Six years ago, an employee at a climbing shop recommended that I do a canyon called Sandthrax, claiming that it was easy to free climb the crux, and that I would do fine without cams. It took me a couple more years to get into canyoneering, but Sandthrax has always been on my list. The main thing preventing me from doing it, was not having the cams or aid climbing experience to get up the crux. The opportunity came this last week to put a crew together and give it a run, expecting the crux to not be as bad as some have made it out to be, but prepared for the worst. After our struggles with the crux, I’m glad that we had the gear! Left to right: Josh Allen, Austin Slade, Colby Wright, Enoch Hardin, Christian Felger, Thomas Allgaier, and me 5 out of the 7 people in our group had not done an X-rated canyon before, though everyone had high stemming experience. No one in the group had done Sandthrax before, so it was fun to route find ourselves, though I found Sandthrax to be straight forward from a route finding perspective. PC: Josh Allen PC: Josh Allen PC: Josh Allen PC: Josh Allen With a high of 45 degrees that day, the conditions felt perfect, especially since most of the route is exposed to the sun. The canyon gradually became more difficult after the first rappel, but no one seemed to have a problem with it. Much of the high-stemming consisted of long hallways of repetitive movement, punctuated with small silos to work through. I found the movement to be similar to Upper PINTAC, which had long stretches of repetitive stemming between upclimbs. PC: Josh Allen VC: Josh Allen VC: Josh Allen VC: Josh Allen VC: Josh Allen VC: Josh Allen VC: Josh Allen There really wasn’t that much exposure in Sandthrax when I compare it to other X-canyons i’ve done. The most exposed part was the silo before the down-climb into the crux. Josh and I crossed the silo first, which seemed a lot like the crux silo in Psycho D, but more exposed and a bit more awkward. The rest of the group used the bolts to belay the silo crossing, since it was their first time encountering a true X-rated silo. VC: Josh Allen VC: Colby Wright Downclimbing to the crux, I looked at the high route over top of it, and really couldn’t wrap my head around how people pull it off. I was going to go for the over-top route if it looked doable, but quickly decided to go for the aid climb instead. I belayed Christian while Josh gave him a boost into the crack. Christian placed a #5 and clipped it right away. As he started to move up on the two #6’s, his cam blew out, causing him to fall backwards into the silo. I was able to stop his fall, with the #5 luckily holding for both our sake. With a bruised tailbone, Christian was able to climb back out of the silo and send the crux, which was impressive considering the gnarly upside-down fall he had just taken! Slade and myself hand-lined up the crux with a Petzl basic to capture progress. After we had three people up, we did a two-man-haul with a micro traxion, pulling the rest of the group up with relative ease. We spent over an hour at the crux, which held-up to the hype as far as I am concerned. VC: Colby Wright VC: Josh Allen PC: Josh Allen We did the rappel after the crux into the dark section on ground level. The only water encountered the whole time was found here, which was only ankle deep and easily avoidable. The final section of stemming was very different from the rest of the canyon, and a fun way to finish things out. We made it car to car in 4 hours and 45 minutes, and finished off the day by doing the Moqui Queen 300ft rappel near Hog Springs Rest Area. The consensus was that outside of the crux, Sandthrax was not a very hard X. If you take the crux away, Sandthrax would be easier than both Psycho D and Glaucoma in my opinion. It was basically just a longer version of the nearby Upper Stair Canyon, with a few silo’s thrown in. However, the crux is no joke, and I would be interested in going back again and watch how others pull it off more efficiently. Overall, everyone loved the canyon, which actually made for a great first X-canyon for 5 of our group, who definitely get after some more X-rated Canyons.