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More Beef in Boulder

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Amy K, Sep 5, 2018.

  1. Amy K

    Amy K

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    Our second canyon of the weekend presented as more of a long hike. Sad Cow Disease is 9.2 miles, with only .4 miles of actual technical canyon (thanks Bluugnome). @Chasetharp, Sarah, Randy and I decided it might be a nice scenic day after Holy Cow. There are conflicting reports on the rating of this canyon. Bluugnome rates it a 3AIII while CC and Ropewiki have it as a 3AIIIPG. Well. it was quite the bang for the buck and we agreed it was the latter of the ratings. The canyon begins with a beautiful long hike down Little Death Hollow, almost to the narrows, but a right turn takes you up the slickrock instead. The canyon was pretty easy to find once we found our turnoff.
    [​IMG]

    The canyon starts out with an almost 100' rap into a beautiful slot. And the canyon escalates pretty quickly.

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately, the lighting just was not working with me for taking photos. Soon after rap 1 is the second rap or "aggressive partner assist." We determined that the "aggressive partner assist" was just ridiculous. It was way too sketchy. We all rapped it. Note that there is webbing and some cord that we could not remove all hanging off a chokestone. The start is awkward and then it becomes super wide and vertical. We did remove the rapide off the cord though as it was useless. You end up dropping into this chamber, which was filled with super slick mud. I almost took Sarah out while slipping.
    [​IMG]

    Then comes the real fun. There is a 50' downclimb into even tighter narrows. The downclimb starts out pretty easy, elevator style. Towards the bottom it widens and lacks solid friction unless you can extend your foot out a ways and catch on some steps in the rock. A top belay is wise if you don't want to risk it since you cannot see the bottom from the top of the drop. [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Enter my adrenaline rush of the weekend. As we continue down into the skinny slot there are a few more drops/downclimbs. Some are very easy, some require some fancy wedging into places. It's pretty damp down there and I begin to have a feeling. We get to an even narrower small downclimb and I was in front. I begin to go when there they are - spiders. The first scream. My lovely group then proceeds to discuss the massive amount of spiders all around us (I get tunnel vision and just deny myself they are there and keep my focus on moving forward). Well, screw it at this point, I can't switch places with anyone, too tight, gotta get through. So I begin the downclimb, then actually look down below me - SHIT, baby rattlesnake! I used some massive arm strength to upclimb back to the top. Looking down again, I can see it's likely dead. But we made sure. Spiders, rattlesnake, there was only one other thing that could make this canyon complete for me, but I wasn't about to say it. Randy took some guesses, but at that point I would have rather seen a bear than what was about to happen. I booked it through the canyon, Chase taking the lead soon after. He gets to an even darker downclimb.

    [​IMG]

    I watched as he carefully made his way down. I then noticed a big black blob on the ground behind him. In the pic above it was right between that log and the rock at the bottom of the pic. Surely it can't be what I know it is. Denial sets in. I continue to make my way down. I'm standing on the log working my way down when I hear Randy say it. The one word I was not going to say out loud. "Tarantula!" He was ecstatic because he's never seen one before. I never told Randy to stop talking, but that day I did. I could no longer deny that it was there. That I had walked right by it, in a tight slot. And now it was right above me. I couldn't move fast enough. Spiders all over. I had to shine the flashlight so Randy and Sarah could make it down safely. I saw it all. Dramatic, yes, but the fear is totally real. Looking back though, I would have still chosen to do this canyon. If you read my Alcatraz TR I never let spiders stop me. It's a fear I have to face. I could have done without the tarantula though. That was the icing on the cake.

    Next came some swirly downclimb into a lower. Randy lowered Chase, Sarah, and I into this chamber as the bottom was filled with slippery mud. We managed to partner-capture Randy. What a beautiful room!

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Next were some more easy narrows. Some wider vegetation areas. Then came some stemming into an elevator downclimb. We knew there was some stemming 30' off the deck involved in this canyon. Beta reports that it is too skinny to fall into, so it is safe. Well, we did not think this was that area since we all fit eventually into the slot. We stemmed a little ways out then did the downclimb into the slot. It wasn't that difficult so we didn't consider this to be that spot. Also, because we all fit pretty soon after the stemming. Looking back though, we could see how we may have misinterpreted the wording.

    [​IMG]

    Soon after this stemming section we begin to hear thunder. Beautiful blue skies above, but somewhere something is happening. I decided not to take more pictures of the canyon, though there were more beautiful narrow sections, a slanted section just like the section in Larry that has you doing pushups the entire way. We made it out and headed back on the trail to camp. The Little Death Hollow narrows are really pretty. And not a soul in sight all weekend. We leave the narrows and it starts raining. We are about 1.5 miles away from camp/our vehicles when we see it - flash flood headed straight for us. We had never seen anything like it. One minute - nothing, the next - a tree being flushed down the wash.

    [​IMG]

    We determined had we been in that canyon 45 minutes longer this trip might have ended way differently. We did need to find an alternate route back to our vehicles and eventually locking hands to cross one section of the flood that was not as heavy a flow and only about knee deep. We all made it out safely. What an incredible weekend! If you decide to head out that way I highly recommend completing both Holy Cow and Sad Cow Disease. It is a very long drive to make and both canyons are serious bang for your buck. As I mentioned in the Holy Cow TR, the weather is way goofy out there.
    RossK, Alane Urban, YoungBuck and 5 others like this.
  2. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Excellent TR, thanks.

    You probably know, but they are not spiders, they are daddy long legs. They don't bite. I know, still icky, but...

    And tarantulas are nice and docile, non-aggresive.

    But I do realize the reaction to both is emotional, not logical. Respected. At least it wasn't (live) snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?

    T
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2018
    Rapterman likes this.
  3. Amy K

    Amy K

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    Haha yeah i know the thing with the spiders and tarantulas. You're right it definitely isn't logical. I used to tell myself if i would just hold one I could get over it. But this is enough exposure therapy for me. The idea of them falling on me and crawling all over. The way they bounce up and down and form spider balls. Gives me shivers. But i just love those skinny slots so i deal. And scream a little.
    Tom Collins, Rapterman and ratagonia like this.
  4. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    I’m not especially fond of heights, but I love canyoneering and so i deal and whimper a little(but only on the inside and mostly only when I’m not hooked in yet).
    Amy K and ratagonia like this.
  5. deathtointernet

    deathtointernet

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    Nope. I'm good.
  6. Preston Gable

    Preston Gable

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    I definitely agree with it being PG.

    When we went through the first pool was a little more than waist deep and the second was neck deep staying to the side. With the mud thats in there the aggressive partner assists were a no go and we ended up with quite a few rappels after attempting downclimbing with top belays (But didn't add any webbing :thumbsup:)


    I think the elevator down climb changes in intensity. When we went through there was a log jam in it and we ended up stemming clear out before rappelling off a chockstone 30ish feet, tried to down climb it but ended up lowering when it bombayed out. If it had been clean would have been easy and straightforward.

    Glad you made it out in time, I don't recall any hope of an early exit or even a place to retreat and wait it out.
  7. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    In my role as Captain Obvious:

    Anybody's rating of a canyon is based on their journey or journeys through the canyon. Canyons change on a regular basis. Even the coming and going of water (and therefore sand and mud) can result in huge changes in the difficulty. Plus logs come and go. Some canyons change more than others. I think this is one reason why the rather crude canyon rating system works well - because trying to parse the difficulties down to the smallest iota -- as we do in rock climbing -- just plain does not work.

    On the SLOT rating (ie, PG, R, X...), many beta sources do not call out slot climbing difficulties below the "R" rating. PG in particular is interpreted very differently by different sources.

    Thank you Preston for discussion and clarification on the difficulties in the canyon. My first impression of this and that discussion was that it was a complaint... with more contemplation, I now see it as just the usual discussion of the canyon, useful for people considering a descent.

    Tom
  8. Preston Gable

    Preston Gable

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    I thought you preferred the emperor title? :) (There should be a tongue in cheek emoji) I guess you wear many hats

    Not complaining at all just commenting on how conditions change. Also somewhat of a warning that conditions in this particular canyon can change drastically and being a fairly seldom done not likely to get reported.

    I have difficulty understanding what warrants a PG or R rating sometimes but then again I don't have hundreds of canyons under belt so maybe its something that you learn with experience. At the time this was by far the hardest canyon I had ever lead and could have easily been over my head, probably was (we left the wet suits in the car for starters).

    It is probably my favorite canyon looking back, but was definitely my least until we made it out safely.
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  9. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    Just my 2 cents worth, but I think the reason for not mentioning PG is that unless its your very first time stemming its not worth mentioning and even if it is your first time its not hard enough or dangerous enough to be a problem for most people. It might feel a little scary if your not prepared mentally, but it should be doable.
    ratagonia likes this.
  10. Preston Gable

    Preston Gable

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    The stemming involved was by no means terribly difficult, but the top belayer/lowerer had quite a bit of exposure sitting on a chockstone 30ish feet up. This doesn't seem to be the norm but in our case we were in a canyon that was much harder than I thought we were in for. Definitely not a beginner friendly canyon, maybe that is a better term than PG?
  11. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I don't remember much in the way of difficulty in that canyon... though it is fair enough that when I say "I don't remember..." the statement is always true.

    From your description, it sounds like there was likely a more-secure way of handling that (as in, coulda tossed a temporary or left-behind sling around the chockstone) and that the WAY y'alls chose to do it was a bit exposed.

    The SLOT canyon ratings are about the climbing (generally across or down) and mostly about the unavoidable risk involved.

    Tom
  12. Amy K

    Amy K

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    We felt that the stemming was pretty easy as was downclimbing into the slot from the stem position. Not to say I didn't question my ability before doing it. The reason we thought it would not be best to take beginners through was because we did in fact fit into the slot suggesting that if a beginner was not sure how to stem or do that type of downclimb they could slip and fall the 30' or so. I wasn't sure what to expect. I don't have tons of high stemming experience. But I'm glad to be testing my skills out! We would have had to do a little more climbing had that rattlesnake been alive!
  13. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Sounds like a FINE adventure!!!
  14. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    You know the heights are less scary if you use a rope to get down them, right?
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  15. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    Actually stemming and down climbing doesn't bother me except when I'm crossing a really nasty silo and then I can pause for a minute or so visualize the moves to cross and then go slow and steady and its done in 15-20s or so. I was mostly referring to approach/exit hikes where your traversing and it rolls over. If there's a large drop below I get vertigo and feel unsteady. I can do fairly sketchy moves when theres only a 20-30' drop, but put me up on a rim with a 200'+ drop and even relatively flat hiking and my legs start locking up.
  16. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    I've always found this interesting. I run into canyoneers all the time who are willing to rappel on truly crappy anchors, stem over crazy stuff, find ways out of difficult potholes but a 200-300 foot rappel off solid bolts down a clean wall is a terror-invoking experience (and even worse if you have a hanging station at each end). I think those of us who came to canyoneering after climbing (particularly mountaineering, trad, or probably especially big wall climbing) think that's one of the less worrisome parts of canyoneering. I mean, rappelling 10 feet isn't dramatically different from rappelling 200. And a 50 footer will probably kill you just as much as a 300 footer. Probably just a time, exposure, and experience thing.
  17. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    There are a number of not-so-experienced canyonistas who found that rappelling 240 feet in Engelstead was not prepared for by their prior considerably-shorter rappels.

    Due to lack of understanding and technique.

    Tom
  18. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    For sure. There are some differences, primarily friction related.
  19. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    Yeah it is weird and I know that it isn't logical, but I can't shut that fear off for some reason. Speaking of hanging stations at the end, the rap to the bird perch in Heaps always freaks me out, but once I'm there and hooked into the anchor its my favorite spot to be.
    ratagonia likes this.
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