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TR: Upper Gravel and Cowboy Canyons

Discussion in 'Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group' started by canyoncrazy, Jun 16, 2009.

  1. canyoncrazy

    canyoncrazy Guest

    This last weekend Joe and I hiked Upper Gravel on Saturday and Cowboy on Sunday.

    We started our hike at 8am. The hike to the entrance is easy and getting in to Gravel is fun. We opted to downclimb into the side canyon's short narrows and do the short rap instead of hiking around.

    Once in Gravel the canyon was beautiful. We encountered some water and a thin wetsuit was nice to have. The swims were short and some of the wading was chest deep. The first of the two 'rap from a boulder into a pool' was low and only waist deep.

    We found a strange short rap in a tight section of narrows. If the water was full, once you were on rope you would be only a foot away from the water. Since the canyon was low, you would be three feet away from the water! So we removed that webbing. That downclimb has many ledges and is tight so that you can easily enter the water without falling.

    Once we exited the Narrows and were at the exit route, we decided to hick back up canyon to look at the ruins. After some looking I found a way up to the second ledge. The first ruin is interesting. And if you look close at the wall before the ruins, you may see large man-like figures. You can not see the ruin at all when you are in the canyon below. It had a few rooms, a 'kiva' like structure and two of the biggest pieces of pottery we have ever found. The corn cobs were rather large, one was about 6 inches long.

    Further up canyon we came to the ruins that we had seen from the narrows. It was a much larger complex than you can see from the canyon floor. I climbed up via a small pine tree. Joe was much to heavy to try to use the tree, so he spent a bit of time making a large rock pile at the base of a crack. The crack, when you can reach it is an easy way up.

    The ruins are very well preserved. While we were checking out the different rooms a wilderness program of backpackers caught up to us. We were planning on dismantling the rock pile, but they ended up needing it to get up in to the ruins also.

    The "trail" out was easy to find and the short climb was very easy. The only sad thing on the hike out was a few ATV'ers had driven all over to get to the canyon. There were lots of tracks over crypto soil. Got to love those Atv's

    If you want to see picts here is a link to our site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/canyoncrazy/sets/72157619698256805/detail/

    ---- Cowboy canyon was very fun and extremely photogenic. The trail to the canyon, after the road stops, is a little more easy to find. We noticed in places people had lost the trail and wondered, so we placed some more rock cairns and hopefully that helps to keep everyone on one trail.

    Getting in the canyon was pretty easy, we found a crack downclimb to the canyon floor. The rap (or downclimb) into the slot is beautiful. The canyon stays narrow from that point for a while. The water was very low, and we took our wetsuits for a walk (extra weight darn!). All the pools could be climbed over.

    We cleaned up an anchor that consisted of 50' of old rotting rope and a really rusted chain-link. It is a buried deadman now, much nicer for pictures too. This weekend Joe will be posting an album of the clean-up/building process on here. We also pulled out some webbing used for short raps that can be easily downclimbed.

    The spring at the big dryfall was seeping and the water there was outstanding, just ask Joe. He drank a ton of it!

    The hike down to Gravel is fairly easy and not to brushy. Once in Lower Gravel it was an easy climb out. The swiss cheese rock makes for easy climbing!

    Pictures are at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/canyoncrazy/sets/72157619826939636/detail/
  2. adkramoo

    adkramoo Guest

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "canyoncrazy" <canyoncrazy@...> wrote: > We found a strange short rap in a tight section of narrows. If the water was full, once you were on rope you would be only a foot away from the water. Since the canyon was low, you would be three feet away from the water! So we removed that webbing. That downclimb has many ledges and is tight so that you can easily enter the water without falling.<snip> We cleaned up an anchor that consisted of 50' of old rotting rope and a really rusted chain-link. It is a buried deadman now, much nicer for pictures too. This weekend Joe will be posting an album of the clean-up/building process on here. We also pulled out some webbing used for short raps that can be easily downclimbed.

    Sara and Joe. Thank you for the trip and conditions report. Surprised that these canyons seemed to have lost so much water already? They did get hit, as I remember seeing Dave showing flow in White Canyon not too long ago..

    In canyons that have been beta'd, it seems that a wider range of skill sets are entering the canyons, from inexperienced youth groups, to seasoned climbers. I suppose it has become more difficult for an individual to ascertain what is a reasonable downclimb or rap for others and what is not. As you hinted, water levels can change and make a slide in become a rap a few weeks later. So then, what is trash and what is worth leaving. Some of the old timers, with the most experience, feel that all webbing needs changed out each time. It certainly removes the variables. But I think some of these folks would be stunned to see the amount of traffic now. Not sure what the answer is, except that perhaps having the strongest climber in a group downclimb last on minor drops that members of a group need help on. The downside to this, is that unseasoned groups arrive at spots they can't figure out or need aid with and build more anchors, when a sling left would have shown the way? But then do these less seasoned folks just use these anchors without enough experience to evaluate them. From the amount of folks ranting about the amount of webbing left in places, it seems that folks that are unsure just ADD another piece of webbing, rather than removing the old. Sigh R
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