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UT: Escalante Weekend in BFS and Big Tony

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by cjhaines, May 21, 2018.

  1. cjhaines

    cjhaines Chris

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    Location:
    Orem, UT
    My wife Caitlin and I made plans with Austin and Olivia Farnworth to head down to the Escalante region to hit up Choprock and a few other nearby slots this weekend. After seeing some rain in the forecast we decided to bail. On suggestion from Tom Collins we decided to hit up BFS and Big Tony instead.

    We had planned to do Micro Death Hollow as a nice fun jaunt before heading down Hole in the Rock Road on Friday after reaching Escalante, but it was threatening to rain so we decided to bail. We headed out to BFS instead since we'd have the benefit of cloud cover in the very exposed canyon.

    The approach is an easy walk down a sandy wash and then a short walk up the slickrock to the head of the canyon. I can't be sure, but I think it took us all of ten minutes to walk from the exit to the head of the canyon. BFS eases you in with some nice easy stemming over a very exposed but narrow slot that would be hard to fall into if you messed up

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    Soon afterwards you're in the meat of it. The stemming gets higher quickly and then gives you a couple of warmup silos

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    Until you reach the namesake BFS:

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    The thing is pretty huge, and begins with a crack downclimb at the top of the picture and then a lunge to the ledge pictured at the right. From there you have to make it into the crack at the bottom. Luckily for us there is a small slung arch which we used to belay our group through with. Mentally, at least, it made all the difference.

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    There's one other silo that gave us some real pause in BFS, followed by lots more stemming and smaller silo challenges. For such a small canyon it really worked us more than we expected.

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    The next day we woke up early and headed out from the Chimney Rock trailhead to do Big Tony. We probably should've got out of bed a little earlier, as it started getting hot pretty quickly on the approach. Heading into Coyote Gulch and up King Mesa is really a beautiful hike

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    It took us about an hour and a half to reach the head of Big Tony. Right from the start we had some more great practice stemming and avoiding potholes, although most of our group ended up in the water on a couple of them. Turns out it's pretty refreshing on a hot day

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    We reached the X section fairly quickly, but felt pretty drained from the hot approach and the day before. Caitlin and I didn't get any sleep from being up all night fighting with a cheap air mattress either. We decided to skip the X section and save it for another day.

    Picture down canyon of the X section in Big Tony:

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    When we reentered the canyon we realized what we missed and regretted skipping the high stemming. Big Tony is awesome! Lots of dark, fluted downclimbs, potholes, and elevators down into the abyss

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    Overall it was an awesome canyon, one that I would highly recommend to the competent. Even though we skipped the X section we were still forced pretty high off the ground for much of the canyon, and it end up being pretty long. I definitely feel like we cheated a little though and look forward to heading back there in the fall to do the whole thing.

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  2. Ram

    Ram

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    The X section is pretty short. Takes many an hour (Aaron did it in 13 minutes solo once). There is not much to it. Down a squeeze or two, into the darkness, then up easy at the bottom of a silo then up and downcanyon at the same type on walls without much features for 50 feet. What follows is back-feet lateral stem, inching up to top the curves at the top of silos at about 60 feet up. Maybe 5 of these, then it meets the spot you entered. The section is interesting, but not as good as what follows in the R sections. Now that stuff is truly special.

    How did you know of the entry below the X? Did you find it easily? Did you find it intimidating/unlikely, yet easy?
    Here is an old TR from Todd. The 3rd and 4th picture is the lateral part of the X, the 4th picture taken from the entry spot I think you used
    https://www.toddshikingguide.com/TripReports/NFNP_06/NFNP7.htm

    What a canyon!! One of the best!


    The entry is to the right of this picture, yet is hidden as it rolls over steeply
    [​IMG]
  3. cjhaines

    cjhaines Chris

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    Location:
    Orem, UT
    We knew about the exit and entry from Bluugnome's description. The exit to the bypass was easy to find (large boulder in the canyon, can't miss it), but we spent probably 45 minutes wandering the canyon rim and scouting out the pothole fork before discovering where we needed to be. And even then, the downclimb back in is a little bit improbable. Austin belayed the rest of us and then we spotted him from a good stance in the canyon as he made the downclimb. Honestly I thought it was probably a little sketchier than the X section would've been, plus we wasted a lot of time. An added reason I felt like we should've just continued through. Here's a picture of the climb back in that I copied from Luke's site:

    [​IMG]

    Those pictures of the lateral section of X don't look too bad. From your description it sounds like we certainly wouldn't have found anything in there that was more intimidating than what we found in BFS.
  4. Jason Linder

    Jason Linder

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    I have been wondering about the crossing between the X and R sections. Would this be the most efficient way to get to the entry of the pothole fork?
  5. cjhaines

    cjhaines Chris

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    Location:
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    The escape before the X section is about a 5 minute walk to the head of the pothole fork. That being said, the MOST efficient way is probably to skip the first section of Big Tony altogether and just walk around. It would probably only take 15-20 minutes from the head of the main canyon to reach the pothole fork.
  6. Jason Linder

    Jason Linder

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    That would be my intent, to skip the first part. I'm under the impression you can actually cross BT between the X and R sections - on the approach before you ever enter the canyon. That is what I was asking about. Seems it would be the best way to get to the pothole fork if that were one's intentions...and IF such a crossing exists. I'm hoping someone with a lot of knowledge of that area could confirm it for me.

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  7. Anthony Dye

    Anthony Dye

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    Location:
    Springville, utah
    Awesome! Looks like Some x rated fun!
    cjhaines likes this.
  8. Ram

    Ram

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    The approach is on the west side of Big Tony. There is no way to the east side except to go around the top of the R section where the canyon first entrenches. It is easy to the Pothole fork from there. If one does the Pothole fork, one still encounters a short R section right before the "total dark" section, mid canyon. I will propose that doing the Pothole canyon misses the best part of Tony, the section from where the X ends. The R part below that is just super. But if one is R adverse, then beware. There is more R there than one encounters below the Pothole fork's confluence with Tony.
    East side approaches to the various options, top of Tony, Pothole fork, Frosted Flakes, Longbranch, are possible, but longer than the west side approach.
    Jason Linder likes this.
  9. pynkchink

    pynkchink

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    I just went through BT this past weekend and I would recommend going through the whole canyon (upper, X, R, etc). All of it is awesome and adds to the experience. What a magical place!
    cjhaines and Austin Farnworth like this.
  10. Austin Farnworth

    Austin Farnworth

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    Location:
    Mapleton, Utah
    That down-climb back into the canyon after the X-section in Big Tony felt pretty heady to me. I generally don't feel that unstable even when crossing X rated silos, so I feel like someone who is capable of that down-climb might as well just do the X-section because they are dealing with pretty much the same fall consequences.
  11. Angus

    Angus Angus Wiessner

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    Location:
    Colorado
    Props on BFS!!! the bulldog of short little canyons

    When Tom Aaron and i first did it i belayed Tom across and he placed a #6 cam in the crack on the other side then Aaron went across. Then i sat in Anxiety for a couple minutes trying to think how i could get down to get across the Silo. Then someone noticed the Arch i threaded the rope through to use as a hand line to down climb the crack with tough foot jams as i was trying to put as much weight on my feet as i could to keep weight off the arch. Once down i had the rope tied to my harness and was clipped into the cam for protection just in case i slipped crossing the Big Fucking Silo.

    The Arch now has i mini sling that prevents a rope groove.
    Id recommend everyone go off Meat Anchor and only Lamar use the arch as a hand line or if you are gonna rap id at least ask you to back the Arch up witch could be tough considering where it is.
    Great canyon But id have to say the silo is dangerous so be careful.
  12. cjhaines

    cjhaines Chris

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    Location:
    Orem, UT
    Thanks!

    Yeah that arch isn't exactly what I'd call bomber. When we did it we used it for a belay trying our best not to weight it and then meat-anchored LAPAR from the other side. I think that's a good suggestion to only use it for LAPAR though. I'm not sure how much weight or how many falls the thing can take. And if it breaks it presents a real problem.

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