Canyon Tales
Descent of The Squeeze
by Steve Allen

I do know that there is this myth that I would have a big entourage following me and my pards along the rim of the slots so they could haul our sorry asses out if we got into trouble. Never happened. And, many of those early canyons I did by myself.

Segers Hole is a just that, a wide–open bowl cut deep into the Navajo Sandstone. As you make your way down the old road toward Muddy Creek, the canyon quickly narrows into a slot—the Squeeze. I suppose I could have just as easily called it the Seger Slot. Just liked the sound of Squeeze better, and it seems to fit as the canyon gets tighter and tighter.

•  The Descent of The Squeeze  •
Direct to Muddy Creek

I’d walked the rim of this pool–drop canyon on exploration trips and noted that, at least from a distance, it looked like there were few or no natural anchors. I’d also noted that none of the drops was horrifically big. How was I going to get through the canyon without bolts? I’ve never used a bolt in a canyon or carried a bolt kit. I was living in my van at the time, and except for GDD (good dog Diz), I was alone. I had a couple of REI Watersacks—a precursor of today’s Dromedary Sack—in the van. What the heck. Diz and I headed down.

The Squeeze was sublime as per usual. Once we got to the bigger drops the MO was to lower Diz down a wall into a pool, where she would just swim in circles until I got down. I would then fill the Watersacks, tie the end of the rope to them, and dangle them over the uphill edge of the pothole. I’d clip the rope and just before heading down I’d insert a little stick into the Watersack valve, letting the water slowly ooze out. I’d then zoop—very quickly!!—down the rope into the pothole and clamber out, pulling Diz up with me. I’d then just put a little pressure on the rope and would wait until the Watersacks were mostly dry and then they’d suddenly fall over the drop. On down we went.

We were lucky that recent rains had filled the potholes and we had no big problems getting out of them. We used the Watersack method at quite a few drops. It was slow waiting for the sacks to empty, but otherwise it felt both edgy and safe. A gorgeous canyon and a fun day. No epic. No siege.

We’d go on to use the Watersacks in other canyons (Cable, Corral, etc.) until the much safer and beefier Dromedary Bags came out. It wasn’t until years later that I got a chance to use Jenny West’s Water Anchor. Wow, what a difference! So much safer and easier and faster.

Pothole extraction was pretty much like it is now. We’d fill small sacks with sand, tie a chunk of nylon parachute cord to it and give it the heave‐ho. We might end up with five or more. We’d then just braid the cords together and yard up or use a slightly modified Jumar. Now they call them potshots and they are commercially available. We just called them throw bags.

Diz was a remarkable dog, and, in the rock climbing and mountaineering world, was known as the Metal Mutt for her smarts and her toughness. More importantly she grew up in the slots, on peaks, and on walls. Please don’t think your dog could do what Diz did!


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© 2016 Steve Allen
edited by Stefan Folias