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Right Fork North Creek

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Backcountry, Jun 12, 2017.

  1. Backcountry

    Backcountry

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    We are scheduled to do Right Fork of North Creek June 27th. We would like to do Hammerhead entrance and the direct pothole route. Can anyone give me information about (1) recent conditions and (2) the difficulty level of the direct section. We think our experience level is intermediate. We have done about 15 canyons including monkey business, pine creek, granary, Lost & Found, U- Turn, full death hollow 3 times, Birch, Subway, and many in robbers roost and North Wash. We are comfortable building natural anchors, using retrievable anchors, doing slides & captures, and have had a little practice ascending (in training situations). I would appreciate any insight as to the difficulty of this route or how you know you are ready for a new canyon.
    Backcountry, 37 minutes ago
    #15
  2. wsbpress

    wsbpress

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    Some friends and I descended RF over Memorial Day weekend. We took the Hammerhead entrance and did the direct section. Hammerhead had a little bit of snow still but was not an obstacle.

    The direct section was cold and full. I wore a good 3/2 and i got cold. Had we not moved through that section fast we may have had problems.

    There were a few minor keepers but they were easily defeated with "boosts" and beached whale moves.

    As others have mentioned in other threads, the wet section below the alcove is really fun. Definitely worth putting on wet neo in the morning for that.


    Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
    dakotabelliston and Mountaineer like this.
  3. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Just a few comments, to add to Wsbpress's excellent response.

    1. The Hammerhead entrance has real rappels, often with awkward starts. Keeping your pack weight low is very helpful.
    1b. it helps that the Alcove does not require a tent, and rarely (if ever) has significant bugs. And it is not all that cold out... well, last night it was cold. Hmmm.
    2. You mention "June 27th". Are you planning a one-day descent? VERY challenging.
    3. If done as a one-night overnight, the first day, TH to Alcove, is VERY long. Best to get a very early start, as in, camp at Lava Point or otherwise nearby. It helps that the days are very long at the end of June. You could start an hour before dawn.
    4. Much more casual as a two-night overnight. Stay at the first water in the Direct section, then at the Alcove, then out.

    And to add to Wsbpress's post: the scale of the potholes in the direct section is friendly. They are small. I remember asking a friend if they had difficulties, and she said: 'Yes, it was difficult. Todd had to remove his pack TWICE!'

    Tom
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2017
  4. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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  5. joeb

    joeb middle aged guy who lies around alot

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    We are going down the following week - look forward to your trip report

    Would love to leave behind my 5mm diving suit and bring the 3/2 so hopefully things are warming up. Question for Tom/Everyone - the Zion permit site only offered a one-night option. Would like to take two nights to explore the side canyons, etc per advice to take it slow and enjoy the canyon. How do you get a two-night permit? Just call back country desk?
    Thanks!
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  6. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    The desk has gotten very stingy with things like white passes and overnight permits... so I do not know. Please let me know what they say, either way, when you talk to them. publicly or privately, your choice.

    Tom
  7. joeb

    joeb middle aged guy who lies around alot

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    Will do!
  8. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    How do you get a two-night permit? Just call back country desk?

    We had the same question, and here's what to do:

    Reserve the one night permit (whichever night you are spending in the technical section) and then show up and ask for the second night.

    The quota system/ advanced reservation is only for the technical section only; i.e., the Grand Alcove. Most (all?) people doing the three day trip only spend one night in the technical section.

    The other night below or above the technical section is not subject to the quota, so you only need the advanced reservation for one night.

    PS, for a three day trip, the Grand Alcove may not be the most convenient place to camp, schedule wise. It's one of the most scenic camps anywhere, but you may want to camp at the somewhere before the technical section night one (I have camped twice at the Grand Staircase, but that's on the standard route; I don't know about campsites between the Hammerhead entrance and the Grand Alcove?) then spend the entire day in the technical section and exploring one or more of the side canyons below the technical section before dropping your camp for night 2.

    Another advantage of camping before the technical section on night one is that you will hit the really nice and wet slot below the Grand Alcove after things warm up, rather than first thing in the morning. You could then take time to enjoy the technical section, rather than rushing through.

    Since I have always camped at the Grand Staircase, I don't know of the campsite situation if you don't use the standard route. Surely there's a bivi spot in there somewhere?

    The disadvantage of not camping at the Grand Alcove is that no other campsite in the area will compare.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2017
  9. Backcountry

    Backcountry

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    Thank you very much for the information about Right Fork of North Creek. We are scheduled for a three day trip down this canyon June 27-29th, with pIans to camp at the first decent water above the direct section, and then again in the alcove. I feel that we have the experience to handle the Hammerhead and it sounds much more fun than the other approaches. The only cold water experience we have had was pine creek in August with full wetsuits and we still almost froze to death. So I'm leaning towards bypassing the direct section. Thanks again for any suggestions
    Rapterman likes this.
  10. Ram

    Ram

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    Don't
    Please don't.
    The section runs north-south
    And the immediate walls are rarely more than 50 feet
    It's the middle of summer
    Don't
    Joy is down that direct section
    Thrash and sweat is the bypass
    hlscowboy, Bill, Kevin and 4 others like this.
  11. Backcountry

    Backcountry

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    Wow. I never expected to read such eloquent poetry on a canyoneering website. It moved me
    Ram and Rapterman like this.
  12. qedcook

    qedcook

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    I did not bypass the direct section, and I did not regret it. The direct section is actually the funnest and best and most scenic part of the canyon. But take a wetsuit.
    Ram and Rapterman like this.
  13. John Styrnol

    John Styrnol

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    Had this one on the list, but never got to do it.
  14. Backcountry

    Backcountry

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    Thanks again for all the helpful information and suggestions. We completed Right Fork of North Creek June 27-29 and it was awesome. The Hammerhead entrance was dramatic and tricky and fun. We camped at the potholes at the beginning of the direct section. The potholes were almost dry and the water quality was bad. Mountain goats came by our camp at night to get a drink. It was really cool. The next morning we hit the direct section and found the water levels much lower than I had seen in videos and pictures. We loved the direct section. We did lots of slides and captures and we enjoyed working as a team through many obstacles with heavy packs. One pothole had water 7 feet deep and the far lip was smooth and vertical for about 4 feet above the water level. We failed the first three attempts using floating backpacks pressed against the wall, each time regrouping on dry ground above the pothole. Finally we succeeded by getting two guys completely under water so they could touch the bottom and push a skinny 15 year old kid up and over the lip. We were in shorty wetsuits and that was the only part when we got cold. We did the direct section from 10-1 and we had enough sunlight to warm us up from time to time. The Grand Alcove was even better than advertised. We went down the watercourse and it included a fun waterslide with a couple swimming holes. We camped on the bottom level of the Grand Alcove on a huge flat dry sandy beach. Next to the beach was a big swimming hole and a beautiful clear stream. The enormous walls were covered in ferns and flowing spring water. The sounds of the waterfall and stream were fantastic as we enjoyed a warm summer night with billions of stars overhead. The next morning we enjoyed a series of beautiful waterfalls and a gusher spring overhead that filled our canteens with clean cold water as fast as a kitchen faucet. The hike out was long but the designer did a great job of placing swimming holes at regular intervals. For our humble group, this canyon was a huge challenge requiring three full days of hard work. Right fork gave us incredible beauty, complete solitude, and a really fun set of challenges. We loved every minute of it
  15. Ram

    Ram

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    If it "moved" you into the Direct section. It was motion not wasted. Glad you went there and found it fun and rewarding. I don't recall many places where an escape was so challenging. Sand must have scoured. I enjoyed the description of your trip, the partner assist and such. Those slide downs by the small bridges etc. Is the big log still well positioned for the longest rap? I recall about 60 feet? When we first went the Direct, in 2002, I noted a small piece of red webbing way up high, at that rap. So high and hard to get to, I suspect it is still there and notable if one looked straight up there. So sorry you had poor quality of water, at the head of the Direct. It is usually a good source. Wonderful choice going down the watercourse at the Alcove. The rap bypass is terrible. I had not heard of anyone camping below the water, at the Alcove, but it makes good sense, as an option. You stay dry in the morning.

    When we first did the Direct in 2002(I had done the bypass in the late 80's and 90's), many posters here, were on board......Tom, BDC, Stevee Bee, Bucky, among others. We descended in 3 groups, trying different routes in. One group descended a buttress, rapping tree to tree between the forks coming into Wildcat, above the seeps. Tom and Brian explored the canyon they named the Hammerhead. I remember how excited they were coming into camp that night. Stevee and Bucky and I descended the actual upper Left Fork, as it left the West rim. This route turned out to be a dud, with one scratchy 80 foot rap and a fair bit of walking thru rose bushes. It did allow us the fastest route in, so our group of 3 were the first ones into the Direct that day. We all met at the Alcove in the evening and a lovely evening it was. Here is the Rave from the trip
    http://www.canyoneeringusa.com/rave/right-fork-fest-zion-national-park-oct-2002/

    Maybe Tom or someone else can find the Black Book description of the Right Fork descent from the 60's or 70's. It was the inspiration for the 2002 trip. I recall a part said something like....It wasn't the height of the drops, but the shear volume of them" or something like that.

    Good stuff, Backcountry, do you have pictures to share?
    R
  16. Backcountry

    Backcountry

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    From what I can see from pictures and videos, the water level on our trip was 3 or 4 feet lower than usual. For example, the ground was perfectly dry under the little bridge that others swim or wade through. I bet our challenging keeper is usually easy to swim right out of. The big log is still well positioned on the longest rap. There was still some old webbing way up high in strange places that we could not reach. I take this as evidence that the canyon can change a lot from time to time. We rapped into one room with a deep watery pothole at the bottom but we found that we could run along the walls and get enough momentum to swing into the next room which was dry. I can't imagine what a thrill it must have been to do an early exploration without beta. Even though we had great information, we carried plenty of webbing and were prepared to build anchors as necessary. We have learned to take beta as historical information that is subject to change. Atthached are some photos. Thanks again for so much help from the best of the best. IMG_1228.JPG IMG_1230.JPG IMG_1227.JPG IMG_1229.JPG

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  17. joeb

    joeb middle aged guy who lies around alot

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    Thanks for the posting - we are going through next week - glad to hear I don't need my dive suit!
    So how much webbing would you recommend to be on the safe side? And it sounds like we need to bring enough water with us to camp the first night prior to starting the direct section?
  18. Backcountry

    Backcountry

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    We brought 80 feet of webbing and we used about 25 feet to backup a couple older pieces of webbing. We carried 7 water bottles each and we were glad to have them all. The water in the potholes before the direct section was about one foot deep and it was blackish yellow with tons of frogs, mosquitos, and tadpoles. One of our two filters got clogged up after a day of filtering that water. There was no decent water until the grand alcove which was at the very end of day 2. The bushwhack to the start of Hammerhead was very thick and we got scratched up a bit. Hope that helps. Let me know of any questions
  19. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    We are trying to enroll people in the ethic of removing old webbing, rather than just adding new. If you do not consider the old webbing reliable, then it is trash, and you 'should' (implied moral obligation) recognize it as trash and pack it out.

    Please join us in this ethic.

    Tom
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  20. deathtointernet

    deathtointernet

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    You know that means the water is *good*, right? The more tadpoles the better! It's when nothing can live in it that you really need to worry... ;)
    Yellow Dart likes this.
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