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4 Photosets

2014-04-09  
2014-04-09  
Benson Creek, UT
mini location map2014-04-09
42 by photographer avatarGrottoGirl
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Benson Creek, UT 
Benson Creek, UT
 
Canyoneering avatar Apr 09 2014
GrottoGirl
Canyoneering3.28 Miles 1,125 AEG
Canyoneering3.28 Miles   5 Hrs   47 Mns   0.57 mph
1,125 ft AEG
Intermediate Canyoneering - Difficult or dangerous; Tech Climb; rope reqd; descent anchor; exit technical;
B - Up to light current; wading/swimming; possible wet/dry suit
II - Normally requires a half day
 
1st trip
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outdoor_lover
RedwallNHops
Benson Creek
April 9, 2014

Today, was a test of all our skills we've gathered from the canyoneering workshop with Rich Carlson and all of our previous experiences. We headed up the trail to the "top" of a close ridge but not the actual top of the trail and contoured for a bit. From there we headed down a steep slope into the canyon bottom that had patches of slippery ice. We came upon our first rappel. We stood staring at it just waiting for someone to freak out causing the group to have to turn around. We could see that the canyon had a lot of ice. We had a break and put on our wetsuits, helmets, harnesses, and other gear. Luckily, no one was backing out!

The approach to the rappel was across a small ice patch which at the bottom was the chute for the rappel. We choose to go up along the canyon slope where we could anchor off a tree and safely get to the tree. Joel belayed Josh down to set up the first rappel. I went next to inspect the anchor and check Josh's harness and rappel set up. I tied myself into the anchor and got to work. We looked at the webbing and deemed it a bit frayed but safe because of three wraps around the tree and an overhand knot. Josh set up a releasable anchor using a murter-mule hitch secured by an overhand knot. If anything happened, I could release the rappel.

Finally, everything was ready and Josh was off. I snapped a picture as he rappelled down. Soon, I hear, 'I'm a bastard! The rope is not long enough to hit the ground.' I thought to myself 'Shit! I'm not prepared for this, no one who knows what to do is watching me!' I yell back, 'Are you serious?' The response from Josh was 'Yes, I need to be lowered'. So I untied the overhand knot and then slowly worked the mule hitch out and then I yelled, 'Lowering' and snapped out the last bight and started to belay him. He told me when the rope hit the ground that he would finish his rappel. I decided to just hold his weight instead of fiddling with a lock off.

When he was on the ground, I retied the munter mule. Unfortunately, the person at the anchor with me at the time didn't seem to learn as much as Joel, Josh, and I in the workshop so it was a bit nerve wracking to know that she wouldn't be able to tell if I had screwed up the rigging. I had to fall back on the practice we had done the night below in tying and inspecting the knot. Then I was off. As I went down I gave some pointer to the lady behind me as to what I was doing so that maybe it would help her.

The way down was awesome and scary! But awesome was definitely higher on the rankings and I was able to stop and take pictures on the way down. The ice was slippery so I choose to do a lot of the rappel on my knees. Not pretty, but with knee pads it was very safe. Looking down was amazing. The ice was sculptured over the rock in cascades. Beauty was abound! Below it looked like a keyhole had been cut into the rock. The rappel was 105 feet but with the ice, it was put us further out requiring the extra length I fed out with Josh on belay.

Since our second rope had been used in the pre-rappel, we had to all wait until everyone was down to continue. We watched everyone slip down the wall if ice. Some people were more comfortable than others. Pam, also from Arizona, ended up cutting her knees and arms because her wetsuit was a sleeveless shorty and she choose not to wear her hiking clothes over it. But as you can tell from the pictures she really didn't mind getting banged up.

While the others rappelled, some of them sent down chunks of ice as big as bowling balls so we mostly stood out of the way to avoid injury.

Joel and Mercedes set up the second rappel as a static twin. When it was my turn, someone said they were taking off my personal safety system. I about freaked! 'Don't touch that!' After the scolding he laid off and let me handle my safety. Rich anchored the rope bag to my harness and away I went over a chockstone. The way over the chockstone and down into the ice was a bit treacherous. It seemed like one wrong move and you could end up in a hole. All went well and I got myself down and then I held the rope for the next two people.

After they were down, I headed off to rappel #3. This one was a really icy affair with an ice skating rink at the end. We belayed a few people down and then let them go ahead to set up the anchor.

Between the 3rd and 4th rappel there was a lot of ice to walk over. Josh gave up walking an ran and slide many of the section. Crazy ass...

The last rappel was set as a twin static rope. Between the anchor and the cliff's edge was a sheet of ice. Just a foot down from the edge the ice had broken and there was a foot of space. I carefully got over that and then slid down on my feet. The best way to so that is to not care where your feet go but keep your butt down and your feet spread as wide as possible.

Looking back this was definitely a high adrenaline day! The kind you can't imagine yourself ever doing until you are in the midst of it. The true definition of feeling alive!
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