Ranger Kathryn's Arches

May 30, 2010

Pioneering a route

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 2:21 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Bagging the rope after a rappel. This handsome canyon provided much-needed shade for the task. We rappelled down the black-and-tan wall.

“To boldlly go where no man has gone before” — (cue dramatic music) —  that line from the opening to Star Trek always made my spine tingle. That’s what I get for a lifetime of reading National Geographic. To this day, going on an ‘Explore’ to a new place ranks right up there with the finest of adventures. It’s great if I have never been there before, but even greater if NOBODY has been there before. Or at least the illusion of nobody.

Ed and I assembled two heavy packs, with ropes and extra equipment because we didn’t know what we might need to get down or up. The day was hot, and we got a late start, but we hiked up a canyon near Moab and then began our ascent up the walls. Ed picked his way like a mountain goat, and I lagged behind a little as I was unaccustomed to carrying that much extra weight. I would later be grateful, however, for every ounce of water I was toting.

Up a steep wash, around several exposed sketchy ledges, up a fairly vertical crack (I tied a bowline around my waist and Ed belayed me for that ascent), over a buttocks-shaped mesa top (I thought Kiester Corners was a nice name for it), and to the edge — and we were standing hundreds of feet above the Colorado. Getting down was to be the more adventurous element. When you rappel into unknown territory, you always have to leave some means of return in case for some reason you can’t get down further. Maybe your rope is too short, or you have to rappel into a cage of tigers, I don’t know. But you always need an escape route. That’s the dicey part. You leave the previous rope in place while assessing the next descent.

Steep climb up the canyon walls -- I look like a grasshopper

Pictures are worth many thousands of words, so enjoy the photo collection of our as-yet-unnamed trip to a new destination. Click on any photo to enlarge it.

Rope fixed in place (bolted into rock) permanently by base jumpers. This is scary exposed stuff.

Ed free-climbed up this vertical section and will throw me a rope. It's pretty straight up.

Sometimes you need hands on one wall, feet on the other. Opposition is your friend.

First rappel -- you just don't know what's down there.

Maybe it's giant ground sloths waiting for me.

Second rappel: 60 ft?

The prickly pear are finally in bloom!

Blog at WordPress.com.