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Thread: Sandthrax Domination (the first non fixed ascent of the entire canyon)

  1. #1
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    Sandthrax Domination (the first non fixed ascent of the entire canyon)

    It’s about 3:30 on Friday afternoon, and as is often the case I’m very anxious. I’m hanging out getting medicated in the parking lot of my work place, I can’t stop thinking about what grand excitement I am to experience this time as I wait for my ride to arrive.

    Moments later Ben arrives and we load his car up, and hit the road. We have a fair drive ahead of us as we’re headed out to the north wash again, to repeat a canyon that many people consider a test piece of sorts.

    The goal was a little different this time however… We wanted to do it in a way that it had never been done before. You see, Ben is the only person to ever fully ascend Sandthrax. He did it solo and rigged a line or two up on the top as a safeguard incase he couldn’t climb the final moves out. He used a prussic as a solo belay as he free climbed out the crux, but stated that he wasn’t sure that he would bother with it the second time around.

    So that was to be the goal, to ascend all of Sandthrax with out the aid of any fixed protection. We would not fix the crux climb out as the landing was flat and sandy (albeit around 20’ below the crux). We also would bring no rope or cams, just 2 pot shots, a slim harness, and over 40’ of webbing as a limited safeguard. The idea being if we couldn’t climb the crux we could lob the shots up behind the boulders that make up the first rap going down canyon.

    So we arrive late as usual to the Thrax camp site, I think we noticed 2 other groups as we came in but I don’t recall if anyone was awake. It sure wasn’t the social circle around the fire that I witnessed at freeze fest. I don’t remember if we stayed up long or if we had a fire, I think we had a short fire then passed out.

    The fact that I was all medicated and drinking may have played part in the lack of memories during that time period. However I think a big part of it may have been the fact that “I was like a school girl in a biker bar”, as Mr. burrows once explained how he felt when he was around the beast.

    It was almost the exact same feeling I had when Eric, Steve and I had first decided to pony up and go down this thing. Anxiety flooded my system as I pondered what I was getting myself into.

    Soon enough the morning rolls around and the bright yellow tent is lit up like the sun. To my surprise however, when I open it up and look outside it’s not nearly as bright. Either way I get up and start moving about with Ben not long behind me. We have some tea and hydrate pretty good then suit up and head out.

    I have a pack but no food as the gas station was closed as we rolled through Hanksville. I decide to bring some water along with the webbing, pot shots, harness, shot of tequila, my meds and camera.

    Oh yea and I had some new approach shoes to try out! We’re at the slot in no time flat and I’m quite happy with how well my new shoes are gripping. I have to stop and dump some sand before I start heading up the first 5.7 chimney for maybe 25-35’. I got a picture of Ben as he went up in front of me, and then start climbing. I used a different method to get up then I had used back at FF. This time instead of back and feet chimneying, I galloped because I had my pack on my back and didn’t feel like rigging up my harness and dangle strap.

    This method worked surprisingly well for the majority of this climb besides some slight insecurity in a few spots. I ended up using the “lame” feet and back technique near the top. Next thing I know were motoring along at a pretty good pace (after I stopped and put on my harness and daisey on a chock stone), trying our best to stay as high as possible.

    We also try to gallop as much as possible and do what ever possible to avoid the extremely slow “lame” feet and back technique, or the even worse feet and knees and back tech.













    In no time flat we’re at the subway, and we have to walk through some narrows filled with quick sand! I kind of thought we should have gone up before the narrow section to keep our feet dry.

    Turns out we end up wiggling our way up through a narrow constriction to a wider opening (with shoes covered in quick sand).

    [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=3]I was working pretty hard because of the width of the constriction, and the fact my pack was hanging from my harness which was getting snagged on the wall in front of me. I get up to Ben eventually and realize we’re not getting up above this opening. So we head back just a little bit at the height we’re at and then I start chimneying strait up(Ben let’s me go first while snapping some pics with his camera). I find I’m working really hard, once I’m about
    Last edited by forum8fox; 05-12-2010 at 11:13 AM. Reason: to add some video

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  3. #2
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    On we go, still in really good style. We’re making good time it would seem and feeling really on point as we sprint through 100+’ stretches at a time between breathers. There didn’t seem to really be too many silos in the mid section. However there were some wide deep trenches that were a little exciting.

    [SIZE=3][FONT=Times New Roman]Mainly because I decided going down was a last resort, considering how much work it can be to climb back out. I remember one trench in particular that Ben mentioned remembering from his trip up. He said he didn’t remember it (on his solo ascent) but decided to stay high, got about
    Last edited by forum8fox; 05-12-2010 at 11:15 AM. Reason: To add video!

  4. #3
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    Then I’m greeted to some sandy walking for a minute as I approach the crux. Thankfully Ben let me go for the on sight free solo of the crux. I walk up and realize it’s going to be pretty tricky.

    The sand on the floor is slightly damp which doesn’t help. I have to start off working up this very shallow, flared, finger crack. Down low you can kinda work crappy hands but it really thins out the higher you get.

    Let the fun begin...








    What the F do I do here?




    [SIZE=3][FONT=Times New Roman]I get up to about where it peter’s out, maybe

  5. #4
    I can't see the pics, probably something to do with viewing at work, but I'm excited to check 'em out when I get home! Very nice write up though. You really captured the tension of the climb. Congrats!

  6. #5

    As to how much tension we were under, that's kind of debatable ;)


  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Don View Post
    I can't see the pics, probably something to do with viewing at work
    Yeah, they're on photobucket.

    Awesome report. This is insane:

    Name:  P5080130..jpg
Views: 1574
Size:  179.0 KB

  8. #7

  9. #8
    You must practice yoga???? My heart was racing while reading and looking at your pictures. The suspense was insane! Thanks for the great report.

  10. #9
    Trail Master
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    I'm glad you guys have enjoyed the TR. Some of it really was pretty intense, but we did very well at keeping a cool head.

    No yoga here, just a strong will to succeede, and a pretty good bag of tricks.

    That was a blast for sure, Thanks again Ben. Oh, BTW all photo's and video belong to Ben.

    Hey Ben, listening to the audio really loud on a couple of those videos makes me laugh. Who the hell were those foreiners who were speaking so strangely??? Kinda reminds me of the SNL skit han's and franz "we are here to PUMP You UP!" Good times my friend... You really should try to go back out with me here in a week and a half or so....

    Oh Btw you all might get a kick out of this...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLrquBohBRw

    Oh and this (the TR that preludes the aforementioned video)
    http://www.mountainproject.com/v/tri...sert/106740961

  11. #10
    Nice pics man. That's bad ass.

  12. #11
    hard core!! nicely done. mega style points.

  13. #12
    Very cool. I especially like all the pics of the final upclimb. Out of curiosity, how would you rate the final upclimb (either bouldering grade or YDS)?

    Nat

  14. #13
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    Well Nat, it's hard to say for sure what the grade is...
    As you could tell it's only about 1/2 like a rock climb, and I don't know for sure that the way I did it would be easiest. I'd have to guess around 5.10 though, Ben thinks about 10+ from what I know (from my understanding he faces up canyon).

    So.... sounds like you might be gunning for the 3rd ascent???

    I'm knida surprised that shane has nothing to say about all of this...

  15. #14
    Content Provider Emeritus ratagonia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by forum8fox View Post
    I'm kinda surprised that Shane has nothing to say about all of this...

  16. #15

    Eh, what?

    Final up-climb is 5.10 "sand". Calling it +/- would be way to precise, but I don't believe it would be called 5.11 anywhere. It's similar in difficulty to the bolted sections on ancient art. If you can do those I don't think you'll have any trouble unless you can't stem.

  17. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by nat View Post
    Very cool. I especially like all the pics of the final upclimb. Out of curiosity, how would you rate the final upclimb (either bouldering grade or YDS)?
    Get down there and git us a read on this rig, Nat!

    I dunno. Looks hard to me, but, not in a "like hard 5.10OW" hard. Just looks...hard. Physically hard.

    Folks soloing up 5.10 in basically sticky tennis shoes? Must be bad ass!

    Whew.

  18. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by forum8fox View Post
    I'm knida surprised that shane has nothing to say about all of this...
    Sorry about that.... I'm stealing WiFi from the strip club next door and sometimes it doesn't work as smoothly as you would think....

  19. #18
    R.I.P. Ben. You went way too soon.
    "I approach nature with a certain surly ill-will, daring Her to make trouble"

    -Edward Abbey

  20. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by EvergreenDean View Post
    R.I.P. Ben. You went way too soon.
    X2 even though I have never met Ben. Sad....
    Life is Good

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