Day 8

April 17, 2015

Green Spring Canyon to Horse Spring Canyon to the Rim (Almost)


Click on photos to see larger image.

We slept in a little late this morning and didn't get out of camp until around 8:00 AM.  We were not expecting a particularly difficult day.  We had about 3000 feet to climb, and Rich had said that it gets steep near the top, but that it was definitely not Class 5.  But Class 4 can be tricky, especially if it is exposed and the rock is not solid.  


Starting Up Horse Spring Canyon. Looking Back Down Horse Spring Canyon. View Towards Our Exit.


The hike up Green Spring Canyon to Horse Spring Canyon was straightforward -- just walking in a dry streambed.  We reached the mouth of Horse Spring Canyon in about 45 minutes or so.  Hiking up Horse Spring Canyon was a little more tedious, and definitely slower. 

We kept an eye on our exit point trying to determine the best place to breach the two cliff bands near the rim.  Nothing seemed obvious to us, at least there was nothing that we could see would definitely go.  But we picked the route that looked the most promising, and tried to keep a mental picture of what to look for once we got close. 

We got to the point where we would leave the drainage and head up to the rim around 12:30 PM.  I was still spent from yesterday and was going pretty slowly.  Once we left Horse Spring Canyon, the going got significantly harder.  The clouds from yesterday were gone, and it was getting pretty warm. 


Looking Back Toward Green Spring Canyon. How Do We Get Past These Cliffs ? Steep, Loose, and Brushy.

The slope became steeper the farther up we went.  By 3:00 PM we were on a slope that not only was very steep, but also very loose.  It was somewhere between talus and scree, and it was at the angle of repose.  For every step up, you slide back half a step.  My leg muscles were working overtime to maintain balance and to keep from slipping.  And the occasional rock outcroppings were rotten.  When climbing slopes like this, I like to shorten my poles and use them kind of like an ice-axe.  This technique really helps with scree.  But I had only one pole, which put me at a distinct disadvantage.

Our planned route took us to a break in the first cliff band to the right of our direct line.  Once on top of the first cliff, we contoured to the left, hoping to find a break in the upper band.

As usual, Ben was doing much better than me.  By the time I got above the lower cliff band, I was pretty much spent.  Ben continued on ahead and out of sight.  I contoured along the base of the upper cliff, looking for a break that we thought would be just around the corner from one of the huge conical formations that made up some of the upper band.  I took off my pack to scout the route.  Around the corner was just more un-climbable cliff. 

By the way, I have done some pretty steep and loose climbs before, such as the talus slop on Steck's Cranberry route, and the talus slope on the Flippoff route.  I thought this route was much more difficult than either of those.  More like the Papago Slide on steroids.

At this point there was only about an hour of sunlight left.  I figured my best option would be to find a place to spend the night and look for a way up in the morning.  It was around this time that I heard Ben calling from above.  He was really too far away to have a conversation, but I was able to tell him that I was going to spend the night here.  Luckily I found one of the rare places that was not steep.  It was a small area, and I had to level out a small bench to sleep on, but it was the best camping spot I had seen in hours.  I still had about a quart of water left, and plenty of left-over lunch food.  So I was really in pretty good shape. 

It turned out to be an amazing place to camp.  The views were spectacular.  Unfortunately, the batteries in my iPhone went dead, so I couldn't take any more pictures.

View Towards Head Of Horse Spring Cyn. Beautiful, But a Bit Intimidating. My Home For The Night.


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