Even More Sublime.

For seasoned canyoneers, the famous "Subway" is an easy and scenic canyoneering venture. Hidden upstream from the usual start is a wonderful, tight, dark, cold and wet narrows that makes a more adventurous start, and a more sublime experience, than the classic Subway. Das Boot offers easy access to the kind of tight, dark, wet stuff found in more "extreme" canyons like Heaps or Imlay. Due to its unrelenting nature, this is a journey only for prepared and experienced canyoneers.

What's it like? A long, underground narrows with only the occasional view of the sun. Wading and swimming for 2 hours straight. Numerous logjams to climb over or rappel from. A few short drops requiring skilled downclimbing or short rappels. A fun, underground-ish adventure.

 
 

Canyon Profile


Logistics

RATINGS
3BIII ★★★★☆

TIME REQUIRED
7-12 Hours (including the Subway)

PERMIT
YES - Separate permits are required for The Subway and Das Boot. Quota and group size limits are considerably smaller for Das Boot, and the Das Boot permit, too, can be hard to get. It is listed on the reservation page as "Upper Left Fork (Das Boot)". Reservations for each are made separately, however, the two action permits are combined into a SuperPermit that only requires one permit fee.

SEASON
Summer or fall

LONGEST RAPPEL
Most obstacles can be downclimbed, but a short (100 foot) piece of rope is helpful.

ACCESS
If continuing through The Subway, requires car spot, shuttle service or short hitchhike.

Equipment

ESSENTIALS
Helmets, rappelling gear, webbing and rapid links.

COLD WATER PROTECTION
Full wetsuits or drysuits. Drybags for your gear.

DRINKING WATER
None. Bring Plenty.

FLASH FLOOD RISK
Very High: upstream, White Canyon drains a very large area. Avoid this hike when storms are in the area.

SKILLS REQUIRED
Very long and cold swims. The exit requires a little bit of route finding, but is otherwise easy. Serious flash flood danger.

 
 
Das Boot 1.jpg

Getting there

Das Boot is a variation on the Subway from the Top, and most parties will descend Das Boot and continue down The Subway. The Park manages the two areas separately, so different rules apply in the two sections. Some Das Boot parties will find a permit for The Subway unavailable, in which case you can hike out The Subway approach, but it is steeply uphill and very hot in summer.

Hiking From the Wildcat Canyon trailhead, follow the trail 30 minutes past the first trail junction (The Hop Valley Connector), then right (South) at the second trail toward Northgate Peaks. Follow this a short way (about 2 minutes) before leaving the trail to the left and dropping into a slickrock bowl. There is a prominent, unmaintained, but well-cairned trail along this entire "backcountry" route. IF you are not following a prominent trail, you are getting lost. Hike down slickrock into a beautiful forest. Follow the trail through the forest and out onto a ridge that then heads left, dropping into Russell Gulch.

This is where the Das Boot variation heads off from the usual Subway path. Pay attention! Careful navigation is essential. Looking down from the ridge, note a slickrock pass above the usual slickrock pass. Descend and cross Russell Gulch, then climb to the higher slickrock pass. From there, climb straight up and slightly right to gain a bench. Cross the corner of the bench and descend shallow gullies heading southeast toward a complex of gullies and ridges toward the Left Fork visible ahead. Make sure there is a substantial ridge on your right. Work your way down trying to avoid difficulties (3rd class) to a canyon bottom. Follow the canyon past some brushy sections, some sandy sections and some slickrock sections to where it drops into the Left Fork. Avoid rappelling in by traversing upcanyon on an easy, narrow ledge about 40 feet above the canyon floor, to where a steep brushy slope descends 40 feet to the bottom of the canyon.

 

The Business

The narrows begin immediately so wade on in. Wade, swim, climb, rappel, etc. for about 2 hours. It is beautiful and challenging down there, and even on a brutally hot day, pleasantly cold in Das Boot. The end of Das Boot is a 30 foot waterfall, with a large ledge on the right. Rappel the waterfall directly off a logjam or chockstone. There used to be a tree off to the right, but it expired. Downcanyon 100 yards (100 m) is the intersection with the regular Subway route. (If short on time, one can ascend the regular Subway start, rather than completing the Subway). Enjoy The Subway or the exit. 

If continuing through The Subway, use the canyon description for The Subway.

 
Das Boot 6.jpg

The Exit

If exiting before The Subway, walk up Russell Gulch 100 yards (100m) and find The Subway approach trail as it descends on the right side. Follow the trail (well-cairned) back to the Northgate Peaks trail and the Wildcat Canyon trailhead. It is steeply uphill, and longer than you might expect.

If continuing through The Subway, use the canyon description for The Subway.


 
 

Trip Reports

Author's Experience

I first visited Das Boot in 2001 using beta supplied by Steve Ramras, and has visited it every year or every-other year since then. 

Stories

  • Das Boot, November 1998 - This Dave Pitney adventure is one of the best Canyon Tales -- a must-read for every canyoneer preparing to descend Das Boot.


Alternative Descriptions

Maps

Click on a map to enlarge

 

Photo Gallery

das boot