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Thread: Water Canyon (Robbers Roost)

  1. #1

    Water Canyon (Robbers Roost)

    On September 30th, 2015, Stephanie and I headed through Water Canyon, deep in Robbers Roost.

    It is funny how each canyon tends to have a consistent personality. This canyon was an ass-kicker, almost tedious at times. Awkward foot placements. Skinny, pack-shredding twisty-turney skinnies. It never relented. It seemed unthinkable that luxurious High Spur was just next door.

    I made the keeper pothole as difficult as I could. I couldn’t make the stemming dyno move across, for fear of swinging back (on rope) and smashing my head. So I went in. Hey, maybe I can climb out? Ha! NO!!

    Steph raps down and tosses her pack across. She can’t make the dyno with the rope pulling her back. I pull the rope toward the exit, ensuring that she will not smash her head by swinging backward. She lets out 18 inches of slack. I stand in the water, freezing my ass off.

    In what other sport does one get the chance to improvise like this? Excuse me ma’m, you need to learn an acrobatic move, over a gargantuan pothole, leaping around a blind corner, while not losing your balance and falling backwards. Oh by the way, you get one try, and if you fail, all hell could very well break loose. And you get to go for a freezing swim in your perfectly dry clothes and freeze your ass off like the father of your children that is impatiently waiting in the gargantuan pothole below. One, two, three… now GO!

    Of course she made it. Of course she anchored the rope while I clambered out. Of course I was shaking like hell because time speeds by while devising acrobatic moves. I was probably in that pothole for 30 minutes...

    Down a couple of drops into a sandy pothole followed by a 20 foot rappel into a watery hallway. No anchor options. Oh crap. Hey look, small rocks! We lay down some webbing into the v-shape floor of the pothole exit, pile 100 lbs of small rocks on top, drape the webbing over the top of our rocks,

    then we pray, “Dear canyon God, please let our micro-rock-anchor hold.”

    Steph backs up while I test. It works! Steph raps next. Off we go. During the next couple of days a mouse will scurry over that pile of rocks and likely knock them loose. Then that mouse will be the lucky new owner of 20 feet of green webbing and a shiny new rapid link.

    A few hours later we find ourselves in Horshoe canyon. We pass some pictographs, high on the wall above. Up the switchbacks, to the top of the cliff. Ahhh, relief!

    It was an awesome day with my favorite canyoneering partner.

    I would like to buy a beer for whoever built this anchor (rap #2). It is well placed, bomber, and saved us about an hour of tedious deadman construction.
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    In order to dyno across the top of the keeper pothole one must go around a corner. A difficult move with the rope pulling you backwards. Scary to do after letting out some slack. Also unnerving not knowing the depth of the water, should you fail. What should I have done here? I should have stayed put, asked Steph to rappel on the blocked side, then I should have pushed her around the corner. Then she could have pulled me around the corner. Something we have never done, and difficult plan to devise while suspended over a pothole. Instead...
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    ... I rapped in, froze my ass off, then helped Steph across from below (she made an amazing move to get across, I just pulled the rope toward the exit lip). In the photo below I'm standing on a very small ledge under the water. The rest of the pothole is chest deep. From this perch it would be quite difficult to push anyone out.
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    Wearing a neoprene beanie is a great way to warm up after spending 30 minutes in a freezing pothole.
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  3. #2
    Fantastic series of TR's Bob. Loved all the pics and excellent narrative...as usual.

    We were in the neighborhood on Monday the 28th, but we opted for the North Fork of RR. Big Spring forks and High Spur are on my "very" short list for sure.

  4. Likes Slot Machine liked this post
  5. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Sandstone Addiction View Post
    Fantastic series of TR's Bob. Loved all the pics and excellent narrative...as usual.

    We were in the neighborhood on Monday the 28th, but we opted for the North Fork of RR. Big Spring forks and High Spur are on my "very" short list for sure.
    @Sandstone Addiction

    Thanks for the kind words Dave!

    We took Monday off after getting beat down by Red Spur. Probably drove right by you guys heading to Hanksville for lunch and a shower. (Did you know they have public showers there for $7?, Awesome!)

    It was torture to take Monday off, such spectacular weather. You will love Big Spring and High Spur, huge bang for the buck.

    You got a TR for North Fork coming?

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  7. #4
    We probably crossed paths somewhere...would have been cool to meet you all.

    I didn't have a camera along as I found out the hard way my waterproof camera wasn't, but I'll get some pics from the others in our group and put together a TR soon.

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  9. #5
    Fantastic report, and great pics! One of my first canyons, and haven't been there since. Your report has motivated me to pack up the car and get in there again. Glad your prayer worked out. ;-)

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  11. #6
    Great report and pics!

    I read your account of the 'semi'-keeper with rapt interest, as my wife and I ended up executing exactly what you wished you would have done to get around that pothole when we did it. I first rapped down, locked myself off, and quickly discovered that I wasn't going to pull a static stem-across move despite my 6'2" height and long reach (muddy shoes certainly didn't help, either!) And, it had a lot of water in it and I REALLY didn't want to enter that since I didn't know how deep it was. So, she rapped down to me, and I was able to push her out backwards to help her clear it. She then anchored the rope and I aided my way across. We were VERY relieved to get to the other side! 20-some technical canyons later, and that was still the most tricky obstacle that we've had to overcome. Overall, we loved the canyon though, as it provided a little bit of everything and plenty of challenge to us at the time. Good stuff!

    -Joe

  12. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by CuppaJoe View Post
    Great report and pics! I read your account of the 'semi'-keeper with rapt interest,
    Thanks for the kind words! @CuppaJoe

    Looking back, it's probably the nastiest pothole I've been in. That exit lip is evil. Am I the only sucker that has been inside that pothole??

    Quote Originally Posted by CuppaJoe View Post
    as my wife and I ended up executing exactly what you wished you would have done to get around that pothole when we did it. I first rapped down, locked myself off, and quickly discovered that I wasn't going to pull a static stem-across move despite my 6'2" height and long reach (muddy shoes certainly didn't help, either!) And, it had a lot of water in it and I REALLY didn't want to enter that since I didn't know how deep it was. So, she rapped down to me, and I was able to push her out backwards to help her clear it. She then anchored the rope and I aided my way across. We were VERY relieved to get to the other side! 20-some technical canyons later, and that was still the most tricky obstacle that we've had to overcome. Overall, we loved the canyon though, as it provided a little bit of everything and plenty of challenge to us at the time. Good stuff!

    -Joe
    It's fascinating that you couldn't reach at 6'2". Makes me feel a bit better about not going for it. Makes me more impressed that my wife made the barely-assisted dyno. I understand the feeling of relief. I'm about 50% sure that I could have shoved her out if she had gone in the water. Not good odds.

    VERY impressed that you thought of that solution on the fly! Not easy to do during the heat of battle. Scary, because if you can't shove her across, then things get ugly. A bold move that certainly paid off.

  13. #8
    Did you go down to the “big drop” in water canyon past the exit route? If so, how big we talking?


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