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49467Front row seat to the rock slide.

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  • D. K. Hansen
    Jun 1, 2011
      Last night at around 6pm my climbing partner and I were at the hanging belay on the last pitch on Moonlight Buttress when we heard a rumble. The first thing I thought was a low flying 747. "Whats that?" my partner asked. "Sounds like a freight train on the next pitch!" I said. Just then we both looked across the canyon and saw an avalanche of white Navajo Sand that had cut loose from the top of the East Rim. My first thought was about the safety of the two climbers on Spaceshot, but they were about 2,000 feet up stream of the rock fall. Huge boulders the size of Volkswagens trundled down onto the road and into the river. Most exploded on impact. After about a minute all that was left was an up side down mushroom cloud and fine dust covered the valley floor, and decent of the Spaceshot's rappels probably have a fresh coat of sand.
      After 1 minute a propane bus turned the corner at Big Bend to see the big cloud. They drove up to the edge of the cloud and parked for 20 minutes until a Loader cleaned the rubble off the road and dumped it into the swollen river. The river is still at flood stage and my partner had to hike in from the Grotto. BOY that hike is not fun with 70+ pounds of climbing gear and water!
      All in all it was a good day, one that I will never forget.
      Kevin Hansen
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