Up the slippery canyon

Our second full day in Death Valley I planned a trip up the “climber’s Hike” in grotto Canyon. Our gear was a little mismatched since all shoes and harnesses were sized for me (which meant they were a little large) except for one set I had from my friend Mari, which fit the kids fine. Also the canyon was a little wet from the recent rains, and the water polished rock in this canyon is slippery at the best of times. We checked the weather report before we headed in and it was uncertain so, keeping an eye on the sky, we decided to drive up the 4 wheeling approach and see how it looked. A flash flood in a canyon is not a good thing to be caught in so we were a little leery, but things were looking good when we arrived and I was very familiar with the canyon so we set off  on our adventure. This canyon has many beautiful, carved slots, with multi-coloured walls and fascinating curves. The fun part of it is that it is a series of dry (or at the moment not-so-dry) falls which challenge you as you move up the canyon. Each climbing problem must be surmounted or you are heading back down. This was an opportunity to teach the Clan how to do basic climbing knots and how to rappel and chimney climb as well, so we were all looking forward to it. The very start of the canyon throws a 25 foot high, off vertical cliff at you to see whether you are really up to snuff for the challenge, and then 10 feet further up is an eight foot overhanging boulder problem, which isn’t quite as hard as it sounds but certainly separates the wheat from the chaff in terms of who is going further up the canyon or not. We navigated these challenges without difficulty and headed further up. Since I was basically guiding the canyon I didn’t do as much photography as I normally would but I did manage to get a few pictures of the wonderful time we had as we climbed up and rappeled or wriggled down the slippery walls. The hardest climb was a real challenge on this day, due to conditions, but we made it up to the regular turnaround point eventually and back down and had a spectacular time doing it.

And so on to pictures of the GK clan geared up and ready to climb. Needless to say, the 2 pictures I link to below with me in them were not taken by me, but I think in both cases by Brazil as she held my camera for me. I think she did a great job.

Grotto Canyon


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