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TR- FreezeFest VIII- Day 5

Discussion in 'Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group' started by RAM, Jan 10, 2010.

  1. RAM

    RAM Guest

    After Maidenwater, I started to feel like a junkie needing a fix. The canyon had been so intense, so demanding, so beautiful, so precarious! More please! Please sir, can I have some more? Maidenwater had worked so well partially because it was wide enough. Or at least I thought so. I feared tighter canyons that might have gotten as much snow. Could it be so deep in the stuff that one might literally drown in it? Probably not, but we had seen several spots where the canyon was almost chocked off. But Trail was the obvious choice if a junkie wanted to take some stronger dose. It's standard approach was slickrock coated in snow, bit on its original attempt, back in FreezeFes I in 2002, it had been approached the same way as Maidenwater, heading that canyon and then up over a pass to the south. The day before Maidenwater we had approached from the bottom. Tat part of the canyon that has always been easy, below the final tight narrows, had proved hugely physical. We had knocked the snow drifts down to manageable size. But if the canyon above was as hard, Trail would prove to offer as much, if not more than any true addict could want....or perhaps handle.

    So it was with relief when I noted that the numbers for the descent were a relatively low number. Five to go. It was also good to see real climbing talent in the group. Jason and Nate, seasoned in Sandthrax, Aaron seasoned there and in many other challenging canyons too. Denali Mike, who had been wallowing in the deep powder for days. Looked like a strong crew that could carry me along, when needed.

    The approach that morning, 24 hours later than a bleak cloudy approach, was now basked in blinding sunshine. The foot print trail made the experience largely a mindless task, giving time to snap photos and and soak in the views. Once past Maidenwater's top rap, we entered Trail's entry bowl from a new angle, descending snow covered talus with caution. It looked like one could slide in. Would one come in too hot? Would one slide over unseen cactus? A few of us took a rap before the final 3 slide in. We were in it now.

    The canyons first part mimicked the bottom section done two days before. It was deep. It was hard to see where real ground was, it was exhausting and it was slow. Suddenly concerns were expressed that time could become a factor, if conditions didn't ease. It was decided that directed focus on the task was wise and we went to work. Soon we arrived at the 1st rap. I noted that the cairn that had been there since our first known attempt of the canyon on day 4 of the first FreezeFest was now gone. Disassembled. A horn on a flake was the standard anchor now. It wasn't terrible thick and with wet rock, caused concern. It was also quite directional and warranted caution on angles used. The edge was also slick with snow, as Denali Mike slid over the edge on his butt. We all followed suit. At the bottom of the second rap, 500 feet beyond, we experienced perhaps the deepest snow of the trip. A slumping pile appeared 15 feet deep, with a snow free cave below and it was collapsing under our weight. A very tiring 25 feet further and conditions returned to what we now on this FreezeFest called normal. As the canyon narrowed, some sections allowed for faster passage than others and the concern about being benighted receded a bit. The talent here started to eat up chunks of ground. Turns were taken in the lead, spreading the effort around. I landed in front at the first potential deep water. I surfed a chuck of broken ice to slabs that held me. Beyond we dropped to our waist in potholes

    Past the Moki exit of the 1st FreezeFest attempted descent, we hit the water. A stem on snow over the drop. A short swimmer below. I am always happy to avoid the stem here and with ice and snow on the walls, was even more so this time. A little water never hurt me. Three of the crew went over the top and in impressive form. The downclimb and 1st hard upclimb came next. I was pleasantly surprised to see snow piled a few feet, making the initial upclimb move easier than I had ever seen it. Glad to go first, on snow clean wall also, I did find the stem across very hard on several inches of snow plastered walls. It was way more difficult and insecure once up. Several problems below were done with slides, assists, captures etc.

    The final squeeze narrows loomed. The hard climb over the top, forcing one up 50 feet on snow smeared walls, did not appeal. All but one of the crew could squeeze somewhat easily down through the bottom. That one who couldn't.... would be me. Aaron and I have teamed through the spot before and our plan had been made the evening before. While the other 3 squeezed, with a little difficulty, then headed down to maintain warmth, I stripped out of my wetsuit. This was not bad. My damp clothes emitted warm steam to the air, with the suit stripped off. Aaron ran gear back and forth. And in a t-shirt and thin shorts, with the aid of a pack and helmet stand, I slipped over the constriction quickly, with only minor butt abrasion. Now the important race was on. To get back into the suit before it froze too much. There was too much deep snow and water ahead to offer another option. The end of the legs and especially the arm ends stiffened rapidly. Pushing the hands through the solidifying neoprene was difficult. Now the shoes. The shoes, snow and water coated were shrinking and hardening before my eyes. I beat then on the wall. My screaming fingers worked the shoes on and we were off again. I had been out of the suit for less than 10 minutes. While Aaron and I were pleased with our efficiency, we was reminded again how narrow the margin of error was in these conditions. Stopping is not an option. Injury is a possible death sentance. We push hard to regain warmth and come upon our partners smiling deeply, stripping down on dry, windless and sunlit slickrock. The joy was palatable. Our caution and effort rewarded with a spectacular experience. Back to the cars we ambled, soaking in the experience. A great culmination of our many fine adventures in 2009.

    The fireside festivities escalated to new highs....or was it lows? Celebrations of the New Year was acknowledged for the Eastern, Central and finally our own Mountain time zone. I went to bed 10 minutes before the Pacific time zone celebration. After all, the new year had arrived and the Black Hole was nary 9 hours in our future. Fretting the details more than a bit, I slipped off into restless sleep Ram
  2. forum8fox

    forum8fox Guest

    Very Nice! This was a day I will remember for a long time. Hell of a great day. Increadible experience, and surely one heck of a way to meet someone and do your first canyon with them. Surreal!

    Too bad our second day didn't go as smoothly... Oh well lessons were learned and everyone came out ok, I'm looking foreward to the next outing. Hopefully I can rebate any bad impressions that might have been gleaned from the hole.

    It sure would seem we were working together pretty well on day 1, and in such unusual conditions that I don't think any of us had ever experienced.

    Loved the way you told the story too. Long LIVE Freeze Fest!

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "RAM" <adkramoo@...> wrote:
    After Maidenwater, I started to feel like a junkie needing a fix. The canyon had been so intense, so demanding, so beautiful, so precarious! More please! Please sir, can I have some more? Maidenwater had worked so well partially because it was wide enough. Or at least I thought so. I feared tighter canyons that might have gotten as much snow. Could it be so deep in the stuff that one might literally drown in it? Probably not, but we had seen several spots where the canyon was almost chocked off. But Trail was the obvious choice if a junkie wanted to take some stronger dose. It's standard approach was slickrock coated in snow, bit on its original attempt, back in FreezeFes I in 2002, it had been approached the same way as Maidenwater, heading that canyon and then up over a pass to the south. The day before Maidenwater we had approached from the bottom. Tat part of the canyon that has always been easy, below the final tight narrows, had proved hugely physical. We had knocked the snow drifts down to manageable size. But if the canyon above was as hard, Trail would prove to offer as much, if not more than any true addict could want....or perhaps handle.
    So it was with relief when I noted that the numbers for the descent were a relatively low number. Five to go. It was also good to see real climbing talent in the group. Jason and Nate, seasoned in Sandthrax, Aaron seasoned there and in many other challenging canyons too. Denali Mike, who had been wallowing in the deep powder for days. Looked like a strong crew that could carry me along, when needed.
    The approach that morning, 24 hours later than a bleak cloudy approach, was now basked in blinding sunshine. The foot print trail made the experience largely a mindless task, giving time to snap photos and and soak in the views. Once past Maidenwater's top rap, we entered Trail's entry bowl from a new angle, descending snow covered talus with caution. It looked like one could slide in. Would one come in too hot? Would one slide over unseen cactus? A few of us took a rap before the final 3 slide in. We were in it now.
    The canyons first part mimicked the bottom section done two days before. It was deep. It was hard to see where real ground was, it was exhausting and it was slow. Suddenly concerns were expressed that time could become a factor, if conditions didn't ease. It was decided that directed focus on the task was wise and we went to work. Soon we arrived at the 1st rap. I noted that the cairn that had been there since our first known attempt of the canyon on day 4 of the first FreezeFest was now gone. Disassembled. A horn on a flake was the standard anchor now. It wasn't terrible thick and with wet rock, caused concern. It was also quite directional and warranted caution on angles used. The edge was also slick with snow, as Denali Mike slid over the edge on his butt. We all followed suit. At the bottom of the second rap, 500 feet beyond, we experienced perhaps the deepest snow of the trip. A slumping pile appeared 15 feet deep, with a snow free cave below and it was collapsing under our weight. A very tiring 25 feet further and conditions returned to what we now on this FreezeFest called normal. As the canyon narrowed, some sections allowed for faster passage than others and the concern about being benighted receded a bit. The talent here started to eat up chunks of ground. Turns were taken in the lead, spreading the effort around. I landed in front at the first potential deep water. I surfed a chuck of broken ice to slabs that held me. Beyond we dropped to our waist in potholes
    Past the Moki exit of the 1st FreezeFest attempted descent, we hit the water. A stem on snow over the drop. A short swimmer below. I am always happy to avoid the stem here and with ice and snow on the walls, was even more so this time. A little water never hurt me. Three of the crew went over the top and in impressive form. The downclimb and 1st hard upclimb came next. I was pleasantly surprised to see snow piled a few feet, making the initial upclimb move easier than I had ever seen it. Glad to go first, on snow clean wall also, I did find the stem across very hard on several inches of snow plastered walls. It was way more difficult and insecure once up. Several problems below were done with slides, assists, captures etc.
    The final squeeze narrows loomed. The hard climb over the top, forcing one up 50 feet on snow smeared walls, did not appeal. All but one of the crew could squeeze somewhat easily down through the bottom. That one who couldn't.... would be me. Aaron and I have teamed through the spot before and our plan had been made the evening before. While the other 3 squeezed, with a little difficulty, then headed down to maintain warmth, I stripped out of my wetsuit. This was not bad. My damp clothes emitted warm steam to the air, with the suit stripped off. Aaron ran gear back and forth. And in a t-shirt and thin shorts, with the aid of a pack and helmet stand, I slipped over the constriction quickly, with only minor butt abrasion. Now the important race was on. To get back into the suit before it froze too much. There was too much deep snow and water ahead to offer another option. The end of the legs and especially the arm ends stiffened rapidly. Pushing the hands through the solidifying neoprene was difficult. Now the shoes. The shoes, snow and water coated were shrinking and hardening before my eyes. I beat then on the wall. My screaming fingers worked the shoes on and we were off again. I had been out of the suit for less than 10 minutes. While Aaron and I were pleased with our efficiency, we was reminded again how narrow the margin of error was in these conditions. Stopping is not an option. Injury is a possible death sentance. We push hard to regain warmth and come upon our partners smiling deeply, stripping down on dry, windless and sunlit slickrock. The joy was palatable. Our caution and effort rewarded with a spectacular experience. Back to the cars we ambled, soaking in the experience. A great culmination of our many fine adventures in 2009.
    The fireside festivities escalated to new highs....or was it lows? Celebrations of the New Year was acknowledged for the Eastern, Central and finally our own Mountain time zone. I went to bed 10 minutes before the Pacific time zone celebration. After all, the new year had arrived and the Black Hole was nary 9 hours in our future. Fretting the details more than a bit, I slipped off into restless sleep > Ram >
  3. RAM

    RAM Guest

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "forum8fox" <forum8fox@...> wrote:
    Very Nice! This was a day I will remember for a long time. Hell of a great day. Increadible experience, and surely one heck of a way to meet someone and do your first canyon with them. Surreal!

    Indeed. It was wonderful
    Too bad our second day didn't go as smoothly... Oh well lessons were learned and everyone came out ok, I'm looking foreward to the next outing. Hopefully I can rebate any bad impressions that might have been gleaned from the hole.

    It will be fun to pick apart the Hole day in greater detail. I plan a general story and pictures tomorrow and then tackle the whole logistics of the Hole day, the next day. It was a very complex day and while we ran into a bit of trouble, it was dealt with successfully. There were many more land mines about that need to be brought to light too. A lot of work went into it. Lot was done right. Some things done wrong. Other things to consider that could have gone wrong. Twenty-six people entered the canyon that day. A bit much says I. We were asking for it in those conditions.

    > It sure would seem we were working together pretty well on day 1, and in such unusual conditions that I don't think any of us had ever experienced.

    It is a whole new experience for me over those first 5 days. The storm events from a week before FreezeFest deposited a lot of snow and it was like a whole new kind of canyoneering, involving new dangers and lessons to be learned, that had to be learned cautiously, in unforgiving conditions. The rewards were palatable. The beauty perhaps unsurpassed in my canyon experiences. It was a joy. It was like learning a whole new sport. But if this were to become normal conditions, canyoneering would validly be called a real extreme sport, for the first time. It was great to get a good taste, but I wouldn't want to make living in those conditions. Its an injury just waiting to happen. At least eventually methinks.

    > Loved the way you told the story too. Long LIVE Freeze Fest!

    I'll be back, hopefully with the snow. Glad you enjoyed. R
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