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Trip Report: Heaps 06-19-12

Discussion in 'Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group' started by robertkbay, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. robertkbay

    robertkbay Guest

    A group of 6 of us did Heaps on June 19th. It felt like 6 people were 2 too many. The canyon would be much faster with only 4. None of us had ever done it before. A couple in our group were new to canyoneering. Water was very cold and water levels appeared to be down significantly from the trip reports in mid May. No beached whales… Lots of pack tosses and partner assists… No hooking.

    We started out the evening before about 8 PM, and hiked in the approx 9 miles to Campsite 4, and arrived there about 11:30 PM. We blew up our air mattresses, put on our wetsuits and beanies for warmth and went to bed. It was cold that night, about 45-50 F.

    The view into Phantom Valley was beautiful. There were many interesting things to see on the trek down to the head of the canyon, including: interesting rock formations, some type of cat tracks, a tree that appears to grow out of a rock, and an optical illusion. We could not figure out if it was a murky pool of water or a cliff band for the longest time. Has anyone noticed this before?

    The canyon was amazing. We really enjoyed the constant barrage of problems to solve.

    Midway through the 3rd narrows, Shaylin said he was hypothermic. He had decided on a drysuit rather than the 7mm wetsuits the rest of us were wearing. His drysuit was compromised and he was taking on water. We luckily got him to a spot where there was a ray of sunshine beaming down. We stripped him down, and his drysuit was full of water. Upon opening his pack to look for something dry, we found his drybag also full of water. By this time, his decision making was very compromised, he was crying, and his muscles would cramp upon sitting. We decided to send 2 of us forward to get an idea of how much further until the end of the 3rd section. Upon reaching the logjam prior to the iron room, we turned around suspecting we still had a ways to go. While we were gone, the others, got him some dry clothes, got him in the sunlight and tried to keep him moving and talking. After reaching him again, they had also discovered that the suit had no holes or rips, he had just not cinched down the neck of it. We distributed his equipment amongst the rest of us, suited him up and headed off again. We had lost a lot of time and were concerned about making the final rappel sequence before dark. We worked our way through the rest of the canyon and reached the final rappel sequence much later than anticipated.

    From there we quickly descended the first rappel and prepared mentally for the final 2 rappels. We planned on sequencing everyone down rappel 2 and rappel 3, back to back, leaving the bird perch for me and 1 other at any given time. After I reached the bird perch, I rigged a rappel and lower to send Weston down to the Upper Emerald Pool. Once on the ground he set out to grab the 300 ft rope we had stashed. We must have stashed it very well, because he kept calling up over the radio that he could not find it. It took nearly 30 minutes to find it, and when he did, we were all relieved that I would not have to lower every person and then pass the knot mid rappel. From there we sequenced through everyone with Shaylin, our hypothermic friend going 4th. His hands were cramped, so I had to control his descent to the perch, and Weston had to control it to the ground in the dark. It took most of Weston's weight to ensure a slow descent, even though Shaylin was set up on a z-rig. Scott, who was managing the situation above came down to the perch in the dark, where we pulled ropes and reset the final rappel with pull. Scott and then I descended in pitch darkness. We pulled ropes and hiked out to the grotto.

    Shaylin has fully recovered, and it was a trip to remember.

    Have fun and be safe.

    Rob

    Photos are on this post: http://www.bogley.com/forum/showthread.php?64298-Heaps-06-19-12
  2. RAM

    RAM Guest

    Rob

    Nicely done and thanks for the trip report. Good job getting your hypothermic mate through the canyon. Those situations can go very badly sometimes. Its amazing how time can slip away when party members are having difficulty. I love to share experiences with friends. You took a few folks without a lot of seasoning through a long and difficult canyon. Lots of people are doing it. It gives me the willies sometimes though.

    Something so little, like not getting the zipper fully zipped, can lead to trouble for a whole group. The loss of hours, further exposure for everyone to cold, the big wall in the dark when folks are more tired, to the challenge of finding the cached rope so late. Sounds like you handled it beautifully. Sharing your story gives others the chance to consider how little things sometimes can become bigger things and bigger things set the table for huge things to potentially happen.

    With information so readily available, lots of people aim for the big plums right away, without much depth of experience. Other skilled groups, like yours, include folks with few canyons. Other groups get comprised of folks that are not used to working together or are in a canyon like Heaps for their first canyon together. I am not saying any of these three scenarios is wrong, or one shouldn't or anything like that. Just that perhaps the chance for things going wrong is higher, especially in the first scenario.

    I enjoy a high tolerance for risk and play outside rather frequently, so I really appreciate it when folks, like yourselves, share their experiences. It teaches all how quickly "margin" of safety, an ingredient of every day outside, can shift and how important it is to pay attention to the little things.

    That said, folks are resilient and manage the challenges.... and are left with the memories, the experience and perhaps a bit of a tale to tell. Kudos RAM

    PS Did you carry enough water to comfortably camp at camp 4? How much did you carry? Replenish at Potato Hollow? Have to hike to Cabin Springs for more? Would you camp there next time or rap down into the valley to the water? Would you do it as a day trip, 2 day or 3 day trip next time? How did the Fiddlestick work for you? Back up all but the last person? Any further insights ?



    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "robertkbay" <robertkbay@...> wrote:
    A group of 6 of us did Heaps on June 19th. It felt like 6 people were 2 too many. The canyon would be much faster with only 4. None of us had ever done it before. A couple in our group were new to canyoneering. Water was very cold and water levels appeared to be down significantly from the trip reports in mid May. No beached whales… Lots of pack tosses and partner assists… No hooking.
    We started out the evening before about 8 PM, and hiked in the approx 9 miles to Campsite 4, and arrived there about 11:30 PM. We blew up our air mattresses, put on our wetsuits and beanies for warmth and went to bed. It was cold that night, about 45-50 F.
    The view into Phantom Valley was beautiful. There were many interesting things to see on the trek down to the head of the canyon, including: interesting rock formations, some type of cat tracks, a tree that appears to grow out of a rock, and an optical illusion. We could not figure out if it was a murky pool of water or a cliff band for the longest time. Has anyone noticed this before?
    The canyon was amazing. We really enjoyed the constant barrage of problems to solve.
    Midway through the 3rd narrows, Shaylin said he was hypothermic. He had decided on a drysuit rather than the 7mm wetsuits the rest of us were wearing. His drysuit was compromised and he was taking on water. We luckily got him to a spot where there was a ray of sunshine beaming down. We stripped him down, and his drysuit was full of water. Upon opening his pack to look for something dry, we found his drybag also full of water. By this time, his decision making was very compromised, he was crying, and his muscles would cramp upon sitting. We decided to send 2 of us forward to get an idea of how much further until the end of the 3rd section. Upon reaching the logjam prior to the iron room, we turned around suspecting we still had a ways to go. While we were gone, the others, got him some dry clothes, got him in the sunlight and tried to keep him moving and talking. After reaching him again, they had also discovered that the suit had no holes or rips, he had just not cinched down the neck of it. We distributed his equipment amongst the rest of us, suited him up and headed off again. We had lost a lot of time and were concerned about making the final rappel sequence before dark. We worked our way through the rest of the canyon and reached the final rappel sequence much later than anticipated.
    From there we quickly descended the first rappel and prepared mentally for the final 2 rappels. We planned on sequencing everyone down rappel 2 and rappel 3, back to back, leaving the bird perch for me and 1 other at any given time. After I reached the bird perch, I rigged a rappel and lower to send Weston down to the Upper Emerald Pool. Once on the ground he set out to grab the 300 ft rope we had stashed. We must have stashed it very well, because he kept calling up over the radio that he could not find it. It took nearly 30 minutes to find it, and when he did, we were all relieved that I would not have to lower every person and then pass the knot mid rappel. From there we sequenced through everyone with Shaylin, our hypothermic friend going 4th. His hands were cramped, so I had to control his descent to the perch, and Weston had to control it to the ground in the dark. It took most of Weston's weight to ensure a slow descent, even though Shaylin was set up on a z-rig. Scott, who was managing the situation above came down to the perch in the dark, where we pulled ropes and reset the final rappel with pull. Scott and then I descended in pitch darkness. We pulled ropes and hiked out to the grotto.
    Shaylin has fully recovered, and it was a trip to remember.
    Have fun and be safe.
    Rob
    Photos are on this post: http://www.bogley.com/forum/showthread.php?64298-Heaps-06-19-12
  3. robertkbay

    robertkbay Guest

    Ram,

    We carried 2-3 liters of water each and a filter. We did not refill until in the canyon. We found some water that was not great, but acceptable.

    We planned on camping in the valley after the first 2 rappels, but got a late start. If doing it again, I would camp in the valley, or do it as a day trip. It was nice to get some rest midway through. The only additional gear we took to camp was a small air mattress each (10 oz).

    I have used the fidlestick for a while with various materials. I deploy it on the 2nd to last person who rappels with the pull rope while on back up. I use a Rubbermaid refrigerator coil brush handle. Here is my explanation of it: http://www.bogley.com/forum/showthread.php?63111-Fiddlestix-Anchors/page3

    Thanks,

    Rob

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "RAM" <adkramoo@...> wrote:
    Rob
    Nicely done and thanks for the trip report. Good job getting your hypothermic mate through the canyon. Those situations can go very badly sometimes. Its amazing how time can slip away when party members are having difficulty. I love to share experiences with friends. You took a few folks without a lot of seasoning through a long and difficult canyon. Lots of people are doing it. It gives me the willies sometimes though.
    Something so little, like not getting the zipper fully zipped, can lead to trouble for a whole group. The loss of hours, further exposure for everyone to cold, the big wall in the dark when folks are more tired, to the challenge of finding the cached rope so late. Sounds like you handled it beautifully. Sharing your story gives others the chance to consider how little things sometimes can become bigger things and bigger things set the table for huge things to potentially happen.
    With information so readily available, lots of people aim for the big plums right away, without much depth of experience. Other skilled groups, like yours, include folks with few canyons. Other groups get comprised of folks that are not used to working together or are in a canyon like Heaps for their first canyon together. I am not saying any of these three scenarios is wrong, or one shouldn't or anything like that. Just that perhaps the chance for things going wrong is higher, especially in the first scenario.
    I enjoy a high tolerance for risk and play outside rather frequently, so I really appreciate it when folks, like yourselves, share their experiences. It teaches all how quickly "margin" of safety, an ingredient of every day outside, can shift and how important it is to pay attention to the little things.
    That said, folks are resilient and manage the challenges.... and are left with the memories, the experience and perhaps a bit of a tale to tell. Kudos > RAM
    PS Did you carry enough water to comfortably camp at camp 4? How much did you carry? Replenish at Potato Hollow? Have to hike to Cabin Springs for more? Would you camp there next time or rap down into the valley to the water? Would you do it as a day trip, 2 day or 3 day trip next time? How did the Fiddlestick work for you? Back up all but the last person? Any further insights ?

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "robertkbay" <robertkbay@> wrote:

    A group of 6 of us did Heaps on June 19th. It felt like 6 people were 2 too many. The canyon would be much faster with only 4. None of us had ever done it before. A couple in our group were new to canyoneering. Water was very cold and water levels appeared to be down significantly from the trip reports in mid May. No beached whales… Lots of pack tosses and partner assists… No hooking.

    We started out the evening before about 8 PM, and hiked in the approx 9 miles to Campsite 4, and arrived there about 11:30 PM. We blew up our air mattresses, put on our wetsuits and beanies for warmth and went to bed. It was cold that night, about 45-50 F.

    The view into Phantom Valley was beautiful. There were many interesting things to see on the trek down to the head of the canyon, including: interesting rock formations, some type of cat tracks, a tree that appears to grow out of a rock, and an optical illusion. We could not figure out if it was a murky pool of water or a cliff band for the longest time. Has anyone noticed this before?

    The canyon was amazing. We really enjoyed the constant barrage of problems to solve.

    Midway through the 3rd narrows, Shaylin said he was hypothermic. He had decided on a drysuit rather than the 7mm wetsuits the rest of us were wearing. His drysuit was compromised and he was taking on water. We luckily got him to a spot where there was a ray of sunshine beaming down. We stripped him down, and his drysuit was full of water. Upon opening his pack to look for something dry, we found his drybag also full of water. By this time, his decision making was very compromised, he was crying, and his muscles would cramp upon sitting. We decided to send 2 of us forward to get an idea of how much further until the end of the 3rd section. Upon reaching the logjam prior to the iron room, we turned around suspecting we still had a ways to go. While we were gone, the others, got him some dry clothes, got him in the sunlight and tried to keep him moving and talking. After reaching him again, they had also discovered that the suit had no holes or rips, he had just not cinched down the neck of it. We distributed his equipment amongst the rest of us, suited him up and headed off again. We had lost a lot of time and were concerned about making the final rappel sequence before dark. We worked our way through the rest of the canyon and reached the final rappel sequence much later than anticipated.

    From there we quickly descended the first rappel and prepared mentally for the final 2 rappels. We planned on sequencing everyone down rappel 2 and rappel 3, back to back, leaving the bird perch for me and 1 other at any given time. After I reached the bird perch, I rigged a rappel and lower to send Weston down to the Upper Emerald Pool. Once on the ground he set out to grab the 300 ft rope we had stashed. We must have stashed it very well, because he kept calling up over the radio that he could not find it. It took nearly 30 minutes to find it, and when he did, we were all relieved that I would not have to lower every person and then pass the knot mid rappel. From there we sequenced through everyone with Shaylin, our hypothermic friend going 4th. His hands were cramped, so I had to control his descent to the perch, and Weston had to control it to the ground in the dark. It took most of Weston's weight to ensure a slow descent, even though Shaylin was set up on a z-rig. Scott, who was managing the situation above came down to the perch in the dark, where we pulled ropes and reset the final rappel with pull. Scott and then I descended in pitch darkness. We pulled ropes and hiked out to the grotto.

    Shaylin has fully recovered, and it was a trip to remember.

    Have fun and be safe.

    Rob

    Photos are on this post: http://www.bogley.com/forum/showthread.php?64298-Heaps-06-19-12
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