FreezeFest V - Sandthrax - Dec 30, 2006
Yes, a couple other canyons were done. But the next BIG EVENT of note was a descent of Sandthrax Canyon by most of the gang on the 30th. Hank got a bunch of great pictures, and Ram wrote a wonderful trip report. Thus - pictures by Hank, text by Steve Ram.
Sandthrax campsite, below a remarkably blue sky.
Special thanks to all the partners, over the decades, who cajoled,
nursed and often "carried" me through special places I would not
otherwise would have had the pleasure to have experienced.
TR- Sandthrax Canyon
I stole the quote from Krakauer. His partner wanted to climb the
Eiger and he on the other hand wanted to HAVE climbed the Eiger. So it
was with me and Sandthrax Canyon. I wanted to HAVE descended it. It is
what I told those assembled around the fire, the eve before the
descent. The canyon sits next to one of the campsites I have used the
most over the years. Many who visit this campsite, also named
Sandthrax, visit the canyons mouth and the more curious, its rim and
entry. The story of the epic attempted descent had become legend in
certain circles of the canyoneering community. The long bivy on
individual chockstones, the upclimb 5.10-11 off-width crux waiting to
trap the unsuspecting or underskilled, the reassembled bolts used to
ladder out, the fear-inspiring final difficulties, seen by so many
visitors to the bottom since. I had chosen never to view the canyon,
except for fleeting and distant views, driving by, on the pavement. I
figured never to enter this canyon, it's crux moves being beyond the
scope of my abilities.
I was wrong again. With modest abilities but talented friends, I
had again and again climbed that mountain and descended that canyon
which I thought above my abilities and certain never to see and record
in my mind's eye. And so it was with Sandthrax too. And as usual, when
I finally did go, I managed to have my moment that called into
question my presence in such a place.
Talk of a descent had started a month or so before, Hank and
Wyoming Dave chattering excitedly about a New Years time frame. At the
same time Ryan Cornia offered to take me, he having descended the
canyon already. I, diplomatically said "Lets look at it when the time
draws nearer." Maybe it would snow. Maybe the walls, cold with
winter, would be slippery and out of condition. Maybe the idea would
simply slip away, as bravado is known to do, when the date draws near.
The approach, up and over the sandstone hills.
The Rim Team - Rob, a good book, and Jemimah.
That's it, all of it. That short little thing.
Sometimes the stars all align. Steve "Spiderman" Jackson, who had
soloed the canyon, in remarkable time, was coming for the winter
festival we call FreezeFest. Hank and Dave were still focused on the
task. My 16 year old son Aaron, having walked the step ladder of skill
and accomplishment, was likely qualified and excited. I would not let
my fear deny him his opportunity, but could I go elsewhere, knowing he
would be in the belly of the beast?
Ryan, shy as always of crowds, wished us luck and slipped off to
solo explorations. It was dinner time the night before. Dinner from
the Dutch oven crowd, John and associates, having styled everyone at
FreezeFest. I wasn't committed to going. But the guys wanted me there
and used the persuasion tactics, which I have used on others, with
great success, for decades. I smiled ruefully at the role reversal. I
am a sucker for logic and the argument of " When will it be a better
crew and time? If not now, when?" was winning me over. I kept that
close to my breast though, leaving myself room to wiggle out, with a
"We shall see." comment. But unnoticed, the scotch flask never came
out that evening and I did subtle stretching of my leg muscles, around
the fire. When I go for a big bad ascent or descent, this is my
pattern. To bed at 12:15 AM
Also part of my pattern is to have nightmares the night before a
committing day. On this night, dreams of falling and others of being
wedged found form in my mind. Fortunately, I don't need much sleep, so
by 4:40 AM I was done with that torture for the evening. A late wake
up was planned, waiting for warmth and higher sun angles, so I
alternated dozing and wide awake worry. When I share my worry too
directly it steals confidence from my partners, but it is my process
to work out all the ugly potential realities, as if to do so, purges
them from possibility and brings my focus to better sharpness. So
sparing everyone, I looked over at my sleeping son and imagined
bringing the worst possible news to his mother.....and the imagined
pain of a 12 year old daughter, being told that dad wasn't coming
home. I would push it away and new forms of horror would work its way
back in. A middle aged man, wrestling with fear and consequences and
for what? To be more alive. To find the Zen of focus. To walk with the
fears, but not have it lead the way. I will go to the canyon. And so
will the sleeping lad next to me. He has earned it and I will not let
him be a prisoner of my fear any more than allowing myself to be. He
knows the rules. No mistakes. The boy can play. He has earned it.
In the morning, we make preparations. Bucky will join us. When I
recruited him for the trip, I asked what canyons he would like to do.
Having been "on the couch" for 8 months he said "I am up for anything,
except probably Sandthrax." So naturally, he is going to Sandthrax
too, on his first day out, making us a large but solid group of 6.
Group gear is laid out. I circle the area hoping my betters will
gather it all up and I spy Steve take most of it, without being
noticed by the others. His considerable abilities would show no effect
from the additional weight and when the gear gets used it will be
spread out amongst the group, late in the canyon. But for now he is
the pack horse.
|Head of the slot. Aaron, Dave, Spiderman Steve.
|Gettin' started, El Ramoo.
Aaron, c'mon down!
Freeze Fest Five - Main Page =+= Chambers +=+ Limbo =+=
Escape from Shenanigans
Sandthrax 1 =+= Sandthrax 2 =+= Sandthrax 3 =+= Sandthrax 4
Hard Day +=+
Black Hole +=+
All content © 2006 Imlay Canyon Gear LC and Nolan Thomas Jones. All rights reserved.
Latest Rave Homepage