Results 1 to 16 of 16

Thread: Mystery Canyon

  1. #1

    Mystery Canyon

    Mystery seemed like a fantastic way to start off a trip to Zion this year, especially with beautiful clear blue skies. Our party consisted of the same five of us who did it last year, me, Sylvia, Sara, Joyce and Zoe, plus a canyon newbie, Andrea, who has done plenty of climbing but this was to be her first canyon.

    Our rental minivan got to the east mesa trailhead surprisingly easily; I didn't hear the sound of scraping metal even once, and we set off hiking from there at about 6am, reaching the top of the canyon a little before 7. We took our time setting our packs up, putting on gear and having a quick snack before descending death gully at about 8. On our way down we encountered a lot of recent debris, which made the footing a little treacherous in places, coupled with lots of newly fallen trees/branches. There were also 3 fairly large patches of melting snow, but these didn't present any kind of hazard.

    At the point where there is that butt-slide downclimb/sequence, somebody has built a very neat little cairn anchor which we rapped off. The other anchors we encountered were all in good condition, so although we had gone in being prepared to resling anchors, in the event we didn't need to. The optional rap between Mystery Spring and Mystery Falls is currently sling less - last year there a nearby tree had a sling on it, but that was missing and we downclimbed anyway, so didn't leave an anchor there.

    There is now one more rap, immediately prior to Mystery Spring, where that old tree trunk used to be down-climbable in the slot section just before the spring rap - that tree has now snapped in two and looks extremely precarious. There is a brand new slung tree anchor there to turn a dubious downclimb into a much safer rap though.

    At some point in the canyon, poor Zoe came down hard on her knee and it got quite swollen, which made things a little tough for her on the downclimbs. Nothing was insurmountable though - we managed by providing skyhooks in the way of slings from above to hold on to, and for one downclimb, Zoe rapping down with me providing a meat anchor.

    Andrea handled her first canyon really well, taking everything in her stride and adapting quickly to the two new 60 metre Canyonfires we took with us, after her initial shock about it being "like accessory cord!"

    Speaking of the Canyonfire, I was really pleased with how it performed, although it's quite tight getting 60 metres of it stuffed into a Bagarino, which I understand is not specced to take that much rope. It *does* fit, but only just and I think that perhaps slowed things down a little. Between that, the leisurely lunch we took (cooked food in the canyon is always nice), taking things slowly and explaining some of the unfamiliar rope work to Andrea, it was about half past five when we arrived at the top of Mystery Falls. The two long raps took a long time with six people. It's perhaps worth a moment to describe what we did at each:

    Mystery Spring

    The hand line out to the anchors looked a little dubious and might be a candidate for replacement soon. It has quite short tails, but an experimental tug gave me enough confidence to use it as a handline (to which I clipped myself). I rapped first and unwound the rope as I went, hanging the bag from a gear loop on a Dynema sling. i tossed it from the top of the boulder. To deploy the second Canyonfire for the pull cord, Zoe clipped the bag to the rap line, which I held taut, and then let it go, sliding down the main line as a zip line. At the right point I let go of the zip line and the whole caboodle fell into the wet sand in front of me.

    Mystery Falls

    I tossed the rope bag into the narrows. Zoe was to be first, and I figured that the current taking the bag would provide a sort of auto-firemans belay, especially with the extra 80 feet of rope. It did, but Zoe found this inconvenient. She was also hindered by a narrows hiker who kept picking the rope bag up and messing with it, despite repeatedly being asked to leave it alone. Note to self - tossing the bag when there are non-canyoneers around is potentially a bad idea.

    We rapped pretty much everything single strand, using ATC-XPs (apart from Zoe who uses a Pirana), in high friction mode, with an extra leg loop biner, and being ready to go to a Z for extra friction. This seemed to work well on the 8.3mm Canyonfire.

    Anyway, we had an amazing time and we were back in time to pick up Keyhole permits for today, which we are now going to go and do. Signing off now.

  2. # ADS
    Circuit advertisement
    Join Date
    Always
    Posts
    Many
     

  3. #2
    The Mystery Springs handline I try very hard to ignore all the physics I know when considering how much force must get put in that if someone slips - I'd already lost my footing slightly (Courtesy of my banged-up knee) and slid into the pothole to the side and the consequences of slipping on that scramble out to the anchor don't bear thinking! It could possibly do with being a little less tight, perhaps.

    Mystery Falls was less than impressive as a rap down. I felt my abseiling skills were somewhat rusty and hadn't been impressed with how well I'd done in general up to that point anyway. Despite getting into my stride a bit on Mystery Spring, I ended up coming down Mystery Falls on my backside most of the way due to multiple complicating factors. I'd set up with a fair amount of friction before realising that I basically wan't going to move at all - I'd estimate there was probably a good 20kg+ (40lbs+) of load on the line caused not just by the usual weight of the rope but also by the bagarino on the end of it getting dragged along in the current of the Virgin, which was doing a good 120cfm at that point. (Possibly more, the bit you rap into is quite fast-flowing, more than average - could easily have been 150-160cfm+) Luckily as I had the Pirana I just took all the extra friction off, but then some guy in a wetsuit came along and starts messing with the rope to be helpful - he picks up the line (So suddenly I have *no* extra load other than the weight of the rope itself) and even worse, starts waggling/whipping the rope about to unhook it from some vegitation. Needless to say this is extremely unhelpful when you're trying to abseil down a slipperly waterfall and despite shouts at him to leave the rope alone, he either ignored me or could not hear me above the river. I rerigged all the extra friction plus a leg biner, which meant quite some physical effort to go down the rope and stopping for a rest about half way down due to being out of breath. Next time, I would definitely do what we did last year - leave the rope bag clipped on a teather to my harness. That way, you have predictable friction and can rig appropriately.

  4. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by sarahlizzy View Post
    She was also hindered by a narrows hiker who kept picking the rope bag up and messing with it, despite repeatedly being asked to leave it alone. Note to self - tossing the bag when there are non-canyoneers around is potentially a bad idea.
    WHAT?!? That's crazy! Never heard of such a thing - what an ass!

    I don't think I've ever heard of your guided-bag-rappel for the pull side, on the Springs rap. Sounds very cool. But why not just have the last person carry the bag down, paying out the line as you go? Rationale, or just trying something different?

    I see you've been co-opted by the American lingo - why not "bum-slide" rather than "butt-slide"? (In Canada, we use "bum", like good Commonwealth folk.)

    How much longer in the area? Any photos to share, eventually?

    Hope Zoe's feeling better, and she (and all of you) enjoy the rest of your trip.

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Cirrus2000 View Post
    WHAT?!? That's crazy! Never heard of such a thing - what an ass!

    I don't think I've ever heard of your guided-bag-rappel for the pull side, on the Springs rap. Sounds very cool. But why not just have the last person carry the bag down, paying out the line as you go? Rationale, or just trying something different?
    A bit of trying something different, a bit of wanting to get on with things when we realised time was dragging a bit.

    Not letting go in time would probably hurt tho!

    I see you've been co-opted by the American lingo - why not "bum-slide" rather than "butt-slide"? (In Canada, we use "bum", like good Commonwealth folk.)

    How much longer in the area? Any photos to share, eventually?

    Hope Zoe's feeling better, and she (and all of you) enjoy the rest of your trip.
    Hey, when. In Rome and all that ;)

    We are here until the end of the week and will likely have some photos and videos. Not that feasible to upload them until we get home though - the wifi here at the Quality Inn uses a weird system which makes things a bit clunky, and I only have my iPad with me.

    Zoe seems quite a bit better, thankfully.

  6. #5
    Oops, I see Zoe posted while I was replying. I think it's very possible that the fellow at the bottom didn't hear you. It's pretty noisy down there.

    Throwing a 60m rope down there into the current, in a bag that will be pulled down river - I agree, it's not the best. There are other ways, though, to throw out the rope rather than carrying it down (and risking snags, etc.) Because the bottom of the rappel is mostly visible from the top of the falls, you could throw down only enough rope to reach the bottom, and block it there. Or, if you're not certain you've dropped enough, set up a releasable anchor. If you're not certain about a releasable anchor, then do a rap & lower to ensure the first person gets to the bottom, then block the rope. Even if you can't hear one another, hand signals are totally possible there.

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Cirrus2000 View Post
    Even if you can't hear one another, hand signals are totally possible there.
    We did bring four radios - sadly, it seems the two non-waterproof European-spec ones I have (8-channel PMR ones) and the waterproof pair Sara have are not compatible. The waterproofing on one of Sara's radios also failed - it remains to be seen if this is terminal or not but right now, it is not working and this meant they were not available to us on Mystery Falls. The radios were very useful on the pre-Mystery Springs part of the canyon as it enabled the group to stay in contact even if we had two abseils going at once. We could have been faster and done three or four simultaneous abseils off two ropes - we had three going at more than one point last year but didn't repeat that this year.

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by zoeimogen View Post
    The Mystery Springs handline I try very hard to ignore all the physics I know when considering how much force must get put in that if someone slips - I'd already lost my footing slightly (Courtesy of my banged-up knee) and slid into the pothole to the side and the consequences of slipping on that scramble out to the anchor don't bear thinking! It could possibly do with being a little less tight, perhaps.
    I really dislike how little tail was on that handline. The tail near the rap anchor was only 1 inch long! I'm not sure that I feel comfortable trusting webbing knots with that small of a tail.

    I'm especially concerned about it since we were walking with slack in our tethers. As I understand it, that would actually cause us to generate extra force for the system to take, since we'd fall a little ways before the anchor would start to take our weight.

    That's actually one reason I liked the increased tension on the handline. Last year, the thing was so loose that we would fall quite a ways before weighting the system. The tighter line means that we'd be weighting the system a bit earlier, which results in smaller forces on the anchors.

    -Joyce

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by joycem137 View Post
    I really dislike how little tail was on that handline. The tail near the rap anchor was only 1 inch long! I'm not sure that I feel comfortable trusting webbing knots with that small of a tail.
    Well, we could have reslung it - we had plenty of webbing. I was happy with it for psychological comfort, but wouldn't want to trust it much further.

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by sarahlizzy View Post
    Well, we could have reslung it - we had plenty of webbing. I was happy with it for psychological comfort, but wouldn't want to trust it much further.
    The more I think about it, the more I feel that that's probably what we should have done.
    -Joyce

  11. #10
    Nice TR. I ran this canyon two days before your group. I agree that the handline out to Mystery Springs anchor is purely psychological, and not helpful in the event of a fall.

    Amazing that someone was messing with the rope bag! I remember, in the not-too-distant past, hiking up the narrows in March in dry suits and poles thinking I was such a badass for going where most Zion visitors wouldn't dare to tread...

  12. #11
    Content Provider Emeritus ratagonia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Quiet and charming: Mount Carmel
    Posts
    7,135
    Quote Originally Posted by sarahlizzy View Post
    Well, we could have reslung it - we had plenty of webbing. I was happy with it for psychological comfort, but wouldn't want to trust it much further.
    Or set it up as RETRIEVABLE, which would be the best solution. No trash left behind, but the security level enhanced, at least pyschologically.

    Tom

  13. #12
    Speaking of handlines and psychological comfort, tomorrow is the start of our long weekend via ferrata trip to the Dolomites. Be interesting to see how steel cables that one is supposed to use as protection compares psychologically to that little bit of webbing out to the Mystery Spring bolts.

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by sarahlizzy View Post
    Speaking of handlines and psychological comfort, tomorrow is the start of our long weekend via ferrata trip to the Dolomites. Be interesting to see how steel cables that one is supposed to use as protection compares psychologically to that little bit of webbing out to the Mystery Spring bolts.
    Very cool! This is something I'd really like to try one day; via ferratas fascinate me. Have fun and be safe!

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by sarahlizzy View Post
    Speaking of handlines and psychological comfort, tomorrow is the start of our long weekend via ferrata trip to the Dolomites. Be interesting to see how steel cables that one is supposed to use as protection compares psychologically to that little bit of webbing out to the Mystery Spring bolts.
    Where are you going in the Dolomites? A few years back I was flown to Venice on a business trip and the owners took me up to Cortina. We trekked, climbed, via-ferrata'd, wined and dined! Awesome trip. I most enjoyed the ferrata Lipella Tofana di Roses. Some of the hardwear is pretty beat up and adrenaline flows! Here are a couple pics of some of the Via Feratas on Tofana di Roses.
    Attached Images Attached Images        

  16. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Bo_Beck View Post
    I most enjoyed the ferrata Lipella Tofana di Roses. Some of the hardwear is pretty beat up and adrenaline flows!
    Did that one myself a couple years ago (2006). All of the cable has been replaced with brand new stainless cable and hardware. Must have cost a mint and the effort to install it: wow.

    That's a fun one. Starts on one side, goes up into a tunnel (gun emplacements hollowed out), comes out the other side, and traverses back around. Highly recommended.

    Name:  1539..jpg
Views: 545
Size:  142.2 KB

    Name:  1537..jpg
Views: 524
Size:  220.4 KB

    Name:  1538..jpg
Views: 519
Size:  228.0 KB

  17. #16
    Oh, lovely pics!

    We were based in Corvara, and had a great time despite awful weather (wet, but no thunderstorms). My trip report (with photos) is now up in the peak bagging forum.

    Will def be doing more VF stuff - we had a total blast!

Similar Threads

  1. Mystery Canyon
    By Odie_Canyon in forum Canyoneering
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 08-03-2009, 11:15 AM
  2. Ropes for Mystery Canyon
    By mtthwlw in forum Canyoneering
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 07-22-2009, 08:41 AM
  3. [Trip Report] Mystery Canyon - 08-06-08
    By jman in forum Canyoneering
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 08-11-2008, 07:06 AM
  4. [Trip Report] Mystery canyon 5/12/07
    By Jaxx in forum Canyoneering
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 05-19-2007, 09:56 PM
  5. Mystery Canyon (best way down)
    By chabidiah in forum Canyoneering
    Replies: 21
    Last Post: 03-08-2007, 08:53 AM

Visitors found this page by searching for:

Outdoor Forum

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •