Thursday, March 31, 2016

Pit of Despair (No, Really)

Just came back from another incredible canyoneering trip to Death Valley. For the first canyon, we went to the "Prince's Bride" set of canyons near Stovepipe Wells (each canyon is named after something from the movie; last year we did Inconceivable Canyon). The area was explored by the redoubtable Scott Swaney who has more than 200 first descents to his name. He called this one Pit of Despair. It was actually kind of a mild trip. The pit of despair, I suppose, was a pair of potholes at the bottom of two rappels that were filled with water. Kind of unique for a Death Valley canyon.

Camping at Stovepipe Wells. Not what you would call a wilderness experience.

The start of the hike to the canyon. Annette, on the right, is stretching out her back. The mountains in the background is where we're headed.

We're hiking to the entrance to that wash in the left of the picture.

The dreaded Death Valley sticky ring plant. Come near that sucker and you're covered in needles. Really horrible if a rope gets in one.

Poor guy: a mountain sheep skull found in the wash.

Annette making her way through the wash.

Rich and Annette climbing out of the wash.

The group at the drop-in point. Rich is pointing to where we could go if we wanted to run the entire canyon. We were feeling lazy and decided not to get too wild. After all, we had a really hard, long canyon the next day.

The view from the drop-in point to, I believe, the Panamint Mountains.

Starting toward the drop-in.

Kevin leaping off the first big down-climb.

Jerri working her way off another down-climb. She's so casual, she even held an apple in her mouth while executing the climb.

Kevin rigging the rope at the first rappel.

Jerri on the first rappel.

Annette about step off the top of the first rappel.

Rich on the second rappel.

Jerri slipping midway down a rappel.

I love taking pictures of flying ropes and flying rope bags.

An anchor on the third or fourth rappel. Jerri is backing up the anchor in case it should fail (hasn't happened yet, but we don't like to take chances).
Rich finding his groove, so to speak.

Rich working his way past a pit of despair, aka, a pothole.

Another pothole at the bottom of the last rappel.