna wall ran across. After this short open section, the canyon pinched down for one last dark and narrow section. LRM_EXPORT_20180322_173447. There were two deep potholes in this last section that were completely dry and could be spanned by all but Sam, who we had to two-man-haul out of the last pothole. We had been worried that the pothole used for the sandtrap rappel would be filled with water due to the recent flood, but luckily for us it was completely dry like the two potholes we had encountered just before it. From the top of the sandtrap rappel you can see out to Lake Powell and the final rappel. LRM_EXPORT_20180322_173247. Kenna and Olivia were shivering pretty good by now and I can only imagine that they were jealous of our neoprene. The rappel deposited us in a waist deep pool from which we struggled to pull the sandtrap down, eventually getting it to come down with a group effort. 20180321_134203. We walked out into the sunny open area just before the final rappel and peered off the huge drop. Gear was set out on rocks to dry and those of us in wetsuits took them off and changed into dry clothes. I tossed our 328 ft rope off the edge and waited a while for the bag to hit the bottom. Olivia went down first and was able to provide a solid fireman belay for the rest of group who were all using ATC’s with carabiners on the leg loops for extra friction. LRM_EXPORT_20180322_173048. I used a radio to communicate with Olivia below, which made it a slick operation getting everyone down. Eventually I was the last man left up top and I realized that my plan to toggle this rappel with 6 mm accessory cord wasn’t gonna work out so well. The pull line was too heavy and would slowly pull the toggle out of the stone knot as I tested it. So I went for plan B and extended the webbing a good 2 feet over the edge, setting up a standard pull. I had Olivia test the pull from the bottom and it went smooth. Now I had quite the awkward start on my hands, I had to climb down the webbing off the edge before I could even start rappelling. To do this safely, I hooked up my critr and completely locked off on it before climbing over the edge and down the webbing. Once I got down in position, I hung my pack 6 ft beneath me and set my descending device up for rappel. This operation normally wouldn’t be an issue for me, but doing all of this hanging almost 300ft in the air got to head a bit. I started down the rappel and was free hanging pretty much right off the bat to the end of the rappel. LRM_EXPORT_20180323_082907. LRM_EXPORT_20180323_083059. A really cool hanging garden is encountered on the way down and the views out to Powell are awesome on rappel! I have done longer rappels before, but this one felt much bigger and airy than the others. I landed safely and we were able to get a clean pull on the rope, packing up and hiking down to the lake. The water in the inlet was pretty nasty so we took off for the chute exit, encountering low 5th class climbing en route. 20180321_162146 (1). 20180321_164504. LRM_EXPORT_20180322_172625. The hike out took us two hours, stopping frequently to enjoy the views we had of the lake. When we arrived at the car, we devoured sloppy joes and set up camp at the top of Montezuma, enjoying a beautiful sunset over lake Powell and a calm wind free night. We had planned to do Hard Day Harvey the next day but were shut down by storm clouds in the morning and did a quick run through Fiddlestix Canyon instead. We packed up and got off the dirt roads before the storm hit with everyone feeling satisfied. Montezuma is definitely my favorite canyon right now and I am happy that we got to see it in full water conditions. It is definitely a canyon I recommend for anyone who hasn’t done it. There is still lots of Ticaboo Mesa canyons I want to do so i’m sure i’ll be back soon.

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    Ram, Amy K, Salman Mohammadi and 10 others like this.
  2. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah
    Helmets do a better job when they are actually placed on people's heads.

    Jus' Sayin'...

    Tom
    Ram likes this.
  3. hiac

    hiac

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    the picture where two folks climb up, what's the slope angles, 60?
  4. Austin Farnworth

    Austin Farnworth

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    Location:
    Mapleton, Utah
    Yeah it's about 60 degrees right there, though there is a less steep option 150ft north for those who don't like steep slab.

    Sent from my SM-G920T using Tapatalk
  5. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    Location:
    Woodland Hills, UT
    Yep Helmets are not just for in canyon, they can be useful on the approach and exit sometimes too (ie when you're going up a 60 degree slab).
    Ram likes this.
  6. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Love the free hanging rappel shots....very nice!! And though I couldn't tell for sure, looks like there is a belayer too - based on rope angle. :thumbsup:

    A superb family and friends outing.
    Austin Farnworth likes this.
  7. Austin Farnworth

    Austin Farnworth

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    Location:
    Mapleton, Utah
    Yeah the belay worked out great and our belayer was able to add friction and stop rappellers without much issue.

    Sent from my SM-G920T using Tapatalk
    Kuenn likes this.
  8. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    Funny you mention that, when I did that canyon someone got a forehead laceration AFTER the final rappel after stumbling in the boulder field.

    Those pictures look a lot wetter than my experience.
    Austin Farnworth likes this.
  9. Ram

    Ram

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    Lovely canyon. Yes you had a lot of water. What date did you do the canyon? I was out on Ticaboo Mesa on the 20th, in a very wet Paradiso. We might have been neighbors.

    What we have done there, is hike down to the cross joint, more than half way down the canyon, then hike back up to the start of the slot and do that upper section sans any gear except armor and 20 feet of rope for one corner, for those that want it as a hand line there.

    Then the lovely lower section, usually suiting up and with way less water than you had. In your pictures, pictures 6 and 7? That pothole can be quite a challenge in low water. Usually it holds water for long spells and one can dyno around the right side, LDC. We were first in this canyon in the spring of 2005 I believe. We jugged out the slab just beyond that pot, after going to the big drop (The Plaza) and returning up via a few jugs. Right above that jug, is one of the best echo spots anywhere. Few have been there.

    After that first time, we always took the big wall finish. What is it? 260 feet high? Last time I was there, I encountered a core shot less than half way down. Communicating that up to the people who are on top was...shall we say, a challenge. I think we did a lower/ rap from below that tied off core shot, with the "Boy of Boot," Taylor going last and passing the knot. He looked so small, doing that, hanging in space. ...Very dangerous...YOU go last! A couple of dry bagged radios would have been nice to have, that day. Careful out there. It is the site of an injury that cost someone their leg, a bunch of Halloween's ago.
    R
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2018
  10. Austin Farnworth

    Austin Farnworth

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    Location:
    Mapleton, Utah
    We did Montezuma on the 21st, so we might have missed you by one day! Leaving gear at the cross joint would have been the way to go, I put on my wet-suit way to early and the first would've been far more enjoyable without the extra gear. I would love to get back in there in low water conditions, the potholes would add some more fun. We tied to 200ft pull cord to a 70ft, which barely touched the ground, so i'd say the last rappel was about 270ft feet for us. We used radios to communicate on the last rappel and it made things much easier. I can't imagine getting a coreshot on that rappel without a radio to communicate with the top, that must have been pretty intense! Have you ever tried to do the big wall rappel out of Tripoli canyon? Or have you jugged out like you did during the Montezuma exploration?
    Ram likes this.
  11. Ram

    Ram

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    I sat rim with my buddy Jenny that day. Our partners jugged out, but not before John Diener lowering a rope off the big drop. Jenny and I told him when it touched down, viewing from a ledge on the rim, John marked the spot and measured it later. It came in at 335 feet I believe?
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  12. John Diener

    John Diener

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    Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Our rim team was much appreciated; it was not a nice day for such a job. After tying a couple of things together (most of it a 300' dyneema pull), I think we did decide it was at 335'-ish... but without further confirmation I'm not sure I'd want less than 350'. Not generally a fan of the huge rappel, but sometimes they have to be done. Not that day, however. :cautious:
    -john
  13. hiac

    hiac

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    you guys have a big heart.
  14. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Nicely done! This canyon packs a punch throughout. I remember the last rap and the return being intense for sure.

    Thanks for the report and sharing your amazing day.
    Austin Farnworth likes this.
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