Canyon Tales
Chamber of the Basilisk
by Scott Patterson

— May 14, 2011 —

On May 14, my son Kessler and daughter Shaylee (this was to be their birthday trip as Shaylee turned 7 and May 4 and Kessler was to turn 9 on May 17), my wife Kimberly, coworker Justin, and I were going to go do Crescent Creek slot after exploring Little Egypt. The weather forecast said hot and dry but the skies were dark and cloudy and it looked like it could rain. We decided not to do a slot canyon and headed for Goblin Valley to do some exploring.

We explored around a bit, climbed a high point, and explored around the mini–slot above the chamber. We didn’t bother taking ropes (I’d never taken them to Goblin Valley before) and we got to a drop which we weren’t sure if we could climb back up. So I was thinking maybe we should come back with ropes and see what’s down there sometime. We didn’t expect too much, but it might be a cool place to kill some time.

— October 16, 2011 —

On October 16 and during the Bogley gathering, Scott (a different one), Brad, Kessler and I checked out a ‘new route’ at White Roost Canyon (funny story). After seeing that we didn’t have enough time to reverse the ‘new route’ and complete the standard route, I mentioned that there was this mini–slot in Goblin Valley (which was more or less on the way home) that I thought would only take a few hours. Brad and Scott were going to drive home instead, but last minute they decided to check it out with us.

This time we took a little wrong turn and ended up too far south, but we climbed a butte for some nice views and headed for the little slot. We followed the mini–slot downcanyon and it just disappeared into a hole in the ground! We didn’t expect anything like this. It didn’t drop into a crack or a narrow slot, but just a hole. It was kind of intimidating just to look into a deep and dark black hole in the ground since we couldn’t see what was down there, or if you could get out of it.

I tied a kid’s pack onto the rope and tossed it down to see if it would hit bottom. It did and, after measuring the excess rope, we figured that the ‘hole’ was about 90 feet deep. Brad, the other Scott, and I still wanted to see what was in the hole. So we all decided that we would descend it after we helped Kim and the kids back to the head of the canyon so they could safely return back to the car the normal way.

We would all wait at the top of the hole though until someone rappelled down with ascenders to make sure that the route continued. We weren’t sure if the route was doable. Brad volunteered for the job and nervously rappelled into the hole.

On the way down he yelled, “I see light.”

But he wasn’t sure if he could climb out of the Chamber to continue the route. When he got to the bottom of the Chamber he walked to the other side and made sure he could climb out the other side. He then yelled up that he could climb out and urged us to come down.

Before we would drop into the hole though, Scott and I got ready to escort Kim and the kids back out of the slot canyon to Goblin Valley proper when seven–year–old Shaylee said,

“I want to go down down the hole.”

It was a longer drop than they had ever gone down at the time, but we decided to let them. Shaylee had a huge smile (caught on camera) while descending into the hole.

We all rappelled into the hole and found that it opens up into this huge spectacular underground chamber. There were some huge holes in the ceiling so you don’t need a headlamp. After admiring the chamber we exited and headed back. It was an awesome route and took us four hours (including all the exploratory time, tossing the pack down, measuring, etc.).

We discussed names but the kids wanted ‘Chamber of the Basilisk’ after the giant snake in Harry Potter and for the huge ‘snake hole’ you rappel into to reach the chamber from the top.

— November 13, 2011 —

On November 13 during the North Wash gathering, several Bogley members were looking for a short canyon to do on the way home. We volunteered to show the canyon and the kids were really eager to show off the place (since they felt like they pioneered the route). There was a pretty big group of us and we drove to the trailhead. With the kids usually leading the way and since we knew exactly how to get there now, we went straight to the entrance and down in. It was all done very efficiently and we all completed the route in about two hours car–to–car.

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A moral to the story might be that, no matter how well you think you know a place, there can still be features that you have missed and still room to explore. I’ve been going to Goblin Valley with my parents and siblings ever since I was a small child. My wife and I have been going since we knew each other and we’ve been taking the kids since they have been very tiny as well. The chamber was sitting right there under our noses for all these years before we got to see it. I thought there wasn’t much more to see in Goblin Valley that I haven’t already seen, but (as has been the case with some other areas as well) I was wrong. No matter how well you think you know a place, there is always room to explore, including in places you’ve walked right by for years.

It’s amazing how quickly an obscure place can turn popular. Chamber of the Basilisk is already a very popular destination, despite the fact that nothing was ever published on it until very recently. After we took them through, some people started calling the place Goblins Lair, but I prefer the name Chamber of the Basilisk. You may find the name Goblins Lair on some websites.

Scott Patterson

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© 2011 Scott Patterson