Tales of an Incompetent Adventurer
Monkey Business
by Ram

— October, 2003 —
•  The Butler, in the Pothole, with a Sandbag  •

The third day of the post–Yo world had us wanting to finish off the West Butler trifecta. We saved the West Fork of the West Fork of Butler (Original) Canyon for our last day in the neighborhood, because the map indicated it was the shortest of the 3 canyons and we had some travel planned for the eve.

A year and a half ago, when Tom, myself and assorted other characters were probing the area, the canyon was dubbed ‘Monkey Business.’ Not really fair to name a canyon you haven’t done, so here we are.

After our small numbers the day before in East Fork of the West Fork—AKA Foolin’ Around—several partners jumped back in after having taken personal days. Steve Cole, with wry wit, a stocked cooler of cream soda and several boxes of Marlboro reds was back for more. We kid him about the cigs, but he is a very considerate smoker, always checking the wind gauges and often doing mid–5th class climbing to arrive at just the right inoffensive perch. Barb Pollyea was again ready to passionately peek around that next corner to see what she might see. Christina was off to Moab to join Megan Polk who had left the day before. The pull of the vertical world won out with them. We would meet them that evening with a sunrise climb of Elephant Butte on tap for ‘get away day.’ Tom, Moe and I rounded out the quintet.

Kelsey describes the canyon as having a corkscrew rap and a series of potholes, followed by an area of ‘meaningless’ potholes that are easily skirted before the last rap back into the ‘land of the living.’ Just what exactly is a meaningless pothole, anyway? We now sought the holy grail of the meaningless, as if the activity we were partaking in had great significance to start with.

The canyon starts mildly. Then a down climb here and a stem there, all in nice lighting with pretty lines. I come up to the lead group and there is Steve, having stemmed out some 40 feet and Barb looking down a drop I can’t see.

She mutters to herself, out loud, “Do I really want to go down there?”

She has my attention now. I peek over the shoulder and suddenly I understand the hesitation. Very narrow, drops 40 feet, kinda dark, mud or water down below. How narrow? That first squeeze of the day gets the heart going. Is it too narrow? Hate to have to climb back out if it is, but if something real special is around, it is down there.

Was it Moe or Barb that cast caution to the wind and ‘took the elevator down ’ first? Don’t recall, but soon all but Steve, who kept the high road, were down in the dark hole. Narrow, but doable and very nice. A series of other moderate problems led to the corkscrew rap. Steve gets all muddy moving rocks, to build the anchor. Moe and Barb get dirty also. Tom sets the anchor and I am the guinea pig off first. Half way down is a pothole, half filled and steep. The type of place you avoid and just being near gets you going. Gentle on the rap angle and around the corner, Phew! Down, down, past a second pothole (awkward) and down to the bottom. Beauty of a rap, but a scary rope pull. After some jostling, the rope comes home to mommy and daddy. Soon we are in pothole alley. What fun! Stuff looks around half full.

We play ‘Catch a canyoneer’ at the first, rap off a big guy, last guy shallow jump down the second. Sand bag and pack toss out the third and everyone is wet and smeared with mud. The sun is shining right down the center of the slot and we are mostly warm. A lot of laughter is the enduring memory. Soon, we are able to climb out to the right onto the slickrock.

Wait, wait, wait! The watercourse continues ahead.

We have arrived at the days primary goal, ‘The Meaningless Potholes’ Steve and Barb have a touch of a chill or a touch of good sense, I’m not sure which, but Tom, Moe and I get a rap off Steve and hand the cameras to Barb and off we go to problem solve hole after meaningless hole, while they wait patiently (I think, anyway) and set up the last rap. The final rap is a pretty little thing off a nice pouroff, down vertically with an undercut at the end and lands on the edge of a pool in a spring fed garden. Strip, dress, eat and off to the hill climb out for the 3rd straight day. The 3 West Butlers are now in the books and in our memories. The company and the canyons were lovely. Steve is off to the Escalante. After dinner at Ray’s, Tom is headed home. Barb, Moe and I are off to Arches to squeeze one more adventure out of this wonderful trip.

• Ethics •
The Author, in a Pothole, with a Geo Pick

To whom it may concern

In the trip report, in the last post, I originally commented on and then removed a line about something we found in the West Fork of West Butler—AKA Monkey Business. It felt like such a happy piece of writing, that I didn't have the heart to bring the mood down.

On the pothole that we used sandbags and pack–throws to easily escape from, we saw three holes chipped out of the escape side of the pothole. Looked like a geology pick was used. These were very ugly scars and completely unnecessary. I am an optimist, so I will believe that the person or persons responsible for these scars have since, with feedback from the community in general, desisted from using such unfair, unethical, and destructive methods, that they—like the rest of us—are evolving to higher standards and sharing their new found beliefs, with their partners and those they influence with their writings. If anyone knows the party responsible for these scars or other scars on our fair plateau, perhaps they could pass my plea along, with their own, in a positive constructive fashion.


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