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UT: Zion Zion Mystery Canyon Downclimb Challenge - check!

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by ratagonia, Sep 21, 2018.

  1. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    A few years ago, some friends suggested that all the raps in Mystery, except the last one into the Narrows, could be downclimbed. "Really?" I said. "Nah!"

    Most of them are not terribly difficult. The one into Mystery Springs (the pool behind the boulder) is one of the best downclimbs I have ever done! 80 feet of insecurity! It helps that all the downclimbs (except that last one) have a solid anchor nicely positioned for a belay above them. No reason not to BELAY ALL THE DOWNCLIMBS.

    Coming into this week, I had three I had not done - the first one in the rock Narrows, that I know Chad had done, and that Andy Archibald had done, and that I had failed on twice. The crack-slab at the bottom of the rock narrows had also eluded me, and I had considered it impossible without a 20 foot slide/drop onto the sand or big catchers. And the last 20 feet of the drop into the pool of (lower) Mystery Springs I had not done, but was clear that I could downclimb to a jumpable position, if that darn log down in there decided to move on.

    My adventure-Niece and her hubby (and child, and brother) were in town this weekend and the Mystery Downclimb Challenge is now complete! Oh, not by ME, by my step-nephew-in-law Eric Fox.

    I DID get that first downclimb. Amazing to see new eyes (Eric's) on the challenge (which is a wide chimney) that figured out an entirely different body position, that even worked for me! Eric was outstandingly tenacious on the crack/slab downclimb, just plain not letting go, not giving up and finding a way through the nebulous holds of the middle section. And at the end, he was able to carefully downclimb the slimy chute all the way to the top of the log in the pool.

    Congratulations to Eric. Perhaps others have completed the Mystery Downclimb Challenge previously... I think it is worth pointing out that this was on-sight - Eric's first trip through Mystery Canyon, and he did go first on every downclimb - though that was probably to his advantage not seeing me with my fuddy duddy ways in advance.

    Tom

    mystdown01.

    mystdown02.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2018
  2. Jake Freimanis

    Jake Freimanis Ours is a quiet fear

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    What a fun challenge! I'm totally gonna give this a try at some point! Were they all actually "climbs" that could be climbed up as well? Or were some of those short sandstone raps just slides?
  3. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    No slides. But some would be much-much-much harder to climb up. Don't fight gravity, cooperate.

    Tom
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  4. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    And just as a heads up -
    1. it takes a lot longer to downclimb than rappel, on these difficult rappels. So be sure your team is into spending the extra time.
    2. it helps to have a dedicated good belayer, who rappels first. These drops are hard to belay from above, easier to provide a good belay from below.
    3. bring a belay device. ATC works well, Critr is okay as a belay device, but having a real belay device helps in providing a good belay.
    4. The Mystery Springs downclimb is belayed from above. put a big sling around the chockstone, and the belayer stands in front, atop the downclimb.
    5. Eric did the last bit of downclimb into the second pool without a belay.

    Tom
  5. Jake Freimanis

    Jake Freimanis Ours is a quiet fear

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    Good to know! Sounds like an early start would be extra-crucial when planning something like this. That's really helpful info, I almost certainly would have attempted to belay every single one from above to start....
  6. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Mystery is not a particularly long canyon. We hit the trail at 9 am, and rapped into the Narrows at 4:30 - though mostly only Eric downclimbed. Mostly, it is important that everyone on the trip buys in to the Downclimb Challenge, at least to the point of not resenting the time spent doing it.

    Tom
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  7. Kip Marshall

    Kip Marshall Bshwakr

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    This challenge has a little bit of disaster written on it. Just to clarify, you are recommending a belay?

    Favorite downclimb: Questionable Decision, 300-400 feet in the middle of the canyon. I watched Bryan free it; made the pull all that much easier.
  8. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Top rope belay easy on all downclimbs.
  9. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    I'd always heard the rumor, unknown if true, that our mutual acquaintance DH soloed up to the last rappel on Mystery for the rigging on Turville's Zion canyon episode.

    What goes up, could go down? Yikes!
  10. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    He said led, but no pro. 5.8. slimy. Alternatively, I have also heard you can walk off up canyon working the ledges. I can see how that starts from the top - did not take a look from the bottom to see if that led anywhere useful.

    T
  11. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Talk about the ultimate in ghosting...even with a top belay. That'd be special.

    One more rappel to go, Tom!
  12. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    *I* still have 3 more to go... Projecting!
  13. Anthony Dye

    Anthony Dye

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    Challenge accepted! Though not sure when I'll be in there again...
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  14. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    If it's 5.8, someone will do it. Might not even be that scary if the water were particularly high....

    I suspect it would be easier if you get away from the slime near the falls.

    I wonder if it would be easier in the winter. Maybe some ice might form that could be used.
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