(Non)-Rescue in Hogwarts Canyon, North Wash, UT
I was hanging in North Wash with BJ Cassell, Kim Molyneux and Mike Schasch, all guides at Zion Adventure Company. Wednesday, we did East and Middle Leprechaun, then hunkered down for the storm expected overnight, which was an amazing storm. Thursday 10-10, we did Morocco first, and it was Frakkin' Freezin'! After lunch, we did West Blarney, which I had only done once before, as the first descent, and which is actually quite a good little canyon! A nice relaxing day. Next day we planned on doing Hogwarts, then heading home. We were kicking back after dinner, chatting about guiding clients in North Wash, when a big white SUV pulled up -
"You Tom?" called out a voice.
"Who wants to know?"... ... I will spare you a fabricated conversation. The guy in the white SUV said, there's two guys stuck on a cliff down near Hog Springs, and he was driving up to Hanksville to get a SAR going. Hmmm, we said, we'll see what we can do in the meantime.
We threw our gear in the car, borrowed a 200' rope from the next camp over, and rallied down to Hog Springs. A Father-Son group had gone off to do Hogwarts, and were smart enough to leave a second grown son down in the parking lot. They had lost their rope, and were between raps 2 and 3. Thankfully, they had line of sight to the highway, so we could see their light; and the night was still, so we could shout, slowly, back and forth. It was established they were fine, a little cold, but had no way of getting down.
Well, I guess we would do Hogwarts a little early. We tossed new batteries in the headlamps, grabbed some bars from the other people hanging out, took some extra coats for the stuckees, and hit the trail. 9:30 pm. The approach is a little tricky, but I had been up there a couple times, and we saw the stuckee's fresh foot prints to help us out. Up we went. The night was quite pleasant - still and not-too-cold especially for climbing vigorously uphill. We crested the ridge where it was briefly windy, and dropped over the other side, back into the still air.
Even when full, it is possible to avoid pretty much all the water in Hogwarts. Deepest mandatory wade was just over knee deep. This is a great feature. We completed the first two rappels and BJ made contact with the stuckees and got some coats on them and some hot tea and food in them.
Ya know that place in Hogwarts where a somewhat tricky high-stem crosses the top of a deep pothole? Dad went across first and slipped, falling into the pothole and getting very wet. The pothole CAN be a keeper, but on this day it was completely full. (They were wearing wetsuits). The Son then tossed the coiled rope over to Dad, who fumbled it somewhat and dropped it - into the pothole. They used their hiking poles to probe, which is when they realized that the rope was at the bottom, and they did not know how deep that was, but it was deeper than 5 feet. I think they were smart to NOT dive for it and get really cold.
They were a bit chilled, but in good shape, so we all rapped down to the bottom, finishing a few minutes before midnight, just as a Sheriff's Deputy pulled up, pleased that his job consisted of taking a report, rather than rallying a SAR.
I feel fortunate that the few SAR's I have participated in have not involved injuries. I hope to maintain this streak.
(All pictures are from other trips through Hogwarts. No pics taken during this adventure, at least, not by us!)