Adventure in Dead Eye Dick, Zion National Park Canyoneering
"It's not an adventure until something goes wrong"... Yvon Chouinard There's been a lot of chat, of late, about people dropping into the WRONG canyon. This is a story about starting UP the wrong canyon - perhaps a more-forgiving error to make.
Went off to do Dead Eye Dick with Amanda from Zion Adventures on Thursday. Since I had not done the one-car approach, and needed to for the website, WE (as in I) decided to do it that way, by starting down the Narrows, then climbing up a side-canyon to get to the top of the canyon. No problem. Chickens surrounded us where we left Amanda's car, at the North Fork turn. On the drive in, I handed the map with several waypoints marked to Amanda, and walked her through typing in one of the waypoints into the Etrex... only, the point she entered was not the point I intended... (see where this is going?).
Our start was not early, but not too late. After a grey cold day on Wednesday, Thursday was bluebird beautiful and actually kinda hot. Especially for April. We kept a good pace going down the Narrows, pulling out the GPS every now and then to check progress. Hmmm, a little further than I thought... Eventually we got to the waypoint, and a canyon on the left that was narrow and tall. I had not checked the notes from Kip, but this one looked unlikely as a way up, but we scouted up it a ways and... I helped Amanda up a short drop and she scouted ahead - "ends in a rappel" she said.
Hmmm. That makes no sense. Must be Mighty Mouse (a canyon I know is in the area, but I'm not sure where). We went back out to the Narrows and hiked back the way we came. "must be the next one up-canyon" I thought.
So we found the next one up, and it looked reasonable. My memory said that the approach description was: "climb up the canyon a ways, then move right onto the ridge and up to the top". We clambored up a brushy V slot several hundred feet to a cliffband, and a big ledge headed right that looked promising. We traversed right. A possible route through the cliffband tempted us, and Amanda went up to check it out - and came back down. Yikes! We traversed the big ledge looking for a way through the cliffband above, but none of them worked out. Following the ledge, we reached 'Mighty Mouse' and followed that canyon back to the top of the drop in the canyon at our level. Huh! Slings on a tree showed it had been descended - ugly slings, so I took them out.
Above us on the east side of 'MM' we could see the cliffband was broken up, so we could get UP via that route. Before that, we should really check out where the canyon comes through the cliffband, to see if that goes. So we wandered up there, clambering up a slot 100 feet to where a huge log blocked further upcanyon travel (bells started ringing). We climbed up the log to where we could see the bottom of the rappel... (bells ringing really loud now). OK, we're not getting up that way!
We returned to the top of the next rappel.
"I've been here before", I tell Amanda. Everything lines up - now I remember this nondescript rappel, and the climbup where I boosted Amanda up. Crazy! How'd we get here?
Well, we were, so... we climbed the hillside to the top, cut around then down to the bottom of the canyon above the first rap. Geared up, fiddlesticked a tree for the short nuisance rap and were soon at the first REAL rappel.
Kip did the first descent of this canyon a couple years ago, and he is unlikely to use bolts unless they are really necessary. I had done it for the first time in Oct 2013 and was surprised to find two bolted anchors, where material for making deadmen was easily available. After that day, I queried Kip who told me those were new - ie, retrobolts. He agreed they were highly unnecessary. Part of the point this day was to remove those bolts and fill their holes. So we did. Four bolts removed, filled w Epoxy and sand, largely unnoticeable. Two deadman anchors built (rather easily). Gotta keep the cheaters at bay.
Dead Eye Dick isn't a BIG canyon - only 5 raps or so. But the raps are really cool - amazing flutes, very nice. We rapped, a bit of downclimbing. Some bolt un-screwing. Some dead man building. Then back at the bottom. A late bite to eat, and a tedious hike out. A good day in a canyon. Mistakes made and recovered from. And a new, very reasonable one-car route for Dead Eye Dick!