Epic Blarney Canyon - North Wash

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The name "Epic Blarney" has been thrown around for awhile, origin mysterious. Some said it was because of a canyoneering expedition where an Epic brew (good choice) was to be drunk at each rappel... (hmmm, suspicious). A more likely origin was perhaps a descent during one extremely snowy FreezeFest, when it really was EPIC, just to get down Blarney. Blarney is close to my heart. Alicia Scotter and I were the first of our group to explore the canyon, way back in the winter of 2001-2002. We hiked into Blarney from the bottom and explored up each fork as far as seemed wise, then came back out, climbed up the side and circled around and came down one fork or the other. I was unimpressed. So I was surprised many years later when Mike Schasch told me "it is great!". Huh? We went there with a ZAC group and descended the western fork and yuppers! It is a darn fine canyon.

More recently, it was suggested going UP the East and DOWN the West would make a fine adventure. So we did, and it was great. This, I decided, would be a great route to apply the label "Epic Blarney" to.  Try it, see what you think! I'm hoping it sticks.

On this day, many people were tired after our Epic Pandora (meaning, doing Pandora, and it was EPIC!) including me, and many had to drive home quite a ways, so how 'bout a very social Epic Blarney to finish out the trip, and get people headed home at a reasonable hour.  We rallied for an early start (not) and made the long drive to the start of Blarney (3 minutes) to start about 10 am. Hiking up canyon required a few efforts, which got the blood moving again. We soon came to a likely-looking right fork. I started the gang up in that direction, and then Mike Cressie, who was actually prepared (with a map, on his phone at least) pointed out that this was not the fork we were looking for. Back to the main wash, another 10 minutes of scrambling, and NOW there was a REAL fork to the right. We took it.

Early intersection

Early intersection

There are a few climbing obstacles to get up. The hardest usually has a handline on it (as it did this day), though without I was pretty sure we had the talent to safely get ourselves past the climbup. Little Mike provided a welcome hand up to provide security on the last move. Another short up climb, some more slot and soon we were back up to the surface. Lunchtime!  Sunshine!

Mike Cressman and Tracy Kwan on the next upclimb

Mike Cressman and Tracy Kwan on the next upclimb

Leah Dietzen and Babbie Lester relaxing atop East Blarney

Leah Dietzen and Babbie Lester relaxing atop East Blarney

We snuck around the nose on the left to get the crease that leads to the upper plateau. A few minutes walk found us at the head of the West Fork. Some of us downclimbed the scary-looking corner at our feet; others circled around and rapped in at the usual spot.

Spooky downclimb into a corner

Spooky downclimb into a corner

Soon we were bunched around the "second rappel". It looks scary, because it sure is dark down there, and looks deep. Not. We slipped under the entry rock and downclimbed to the next drop.

Leah heads down the rabbit hole

Leah heads down the rabbit hole

Which again looks scary, but works out well; a fun slide-down. Some used a bit of rope. Further downcanyon, only small obstacles, including one with a mysterious knotted sling hanging, which we removed.

Big downclimb

Big downclimb

A short downclimb with a not very useful handline

A short downclimb with a not very useful handline

Soon we were back at the canyon junction, enjoying snacks and the sunshine. Loving the North Wash; not really wanting to leave. We made Rock Angels.

Rock Angels

Rock Angels

Then we spelled my name, to honor my breath-day. Sauntered out to the highway, and headed home. (Sigh). Until next time North Wash, with the realization that you are unlikely to be so sweet and benign on our next meeting...