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AZ: Superstitions Wasp Canyon Dec 14 2018

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by slotshot, Dec 16, 2018.

  1. slotshot


    We parked at (33.534448, -111.303917) and walked about 3/4 of a mile east on 88 until we saw the break in the cliff line to the south, and the saddle (33.532916, -111.292991) that allows entry into Wasp Canyon. Leaving the road we hiked up 600 vertical feet of rugged terrain. There's lots of bushwhacking and steep slippery slopes, but no real danger, unless you're wearing shorts and short sleeves. Don't wear shorts or short sleeves. It took us about 1 hour and 20 minutes to make it from where we parked to the saddle and drop into the Canyon. There is a cool alcove about 20 ft deep we explored to the right/West of the saddle. Enjoy the fruits of your hard work at the top. You can see down Fish Creek Canyon, across to Horse Mesa, as well as far off to the East toward Apache Lake. After dropping into the canyon start making your way West and down canyon. Being mid-December there was hardly any water, and even after a rain I still think this canyon would be rated A. We stayed dry the entire time. Bushwhacking continues and is interspersed with boulder hopping, scrambling, down-climbing, and other obstacles. Bring canyoneering gloves of your choice to save your hands from the rough rock, and desert flora. The first rappel is about 20 feet off a semi-buried log anchor. The webbing and rapide were in good condition, and looked like the webbing had been replaced in the last year. The anchor was bomber. We continued down canyon and elected to do 2 "optional" rappels. There was probably a route around these short drops, but we opted to practice retrievable anchors off of boulders or chock stones, which worked flawlessly. Eventually, you get to the 2nd rappel which had a good anchor as well. This one is 45 feet down a steep face with an awkward overhang at the end. After this rappel you can take off your harness, but leave your helmet on to help protect your head as you bushwhack your way out of the canyon. As the canyon descends and opens up, there is still a lot of scrambling around and under huge boulders, as well as negotiating the thick trees and bushes. After battling the thick desert for a while, we hiked out of the ravine to the north onto a ridge which gave us easier passage back to the road, 400 feet from our parking spot.

    We used (1) 20m rope, 20 feet of 1 inch tubular webbing, 2 quick links, 6mm pull cord. The first rappel was Double Strand Rappel, the 2nd one was Single Strand Rappel with pull cord. It was advantageous not to carry the weight and bulk of a longer rope.

    The Sonoran Desert is wild and rugged. Everything has prickers, spines, stingers, needles, claws, edges, thorns. Even the prickers have prickers. Countless species of desert plants await your passage, hoping to collect their pound of flesh, bit by bit, scratch by scratch. Pro Tip: wear appropriate clothing, and clothing in layers. Animals seen: 2 bunnies, 1 deer, misc birds, 0 wasps.

    Our party was 2 people and it took us 5 hours (10:40 am to 3:30 pm) out and back to the vehicle. You could probably do it in 4 hours if you pushed it, but progress is so slow up the steep approach and back down through very thick and rugged terrain. We went on a Friday and saw no one. This canyon does not look popular. 2 L of water was enough this time of year. If you're bagging all the canyons in the Superstitions definitely do this one. It's beautiful and rugged. The amount of effort per canyon put in is high, so if you are just doing one canyon in the Superstitions, or taking first-timers maybe do Apache Trail.

    Don't let any of those vacay days expire folks! Get out there and get into it.

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    Kenmoto likes this.
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