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UT: North Wash No trail for Trail Canyon

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Mountaineer, Nov 21, 2015.

  1. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Tyler was stuck! The very last section of narrows.

    He pushed high, then tried to get down low. I was just behind him, and it was too tight for me to get even close to help. After several minutes of pinched ribs, he was able to miraculously get through. But I knew my limits. Especially as the last couple of months I had gained just a few pounds over my canyon safe target. That did it. I made up my mind to get back to that weight again. Great weight loss program, canyoneering that is.

    Tyler encouraged me to go low and push through on the mud. It didn't look much wider down there. Besides, he just tried to go low and couldn't himself. I decided to go back, and that is when it got really interesting...


    vlcsnap-00033.



    vlcsnap-00039.

    Even though trail canyon is right off the road, don't let the start and name confuse you. The canyon is a complex maze of side drainages, washes, and steep slick rock that will top you out by choosing the wrong path a few feet off course. By that time, you have to descend all the way back down and climb back up. Or, take on some unprotected fifth class climbing.

    Once at the head of the canyon, you can scurry around the LDC and climb safely in. Other parties seemed to have opted for the rappel, as there were anchors built here. The next big down climb was too exposed, at least the first 15', so many rappel here. We opted to use a smooth operator and a shorter rope, then down climbed the rest.

    The canyon is amazing. I can't believe I had overlooked it for so long. Tight narrows, a lot of stemming (most of it is easy even though you are high off the deck), potholes, and fluted walls all around. Lovin' it.

    One down climb in particular looked small and easy. About a 8' drop, into a small pool no larger than 5' in diameter. I carefully extended myself for an easy slide, and poof! I was gone. Bottomless pit and head under. Fun. Since I was the witnessed dip stick, the others chose a bit different aided path sequence.


    vlcsnap-00081.

    We did a lot of squeezing. Caution, these sections are really tight! I barely fit, and had to push myself through hard in many spots. But then, the canyon walls started to descend, and we knew we were out. Piece of cake, and a lot of fun. We commented on what all the hype was about on being too narrow to pass through.

    Then...another narrow section. Really? Hmmm...go high? It looked just as skinny as the other sections. So we pushed through for a long time. Some of us commented that it was comparable or tighter than Shennanigans. Then we hit another tight section we had to squeeze up high than back down. We were going to make it. Then we got to the part where Tyler got stuck, but carefully escaped.

    I pushed back and didn't get far. Stuck. Stuck. I was getting cold, fingers and body going numb. This wasn't working out too well. Tyler was able to climb up and over on the down canyon side, while Curtis was behind me, also struggling and stuck in the up high down low section. We tried climbing up in several spots, forward, then back, to no avail. A bit of a panic feeling? Little bit, but we had been through this rodeo before. Have you ever tried climbing out of a narrow slot, no wider than a few inches, and getting stuck with each move? Tyler rigged a rope, and I fumbled on some cold ascenders to help. After about an hour of exhausting climbing to about 40' high, we got to a stemming stance and then easily got out.

    vlcsnap-00067.


    This is a "keeper". And yes, I'm going back soon. Completed last weekend, 4.5 hours car to car including our stuck time.

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    Kuenn, Rapterman, Taylor and 4 others like this.
  2. Ram

    Ram

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    Great TR
    Coming to Freezefest?
    Love to do our first canyon together there and then
    A true area classic
    PS. Yes it goes down on the ground, mud or water (not too much though) or dry. Scott Patterson and I each made it that way at around 210 pounds. I have never found the nerve to go that way again, ever though it was easy that time, that way.
    Going up in the middle of that narrows? BAAAAAD! Easy up right at the start of that narrows. Hard afterward.
    The deep hole you fell in? On the first full descent of the canyon (2nd try-1st try at FF I), Tom slid down that drop and did the full submerge. Melon who was just behind asked Tom's permission to laugh at him. Tom shook his soaked head emphatically YES and which point many laughed hysterically.
    Mountaineer likes this.
  3. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Niiiiice!

    I too have been across the bottom once - and once was enough. I believe I had a 3-helmet helmet stand to get through.

    I go high. My memory is different than Ram's - as I remember the climb up is pretty hard, but once there it is high but not too hard.

    My climbing friend Chuck did it last weekend. He did the climb up and halfway across the top, then decided that was not a good idea as he did not know if he could get down. So he went back and did the bottom where, with a lot of help from the little people, and going to ground, he made it through.

    Tom
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  4. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    I hope to make it this year to freeze fest. Would be fun.

    Ha, that is so funny Tom and others have gone all the way in that small pot hole. You think it will only be waist deep, then surprise! So fun.

    Yeah, bad choice to climb up while in narrow sections. Takes a lot of work and patience.
  5. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Good to hear that it is possible to squeeze through. I need to go back and give it a shot again.

    I wasn't sure...and I wasn't in the mind set that day to take the risk. Once you are committed to that final few feet, it seemed there would be no return on failure.
  6. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    The helmet stand is because it is slightly wide, sometimes, a little bit higher. Some days, the way to go is close to the ground... Some days... ???? Depends on where the floor is, how much sand has moved in or out.

    The high route tends to stay the same all the time.

    Tom
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  7. Ram

    Ram

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    WARNING.....A "how to" spoiler below. Enter at your own risk;)


    The lowest narrows in Trail.....In a ways into the final narrows, there is a spot where you drop about 6 feet easily, usually on your left hip. Reversal after that drop is hard but not impossible. A few yards afterward comes the 3 tight spots. The first two are easier than the third. There is about 3 feet between the first two, then 6 more feet to the final one, which is the crux. I don't necessarily think it is tighter than Shenanigan's often is, BUT there is not as much "lead in" tightness, so it is common for people to get in tough head spaces.

    My recommendation for the final narrow spot..... Really big people/large chested should go up at the beginning of this narrows. Big but not really big people need to strip out of their suits to the thinnest, non grip clothing they have at the start of the narrows..Have your smallest person or people go first. Leave a small person in the back area with your big people, mostly for mental comfort and picking up dropped gear. Even for the small people, once through the 3rd constriction, passing one another is still impossible, so the small people shuttle the packs forward, one at a time a good 40 yards(?) to the first wide enough spot to pass each other. A small person returns with 1-3 helmets and lays one on the ground at the narrow spot. The big person, facing right, looking down canyon steps on it. If it doesn't get one high enough, beyond the hip constriction, stack a second and then perhaps a third. When 3 are stacked, someone small bends low, stabilizing the pile on the down canyon side of the squeeze. A pack on the bottom and/or middle of the stack, gives a few more inches and stabilizes the pile. One to 3 helmets has always done it. Getting "rocked over" to the top of the triple stacks can be helped by pulling an arm from the front and a push from the rear. The difference between 1-3 helmets indicates a 2-3 foot normal variable in sand level. This of course can change. Chunks of wood or rock fall changes the drain/flow pattern and all bets are off. It is a wonderful teamwork exercise.

    PS Trail gets its name from pioneer traffic down to Trackyte Canyon from where the road is now. often used now as the way back to the road after a descent of Lower Maidenwater.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2015
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  8. John Diener

    John Diener

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    Nice TR, Mark - intense! Over the years, I've occasionally used the final crux narrows of Trail as a testing ground, when friends and I drive past - it is only a 20-25 minute walk up from the road. If you can go up through that section, then I consider Shennanigans a pretty safe bet. Hadn't tried it in several years until this fall, when I took my 12yo daughter. Was surprised when she felt some concern at the tightest spot - it is tight! But her concern really ramped up when she saw me getting myself nicely wedged and stuck, with her on the upcanyon side... :)
    -john
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  9. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Great idea John.

    I found the last (or the first walking up to it) part as the narrowest of the entire canyon. You definitely get stuck, but sounds like with a little bit of patience and movement up/down, you can get through. Armed now with spoiler info, I'm confident I can get through without a rescue at this point!

    I found it just as tight as Shenanigans, with Shenanigans having just a few more really tight places just like the crux in Trail. They both have sustained narrows, so Trail may be a real good candidate prior to taking on Shenanigans.

    Simple to get to going up canyon, and test out. Great suggestion.
  10. Mike Zampino

    Mike Zampino Canyon season never ends.

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    That's it. I am not eating anything until next year. I bailed on trail last year for the easier day of Slideanide, but planned on doing it this year. Mark, now you have me worried.
    mattwilliams likes this.
  11. mattwilliams

    mattwilliams

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    Mike, just save yourself the worry and go over that section. My avatar is a shot of that high route, it is quite fun. There is no way I would fit down there even if I didn't eat for an entire year. The rib cage would still get stuck. Plus, as you know, it is nice to have the extra "natural insulation" for FF, so dieting would be a bad idea. At least that is always my excuse for being fat.
    MrAdam, Mountaineer and ratagonia like this.
  12. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    I do believe going low is the best shot. My timing was off: psych fatigue and a setting sun when I arrived. Be prepared to dig a little mud/sand, and put munchkins around you.
  13. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Yes, that is true on insulation! Good one.

    It may be difficult to judge when that last crux/narrow section is for a first time descent. For a lot of us, staying low will work for most of the canyon (until the end).

    We continued hitting really tight tight sections, and barely squeezed through. As the walls started to descend, we thought the next tight section was the last. Then the next, then the next. When we arrived at the final section (which we didn't know at the time), we made it almost to the end before we got stuck. Ah, this must be it!
  14. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    I for one appreciate comparative gauging.:)

    After reading (and enjoying) Mark's TR, I'm still not sure if I could successfully navigate Trail's skinnies.

    I'm not claustrophobic, but tight places can be as much or more a technical challenge as rappels, for some folks. Often beta may say something about weight or physique, i.e. not good for those who are barrel-chested, but that is highly subjective. It is helpful and a confidence booster when heading to a skinny, to have a partner confirm, "If you have done this, you shouldn't have trouble with that". But even still, it would be better to bring it closer to a science. Maybe some canyons should carry a "sqeezebox" rating. This canyon is a 11.5" squeezer.

    Fat references are still considered bad decorum...unless of course you're Rabbit waiting on Pooh to get through the door.


    squeezebox.
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  15. Mike Zampino

    Mike Zampino Canyon season never ends.

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    Or just bring someone fatter than you and send them on point. :wavespin:
    MrAdam likes this.
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