Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Scorpion Canyon

Death Valley's canyons never cease to astound me with their beauty, ruggedness, remoteness, and, oh, during the spring, DNA-broiling heat. And thus, our merry band of canyoneers wandered into Scorpion Canyon for the day. The approach is directly under the sun, climbing several hundred feet to a high of 1845' and then descends all that and more, to 50 feet below sea level. It's one of the weird features of Death Valley that so many of the canyon trips end below sea level. In between, I do believe just about every drop of water was sucked out through my skin.

The canyon itself is a geological circus, with green cliffs of decomposing mica, and pink and yellow slopes of oxidizing iron salts, wide washes and narrow slots.

The canyoneering portion was pretty straightforward and every rappel had an established anchor. We breezed through for a delightful if somewhat hot few hours of back country goodness.

Climbing away from the start in 20 Mule Team Canyon.
Hiking up a wash to the first real climbing.
Looking down to 20 Mule Team Canyon.
Top of the climb, 1845'.
Yellow, green and red from the metals and minerals in the ground.
I believe Annette was demonstrating some kind of cheerleading routine. Or maybe not.
Rich on the first rappel.
Annette on second rappel.
Narrow passage.
Kevin meat anchoring at an anchor built out of rocks.
Last rappel.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Eaton Canyon

Of all the canyons in the San Gabriel Mountains, I have to say Eaton Canyon is my favorite. It's like a wild, remote water park with slides, waterfalls, deep pools. Plenty of wet fun. Judging by the number of rescues the Forest Service handles there, it's plenty dangerous, too. I was told by a ranger that the Forest Service spends half a million dollars a year to haul out people who venture up the canyon unprepared for the climb up or back down, and then fall. Some die. Or, they have to carry out canyoneers who have hurt themselves. Some know what they're doing and simply twist an ankle, and some neophytes literally get their ropes from Home Depot, cobble together some other gear and run for the canyon thinking it'll be a hoot. Tragedy ensues. During the summer, this sort of thing happens at least twice a week. It's not uncommon to see rescue helicopters swooping in and then a little later swooping out with someone on a stretcher attached to the skids.

Our happy band of canyoneers have now done the canyon three times without mishap and here are a few shots from another pleasant Sunday spent in wet suits and harnesses. No complaints.

Cammy descending into the canyon. Mt. Wilson and its towers loom above.
Sebastian, a good lad visiting from France, joined us for the trip with borrowed gear.

Annette on the first water slide, nostrils plugged and ready for impact.
Rich showing off his water slide form. The judges gave it a 7.8.
Cammy and Annette working their way down a small but slick waterfall.
One of the many pools we had to slosh through.
I've photographed this rappel (second of the day) from all angles. It never disappoints.
Sebastian showing how a Frenchman does it.
And then here's how we Americans splash down as represented by Kevin.
Rich on the final rappel which goes down a waterfall frequented by weekend crowds who hike up from an Altadena neighborhood.
The audience watching Jerri work her way down the waterfall.
There's no way to avoid the waterfall thundering down on one at the end. Good clean fun.
These kids would rather play with a log than watch Kevin.