Blarney is a fun little canyon next door to the Leprechauns and convenient to the Sandthrax campsite. While the two branches CAN be done by hiking around and rapping in, this Epic Blarney circle route is highly entertaining, and (I claim) the BEST way of doing the canyon. Go UP East Blarney and DOWN West Blarney. Total time is about 4 hours, at a relaxed pace.
The one challenging climb-up in East Blarney usually has webbing hanging on it as a handline (careful), and you will want at least one strong climber in the group. Without the handline, it might take several people to safely boost and spot your strong climber up this spot.
A quick jaunt leads over to West Blarney. Look left when you reach the top of East Blarney. A short climb up and follow West Blarney up canyon. Getting in the top can be done by downclimbing a slab and corner, or circling around and doing the regular rap in. The rest of the canyon can be downclimbed, but the downclimbs are high and intimidating, so bring a rope in case folks in your party are not up for it.
3A III ★★★
Starts and ends at the Blarney Road, 0.7 miles west of the Sandthrax campsite
50 feet (15 m)
Fall, winter, or spring. Might be too hot in the summer, but at least most of it is in the shade. Might be cold in winter for the same reason. In snowy conditions, it may be difficult or impossible to get up the East Fork. Wet conditions will make both the up-climbing and down-climbing more difficult.
WGS84 UTM 12S
Start of Hike: 539980 mE | 4208250 mN
Helmet, gloves, elbow and knee Pads, rope, webbing, rings.
COLD WATER PROTECTION
None required. The canyon does not hold water.
Water not available in the canyon
FLASH FLOOD RISK
Low/moderate: small collection basin, but a bad canyon to get caught in.
Downclimbing, spotting, team up-climbing, natural anchors.
|Drive from campsite:||5 minutes|
|To top of East Fork:||90 minutes|
|Cross over to West Fork:||20 minutes|
|Down West Fork to road:||90 minutes|
|Drive back to campsite:||5 minutes|
Drive to Blarney. There is a very short road that leads to Blarney, distinguished by a separated pillar against the wall. Sometimes people will camp here, so please respect their camp.
Hike up the canyon. A few small climbing obstacles require a bit of effort. The canyon splits in an open area - this is NOT the East Fork. Continue up the canyon until inside a deep canyon, and then the canyon splits again. This is the East-West split. Go right up the East Fork.
Climb up the East Fork. There are several up climbs that are a bit tricky. Spot and boost where necessary. Eventually, you will pop out into an open area, with 40 foot cliffs making a box canyon. This is the top of the East Fork.
Do not continue up canyon - instead, follow a wide ledge at the foot of the cliffs to the left(west) around a corner to a slickrock canyon that allows an easy climb up to the rim. Head slightly left to find the West Fork. Follow the rim right to the head area of the West Fork.
There are two ways to get down into the head of the West Fork. On the east side is a corner. It is possible to downclimb slabs left of the corner, and traverse over into the corner crack. Descend the corner crack. A meat anchor (and catch from below) might be needed to get down the last 10 feet to the canyon bottom.
Alternatively, you can circle around and rappel in off an anchor on the west side of the fork.
Stroll downcanyon about 50 feet, to where the canyon drops away. There is a big rock atop the slot where it drops. It LOOKS like a big rappel (at times), but sneaking under the rock reveals a moderate downclimb into the slot. Downclimb, then walk forward to the next drop. Sometimes it looks like a rappel, but can be downclimbed at a reasonable level of difficulty. It is a bit awkward getting started, getting around the chockstone that creates the drop.
Stroll downcanyon and there is another, higher downclimb. Again, high and intimidating, so use the rope if needed.
Once on the canyon floor, it is a walk with a few short downclimbs back to the East-West junction.
To exit, follow the wash back out to the road.