Marinus Arch Adventure, North Wash, March 2011
Scott Patterson discovered a large and frightening arch in Marinus canyon, scouting it in April 2010 and, due to lack of time and suitable companions, judiciously traversed downcanyon and rapped in lower down, leaving the difficulties of the arch itself to... us! Scott published his find on Summit Post, and it led to some discussion on the The Canyons Group.
Freezefest found me wheezing and feverish, so on Black Hole Day I excercised discretion and, instead of Black Holing, scouted the approach to Marinus Arch that I thought would be faster and easier than the route Scott took. It was not bad, and a lovely day up on the slickrock in the sun.
A bit later, in the middle of March, a bit of the gang (Ram, Jenny, Rick "Doc" Fetters, Tom Wetherell) was assembled and looking for a casual day, kind of a walking rest day, so I proposed Marinus Arch. They were game. We headed past the poop station and spotted a car at the outlet, then drove back to the parking spot for Morocco. We hiked up on top and enjoyed a delightful slickrock wander up along a ridge. Ram (as usual) spied out the best route, and we traversed the side of a dome to attain a sweet overlook of upper Marinus canyon above the arch, that just HAPPENED to have an easy way down through the cliffband to the canyon floor. That's good livin' right there!
I pulled out my little BD Tent and... Ok? Everyone was curious as to why I brought a tent. I thought it would be a great place for a BD Superlight Tent advertisement, so I brought along a tent and, ahem, the poles from a different tent (sigh), and Jenny and Doc rapped down and posed for some pictures.
Then the question was how to rig for the Arch. Scott had traversed the edge a ways and rapped off a tree, but I had other plans. How to rap the Arch, leave no sling (ghost), avoid the man-eating pothole halfway down, and retrieve the rope without pulling a rope across the arch (which would create rope grooves) -- left as an exercise for the reader...
But first, the little rap down to the top of the arch required a little bit of creativity. Without the impressive drop below, one might have slid and jumped, but instead we used a small arch plus Ram's trekking pole to make a ghosting anchor for the 20 foot rap (and thus began the Fiddlestick).
From the top of the Arch, I rapped down the outside while Jenny went down the inside. There was a scary-looking pothole under the Arch, but my rap down the outside cleared the pothole and landed me on a pretty reasonable ledge. Jenny tossed me the bottom of her rope, and I pulled her over to safety. Jenny then rapped down the pool at the bottom, while I kept my half-way station, anchoring the inside strand of the rope so everyone else could rap down the outside. Oh, and taking pictures too, of course.
Finally, I rapped down being anchored on the ground, and with a bit of a guided rappel to avoid the pool. We tugged the rapide forward and pulled the rappel side; then cleaned the ground-anchor rope from the inside of the Arch. Clean, simple, no rope grooves!
There was still some canyon to do, and our relaxed pace had left not so much daylight in the sky, so we hustled on out. In other words, no pictures. OK, the whole thing is a bit of a stunt, but it was fun! Discussion of technique ensued on The Canyons Group. Another fabulous day in the desert with good friends - Hurrah!
Map provided, to avoid any accusations of taunting...