Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Tale of Two Stuck Ropes in Erebus Canyon

I have to say that my friend, Rich, is now my hero. About midway through our trip in Death Valley's Erebus Canyon, we got a stuck rope, that is, we weren't able to pull it down from the anchor after finishing the rappel. Big problem. It was our longest rope and we still needed it for an even longer rappel down-canyon. Kevin and I tugged at it for about 10 minutes before Rich selflessly volunteered to clip his ascenders to the rope and scale back up the cliff more than 100 feet to fix the problem. Not the easiest thing in the world of canyoneering. After slowly working his way up the rope, he found the carabiner we used to secure the rope to the anchor had caught on some rocks. He removed it and rappelled back down using both sides of the rope. 

And then! We had another recalcitrant rope a couple of rappels later. And again, Rich ascended the rope and fixed the problem. What a guy.

As for the canyon, it was one of my favorites. It's full of twisted, sometimes colorful marble, great rappels, deep canyon sections and interesting (challenging) down-climbs. Even with the stuck-rope delays, we somehow got out of the canyon after 13 1/2 hours just before the last light shut down.

Early morning approach, starting from Dante's View.

Rich in the early morning light.

Kevin and Rich inputting GPS coordinates with Telescope Peak in the background.

Descending off the ridge top toward the drop-in point for the canyon, still a long way down. That's Badwater in the distance.

Left-overs from a miner's diggings.

A little POV on the first rappel. I stopped to take pictures of the marble wall I was descending.

Jerri on the second rappel.

Annette on the second rappel.

Hiking down-canyon.

Rich stepping down another rappel.

Canyon scene

Jerri traversing a down-climb right above a marble "wave."

Kevin working his way down another down-climb while in the background, Jerri uses a rope secured to "meat anchor" Rich to get down.

Jerri climbing down through a marble slot.

Yours truly on the left with Rich spotting Kevin on a difficult down-climb. We eventually just lowered him down. Thanks to Annette -- I handed her my camera and told her to blast away. She got some great shots.

Kevin straddling a down-climb.

Annette descending one of the longer rappels.

Rich helping Jerri with a painful blood blister on her big toe. The operation was successful.

Rich ascending the first of two stuck ropes.

Kevin on a medium rappel.

Kevin and Jerri reeling in a rope.

Kevin helping Rich over a short but difficult down-climb.

Another scene looking down-canyon.

At 5:00, we were still a long way from the car.

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