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TR - Rock Canyon, April 30, 2006 - The Sniff Test

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  • Tom Jones
    Dean Kurtz of Kanab dropped by on Saturday, and of course, handed me an ice cold malt beverage. What you doing tomorrow? he asked. A canyon with you , I
    Message 1 of 4 , May 1, 2006
      Dean Kurtz of Kanab dropped by on Saturday, and of course, handed me
      an ice cold malt beverage.

      "What you doing tomorrow?" he asked.

      "A canyon with you", I responded.

      We went off to Rock Canyon, which drops into The Barracks from the
      south. The drive into it takes about an hour at manic speed,
      required by the soft sand on the Kane County Highway that heads over
      that way, near the Coral Pink Sanddunes State Park. Very soft.

      We loaded up and hiked over to the edge, hitting the canyon right
      where it slotted up. Dean had heard from a "reliable source" that
      the canyon was all bolted up, and had a few interesting drops. We
      worked down the slabs into the canyon bottom and walked a few feet
      to the first drop. A couple small potholes guarded the top of the
      short drop - no bolts in sight. We put our harnesses on and stacked
      the ropes in the Rope Silos.

      A huge log jammed in the slot above us would supply the anchor. We
      tossed the rope over the log and slid into the first pothole,
      getting our feet wet. The 2nd pothole was a bit of a larger drop
      in, but again only ankle deep. I dropped in and hopped out, then
      over the next pothole to the top of the drop. We set the rope and
      rapped 40' into a beautiful little beach area.

      Downcanyon 100' was the next drop, maybe 80 feet down a twisting V-
      slot, a single bolt indicating 'rappel'. I set the rope and rapped
      in, but it quickly became clear it could be easily downclimbed,
      Class 3. Dean dropped the end of the rope to me and did so.

      A little further down was the BIG EVENT. Two bolts anchored a 110'
      rappel down a nice wall to a sandy area below a HUGE incut orange
      wall. Very nice. We rapped and bagged the ropes, and took pictures.

      We sauntered downcanyon. We picked up some footprints here, so we
      guessed that there were no more drops and likely we were not that
      far from the river. We pushed through some thorns, then hiked the
      sandy wash in the hot sun before arriving at a short drop with no
      obvious anchor. Walk around, or rig a rappel? Well, we're here to
      canyoneer, so I rigged a sling around a handy Serviceberry bush in a
      crack above the drop.

      In aid climbing there is a thing called "the sniff test". It says,
      trust your intuition. Give the piece a sniff, and if it stinks,
      don't trust it. As I started backing off the edge, I realized I was
      going to give that little Serviceberry bush the benefit of my full
      weight plus some, as the edge was not amenable to a low-force
      start. As I backed toward the edge, I got the hackles-up
      feeling. "Did I really trust that bush?"

      Well, the answer was no. I stepped up close to the bush and leaned
      back pretty good on it. It creaked a bit, but was OK. I stepped a
      little closer and applied a little more force and... crunch, the
      bush broke away from it's roots - aha!. Not good. It MAYBE would
      have held me and Dean, then again maybe not.

      "Uh, I think we're going around."

      I was a little perturbed. Yeah, I had almost gone down off that,
      without sufficient testing. Urh, a really foolish way to die,
      that's for sure. I left Dean to clean the sling on the bush,
      figuring I would climb around and bag the rope. I climbed up and
      around to look for the easy way in, but didn't find it. Up and
      around, trying to get past a cliffband, I ended up in a nice little
      slot - Mae Westing in Zion! I pop out into the canyon to find Dean
      bagging the pull cord, which he had used to handline down into the
      canyon. I went back and bagged the rope.

      Then we hiked out to the East Fork, found a snake, checked out some
      slots, climbed up the side of the canyon in the hot sun, and hiked
      the loose sand road back to the car.

      The Sniff Test. If it stinks, don't use it.

      Tom
    • luvs_to_hike
      Is that a jeep in your driveway? You are fitting in quickly with the locals --- Breakneck speed? You must have let Dean drive. [:p] Tom - Let me know if
      Message 2 of 4 , May 1, 2006

        Is that a jeep in your driveway?  You are fitting in quickly with the locals ---  Breakneck speed?  You must have let Dean drive. :p

        Tom - Let me know if you want to be the chairperson of the East Zion trail committee. :)  I doubt anyone, out here, could do it as well as you. =D>


        --- In Zion_National_Park_Hiking@yahoogroups.com, "Tom Jones" <ratagonia@...> wrote:
        >
        > Dean Kurtz of Kanab dropped by on Saturday, and of course, handed me
        > an ice cold malt beverage.
        >
        > "What you doing tomorrow?" he asked.
        >
        > "A canyon with you", I responded.
        >
        > We went off to Rock Canyon, which drops into The Barracks from the
        > south. The drive into it takes about an hour at manic speed,
        > required by the soft sand on the Kane County Highway that heads over
        > that way, near the Coral Pink Sanddunes State Park. Very soft.
        >
        > We loaded up and hiked over to the edge, hitting the canyon right
        > where it slotted up. Dean had heard from a "reliable source" that
        > the canyon was all bolted up, and had a few interesting drops. We
        > worked down the slabs into the canyon bottom and walked a few feet
        > to the first drop. A couple small potholes guarded the top of the
        > short drop - no bolts in sight. We put our harnesses on and stacked
        > the ropes in the Rope Silos.
        >
        > A huge log jammed in the slot above us would supply the anchor. We
        > tossed the rope over the log and slid into the first pothole,
        > getting our feet wet. The 2nd pothole was a bit of a larger drop
        > in, but again only ankle deep. I dropped in and hopped out, then
        > over the next pothole to the top of the drop. We set the rope and
        > rapped 40' into a beautiful little beach area.
        >
        > Downcanyon 100' was the next drop, maybe 80 feet down a twisting V-
        > slot, a single bolt indicating 'rappel'. I set the rope and rapped
        > in, but it quickly became clear it could be easily downclimbed,
        > Class 3. Dean dropped the end of the rope to me and did so.
        >
        > A little further down was the BIG EVENT. Two bolts anchored a 110'
        > rappel down a nice wall to a sandy area below a HUGE incut orange
        > wall. Very nice. We rapped and bagged the ropes, and took pictures.
        >
        > We sauntered downcanyon. We picked up some footprints here, so we
        > guessed that there were no more drops and likely we were not that
        > far from the river. We pushed through some thorns, then hiked the
        > sandy wash in the hot sun before arriving at a short drop with no
        > obvious anchor. Walk around, or rig a rappel? Well, we're here to
        > canyoneer, so I rigged a sling around a handy Serviceberry bush in a
        > crack above the drop.
        >
        > In aid climbing there is a thing called "the sniff test". It says,
        > trust your intuition. Give the piece a sniff, and if it stinks,
        > don't trust it. As I started backing off the edge, I realized I was
        > going to give that little Serviceberry bush the benefit of my full
        > weight plus some, as the edge was not amenable to a low-force
        > start. As I backed toward the edge, I got the hackles-up
        > feeling. "Did I really trust that bush?"
        >
        > Well, the answer was no. I stepped up close to the bush and leaned
        > back pretty good on it. It creaked a bit, but was OK. I stepped a
        > little closer and applied a little more force and... crunch, the
        > bush broke away from it's roots - aha!. Not good. It MAYBE would
        > have held me and Dean, then again maybe not.
        >
        > "Uh, I think we're going around."
        >
        > I was a little perturbed. Yeah, I had almost gone down off that,
        > without sufficient testing. Urh, a really foolish way to die,
        > that's for sure. I left Dean to clean the sling on the bush,
        > figuring I would climb around and bag the rope. I climbed up and
        > around to look for the easy way in, but didn't find it. Up and
        > around, trying to get past a cliffband, I ended up in a nice little
        > slot - Mae Westing in Zion! I pop out into the canyon to find Dean
        > bagging the pull cord, which he had used to handline down into the
        > canyon. I went back and bagged the rope.
        >
        > Then we hiked out to the East Fork, found a snake, checked out some
        > slots, climbed up the side of the canyon in the hot sun, and hiked
        > the loose sand road back to the car.
        >
        > The Sniff Test. If it stinks, don't use it.
        >
        > Tom
        >

      • JoeB
        Great trip report Tom; thanks for sharing. And I m glad you sniffed and live to tell of it! -Joe
        Message 3 of 4 , May 1, 2006
          Great trip report Tom; thanks for sharing. And I'm glad you sniffed
          and live to tell of it! -Joe
        • Ice
          I can t wait to see Tom riding his ATV around town......
          Message 4 of 4 , May 1, 2006
            I can't wait to see Tom riding his ATV around town......


            --- In Zion_National_Park_Hiking@yahoogroups.com, luvs_to_hike
            <no_reply@...> wrote:
            >
            >
            > Is that a jeep in your driveway? You are fitting in quickly with the
            > locals --- Breakneck speed? You must have let Dean drive. [:p]
            >
            > Tom - Let me know if you want to be the chairperson of the East Zion
            > trail committee. [:)] I doubt anyone, out here, could do it as well
            > as you. [=D>]
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