Canyon Tales
No Kidding
by Jason Pease

I Hate Mud, AKA, Oh My God What An INCREDIBLE Experience!

So yesterday I went back out to Butler canyon to check out that canyon to the east/northeast of Kelsey’s ‘Fault Line Exit Canyon.’ In Kelsey’s slot guide, it shows the drainage waterway. When exiting last Saturday after Monkey Business, I scoped this from the rim and scrambled down into the lower slot, went up and down canyon just a bit, and got out. The upper canyon is shallow, twisty, tight—much like Monkey Business was. Once the canyon makes that 90, it gets really nice and starts to deepen.

R1 was from a slung rock where I had to clean out a crack on its backside so I’d have a good horn for my sling. R1 is 90′ through 1 pothole and into another. Continuing along next obstacle was a downclimb into keeper 1, ≈10′ deep. Did a pack toss to assist exiting. This is where the ‘I Hate mud’ comes in. The walls of the pothole were coated 1′′ thick with slimy, no–way–to–get–any–traction mud. Once I cleaned that crap off, there was friction enough to climb out without need for the pack–assist. 2 people should never have a problem here. This was also to be the most difficult pothole of the canyon.

Next issue was R2. This had a handy dandy hole just perfect for a hook. R2 was 50′. Once off rope my hook wouldn’t flip out, so there it be to this very day. Next came R3, the m–f’er. Where it poured over into the chamber at top, there was a small natural arch—or window or whatever you want to call it—on the wall to the right, but within the chamber. So I had to do a little stretch from my perch atop a 50′ drop to get it slung. *Whew,* it was thick at the base where it joined the wall, ≈ 3–4′′, and ≈ 18′′ wide. Once slung, I single–lined down, with pullcord attached to retrieve. R3 was 230′ through a few chambers and keeper 2, ≈ 8′ deep. Again, mud. Again, not too difficult to exit once friction was gained, and again a pack toss to assist but not necessary once I got a grip.

Once at the final platform I saw my 200′ rope didn’t quite make it. So I clove–hitched a biner on it and finished off with my 100′ rope. Along the way down, through the twists and turns and climb out of keeper 2, my pull cord got tangled all to hell and didn’t make it to my final platform, nor was I able to budge my rope from just above the final platform with a test pull. Too many twists, although gentle, they provided enough contact points for friction to deny me. Probably the pull cord and rope crossing a time or 2 or 3 did not help. So there they both be to this day and the biner.

This R3 was spectacular! The numerous drops thru chambers was really cool. I was so tired and pissed at the keepers by this time and was running pretty late that my focus was slipping from taking my time to check my ropes out thoroughly and doing whatever was needed to keep ’em straight to just going.

Although I could see the end from half way through R3, this was stupid. Keeper 3 was next—only 6′ deep. Same deal as the last 2 pains–in–the–ass. Clean and climb. Then my exit R4, ≈35′ from slinging the rope itself around a good horn on a rock at the lip.

Once at the bottom, my focus shifted from the business of descent to the business of elation at my success. So I hooped and hollered and did the ‘canyon, I kicked your ass!’ dance. My elation still runs high.

Also, I realize how foolish this was. Although I reconned from above and a short ways in, I did not fully know what I would encounter. This experience pushed my skills right to the border. I went prepared for potholes and unknown raps/anchors as well as I was able, but, honestly, I am fortunate SAR didn’t have to come extract my stupid butt. So now that I have that out of my system, no more solos!

I saw no sign of prior descent, doesn’t mean it hasn’t been, though. In keeping loosely with the area, MY moniker for this excellent canyon is ‘No Kidding.’

If anyone else goes in the future I would appreciate comments on my description and on my slings. And any chastisements of my foolishness/stupidity I will add to the bank that is accumulating, deservedly so.

... but damn it was exhilarating!!


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© 2006 Jason Pease