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The Ghosts of FreezeFest's Past

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Ram, Nov 20, 2014.

  1. Lisa

    Lisa

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    I love looking at all these Freezefest photos. It's always such a fun time! I have sailing plans this winter and will miss Freezefest. I will absolutely be thinking of all of you, especially on New Year's eve as you party by the fire and New Year's day as you frolic in the Black Hole.

    My favorite Freezefest memories:
    Don handing me a warm donut as I left to do a sub-zero Blarney. There was an arctic wind blowing off the Henry's and Blarney was full of snow.
    Finally doing the Black Hole on New Year's day! I wore a wetsuit under a drysuit and was comfortable.
    The fireside antics and pyrotechnics!

    Looking forward to the photos and stories...
    Canyonbug, Don and Ram like this.
  2. Ram

    Ram

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    Trip Report: Imlay Canyon on Christmas Day

    Posted on January 18, 2012 by Ram

    The question has been asked: Why descend Imlay in the winter? A wonderful canyon maybe, but it’s hard enough during the warmest times of the year. Why build in extra suffering and risk? There are a few reasons really, but paramount is I am competing. Competing with who? For what? Competing for time with my son, Aaron. His options for adventure are great and varied now that he is an adult on his own, with great skills and many talented partners. He likes FreezeFest. He has attended six straight years, but North Wash fare doesn’t move him anymore. So Imlay on Christmas sparks the man-child’s desire for challenge and I am rewarded with time. Time with the man.

    Last year, the idea was Christmas in Choprock/Kaleidoscope… that was something for him sink his teeth into. This year it was Christmas in Imlay, and I upped it with a plan to climb Ancient Art and Castleton Towers on the following days. He owes me more climbs than canyons anyway, and it is a chance for him to show me his fine skill set. He is on board for this. If I don’t come up with the goods, he will go elsewhere. You say he owes me, from the years of implementally more challenging adventures, that led him to where he is today? That might be true, but it might not be true. Besides, I am not a charity case quite yet. Imlay for Christmas appeals to me and doesn’t seem beyond my range… yet. But when Brechja proposes doing Moonlight Buttress with Aaron on the days after Imlay, I surrender my post-Imlay climbing plans gracefully without a peep. I can’t compete with Moonlight.

    Icy water streak on the Left sneak
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    over the pass
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    But I must admit, the draw of such a canyon in winter arises within me, too, all by itself. A curiosity drives it. I want to know what it looks like. What extra challenges will be encountered? Will it be iced over? Snowed in? What many subtleties and lessons await? Realities as yet unseen, thus unknown. The draw of such things are very strong within me. Eyes gotsta know!
    I toss out invites like seeds. Some take hold and sprout. Tim Hoover was there for Kaleidoscope the year before… he is interested in Imlay. He has now descended these canyons once each, both on December 25th. Others decline the offer. Tom would if he could… Jenny would, if she was about… Ryan Cornia jumps on board. Who else would have if I had thought to invite them? It is a day most are occupied with other things. Four to go!

    a downclimb sans the snow
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    Tim and Sue Hoover offer up their bed and breakfast in Orderville as camp for before and after the canyon. The idea of sleeping indoors makes me uncomfortable – having to figure out appropriate inside social behaviors stresses me – but gaining advantage for a winter Imlay is hard to resist. Aaron and I sign on. When we get there, just after dark on the 24th, Ryan is already socializing with the gracious Tim and Sue. The place is spectacular, with beautiful wood floors and wonderful decor. I am out of place in such luxury. We will spend two nights, eat well, and sleep on fine mattresses, under vaulted ceilings. Magnifico! If you like such things or know others that do, allow me to recommend staying there. They are animal friendly too, by the way. I could go on and on, but we have a canyon story to share.

    ice above
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    Ice below
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    Down to the business. We pack an ice ax. We pack some crampons. Hooks, potshots, many ropes, much thermal protection, thermoses of hot calories come also. Game on! We awaken at 3 AM. A civilized breakfast is followed by last-minute organizing and the hour-long drive. We spot the short car shuttle. We hit the trail at a few minutes after 5 AM. The Zion Canyon is breathing. It breathes up in the evenings, and down in the morning. The breeze is in my face and bites and penetrates my clothing as I hunch over, against it. The entirety of Zion Canyon is silent on the moonless night, aside from the breeze. A light or two around Zion Lodge is all that intrudes on the blackness. It is like going back in time… the lodge light and our headlamps are all that break the spell.

    The chill from the wind pushes the pace. We can only go so far in the dark, as off-trail hiking by headlamp is navigationally very difficult. We are ahead of schedule when Aaron’s and my headlamps start to fade… fresh batteries might have been a good idea. We take a short rest at Scouts Landing, in lee of the wind. It is still cold and we move along before long, this time slowly, with an eye to the east searching vainly for first light.
    Once on top of the ridge, we encounter snow and ice on the paved trail. It is difficult to stay upright and we slow to take care. When we leave the trail, just past the bridge, we encounter slickrock slopes treacherously covered with snow. Finding the key ramp and then navigating it safely in the snow is tricky by headlamp. We cross the Telephone Canyon drainage and head up the ridge toward the sneak route passes, as first light creeps in. We choose the Left Sneak, reasoning that when traversing the slope just before Imlay, the Right Sneak will be more dangerous if snow covered. We find passage to the left easy, as we pass a forming ice column. We enjoy a rest, hot liquid, and food before going over the pass and into the wind and snow.


    Ryan at the first rap
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    We are concerned with the backsides of the sneak passes. They are exposed to the north and we expect snow; we are not disappointed. We follow the trail as best we can, me loving my ski poles. We slide in the snow where it is too steep to traverse. Holes between logs and debris are hidden by the snow and caution is the word, when probing with our feet. A bad time and place for a misstep. We sense the steep drop and entry crux before we see it. The traverse across the exposed slope gets trickier for each successive person. Aaron is last and is nervous about it, so we decide to rappel what we surely could descend easily, sans snow. We rap twice, then Ryan leads a complex snow route below the raps to the canyon floor. It is 9:30 AM and we are in Imlay, at the Crossroads. We climb a slope into the sun and nervously suit up.

    The slope that bypasses the drop between Crossroads and the Amphitheater is snowy and we are forced into the land of ice immediately. Icicles drape the walls. The one- to three-inch ice covering the water does not support our weight, and passage is slow. Broken plates of ice must be turned vertical and filed down into the water (this works!) or slid under other plates of ice still not broken. This makes for slow progress across pools. The deeper the water, the harder the passage is to negotiate. Going first is hardest of all.

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    Aaron's gonna getta wet
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    Soon we are in the relatively new log jam section. When water is deep, this passage is quite difficult. I worry for Ryan’s dry suit: a rip is a dangerous thing this time of year. I lead and balance on logs, but often slide off to my waist in ice water and must climb back up to proceed. The logs are so densely packed that one must go over them. Short rappels, short swims, and snow covered boulders alternate. We are relieved to find no ice under the snow slopes.

    We arrive at the Extreme Narrows. Here my picture quality drops off the charts. One needs a tripod, but if one had one, what wonders one would capture. The water is low and quickly we encounter the first of over a dozen pothole escapes. Tim and I do our part. Ryan does more than he credits himself with. Aaron does the lion’s share of the work, with an intense smile upon his lips. Two man hauls, etriers, climbing moves, pack tosses all help the group along. Toward the middle of the narrows, the water almost disappears. We work the many problems in relative comfort. In fact, the potential for overheating becomes a concern.

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    Snow abounds in the open areas
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    As we near the bottom of this narrows section, the water reappears, and ice appears shortly afterward. Aaron breaks through the ice at a pothole that proves to be a swimmer. The down canyon lip is 4 feet high, and the ice plates are 3 inches thick. Aaron puts a foot along the edge of a fixed ice plate, putting pressure sideways, not weighting from above. He lays his body out at a thirty degree angle, propped by the foot and an ice plate and an arm on the keeper wall. Then he launches… dynos up, lands a finger on an invisible hold, on top… and pulls up and out of the pothole. We are all blown away. The problem? His tendon on his right arm is also blown away by the move. A move his mind was able to conceive, then his body make, but beyond his body’s ability to sustain without injury. The resulting strain would end his FreezeFest, as he would need 2-4 weeks of rest. But at the time, the tightness of the wet suit, the icing from the water, and his abundant ability allowed him to protect the injury and still be our lead gun, getting out most of the rest of the potholes. Man, that boy can play!

    Quite dry in the Extreme Narrows-need tripod
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    Lovely light
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    We exit the Extreme Narrows and we all need food and drink. It is 1:30 PM. No need to rush, but the need to stay on task remains an imperative. The rest break chills us, so we don’t dally. The Terminal Narrows come next and have a different feel. They are not as entrenched. More open canyons are more likely to form ice. Snow is found within these narrows too. Add the many escapes and this section, often easier than the Extreme Narrows, is considerably harder today. Break through ice, slick and snow covered logs, potholes with 10-foot down canyon lips. We are at war. We are working well as a team and progress is steady. It starts to approach 3:30 PM and we note the water splashed on the walls from our efforts, is beginning to freeze and glaze the wall. This makes progress more difficult. We start to feel we have a time limit. A need to get out of the narrows before the ice slows us further. And we have no idea what the Zion Narrows conditions are like. A nighttime descent does not appeal.
    I love these guys! The rope work and escapes are worked to perfection. Climbing over broken and piled up ice plates, to the final rap, is the last major challenge. We sprint out the Narrows, where I expected to see no one. I encounter and pass two trios, of Indian descent. Then folks of Asian descent. The Narrows was downright crowded on Christmas Day! Then we catch up to a group of American kids coming off an Orderville descent. WOW! I did see a rope stuck on Mystery’s final rap, encased in ice – ice that will grow for months. This type of thing casts a poor light on our community. Nothing to be done about it now, until spring.

    Blurry canyon goodness
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    The parking lot at Sinewava had over a dozen vehicles. Aaron and I land at the car at at 5:10 PM, twelve hours and a few minutes after the start. Tim and Ryan are along shortly. A successful day, in spite of the injury. We head back to the luxury of Tim and Sue’s lodge. Aaron hopes his arm will heal overnight. It seems better, then worse. I take him to the emergency room in Kanab, just to find out if it is something that will be made worse from continued use, or something we can work through. He wants so much to head up to Moonlight Buttress. When we walk into the hospital, the nurses think it is me who is hurt, as I walk in rather stiffly. The day in Imlay used way more than the usual muscle groups I use so often canyoneering… I am shuffling along like an old man. In a creepy irony, we are seen in the same bay, and by the same doctor who treated Tom one month and a few days before. Both right wrist injuries too. Both splinted. Enough already on that trend.

    Lots of water in the Terminal narrows...and escapes too
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    Aaron keeps us safe
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    Mystery falls. Almost out
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    Rest was the prescription for the wrist. So at 2 PM, after looking at way-too-expensive flight possibilities, we decide to drive Aaron home. Nine hours later, I sleep in my own bed, in Colorado. I sleep for 4 hours and head back toward Utah, before the sun rises the next day, arriving at FreezeFest 25 hours and 1150 miles after leaving the hospital. I am just in time for a solo Blarney. Aaron is in Utah now showing some of his non-technical buddies around. Already ideas are being tossed around for next Christmas Day. In this way, traditions are born.
    Ram
  3. Ram

    Ram

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    To facilitate today's FreezeFest Past, as I am super busy, I am copying a Rave, with Tom's and Bruce's pictures and my story. i also have no pictures to post from FF V as yet as they still need scanning from slide form.

    I believe we have now done Hard Day Harvey on the 31st of December three different times. With a view of Navajo Mt., we get cell service now and the last two times we have called Hard Day Harvey Halpern, Cambridge, Massachusetts, upon exiting back to the car, wishing him a Happy New Year.

    FreezeFest V – A Wet Hard Day Harvey – Dec 2006

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    Photos by Tom and Bruce, Text by Ram.

    Ram:
    “No Stefanos, you won’t need a wetsuit”
    “Ram, are you sure?”
    “Yeah, it is a dry canyon, except after real storms and there haven’t been any for awhile”
    “I don’t mind carrying it”
    “Don’t bother”
    Then Tom pipes in “But Ram is often wrong”
    I pipe back ‘HEY! Only occasionally!”
    Ummmmmmmm!!!

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    The approach, looking out over Glen Canyon.

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    Ram pointing out landscape features.

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    Group shot: Bucky, Denise, Bruce, Michelle, Ramoo, Stefanos

    Ram: OK, so I jug like crap. OK, so I terrorize myself. OK, so I sometimes have limited control over my bodily functions. I do give “good trip” and I do give it day after day. So when the day after Sandthrax was at hand, I wanted another classic, if not one so hard or scary. How about Hard Day Harvey? Tom Jones is back, healed up from an illness, and ready for a warm up before the Black Hole. Stefan, I have met once and e-mailed a 100 times. How about a canyon together, at long last? I owe Michelle a good canyon (long story) and am thrilled that pay back is imminent. Neesee…ah I mean Denise has followed me often and hasn’t paid the price yet. Bruce has done this canyon with me and wants to measure his considerable progress against his last, “losing my shoe” run through. Besides, it’s a great canyon.

    But where are my Sandthrax partners? I understand how almost anything would be a let down, but my partners have scattered to the winds. Steve is back home with the family. Hank is taking the day off, to absorb his experience of the day before. Dave has a girlfriend, Dave has a girlfriend. Old reliable Aaron NEVER misses a day…but…but….but, he is headed home, courtesy of Rob, so he can visit Grandma, in Florida. That leaves Bucky…

    “Buckaroo, its a great canyon”
    “I don’t know Ram, I’m really pretty sore and my skin! My skin is raaaaaw.”
    But, but, Bucky, you are only here for 3 days, gotta maximize!!”
    “I’ll let you know after breakfast”
    “OK” I say, then I go off to Tom and Dave and sic them on Bucky, opening a new front and a pincer move on me old buddy! Soon he surrenders and is on board.

    Post Trail and Sandthrax canyons, no one was in the mood to reorganize for the next day. There was a day, in the past I would have fought the mood and tried to get folks committed and prepared, but now I know better. There are other methods. I let them float on their good mood. Reviewing the coming day, in my mind….From campsite to campsite….Looking like 10-11 hours. With only a bit under 9 hours of daylight, it requires a predawn departure. Folks trying to get into carpools and pack at camp, in the dark the next morning? I don’t think so. So we go California carpool, for the first 30 miles. Six vehicles for seven canyoneers. We regroup. Everyone is awake at the marina gas station. Their doors open to coffee and bathrooms, just as the sun comes up and then we organize in the outside, semi wind protected picnic area. Much better.

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    Obstacle in the canyon, passed using a “Sequence” or “Meat” anchor and a handline. Aaron goes last because: A. he’s light, therefore easy to spot; B. he’s young, probably thinks he is indestructible.

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    Stefanos coming down, Bucky spotting.

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    And into the infamous thigh belay.

    Ram: After organizing, we slim down to 3 vehicles and take the rough, 1 hour, 4X4 ride into the trailhead. Skies are clear, the breeze is cool, the sun is warm and the shade is cold. Out to the Carmel nose we go spying distant features that cause us to wonder…good slots in there? On the slickrock slope descending to the canyon, we note an open pothole section….WAIT A MINUTE!!! What is all that water doing in there?? I review the recent past for a hint how……..Ahhhhhh, that snow up high in Shenanigans three days earlier….but, but, but it barely rained down low….unless down here where it is lower……Uh oh…….Ummm, too late to go back and grab more gear. Not everyone has access to their stuff anyway, after the carpool. Might as well take a look…..Yes, the canyon has flowed. Not a lot. Not up the walls, but it is December 31st. Not great timing for unprotected swims

    You never know, until you go. First we stem and keep dry, Michelle showing exceptional form. But I know there is just too much ground to cover, to try and stay dry. Not to mention how much more effort it would take trying to stem past all the water. We have a full day in front of us, without the delays. So I test the waters, hoping…..First some ankle high water. Yikes!! So confident was I…no neo socks…..Then it is calf deep. Then knee. Then thigh. We have gone nary a tenth of the canyon. DANGER! DANGER!! Real doubt is banging at the door. What have I done, saying no wetsuits?? I review the canyon ahead, in my mind. In 3 places, deep, normally dry potholes await. In another area, a crawl. What if the crawl is under water? Can be passed high, but not easily for everyone. It is the last day of the year and after the canyon, there is over a 3 hour slickrock trip back to the cars. What if we are wet and the wind blows? Not to mention that the Black Hole is scheduled the next day. Sure don’t want to burn too many calories. What have I done?

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    Tom, Ram and Michelle, trying to make use of the sun, near the end of the canyon.

    Ram: The marks on the walls show that the canyon did not flow higher than the pools that exist, and the water has stayed where harder rock coats the canyon bottom. Not a rowdy flow, by any means. I hold onto the idea that maybe it flowed only in the upper canyon and it will run out of energy, this flood. The lower canyon “might” be dry or drier. But often, the lower in the canyon, the wetter. We come to an opening, with the signature feature of the canyon. Cross joints. Cross joints that may offer escape. Tom and I eye each other. One of the last chances to bail out. We wrestle with it. We decide that discomfort is a distinct possibility, but hypothermia….may not be. We roll the dice and commit the group. What faith they show in us. I hope that the faith is not undermined by what lay ahead.

    The first rap comes. Through a cave, down a slot, into a pothole and a tough climb out at 90 degrees right. The difficulties are coming one after the other and this is good. Initially, everyone trying to stay dry had us moving slowly. With partner assist, difficult terrain seems to get folks focused and we start to move with more verve…. The canyon jogs left and right, in and out of cross joints. When the canyon does a right turn, one is in for challenges. Some stem high, others crawl low and squeeze. Soon a pothole gets us wet up to our waist. Hope there aren’t any more of those…or worse! The deepest potential holes await. But we remain warm, as the canyon is protected from the wind and we are working hard. More right turns dealt with. Another rappel. Old anchor material replaced. Suddenly we come to the potential deep hole……and it is dry. In fact, we have seen less and less water. A small flood from 3 days past, flowed, then ran out of energy and the waters sunk into the sands. We gambled and got lucky.

    [​IMG]
    In the slot, doing the squeezing thing.

    Another tricky corner, the one I consider the hardest, is passed, with a pair of shoulders provided as foot holds. The very lovely lower canyon is passed with a handline and some partner assist again. The final rap and we start the hike down to the exit. We find some sun. It does not carry any punch. Hike. The exit route is a lovely affair. Following a series of domes that form a weaving ridge line, it offers expansive views of Lake Powell and other treats from the Waterpocket Fold to Mancos Mesa. A bit of trundle at a 400 foot cliff and the challenge of the final capstone moves, up into the flat desert. Right as we stride to the cars, the sun sets. Part of the drive will be out in the dark. Back to the spotted cars and back into camp and dinner. See Stefanos…we didn’t need a wetsuit!! Whew!! The fire blazing and awaiting us back at camp. Many will stay up past 2 AM. High spirits and good cheer abound. I give up the Ghost at 1:45 AM. Happy New Year everyone!!. My fifth straight, in North Wash. How silly is that? The start of the Black Hole Hike is only 8.5 hours away.

    Ram

    On to New Year’s Eve!

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    ’round the fire.

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    ’round the fire.

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    Hangin’ ’round da ‘ire.

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    Hangin’ ’round the fire…

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    The aftermath.

    (
    Jenny, mattwilliams, MrAdam and 2 others like this.
  4. SCard

    SCard

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    I'm loving this thread. :twothumbs:
    Cameron and Ram like this.
  5. Ram

    Ram

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    Freezefest VI--- January 3rd 2008
    The Black hole was over but many stayed. On the 2nd saw the exploration of Woodchuck. It was decided that most of who remained would run a dante trip on get-away day. It was decided that a 54 was in order AKA Paradiso-Limbo. Much fun was had on a sunny day

    On approach.
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    A little spanning to start the day

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    Godhead
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    Stefan up high
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    The very accomplished Nat Smale
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    A sculptured place
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    Aaron Ram making it look easy
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    Aaron doing back up on the big rap to and past the pothole. He and Spidey has downclimed it on belay
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    staying dry
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    Nat
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    He made it
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    Brejcha mans the last rap station in Paradiso
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    first lunch between canyons
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    livin large. Catman
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    Over 700 feet of ascent up to Limbo
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    lets run another one!
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    Hand line, spot, downclimb for Stefan
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    rap off meat
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    Aaron employing the pack drag, into a capture
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    "movement" in Limbo is sublime
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    Come on down, your the next contestant, Mr. Break-a-your-face
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    My turn on the silo
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    Michael Jordan Brejcha showing tongue
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    The silo holding over 10 feet of water!
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    makes it look easy
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    this downclimb that eats me for lunch
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    We volunteer Nat for LAPAR
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    The 100 foot, 2 stage grand finale rap, with a pothole in the middle
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    Aaron half way down the rap will climb out the right side of the picture
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  6. Ram

    Ram

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    My first time down Not Mindbender was January 2nd 2005 at FF III. I was having a tough time down the stretch. Taken from Tom's Rave

    Not Mindbender – FreezeFest III – Jan 2005

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    The 6 AM wake up on January 2nd came quickly. 15 minutes later, we were on the road toward Robbers Roost. Gas in Hanksville, followed by first light on the dirt roads heading toward the day’s goal. Tom picked a return engagement with Not Mindbender Fork of the North Fork of Robbers Roost. He had shown great enthusiasm in wanting to share this gem with me, as I had never been there. Payback for the ones I had shown him on this trip? As with many of you folks, Tom and I had shared, back and forth, for years. I was all for something new. It was 3 hours to the car spot, down ever-smaller roads, to what could only be called a track at the trailhead. Over the hill we go and are presented with a whole row of small, parallel drainages… but not all go where we wish to go, as they diverge and head into very distinct forks of the NF of RR, some for which we don’t have enough rope to descend. Ummm, better get it right! Freed of the GPS, we were allowed to experience doubt, consider the terrain, and make our choice, senses fully alive.

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    Another morning in the Roost, under gloomy skies.

    Up on the rim, as we decide to drop in, I feel a tad lightheaded. I tell Tom that I am going to have a quick snack. He takes off down the hill and I chow hard and fast, so as to not fall to far behind. Almost done, I bite down on a bar…and feel great pain shoot through my mouth. A gentle investigation. A tooth way looser than what is right. I am basically done eating for the rest of the trip. When I got home, an X-ray showed a vertical crack through the tooth. Could not be crowned. Out it went and the implant surgery is tomorrow. An inauspicious and painful start to the day. Swollen and sore, it would remind me of its presence, for the rest of the trip.

    We dropped in and strolled into some Carmel layer narrows. Ledges abound and large quartz slabs do too. We follow fresh cow droppings down the narrows. I am reminded of the days when the cow was everywhere I roamed, in the desert. I am glad they have been restricted and wish them to be more restricted. I could, but wish not to get into an argument about the “traditional lifestyles” Vs “damage to the ecosystem” thing. I shall leave it at preferring not to follow a trail of poo. Soon we reach the Navajo layer and stop to suit up. Probably won’t be too wet, but it is chilly and we will do more than a little tight work, so a thin wet suit works on several levels. The canyon is delightful. The narrows offer moderate and fun downclimbing. The canyon has that special thing, too. Its lines are eloquent. It is colorful and its curves swoop in ways pleasing to the eye. A good combo, with both the visual and the physical. It also gets progressively tighter. I turn to Tom and ask..”You were getting a bit nervous here, on that first time through, weren’t ya? Wondered how tight it was gonna get, didn’t ya?” He cracks a huge smile, with glowing eyes. Nods the affirmative. A nice downclimb, followed by a rap and a sculptured wall and the narrows relent. We stroll through big wall country, taking the time to scout some side canyons, both with fine grand finale rappels, that draws the eye to the slots above, with longing eyes and deep curiosity.

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    First rappel in Not Mindbender.

    The canyon narrows again as we enter the final technical section. Tom walks the bench above a wet and intriguing narrows and prepares to rap off, to the set up spot, for the final rap for the bigger and final rap below. I make arrangements to descend the upper narrows. After all, I have the wet suit on, it looks great and why not? I tell Tom to let me know when the rap is set up, so I will not have to mill about wet and cold and can come straight through. I stroll, mind drifting to other places and times. Maybe not a great thing to do, when in such a place. Tom calls up and is hooking into the final rap. I stroll, stem, swim and glide down to the anchors and inspect ones that Tom would have had to get wet to really look over. One is marginal. One is pretty good. Neither the best. One is attached by a 6mm cord, the other 1 inch tubular. Both are quite long. 25 yards or so, to the lip. I tell him to “go gently into the night.” Off he goes.

    Now it is my turn. Was my mind not fully back from it’s wanderings? Guess not. I had carried the rope. Tom the pull cord. I knew when we left the car that the grand finale was a single rope off of a biner block. Standing here, on the lip, I pull up both ends (both the full rope) and attach myself. The rap is 95 feet or so, the last 88 free. I slide over the edge and down to a tiny ledge, literally at lands end on the edge of the undercut and survey (a little late) and I note that one of the ends is joined to the pull cord 10 feet down. If I had continued or not noticed I would have gotten hung up on the knot and been suspended 80 feet in the air, far from any wall, with my prussick in my pack, on anchors barely better than marginal. Could I have dealt the situation? Yes. Would it take the correct side of my brain longer than the average fellow? Yes. Would I have pooed my pants? Probably. As it was, that strange sensation in my tummy was back. Grabbed both ends of the rope and hauled myself up the 7 feet back onto the ledge. I called down to Tom, that I was going to take a little time. The slight tremor in my hand may not have been noticeable. I knew. It originated inside my body, which was invisibly shaking. Damn! Damn! I walk on legs I can’t feel, back to the anchors, to gander again. They’re OK.

    [​IMG]
    Ram making da big rappel.

    After 5 minutes I return to the edge and do the rap correctly this time, with my composure outwardly calm. My insides knew better. So here we are 36 hours into the year and I have driven down the highway with my car hatch open, locked keys in my car, gotten hung up on a waterfall, broken a tooth and nearly rapped myself into trouble. And I’m wondering why my partners are leaving for home? Thank goodness I had slept 16 of those hours or imagine what other trouble I might have gotten myself into. Again, I was forced to learn, for the umpteenth time…Focus and vigilance is safety. Lucky again.

    [​IMG]
    Walking out the North Fork

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    On the hike out.

    Out of the suits, we continue down the canyon, to the exit. I have carried the weight today as Tom had volunteered for the lead on the exposed upclimb spot. Up the slab he goes, into and out the solution holes and up to the top. He mentions a couple of chopped holds, at the top. We haul the packs and I follow. There they are. Two new, small, 3 inch holds hacked into the cliff. I ask Tom if he knew who did this…You guessed it…”Probably The Author.” The author refers to such vandalism as “enhancement.” I would like to take this time out to thank him for improving on millions of years of erosion. Without him there, to make such a judgment, I don’t know what the rest of us would do. Its inconceivable to me the level of arrogance one would have to have to “alter” permanently, a wilderness environment at one’s whimsy. Who elected him? If I had met him then and there, I would have put that geo pick where the sun don’t shine. Still makes me angry.

    OK, up the hill, near 800 vertical, to the car. Then the shuttle and at this time, Tom confesses that his body has had enough of being Rammed. We hug and say our good-byes. I understand. But I wonder if he just wants out before I can come up with a new and creative way to lose gear, hurt or kill myself. Alas. I wrestle with camping and doing a fork of White Roost that I have wanted to do. The sky is very gray. May rain. Also could drive to Arches and do an Elephant Butte the next AM, before heading home. Great climb, but best shared with others. Something else nags at me. The family comes home the next day and I miss them.

    I drive. I am in western Colorado before I know it. 50 miles in, there is a pull off, with an overhang. I pull out the bag, foam pads and cook kit. With headlamp blazin, I cook up some soup and feel the full scope of the good fortune that has become my life. A passion for adventure, decades old, that still feels fresh. A body that still says yes, when I ask it to rock and roll. A wife who answers some “friends” inquiries as to how she could allow me to go so often, with a “Why would I want to stop him?” Well adjusted kids (I did marry well) who have the same love of adventure as their mother and father. A very big collection of friends, with that sparkle in the eye. A life comfortable enough, with a ton of free time, to make it all possible. This evening I am in awe at how it has all worked out for me. In the AM, I will rush home and get my work done, so I can greet them the way they deserve, coming home from their own trip. But on the drive, my mind can’t help but wander to and wonder about what to do on the March trip?

    [​IMG]
    No trip to the Roost is complete without a visit to Ray’s Tavern.

    (
    ratagonia, John Styrnol and Taylor like this.
  7. John Styrnol

    John Styrnol

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    Not Mindbender is still one of my best I like to do.
    Ram likes this.
  8. Ram

    Ram

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    With Freezefest just days away and my leaving in 2 days, this will be my last post on this thread this year. Thanks for playing along. This will be my 33rd day in a row posting a story of a different day in FF over the years. I figure I will pass 100 FreezeFest canyon days this year. With that in mind, I plan to add posts over the coming months, as this has become a repository of FF history. I figure there were at least an average of 5 trips going out a day, over the years. That would make an estimate of 500 FF trips so far. Please feel free to add your stories and pictures to this thread. And safe passage to all.

    This is from FF X, January 3rd 2012
    I am not sure but I believe it was the first or second time down Fiddlestix? In the afternoon we did Inferno, and then i headed home. I also think a rope got stuck in Fiddlestix and Steve and Brendan, joined by Malia went back the next day and repeated the canyon, cleaning it up.

    Brendan amongst the fins and cross joints of Fiddlestix on approach
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    first rap
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    Mikey on board
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    Steve on point
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    goodness down there
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    Orange light
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    [​IMG]

    Threatens to get hard
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    Final rap..180'
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    [​IMG]

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    Brendan going last and going light
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    Up, then out, then a short drive, then a drop into Inferno
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    [​IMG]

    A bit of work, a bit of exposure
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    [​IMG]

    You take the high road and i'll take the low....
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    backed up sand trap
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    [​IMG]

    Inferno. First dropping downclimbs and stems, then moderate and physical high stems, then potholes.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    A deep hole
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    The climb out in waning light
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    Purgatory Point
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    Sunset, soon after I ran out of gas a mile and a half from reaching the other cars
    [​IMG]

    For me, another FF comes to an end
    [​IMG]
  9. Taylor

    Taylor

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    Thanks for posting these many reports Ram. Fantastic photos and stories. They have gotten me stoked for my first FF this year. I hope to do a canyon or two with y'all this weekend.

    Todd
    Ram likes this.
  10. Don

    Don Never nude.

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    Wow, I hadn't realized there was a picture of my naked ass of the interwebs. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. It's probably not the only one.
    After missing a year I'm really excited to get to FF this year!!
    mattwilliams likes this.
  11. Mike Zampino

    Mike Zampino Canyon season never ends.

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    Last year was our first FF. Somehow I get the feeling every time a car drove past and Malias yelled "DON" it was you she was looking for. I also have a feeling it was you that started the midnight bike ride through camp.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2014
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  12. A.J.

    A.J.

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    Wonderful stories and some good memories. Thanks for sharing. Didn't see the Hogfest we did one of the FreezeFests. Did I miss it? Great times...
    Ram likes this.
  13. Ram

    Ram

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    AJ!! First post in almost a year and a half! You have a good series of seasons? What is up?...Did you see mention of you having the car trouble at Hite that January 1st? Someone mentioned you recently, as if they called you up, saying you had posted before you actually posted. There are people out there that can "see:' the future!

    No story by me of the Hogfest as I have not had those pictures digitized. Tom has a Rave that he might post into this thread? Tom? Or you? Did you take pictures that fine day? Why don't you add a TR to this historical record? Or anyone else with material, for that matter. Add to the collection.
  14. A.J.

    A.J.

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    Hi Ram,

    Yep. Life's been busy, so haven't been online much. That trend will continue for the near future. I (in hindsight, quite foolishly) let myself get buried at work trying to help as many people as I could. Now I have a ton of digging out to do; some still with work but mostly all the life stuff that got put on hold due to work. Thus, won't be posting lots, nor will I currently have time to dig through the photos and post a TR on the Hogfest. (Many friends are also waiting for photos of past adventures, sorry if you, the reader, is one of them.) All my time right now is spent on life stuff, and planning of future fun stuff. Again, apologies for not being able to post more / pics.

    I saw the pic saying the gang's all here except Jen and AJ; didn't see the specific text about the car trouble. It was a good learning lesson which we sometimes take for granted; make sure everyone's car starts before driving off. :) In the grand scheme of things, quite a benign consequence. I'll take those type of problems any day over what other things can possibly go wrong on trips.

    It was great to walk down memory lane from your post though; so again, thank you for sharing! Hope to cross paths again before long.


    Take care,
    A.J.
    Ram likes this.
  15. Ram

    Ram

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    Well glad you are doing good works for mankind. But I knew this already as you had taken Pitney in last year. I hear he will be in Colorado tomorrow. You got plans to see him..????

    And you are right, the thread that mentions you and Jen is a different one. One i think that has many posts you would enjoy. Here you are mentioned in post #36 and once again i must apologize. Wishing you well.
    http://canyoncollective.com/threads/what-are-your-canyoneering-commandments.20049/page-2
  16. A.J.

    A.J.

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    Thanks Ram, and thanks for the other link. I did enjoy it.

    No need for apologies. We were definitely disappointed to miss the Hole that year, but it was as much our fault as anyone else. It serves as a good reminder, and again, in the grand scheme of things, a pretty benign mistake and consequence. Thanks for caring though.
    Ram likes this.
  17. Ram

    Ram

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    The ghosts of freezefest's past.

    BUMP
  18. deeps

    deeps

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  19. Chris Hood

    Chris Hood

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    DSC_0160.JPG

    Don strolling through the bottom of the conjoined Leps, after a harrowing descent of West Lep

    DSC_0165.JPG

    Snowmaggedon.

    Need to revisit. Winter Wormhole, anyone?
    Don and Ram like this.
  20. deeps

    deeps

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    Jenny and I from a few FFs ago. I forget which one of us is which, but I believe I was the cat. 10612948_923369691090026_48554921551887126_n.