Tales of an Incompetent Adventurer
Echo Ropeless
by Ram

On Sunday (12th), the day before starting Heaps, my son Aaron and I took a trip up to Upper Emerald Pools in the early AM. The purpose was to stash gear for the big wall finish on Heaps, a few days in our future.

We brought a 300+foot 8mm rope, so no one would have to pass a knot, a 150–foot 6mm pull cord to have in reserve, for what can be a difficult rope retrieval (Stevee found this cord 13 months after Aaron left it in a remote Powell canyon—thanx), and two radios for communication, just in case it was windy on the wall.

While I was pointing out the two visible rap stations on the wall, a young and vigorous looking fellow stood nearby and was listening. He asked some questions and we had a nice chat. Aaron and I planned to do a run through of Echo Canyon in the PM to cool off, before meeting the Heaps partners and packing up.

I do love to share the joys of adventure with folks, so I invited the fellow along. Mitch, age 24, a Dept. of Wildlife employee from Minnesota and more recently St. George, was interested in trying out canyoneering. I watched him measure the plusses and minus of going with near strangers. I thought he would err on the side of caution. But then I saw the smile and shoulder shrug, and he said, “Sure, I’ll give it a go!”

We had figured out that he was near enough my size and I had extras of everything. So we proceeded to the Visitor Center ... where we circled and circled and circled. Not a parking place anywhere. Yuck! Finally, I led our two vehicle caravan into the only open RV parking spot. I apologize (sort of) to anyone with those monsters, inconvenienced. We felt the pressure of time as the early afternoon slipped away. After a frenzied pack job, we pulled over to the shade by the dumpster so I could go get permit. We parked at the Museum, me legally, Mitch squeezing one place beyond, into the bus tour parking. What a zoo!

On to the shuttle bus, we dashed. Just before pulling into Weeping Rock ... I don’t know why I thought of it then ... it just came pouring in ... BAM! “I DIDN’T PACK A ROPE!!” I blurted it out as soon as it came to mind. All the color went out of the face of our recruit. He suggested we bus back and get one. Would be OK if we had the time. We didn’t. Ooops!

I reviewed the canyon in my mind and inventoried what we had—four drops to 15 feet or so. We had about 12 feet of one–inch tubular webbing and 8 feet of 5mm cord. Ummmm. We decided to give it a go. After all, it had rained in the area just yesterday. We had been in downpours up near Lava and saw Gifford and several east side drainages flowing, some pretty hard. We could do some jumps on the two biggest drops after all. Mitch was still skeptical and had big doubts about these folks he had fallen in with, but we did our best to assure him. Maybe it worked a little ... probably not.

Turned out that the Echo system had missed the rain. That was a mean trick as it rained all around it and the system does have something of a sizable drainage. No jumps on the first rap then. We biner–blocked the webbing and it worked fine. Second rap, we came off the Rap 2 feet from the bottom—no problemo. Number 3 we downclimb, through the pothole, and into the keeper pothole. Water was low but a nice chunk of wood, with a jug hold on it, made that easy. I arrive at the last rap to find my son over the top, climbing down, launching into the lower pool, and we are past the difficulties. We would meet folks from Mr. Black’s ‘Hoods in the Woods’ program (I think that is what it is), Greg and Sonya. They had been ahead of us in the canyon.

That eve, we met our Heaps partners, rented the drysuits, and packed up, in the park with the sounds of family picnics, volleyball, and tennis around us. The Echo thing felt good. Like we had snuck one in.

To forget your rope ... another Ram moment brought to you by the original.


Ram

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