Weather forecasters are sometimes wrong---- we (Brian, myself and his friend Chris) decided to explore a narrow crack Brian had scouted last year and injured his knee climbing in the Sierra Ancha. We camped in a saddle to howling wind, rain and morning fog. The trip was in doubt but we decided to saddle up and at least do the about 3 miles to the jump off point as a hike and see how it went. We could contour a great deal of it so not too bad. We were carrying four ropes and full vertical gear, as well as the usual in dayhike supplies.
The weather was blustery and cloudy initially, but not too cold. Soon the blue skies and sun peaked through. We got off track a little but soon bushwacked to Brians' entrance, a very narrow log choked dark slot, a crack, plunging deep and straight as an arrow into the earth. The dark walls were topped with the reddish soaring type cliffs seen in the Sierra Ancha.
We started down. Lots of scree, some friendly logs although rather slick to use as climbing aids, and a ton of downclimbing. We soon came to the first drop, a B/H here with about 30 year old webbing. We used the anchor, as it seemed good. Brian and Chris chose to downclimb with the rope as an aid, some logs propped up to brace against, I chose to rappel the appox 30 feet. We left the rope as we weren't sure we wouldn't have rain, and climbing this would be very difficult if wetter than it already was.
On down the canyon dropped, some wider places, the walls just soaring. Very impressive. We had a total of 7 rappels, one we pulled the rope on and reversed it with a partner assist to upclimb, and one we used a longer rope to make several short "nusiance" drops. The biggest had a scary start, about 60 feet, and overhung. My photo taking was abbreviated with the difficulty of the trip. We needed to make time. We had no beta on this canyon and we were trying to get to another area. We ran short on rope unable to make what looked like a last 30 foot drop before the canyon opened up. However even this seemed misleading, we could see lots of trees, but that could mean lots of tree climbing. The canyon was deep and majestic with inner and outer, upper walls, soaring to perhaps as much as 600 feet.
We had started at 9 and it was now almost 2, with all the rigging, and trying to get me past a small pool which I fell into anyway, but it wasn't deep at that end. We now had to reverse the route. I of course was the slowest but climbed up most of it with minimal assist. I was the first on a couple of the rope climbs, and one was really tough as the rope got into a crack, it was overhung and I had to use a spare handled ascender to grab the rope above the crevice it was in and haul myself ungracefully over the lip, dragging my ascending gear with me. Chris who is a long time caver and climber like Brian, has a partial race assembly with him for ascending, he went up the 60 footer in less than 15 seconds. It was amazing.
I know now what I need to do to modify my ascending gear to be a little more efficient.
We made it out of the crack about an hour before dark. We had the hike, but we scooted right along, it seemed a lot easier walking than what we had been doing. We made it to camp in dusk, just before breaking out the headlamps.
The next day we were tired and went old mine exploring, the only excitement seeing some really pretty rock deep in an old mine, and Chris almost hanging up his back tire on a culvert on the nasty road in and out.
On the way back to Globe we spotted a large snake in the road and pulled over and got him or her to the side to avoid being run over. We turned into sort of a tourist attraction with several cars stopping to see why I was holding this big snake ( about a 4 and a half footer---gopher or bull or some such snake). I transplanted him to a safe hold in a rock face well off the road.