A Winter Inferno Canyon, Ticaboo Mesa, FreezeFest
Well, not really. FF XIV: My traditional FreezeFest experience begins with a trip to Paradise... er, through Paradiso, as the case may be. But they did that the day before, and it was EPIC! Sand on the walls, snow on the walls, sand over snow on the walls - the savory FF experience we all strive for. When I rolled into camp at 10 pm on the 27th, the canyon planned for the next day was Inferno, also out in the Dantes. Fine by me - since our exploration of the many forks of the system some 10 years prior, other than the yearly trip through Paradiso I had just not been getting out that way much. Which means it would be quite a bit like an exploration for me!
We woke fairly early, and it was cold. A Ticaboo canyon at FF means get up, pull on some clothes (whatever!), throw your stuff in the car (or, do this the night before) and drive to the Offshore Marina in Ticaboo. A 45 minute drive gets the car nice and toasty, thaws out the canyoneers (not a problem for me, having just come from home) and lets ya wake up. Me, I dash into the cafeteria there and order up a scrumptious breakfast. Perhaps I overstate the case, but it is pleasant inside and the people hanging out there (ie, employees) are happy to have something to do, and very friendly. After some victualing and a quick change of clothes in the bathroom, we all again hop in our cars and head off. I snag a couple people to ride with me - my new Taco's first trip out to the Dantes!
Which is no problemo. The road is OK, not much snow out there. Windy and chilly though. A little more fussing around at the cars putting on shoes and so forth, and we are off. Ram indicated that yesterday, the normal route down was DESPERATE at the cliffband, so we go down by the south route rather than the north route. Soon we are out of the wind, which helps a lot. We hike around to the put in point for Inferno. Like Paradiso, it kinda starts with a bang... no problemo.
Two weeks later, writing this... yeah, I don't remember much. Good movement, fun movement. Most of us were wearing lots of clothes still, hats under the helmets, jackets over sweaters, etc. It was not warm. The pace was great, and the company was even better. There was a little water in spots, easily stemmed over, but it portended larger amounts of water to come. I remembered (from a different canyon, thankfully) a couple swimmer pools ahead that were gonna be a problem. Most of us had wetsuits on already, which provided armor and warmth. So not trouble-problem, just a bit of discomfort-problem.
We came to the first pool. Ice on top, obviously not supportive. Was this our first swimmer? Some brave soul did a dicey traverse around. Brian (my hero) went ahead and dove in... uh, well, walked in to find a knee deep pool at most. KneeDeep! This was good news. We moved forward.
Yeah, I kinda remembered a few places. We had some lunch. Ram was wiggling his eyebrows, which I thought was for the pools ahead... nope! It was for the fairly long, moderate high-stemming section ahead.
There's a couple places we had to fight for it. A couple places that got the attention. A few delicate moves high off the ground, but when it was high it was easy, and the fights were brief at most. Our team wriggled on past the narrows to the final section, dominated by rappels.
A few SandTraps, a tied off rock or two, etc. and the canyon opened to wonderful terraces and bowls, and we soon found our way down the last rap and changed out of our gear.
With no plans for a second canyon, and not so much wind, the intricate walk up the sandstone ridge was mellow and scenic, a fine end to my first field day at FreezeFest. An hour of driving with the heat on relaxed the body. Another 45 back to camp with a good book on tape, and I was ready to bundle up for the evening. Someone put some food in front of me. Logs burst into flame. Conversation was spurred by the moderate consumption of adult beverages... all good!