An Anchor Survey in The Squeeze Canyon, San Rafael Swell, Utah


The Squeeze is an excellent canyoneering adventure down in Utah's San Rafael Swell. I was down at Hidden Splendor for the SUWA Roundup. The frequent storms the last few weeks suggested the canyons on the south end of the Reef would be in Splasher mode - prime condition for these canyons. Louis and Everett from Saint George were out for the Roundup, and it did not take much to convince them to stay for a Squeeze on Monday. Rick "Doc" Fetters and Alane were down in North Wash for the weekend, were also easily enrolled in a splasher for Monday... That sounds like a fine start to a Trip Report, but THIS blog post is about the mess of anchors found in there, and the crap we fixed and packed out. We removed several fixed handlines / hand-webbings. No bolts were removed on this trip.

The Squeeze is out of character for Swell Canyons, as it is a good canyon with lots of drops and some pothole problems. When Steve Allen first found this canyon circa 1985, it was pristeen. Though I have yet to squeeze the story out of Steve, I understand his cautious first descent of his first big canyon was quite the expedition. And when he was done, there was little to no sign of his passage.

Same anchor cleaned up. Louis on rappel.

Same anchor cleaned up. Louis on rappel.

This is not what we find today. Over the years, the Squeeze has accumulated quite an array of bolts; and tends to still collect fixed handlines, ropes, webbing...  well, a lot of crap. Yes, I am a canyon nerd, an anchor purist, and one of them environmental extremists. On my first trip through the Squeeze (2000) I too placed a number of bolts, all of which were entirely unnecessary, and all of which I have since removed.

Many bolts in the Squeeze are of this nature - entirely unnecessary. They are above short drops that are easy enough to use a meat anchor on, then have the last person downclimb into an aggressive spot - if needed. All the other bolts can (and have) been bypassed using modern ghosting techniques. Could be more difficult when the canyon is fully wet; although many drops are easier with plenty of water so they end by sliding into a pool.

Anyway - here's a gallery of many of the bolts in there, and of some of the crap we pulled out. I missed a few, I know - it was getting cold, late, we were cranky, there was some rain involved... all the usual excuses.