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Marble North S4, NM
mini location map2016-11-10
22 by photographer avatarimike
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Marble North S4, NM 
Marble North S4, NM
Canyoneering avatar Nov 10 2016
Canyoneering13.00 Miles 3,900 AEG
Canyoneering13.00 Miles
3,900 ft AEG40 LBS Pack
Basic Canyoneering - Scrambling; easy climbing/downclimbing; frequent hand use; rope recommended; easy exit
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
This one has been on the calendar a number of times... and viewed from surrounding ridges for years. Finally, it happened.

Ross and Mary were looking for a shorter day; they hiked in with me up Marble North. As always, that canyon is just so nice! Instead of entering the bottom of the S4 Cut, I opted for an earlier, lower approach. We had determined the lower dryfall blocked the canyon access, so I headed up the sidehill to the west. Hyper steep, it carried me up to the cliff bases where I encountered an over grown blockage... but working through all that, I made it to the cliffs... and a break that suggested a possible route.

The cut turned delightfully vertical. It did let me up. Once on the ridge I traversed around and down into the S4 drainage, to find yet another overgrown section stretching up to yet another dryfall blockage. To save time, I moved back out and up, re-entering the cut above the dryfall.

Bedrock... lots of nice Bedrock. ...and... overgrowth! I had to work my way through thick blockage. For those familiar with hikes in this area, this was sort of a combination of our Rap Steppes and Dead Elk Cut. I worked at clearing a route to make it easier if/when we returned.

Climbing higher it proved to be more like Rap Steppes on Steroids! That and Deadfalls... lots of trees down.

It climbed... and climbed. The cut ascended way up the north side of Hershberger Peak. Might be appropriate to name it Hershberger North Cut..?

Once up, exit options were numerous. I'd originally planned to cross over into Surprise and enjoy the easier down into Marble South. I could simply head down Hershberger Ridge. Instead, I hiked around and up to overview Marble South, North Fork. To my surprise, I was above the Amphitheatre... by a couple hundred feet. The peak was not that far above me?

Longterm plans include a new trail up to the peak along the north ridge... this was an opportunity to check our more of the options for that route. I angled up and around enjoying a fairly open and easier path. I scored great vantage point overviews of canyons to the north... and an ever changing view of Ortega Peak.

As I looped from the west side of the mountain to the east side, a had a couple of concerns. Daylight... getting off the trail before dark. Energy... and final route. From Hershberger I could descend the Mesa ridge and traverse to drop down Rockachucky right at my house... or... I could continue to move further east and connect with the "A" Trail for a trail descent. I decided on that. I got lucky on route... looping high above the blocking side cuts on the north... dropping just below the saddle between the peak and false peak. I only had 100' of climbing to score the trail around the north side of the false peak. It was further on down than I remembered to hit the trail... but I was there by 2:30pm.

At that point I was 7 miles from home. Six years ago that would have been a two hour trek. Now... I'd be lucky if I could complete the 4.5 miles of the trail in those two hours. That is how it worked out. And, I got lucky at the trailhead. Ross and Luster and been monitoring my progress. They both knew this would be an overly long day for me. I scored a ride home!

It would have been a much easier day if I had not had an expandable pack along... I scored 20# of great rocks as I worked my way up S4... adding a bit too much to the day. I was beaten up by end of day. Also, glitched left knee early on but managed to have a nearly complete correction by the time I was down the hill.

End of day: big salad! Bed!
Ageless Mind... Timeless Body... No Way! Use It and Lose It. Just the way it is...
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