Death Valley approaches can feel more dangerous than the canyons themselves, which I guess shouldn’t be surprising given that is how climbing can work too. This trip down to Death Valley after an overnight wind/rain storm, we headed out a little after 8am to hike to the top of Feral Ass Canyon (3A III, 9r, 230ft). We would instead decide to drop into Sentinel Canyon (3A III, 13r, 130ft) which runs along the approach early but still hit 7 rappels, mostly small.
A rarity in Death Valley, we walked directly out of camp to cross the rocky landscape to the start of the climb just to the right of the mouth of Sentinel Canyon. We took a left leaning, light in color dirt pile that has some give to it (maybe the rain softened the ground).
It was steep, all the rocks you came across pulled right out. The team had some challenges heading straight up it. After 350ft of climbing (around 1,550 ft) thing ease up a bit and it became easy to walk.
We proceeded further up to 1,900 ft, about halfway up the approach when we reached the head of Crumble Stone Canyon (3A III, 8r, 80ft) we checked in with the group and decided to start a decent given comfort levels and rate of progress. Instead of Crumble Stone we saw Sentinel was opened up on our left and we decided to drop in off the moderate slope from the ridge we were on.
The canyon went like this:
Most rappels are vertical or less than vertical but there were a couple overhung sections among the rappels. The canyon went very straight forward in Death Valley style but didn’t have much ah-hah moments of cool finds. It was a good experience to know that we can head up to this group of canyons (Joyride, Feral Ass, Sentinel, Crumble Stone) that share most of the same approach and we have options to adjust. We finished the canyon in 1.5 hrs approach from road, 2 hrs in canyon and 20 min across the wash.