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Deadman South: Main, NM
mini location map2016-02-23
56 by photographer avatarimike
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Deadman South: Main, NM 
Deadman South: Main, NM
 
Canyoneering avatar Feb 23 2016
imike
Canyoneering9.00 Miles 2,400 AEG
Canyoneering9.00 Miles
2,400 ft AEG
Basic Canyoneering - Scrambling; easy climbing/downclimbing; frequent hand use; rope recommended; easy exit
 no routes
1st trip
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I'd hoped to top out going up the main canyon today... and get back into writing route descriptions (I'm over 50 behind!!?) Alas... we needed many more hours and probably bivy gear to go higher than we hiked. I did not want a repeat of our 18 hour adventure when we hiked up and out the South Fork of Deadman a few months ago. So, hiked up to our turnaround safety time limit, then started the looping traverse north across the other two main upper drainages. There was not a nice Bench to stroll; it was steeper sidehill interrupted by numerous gully washes. Awkward, but doable. Ross scored an interesting bit of surfing when a 300# rock slid out from under him, carrying him as ways down the hill. Fortunately, he arrested before sliding too far.

The approach to Deadman begins as an easy amble cross country from Oliver Lee State Park. Taking off from the lower bathroom along the old jeep track to Larson Spring, the better route seems to be not crossing the North/South fenceline. Stay on the West side of the fence all the way across to the Deadman lower drainage, then turn up canyon for easy walking into the mouth of the canyon. An easier pace will get you to the wash in about 45 minutes (1.3 miles). Another 30 minutes will move you into the mouth of the canyon (1.8 mile).

The lower portion of the canyon provides easy scrambling and a variety of great rock textures. Crinoids and Horn Coral fossils abound.

At 2.6 miles you will reach the South Fork Dryfall... around 2.5 hours into your day at an easier pace. That canyon will allow you to climb and exit out onto the top of Burnt Ridge. If you've set up a car shuttle on West Side Road that route can make for an exceptional day. You can also access a south side Spur canyon: Monument Cut (still unexplored).

Proceeding up the Main Canyon, you soon begin what amounts to the longest, tallest set of Stairstep Falls we have yet to encounter. They are not all Dry; this canyon has water! We topped out the falls at 3 miles (3.5 hours taking lots of nice breaks!)

On this day we continued up through a series of over grown Springs until we had a clear view of the upper Canyon Fork. The next section looks to be massive boulder clusters... probably allowing us up and through? We stopped below the 6,000' level, around 11:30am. Our mandatory turnaround time was noon; we decide not to go higher, but instead to check out the side ridge that might provide easier up access. The Springs section had been nasty... really slow progress.

Once moving, we looped north instead of doing the ridge descent. We decided to check out the North Fork with the thought of dropping in and descending a nicer bedrock path. It is not bright to descend any canyon you have not ascended (unless you have lots of rope!) but it was too appealing to see new areas.

As we worked our way around and across, the weather shifted. Looking up canyon we noted a light blizzard sliding off the mountain... we hiked in snow for 30 minutes, then the day cleared. It was even hot for brief periods.

The bad sidehill eventually carried us over to the North Fork, south split. We could see some great potentials above us: slot cut that might let us up and out? For another day. and... no way down the cut... undercut cliffs... 40-70'. Yep... oh, well. Easy traverse over to the north split... same story! We were not getting down.

Fortunately, on a prior exploratory a few weeks earlier, we'd hiked the high bench out of Dog Canyon around to check out Deadman. Now, that was our target... move across to that exit. It was a bit nasty... Ross celebrated with his bit of rock surfing. But, it allowed us up and out. Once on the Bench we knew we had a soft walking route all the way around and down to the Dog Canyon Trail. We checked out an alternative down Scramble, but neither of us really wanted any more challenges. We did the extra easy mileage.

So... great day out. We spotted a variety of future hikes: couple cuts west side of ridge, Monument Cut, the two upper forks in the Main Canyon, the Slit Cut in North Fork, the Broad Cut in the North Fork, Dead Dog Upper... and then there's the Cleft, Upper Gap, Bowl and Slide. Those are all off Burnt Ridge. Too many canyons!

Hope we enjoy some mild weather this Spring.
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