Monday, December 17, 2012

Canyoneering: Quandary Canyon

Don Reyes, masterfully lobbing a potshot in Quandary Canyon.
(Click images to view larger)

Quandary Canyon in the southern San Rafael Swell is known for the technical difficulties presented by a series of potholes in the mid-section of the canyon.  Difficulty depends on water levels--when the water is high, you can jump or rappel into each hole and swim to the lip on the other side.  When the water is low, you find yourself in cold water, deep in a polished bowl, with no way to climb out.  From time to time people get permanently stuck in these holes, but if you are prepared and with a group of people, it isn't so hard to engineer your way out.

During our descent in October, the water levels were pretty high, but not high enough to just swim to the lips of the holes.  We climbed out of some of them, and used potshots for others.  A potshot is just a bag of sand tied to a rope that you  toss over the lip of a pothole as a counterweight, and use to hand over hand out (see picture above).  

As winter finally tries to settle in here in Laramie, warm desert canyons start to look even more appealing.  I'm already anticipating our next trip, probably to Zion, in the late spring.

Starting the day--Larry Scritchfield, Scott Lehman, Don Reyes, and Jim Akers.

Scott Lehman, early in Quandary.

A view down the Quandary Canyon drainage.

Don and Scott, contemplating a small pourover.

The beginning of the technical difficulties.

Larry, contemplating a slide into a pothole.

Jim and Scott, mid-canyon.

Middle Quandary.

Larry taking a leap of faith into a pothole.

Larry rappelling into another pothole

Scott and Don.

Don, preparing to climb out of a pothole using a potshot.

The hot exit hike back to Ramp Canyon, which leads back through the Swell to our camp.

The technical climb-out in Ramp Canyon:  dicey.


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