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UT: Capitol Reef New Throwing Technique for the "Pit of Despair" Poe Canyon and others

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Anthony Dye, Apr 25, 2018.

  1. Anthony Dye

    Anthony Dye

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    Location:
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    This past Thursday we embarked to descend "The Animal Kingdom" canyons in Halls Creek. Jeremy Dye, Kevin Christensen, Jared Robertson and I met in Springville at 3:00pm to drive down. Leaving the Cars on the Burr Trail at 7:45 and started the extremely windy hike just as the sun was going down. We reached the top of the rubble pile (cliff ha ha) in total darkness. None of us had ever been there, and finding our way down to Halls Creek in the dark was an adventure of it's own. We were not on the obvious route that we found while exiting and at one point we lowered our packs with a rope so we could traverse a difficult section. We got to camp a few minutes before midnight and met up with Ken McCarthy and Mark Burnham who had hiked in a few hours ahead of us. They were both last minute additions to the team on a recommendation from an extremely competent friend, and they proved to be excellent teammates and fun companions, full of useful nature and mapping information, and riveting past adventure stories.

    20180419_193456.
    20180419_183336.
    Low visibility from the dust in the air

    Friday morning we woke up excited to do Laughing Baboon, to find the 20% chance of rain that was forecasted turned into 5 hours of drizzle. While we waited, we did a short hike up Miller's creek. By the time we got back to camp, runs of water had started in a dozen spots coming off the cliffs. I was a little sad. assuming that the canyons would all be full and the much anticipated challenge of the canyons we wanted to do would not give us their full potential. We made lunch and it was still raining so we crashed in our tents. Mark hiked the bench to Happy Dog and Laughing Baboon and informed us they were both flowing. After a 2 hour nap we woke up to blue(ish) skies. We grabbed our packs and left for Laughing Baboon at 3:00. We made good time on the approach and with the canyon in "water park" mode it was a speedy descent and we arrived back at camp at 6:10. I thought Laughing Baboon was an absolute blast when full!


    P1040870.
    P1040897.
    P1040920.
    Mark taking the leap

    On Saturday we woke up early and started the hike to Poe at 7 while it was still cool. We made good time, thanks to Mark's invigorating hiking pace, getting to the top of the canyon at 8:05. We suited up and got ready for a long hard day! We've been looking forward to Poe for a long time and we've been practicing for it. We were so happy to find that each pothole became progressively emptier as we continued down canyon! The room with the arch blew me away. It was so cool and and had only shin deep water. We were moving efficiently and reached the 3 potholes that can be bypassed at 10:15 so we elected to cross them and I would highly recommend it for any group that has time. They were a lot of fun and a good challenge.
    P1040932.
    Jared, Me, Kevin, Mark, Ken

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    Kevin looking majestic

    2018_04_21_Poe-1.
    Jeremy doing an impressive handjam to the partner capture
    2018_04_21_Poe-2.
    P1040964.
    Me looking really dumb, but excited about using the W'anchor again
    P1040967.
    Jared ready to climb and Kevin ready to assist

    P1040978.
    Ken's homemade sandtrap in tostada mode


    At 12:15 we got to the "Pit of Despair"!! What an awesome and ominous feature! I was the first thrower and very excited to see if my practice would pay off. Everyone dug in with a job, Kevin coiling ropes for the throw, Others filling pots and attaching ropes. I climbed up and Jeremy shuttled pots to me. The first potshot was 2/3 full and it landed about 6 ft short, so for the next throw we dumped a little bit of muddy rock out and tried again. That one landed about 4 ft short, so we tried the next pot at 1/3 full. Success!! My next 2 throws went over successfully as well. Now that we knew we could make the throw, and my personal anxiety and pressure was down, both Jared and Mark wanted to try. Jared went next. He missed two and then landed his third one! Mark took his turn. He landed one on his third throw as well! None of us had done Poe before and it was awesome to realize that 3 of us could make the throw!
    P1050006.
    Jared in the Captain's chair
    P1050012.
    Jared lending a helping shoulder to Mark

    It was then that I remembered an Idea I had planned to try, in the event that I could not throw the pots over the traditional way. I stemmed up to the throwing footholds. Jared stemmed up behind me maybe 6 feet back (up canyon and as high as he could go. The higher, the better) I held the rope at about 4' from the handles of the pot instead of the usual 18". Jared lifted the potshot up as high as he could and keeping the rope tight in the path of the circle behind me, he then threw it down as hard as he could. Think of it kind of like trying to wrap an empty swing around the top bar of the swingset. You want to keep the rope tight so you don't jolt your thrower! I blindly stared forward listening to Jared's countdown. When I felt the weight of the pot come below me I added force with my back and arms and released!!!.......and it cleared the pit.....and the landing....by 12-15'.....! Wow! that worked so well. This was the first try, and without any pre-trip practice in this technique. Jeremy did get a video of the throw but we didn't give him any warning so he barely caught it. Sequence 01.Still001.
    Jared is behind me in mid throw. Get as high as you can, and throw straight down, not forward. This is the first frame of the video, sorry it doesn't show more of the setup
    Sequence 01.Still002.
    I'm now straightening my back and throwing up with my arms to add some juice
    Sequence 01.Still003.
    the potshot rocketing away. Looks smaller because of poor quality

    Pros and Cons of this throwing technique
    The good:
    -It makes the potshot go really really far. I hope this can help people who have all of the skill to do Poe, but just don't have the build for the big throw.

    The bad:
    -I don't think you could do this technique as successfully with someone assisting the thrower's left foot. They would likely be hit by the potshot. To "choke up" your grip in order to not hit a person below would still add distance but not as much, It would also decrease the amount of time the thrower has to react to the pendulum.
    -The thrower has to be solid and comfortable with their footing. This generates 2x-3x the force back and down during the throw. It could cause the thrower to lose their balance or footing.
    -The timing becomes a lot harder of when to release the throw. You no longer have your 3 swings to get accustomed to the rhythm.
    -The assistant needs to be able to direct the potshot correctly. The thrower will have little ability to correct a crooked pendulum. Jared did an awesome job of this.
    -Being able to two-man-toss a pot 50' might make people think they are ready for Poe even if they aren't. There are still a ton of other DIFFICULT challenges to this canyon.

    Canyon Collective won't let me post a link to the video Jeremy made because I am too new....osh.. maybe someone could link the video in the comments section. It is a compilation of our entire trip but in the middle is a clip of the two-man-toss. Hopefully that clears up any confusion from my description.
    youtube.com/watch?v=LV2bP0XTkDI
    That's the best I can do.


    We meat anchored Jeremy, Kevin, and Mark down to the bottom of the pit while I set up the W'anchor. Kevin and Mark boosted Jeremy up as far as they could and then Jeremy Hand-over-hand climbed up the ropes. The wall was muddy and slippery, so the climb was completely arm strength with very little help from legs, but he made it! The canyon filled with cheers. Great job Jeremy! Once he was out of the pit it was fairly straightforward to hoist everyone else up and out with the 2 to 1 haul on the microtraxions.
    2018_04_21_Poe-6.
    Jeremy just completed the climb and he's moving the potshots to a single rope for hauling.

    2018_04_21_Poe-5.
    The W'anchor all set up for the rappel into the pit of despair

    2018_04_21_Poe-7.
    Jared at the bottom of the pit


    With packs on and ropes bagged, we left the battle with the pit at 1hour 18minutes. What an obstacle!!! The other big obstacle in Poe Canyon is the "Wart Hole". We hadn't put a whole lot of thought into this obstacle ahead of time so we had to figure it out as we went. We sent Ken up to the top to re-rig the anchor and rappel down. I meat anchored up canyon of the hole and Ken meat anchored on the down canyon side while everyone zip-lined the gear and the rest of the people across the pothole. On belay, I climbed to the Wart and then was lowered. We could have been more efficient here, but our focus had been on the Pit of Despair as the hardest part of the canyon. A good reminder to focus on every obstacle and not just the crux of a canyon. We finished the canyon, doing our best to avoid the Poison Ivy. Luckily Mark and Ken had sharp eyes and helped the rest of us get through relatively untouched. We made it back to camp at 4:30
    P1050022.
    Mark conquering yet another pothole
    P1050027.
    Ken climbing "The Wart"
    P1050028.
    Not quite what I meant when I asked Kevin for backup meat....

    2018_04_21_Poe-8.
    Kevin traversing the Warthole

    P1050043.
    Trying to avoid the Poison Ivy on the way out

    Sunday we did Happy Dog which was a lot of fun and very physical! Even though it was also in "water park mode" for the most part. Once Again, my focus had been on Poe, so, although I had read the beta before the trip, we did not expect so much stemming and squeezing. Again, a good reminder for myself to focus on all parts of a trip, and not just the crux.
    P1050051.
    Ken pointing the way
    P1050052.
    P1050061. P1050077. P1050079. P1050085. the ol' Poison Ivy scrub down


    We all had a total blast. Not just because of the extraordinary canyons we got to do, but because we worked very seamlessly and efficiently as a team. We were always ahead of schedule and that made it fun and relaxing and allowed us to soak in the beauty and enjoy the incredible challenges the canyons had to offer without nervous worry or fear of spending the night. Every member of the team, for the most part, knew how to do everything, and when there was a job to do, it got done quickly and precisely. Simple as that. I couldn't have asked for a better team for these canyons.

    I hope that introducing a more powerful throwing technique does not inspire false confidence in descending these canyons. They are incredibly fun, but also incredibly challenging canyons that demand preparedness and respect unlike all but a few canyons that I have done.

    I hope you enjoyed, Thanks for reading!

    Anthony Dye

    PHOTO CREDIT GOES TO JEREMY AND JARED


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  2. Ram

    Ram

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  3. pyle762

    pyle762

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    The Pit and the Pendulum
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  4. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    "A fearful idea now suddenly drove the blood in torrents upon my heart, and for a brief period, I once more relapsed into insensibility. Upon recovering, I at once started to my feet, trembling convulsively in every fibre. I thrust my arms wildly above and around me in all directions. I felt nothing; yet dreaded to move a step, lest I should be impeded by the walls of a tomb. Perspiration burst from every pore, and stood in cold big beads upon my forehead. The agony of suspense grew at length intolerable, and I cautiously moved forward, with my arms extended, and my eyes straining from their sockets, in the hope of catching some faint ray of light. I proceeded for many paces; but still all was blackness and vacancy. I breathed more freely. It seemed evident that mine was not, at least, the most hideous of fates." EAP

    Good times!

    Here's some similar moves...



    Whip it!



    When a problem comes along?

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  5. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Awesome, and well-explained.

    Tom
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  6. Dan Ransom

    Dan Ransom Staff Member

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    Great write-up, looks like a helluva trip. That warthole is even scarier than the pit in my opinion. Thank god there are a couple options to negotiate it more easily than the Pit. I will never rap off that wart again though. Thing is pure mank.
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  7. Ram

    Ram

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    At the throws starting at 3:45? Note how the rope piles after the toss causes drag on the throw. Our buddy Brendan showed us that if an independent person, down canyon of the throw, tosses uncoiled rope in unison with the toss, that results are usually a few feet further, on the toss. I know this has nothing to do with the new two person toss, but it will always add to the toss, whether the old or new method is used. Kudos to all that add to all our toolboxes, with these innovations.

    I know that it is not necessary in that spot, at 5:55. It is low angle enough, but its a perfect example of how if one added a pack being dragged, it would make the slide into capture, much more controlled.

    Great stuff, all
    R
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  8. Anthony Dye

    Anthony Dye

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    Thanks for the input RAM, I'm trying to understand. We did have a rope thrower down canyon (right at the edge of the pit) A couple of the throws didn't flake our properly, But Kevin did a really good job on most of them. So you are saying that they throw an un-coiled rope? I'm having a hard time picturing how to do that.

    At 5:55 I had already done a controlled down climb there, so I thought they would be able to get lower (with regular tennis shoes) before sliding. After Jeremy lost footing up higher than expected, we had ken start in full friction mode from the top. We did have to tease Jeremy about not staying straight and limp for the capture. Darn instincts trying to save us! :rolleyes2: It is very counter intuitive to not spread out to try and get purchase.

    For how much I love a good pack drag, I don't use them often. I should think to do so more.
  9. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    Regarding the throwing of the "coiled" rope: The rope will open up much more reliably if it is layed or "lap coiled". Circular coils introduce twist to the rope and have a propensity to tangle when thrown. Demo video coming shortly...
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  10. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    A quick hand coil is all it takes. The point is that the rope is forward when the throw is made, so the flying potshot does not have to lift and pull the rope with it. Given the power of the two-person throw, this becomes much less important.

    T
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  11. Jbancerewicz

    Jbancerewicz Jerzy

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    How many times your group used water anchor in Poe canyon ?
    You used sand tarp in this canyon with wet sand. Do you see different between retrieve wet or dray send ? Do you have problem with retrieve sand tarp ( two people pulled cord )
    On one picture i see you use only one way sand tarp and put more sand on tarp. It works better
  12. Anthony Dye

    Anthony Dye

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    In Poe specifically we used the W'anchor twice. Wet sand is not ideal for the sand trap, but will still work as long as it doesn't clump or stick together too much. One of the Biggest things is standing as high and far back as you can for the pull. Minimizing wear on your rope, the canyon, and cutting down on friction too.

    The "one way" you mentioned, I think you are referring to what they call the "tostada mode". Where you keep the tarp open, rather than folding it. This works better for low angled slopes where you need more weight to hold the anchor. The pull chord is set up the same way just draped over the trap, and on the pull, the trap will fold in half and squeeze the sand out the same way.
  13. Jbancerewicz

    Jbancerewicz Jerzy

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    Thanks
    Did you had problem with retrieve sand tarp ?( worked two people )
  14. Anthony Dye

    Anthony Dye

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    Not any issues serious enough that it held us up or I would have heard about it. Depending on the geometry of the pull, and how much sand is in the trap, sometimes you just need a little oomph. You try to balance that with safety for the last rappeler
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  15. Dan Ransom

    Dan Ransom Staff Member

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    Or you can use the over under coil method which eliminates twists, but now we might just be complicating things... If you do the O/U technique correctly, you can throw a huge length of rope (or mic cable) out in a single toss and it will lay out perfectly with no twists or tangles.

  16. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    Cool trick dude! Thanks for sharing. Pics are fun too.
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