Neon Canyon and the Golden Cathedral, Escalante, UT


And now, for the main event...

After a quick descent of E2, we realize we have enough time to pack up, make the walk down to Fence Canyon, and set up camp for a little more adventuring. After a quick hike and a brief evening scotch-and-storytelling session, we set the alarm clock for dawn.

One *feature* of the Fence Canyon campsite, is that you get to cross the Escalante River first thing in the morning. Here, John and Mike eschew some of the usual garments for the sake of economy.

Crossing the Escalante - what fun! (Neon Canyon)

Enjoying the quiet of early morning. (Neon Canyon)

We pass the “usual” way in to Neon. Most folks drop in here, quickly reach the Golden Cathedral rappel, and dash out of there. We were up for more of an adventure, so we went past this and dropped in somewhat higher. To each their own. Hike your own hike.

A lovely slot, must be some interesting stuff down there - guess we'll find out. (Neon Canyon)

Downclimbing a slot to get into Neon somewhere higher up. (Neon Canyon)

Winston Churchill, in his long life, apparently never ever dressed himself, he always had a valet. Admittedly, WC probably was not trying to get on a wet suit that fit him 20 lbs ago. We sure hoped we were going to need them, ’cause these rubber rompers are a pain in the patootie to get on. Here Ram gets double-teamed – just enough strength, ingenuity and luck to actually get the zippers closed. Or close enough.

Rapping in - Ram on rope, first drop. (Neon Canyon)

And the canyon is... Dry. I am told this bridge is not usually noticeable, being underwater. This could make for an interesting trip - almost no water? At least we can expect to stay warm. (Neon Canyon)

And we worked our way down-canyon. Past some pretty nice walls... (Neon Canyon)

...through some pretty nice narrows... (Neon Canyon)

Enjoying a bit of sun. (Neon Canyon)

Enjoying a bit of sun. (Neon Canyon)

A couple little slots here and there, just to keep it interesting. (Neon Canyon)

Soaring walls with some good color. You know, Escalante type stuff.

There were a few potholes with water in them. This one had a sling tied off a chockstone, to help get safely down. (Neon Canyon)

A bit of a pool, with lumber and a few biologicals, await us. (Neon Canyon)

Mike wading into the muck. Now we're glad we're wearing rubber. (Neon Canyon)

And down canyon we go. There's a bit of a story here, and like many a good story, we were too busy to take pictures. (Neon Canyon)

We avoid a deep pothole just before the Route Normale comes in by some slabby traversing and a stimulating jump across to a sloping slab. We have been alone all day, but as we near the Golden Cathedral, we here a big splash and some interesting sounds. I think, oh darn, here's some gonzo college kids making lots of noise, bumming our peaceful vibes.

We scramble down a little V slot to that rim above a pothole, with the holes at knee level with wood in them. Usually, this spot is a short drop into a sandy pothole, then just walk out and you're 100 yards from the big finish. This time, we find a big pothole filled waist deep with water, and with quite an overhanging lip at the exit, and two very cold Bozeman-ites who had just exited. Here we are in our wetsuits, but they're just wearing some capilene and quaking like Aspens in a windstorm.

Examination of the exit geometry brings a lump to my throat. These two had been working on the exit for a while. The lip was within reach, but sloped upward at about a 45 degree angle and was not only devoid of holds but also covered with fine sand. The undercut lip permitted no assist from the feet. They had tossed a few small logs into the water, and the guy had braced them, climbed up on them, then pulled some desperate 5.12 moves to get his ass out of there. BRAVO, I say. I think Survival might have had something to do with it.

Anyway, we took advantage of them to get our tubby derrieres out of there, and all proceed to the cathedral together. Thank you, Bozemanites. We probably could have made it out with a two-person shoulder stand, but pulling the moves is very impressive.

And I know you wanted YET ANOTHER picture of someone other than YOU rapping the Golden Cathedral. Here you go. That’s what you got DSL for wasn’t it?
So we headed back to camp and dried stuff out.