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Right Fork via Hammerhead in one day August 10 2019

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by scottensign, Aug 15, 2019.

  1. scottensign

    scottensign

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    Me, my son, and "MoabMan" went through Right Fork via Hammerhead on August 10. Our original plan was to do it as a two day trip, but the weather forecast indicated a "probable" flash flood risk for Friday, and "not expected" for Saturday, so we decided to try to do the whole thing in one day. Turns out it did not rain on Friday, but hindsight is 20/20... Anyway, we left Lava Point at 5:20 AM, made our way to Potato hollow, and bushwhacked up to the Hammerhead entrance. As we made our way down into the pothole section, we could tell the water level was pretty low. I had a full pothole escape kit (three potshots, etriers, ascenders, microtraxion, hooks) so we felt confident we could deal with the direct route. I SHOULD have read Tom's report from two years ago ahead of time, as we encountered the exact conditions he did: much lower than "normal" water, creating keeper potholes, but enough water for true swimmers. We got into trouble at the exact spot he described in his trip report: A curving chamber with very deep water, an exit pothole with a four foot lip and no handholds, no good stance to throw a pothole due to the length and curvature of the chamber and a fin blocking our throws, water too deep to try a shoulder stand.... We tried a few different things including standing on packs, but had no success. I guess I could have thrown my hooks and hoped they caught on something, but was not sure of the ethics of using hooks unless in a true emergency. If I had re-read Tom's report ahead of time, we could have tried making a raft like the one his group did, but we did not have overnight packs so I am not sure how successful it would have been. Should have brought a true inflatable raft I guess... Anyway, not being familiar with what might be ahead I was concerned, that we might find more of the same, or worse, conditions ahead, and without bivy gear I didn't want to spend the night in the canyon. Se we decided to back out and take the bypass. Getting back out also required pothole escapes using potshots. We placed water bottles in the potholes until we got back to where we had access to sand and rocks. We then licked our wounds, dried out our gear, tucked our tails, and took the bypass. Everything was straightforward from there. The black pool was very low as well, only a short initial section required swimming, the rest was wading.
    We made it to the grand alcove around 4:30 PM, rested a bit, then slogged out, exiting at 9 PM without needing headlamps. Perfect timing!
    15.5 hours is a long day. I think Right Fork would be a lot more enjoyable as a two or three day adventure, but we built character in any event.
    Yellow Dart, ratagonia and MoabMan like this.
  2. YoungBuck

    YoungBuck

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    Location:
    Provo, UT
    I did Right Fork on the 14th(Edit: Of August) and had a wildly different opinion of that pothole. In under a minute we had gotten someone out the far side, no potshots, no hooks, just a bit of team work. I supermanned across the pool(with some help from my pack) just above the water. With the combination of the two available handholds and my haphazardly placed foot my friend clambered out of the pool pretty quick. The handhold/crack we used to escape would have worked great for using hooks, I don't know the exact ethics of throwing hooks but you could have easily placed one and used an etrier to step up and out.

    I'm assuming the potential keeper pothole we are referring to is the same one. We only encountered two potential keepers, the first took a simple partner boost and the other was described above.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2019
    scottensign likes this.
  3. scottensign

    scottensign

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    I think we should have waited and gone with you guys!! :)
  4. MoabMan

    MoabMan

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    Location:
    Moab, Utah
    Yesterday, or some other month?
  5. Caleb Barksdale

    Caleb Barksdale

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    YoungBuck and I did it yesterday.
    scottensign likes this.
  6. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Location:
    Mount Carmel, Utah
    Overnight packs like we used make considerably better rafts than day packs.

    Tom
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