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TR: 20070419 - UT, Roost Canyons: Whites, Buck and Chambers

Discussion in 'Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group' started by A.J., Aug 30, 2007.

  1. A.J.

    A.J. Guest

    Pics: t_=38054161

    Most of my canyon trips fall a little more on the advanced side. Jonas and I wanted to set up a trip that was more of a beginner trip so his girlfriend Misty, and my girlfriend Jen could join us. We decided to head over to the White Roost area of Robbers Roost. Jonas and I had done some canyons there before, and we knew a couple that would be the right level of fun for them.

    Thursday 4/19/07:

    Jen and I headed over to Jonas' to meet up with him and Misty. We were going to try to fit all four of us in either his Subaru, or my Jeep. Once I had my stuff and Jen's stuff in the Jeep, I knew there was no way we were going to fit in his Subaru. We got there, and sure enough, we even had to put stuff on the roof of the Commander. I remembered that we had fit four canyoneers in my Grand Cherokee last Thanksgiving and had the truck jam packed with stuff on the roof. I also remembered that I vowed never to try to fit four canyoneers with camping and wetsuits, etc in again. Bummer I didn't remember until now. Regardless, we fit, and headed out.

    Unfortunately, with the stuff on the roof, we were only getting around 12.5 mpg. Ouch. We got out to the trailhead late, around 11pm. Surprisingly, there was another group there. We tried to be as quiet as we could, and set up camp. Some of our group was already there, and Val pulled in just as we were all set up and getting ready to go to bed; around midnight.

    Friday 4/20/07:

    Since it was a beginners weekend, and likely a shorter day of canyoneeering, I wasn't as stringent with our departure time. We woke up around 6:30am and started taking inventory. We had 12 people; Diane Sealand, Martin Birch, Jonas Fast, Misty, Tim Rapp, Martin Smith, Chad Alber, Valerie Hovland, Scott Sibenaller, Brian Wenrick, Jen Sargent and myself. A good group with a varying level of experience. We also met the other people at the campsite; a youth group being led by Alexis, a friend of several folks from my group in Boulder. She was originally from Boulder, but now lives in Durango. Small world.

    We had breakfast, and then I gathered everyone to go over the plan of the day, the expected conditions, recommended gear, etc. We split up into two groups, and divided the group gear. My group was ready earlier, so we headed out around 8am. We hit the head of the Main (East) fork of White Roost around 8:30am, but the other group wasn't to be seen. We hung out so they could see us drop in; so they wouldn't drop into the wrong canyon. After another 15 minutes, we went looking for them and found them. They had dropped into the drainages a little lower, but then saw us. We all dropped into Main around 9am. We switched plans, and decided to just go as one big group and rig each of the raps with the ropes from both groups since we were all together.

    The canyon had more water than usual. We were able to stem over some of the sections easily. Farther along, some people weren't able to stem over some more difficult water sections, so I suggested they just go through. The water was very cold. I felt sorry for them, but better than getting injured from a fall. A few people were still able to stem over the water sections. The canyon opens up for a little, then constricts again for the section with the rappels. It was now around 11am.

    There are four rappels, of which only the third one is mandatory. We rigged a rope on the first rap, but a few of us were able to downclimb the first 20m tight rap. We had the second team pass up their ropes to the front, and Marty and I went to set the second rap of around 15m. It too looked downclimbable. There was a higher anchor set up, which made for a bad pull. We cut some old webbing out, and moved the anchor to the lower chokestone. It would be harder to get on the rappel (because it was tight here), but would be a much easier pull and is still a pretty tight and safe downclimb.

    The wind was really whipping through this section, and sand was getting everywhere. It was sometimes hard to see as the sand was whipping in our eyes. I downclimbed the second rap; and came to a water filled pothole with a sharp bend to the right for the third rap. The anchor looked good, but it didn't look like most people would be able to get around the water filled pothole. We rigged the third rappel, and Marty climbed around the pothole. When people were catching up, Marty went down the third rap of 10m, and I was doing a fireman belay for others. I then climbed around the pothole (it was a challenging climb around the water), and helped others down rap 3, with Marty doing a fireman for them. I then rapped down when we had another experienced person at the top of rap 3. Up until rap 3, I was thinking this canyon would be a really fun upclimb. Rap 3 ended that one; it would definitely be beyond my abilities there. Might be able to hit a toss though; hmmm. There was more water in the small downclimbs to rap 4. Rap 4 of 10m went down to another pool. The canyon opens up soon afterwards. We rigged the rappel off a chokestone. This one looked downclimbable as well, so I gave it a go with the rope nearby for a handline if necessary. It was a little challenging near the bottom, but was able to downclimb it, and keep the stem going over the water. Climbed out a bit, and found a decent wedge where I could do a fireman belay, still above the water, from below. It was now around 1:30pm.

    Jen was the next person down, and tried to do the stem, but couldn't. She reluctantly went into the cold pool, trying to stay as dry as possible. It went up to about chest deep. There was one more short and tight water section, and then the canyon opened up to the sun. I stayed on firemans belay and took photos when it was safe, while the others came down. A few others were able to stem over the water too. Soon, everyone was down, and we were out in the sun. Overall, the Main (East) fork of White's is a really fun canyon; great for beginners to experience canyoneering as there are various obstacles and techniques in a short package. There was a lot more water in it this time, but a few of us were able to stem over all of it and stay completely dry.

    It is only a short hike to the exit gully, which we started around 3pm. We got up to the road around 3:45pm. It was still early enough that a small experienced group could do Little White Roost. I hadn't done that canyon before, so I was interested in running it. With the conditions we saw in Main White, I was pretty sure we would run into water in Little White. I was able to stem over all the water in Main White, and was hoping to do the same in Little White. Marty, Brian and Tim joined me.

    We hiked down the road a bit, looking for an obvious parking spot. We didn't find it, and I knew we needed to drop in the canyon; so we cut off. We actually had to go a little up canyon to find a safe drop in; but we were in by 4:15pm. The canyon opened and constricted into a slot repeatedly. The wind was kicking, so the slots were a wind tunnel providing a sandblasting; good for exfoliating the skin. ;)

    There were some fun downclimbs, with a couple pools we could climb around or use the centriptal force run around. Then we came to a pool that wasn't able to be skirted around 5pm. I figured there was going to be more of them, so we decided to go through it. Martin was our depth tester, and it was around chest deep. Wow; it was cold. Now I know why I climbed over all the water up until then!

    We worked our way down the slot, which had water up to knee deep at times. There were some pools we still stemmed over, and we then came to the end rappel. We were able to downclimb all the other obstacles, but this one was an abrupt overhanging drop. There was a rats nest of webbing which we cleaned up. It didn't look like anyone had been down here in a while. We did the last rap around 5:45pm, and then took a short break before the hike out.

    We reached the confluence with North Fork Robbers Roost canyon around 6:15pm, and hiked up canyon. We hit the confluence with White Roost, and started up that canyon. We reached the exit gully around 7:15pm, and hiked back up to the road. We got back to camp before 8pm, changed, and started making dinner. We discussed the day's fun, and tomorrows plan over a campfire. Great stuff.

    Headed to bed; it was relatively warm; probably lower 40's, but windy. Sand was everywhere.

    Saturday 4/21/07:

    Woke up to cloudy and wind. Listened to the weather radio, and there was supposed to be a 60% chance of rain; which usually means definite rain in the desert. (Anything over 30% usually means rain; the question is really just when, and how much.) It didn't look that bad out though, so we decided to do another new canyon to me; Buck Canyon. It was a shorter canyon, with many wider areas and only one rappel and not a huge drainage. There was also an overland escape if necessary; though if the weather held, we would try to go down West Fork of Buck, and climb up the East Fork of Buck. Jen, Chad and Misty decided that they would head into Horseshoe Canyon and hike to the Pictograph panels. They helped us shuttle a vehicle, and we dropped into West Buck around 9:45am. There was a fun little slot section, and then we got to the only rappel at 10:15am.

    Below that, there was some fun little sections where you could play with different stemming techniques. There was a fun 3m downcimb around 10:30am. We spotted each other, and then got to the second, more fun downclimb of 15m around 10:45am. The canyon opened up shortly afterwards, and we hiked down the sometimes brush filled lower West Buck canyon. We stopped at a shady place around 11:45am for lunch. The sky had cleared up and it was now sunny and warm.

    Shortly after lunch, we found a little plateau that had a bunch of cow bones. We joked that we found the ancient and sacred dead cow burial grounds. We then ran into a couple of cowboys on horseback. They were rounding up cattle from the canyons to take them to thier summer feeding area. Pretty cool guys, we chatted for a bit. They were very interested in hearing where we came from and where we were headed, as well as where we lived. Nice guys. We told them that there wasn't any cattle up West Buck, as we came all the way from the rappel. Saved them some looking. They told us about the Arches up East Buck. We said goodbye, hit the confluence of West and East Buck, and started up East Buck around 12:15pm. We came to the arch near the confluence and snapped some pictures. Made sure the entire group was with us, and continued further up canyon.

    We then came to Buck Canyon Arch. Took some photos, and continued up canyon. Hit a slot with a cool looking drop. Went up over the bypass, got to the ridge of the bypass at 12:45pm and went to check out the drop. It looked really cool; looked like a fun downclimb for the first section, and it was twisted so we couldn't see the second section. We only had a 84' rope with pullcord, so we didn't know if our rope would be long enough if we wanted to head down to play. There usually isn't anchor material in the deep fluted drops. We talked about it; if we went down to play here, we likely wouldn't have time to do another canyon. We decided to give it a run anyway.

    I set up a rope for a handline and downclimbed the first section. It got challenging near a small plateau. Very fun. The second fluted section was also easy to downclimb. The third section was very steep and wide, so I went on rappel to check it out. Upon leaning over the edge, I could see that the rope was pretty much perfect; just reaching the ground. A few of us headed down the fun section, moving the rope a little for each person, and testing our downclimbing skills using a firemans belay from below. From what I hear, Marty was able to make it down the farthest on the third challenging section. Amazing the difference sticky shoes makes; I couldn't get my cheap tennis shoes to stick in a small crack section at all. (Of course, I wasn't planning on serious climbing in this canyon, which is why I wore them.)

    We then hiked back around, pulled our anchors down, and hiked up East Buck around 2:45pm. There were some more fun little upclimbs and stems over water. We hit the head of the canyon around 3:30pm, and climbed up to the rim. From here, it was an overland hike through a couple drainages and back to the vehicles around 4:15pm. Amazingly, the weather stayed sunny, clear and warm all day. What an unexpected treat!

    We drove back to camp, and a few people were discussing trying to fit another canyon in. It was 4:45pm, and the Horseshoe group wasn't back yet. It was very tempting to go, but I wanted to see what Jen was up for regarding the next day (since this trip was primarily for her and Misty.) It was being discussed to run the West Fork of White Roost tonight and do Zero Gravity on Sunday. We also had the option of just doing West Fork tomorrow, staying near camp and mostly dry (Zero Gravity is a swimming canyon, which was also a little drive away.) Doing West Fork tomorrow would also allow us to pack up camp after the canyons. Since Jonas and I mainly set this weekend up for Jen and Misty, I wanted to wait and see what they wanted to do; so I stayed at camp. Tim, Brian and Marty went off to do the West Fork of White Roost. Those of us at camp relaxed, made dinner, shared snacks, and talked about the possibilities for tomorrow. The Horseshoe group got back, tired from a long day of hiking.

    We discussed the possibilities for tomorrow. Jen was up for West White Roost; and several others were game for that one as well. Especially since Tim, Marty and Brian would have information on it when they got back. Since there was experienced people heading in there, Jonas and I planned on heading out to find another new canyon, called Chambers by some (though Mike Kelsey will have a different name, the name of the canyon that is known by Hanksville locals and cowboys, in his new book coming out.) I heard mention of it from some other canyoneering friends - it sounded really cool, and I also had a pretty good idea of the location of it. Although, it seemed to be an issue of contention to some, and nobody wanted to give out the detailed location information. We had a few photos, and thought it would be a fun one to try to find it and hopefully explore it.

    Tim, Brian and Marty got back just after dark, and loved the West fork of White Roost. We all sat around a campfire and enjoyed the company; sharing food and drinks. The wind calmed down, which was nice.

    Sunday 4/22/07:

    We woke up and checked the weather forecast. It was a little cloudy, but the forecast said 30% chance of evening thunderstorms. People decided to split into three groups. Tim, Brian, Chad and Marty were heading towards Zero Gravity. Jonas and I were going to try to find and run Chambers, and the rest were going to do West White Roost. The Zero G crew packed up camp and headed out. The rest of us would do our respective canyons, and meet back at camp. We'd then pack up camp, and then head home.

    Jonas and I went to the place where I thought Chambers was, and started rimwalking the canyon around 9am. I recognized some land features from a photo, so we now knew the location was correct. However, we saw some slot higher up the canyon; so we dropped in at the highest point at the beginning of the slot. It was a fun little slot section; certainly worth the extra time and effort.

    We then hit the beginning of the second slot section (Chambers proper) around 10am. It was a bunch of squeezing, upclimbing, squirming, etc through a really tight slot. Very fun stuff, very sustained tight, with some cool downclimbs. Larger framed people would have issues in this section. There was a spot that Jonas took off his helmet and had to slither sideways through a tight constriction. I went high there. We reached the middle subway area around 11am. This area was too cool, with a subway just above a tight slot. It went down to water. Jonas didn't want to stem it, so he went down into the waist deep water. I stayed high and dry.

    In the middle section, just after the subway section opened up, there was a canyon coming in on the left LDC which looked like a fun upclimb. Challenging for sure. We didn't have time today to explore, as we still had the long drive home, but it's noted for next time.

    We then started in on the second half of Chambers which is a stemming section. This section was a blast too. There is a bunch more exposure; complete with a few silos to go around if you stay high. Some parts require downclimbing and then upclimbing some off- width areas because the canyon constricted again. Nothing was too difficult though. Didn't need a partner assist or anything. It was wickedly fun, all the way up to the tight exit; then the canyon opened up afterwards. We hit the exit around 12:15pm.

    I could still see this section/canyon being a problem for less experienced canyoneers. I might go with an R rating (Risky, difficult and a slip could mean serious injury) but wouldn't go so far as to give it an X rating (Extreme, very difficult and a slip could mean death) as I've heard some suggest. It had some tricky spots, but overall, found it to be a great canyon. Super heavy hitter for the short distance. A great canyon for the drive home days; short and no rope needed (though we carried one on this exploration of it; just in case.) Would still recommend bringing at least webbing along in case someone needed a handline, if the canyon changed and now had a small drop, etc. We then hiked down to the Dirty Devil, since we were so close to it; reaching it at 12:45pm. The weather was starting to look pretty nasty though, with the wind kicking up and the clouds getting darker.

    We started climbing back to the car. When we were on the slickrock, we could see some big storms over near the Henry Mountains; and the wind was really ripping. I was hoping my tent would still be there when I got back to camp; and hoping that the rain would hold off until we got camp packed up. It gets really messing packing up with all the sand turning to mud when you pack in the rain out there... We double-timed it back, and reached the car around 1:30pm, and then drove back to camp. The other group had just gotten back around 5 minutes ago; great timing. We struggled to pack up camp in the heavy winds (sustained 20mph, gusts to 30-35.) Got sand in everything, but was able to pack everything up. We then headed out to the road. Just before hitting 24, it started to rain. Great timing, as those roads can become pretty rough and sometimes impassible when wet due to the large clay content. I was just hoping the Zero Gravity crew made it out before the rain hit.

    On the way back, we all stopped in Green River for Arby's and chatted about all the adventures. We heard back that the Zero Gravity crew were out safe; so we headed home. Awesome weekend with five canyons done, and four new ones for me.

    Thanks to all for making it a blast!

    Hope you enjoy the pics, A.J.

    Pics: t_=38054161
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