The Long Road to Iva Bell

May 16, 2022

Iva Bell Hot Springs are a backcountry hotspot for warm pools of water. The journey would bring us through thorny bushes, over many large logs, across bridged rivers and finally battling algae in these backcountry host springs. In all the trip would take us 35 miles, 6,800 ft over two long days.

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Rappelling Alongside Pool Arch

April 25, 2022
Going down the first rappel with Pool Arch in the foreground

To commemorate Sadie’s and my recent marriage we decided to go canyoneering. To avoid any trouble with Timed Entry permits to Arches we decided to descend alongside Pool Arch in Pritchett Canyon, outside the park. So six people and two dogs started out on the 4×4 road called Pritchett Canyon Trail.

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Descending the River Styx (North Fork)

March 14, 2022
Descending one of the last rappels

For a friend’s big 3-0 birthday party in Death Valley we decided to do two big canyons, the first being Styx Canyon (North Fork) (3A IV 22r). Styx was another canyon starting from the high point in the park (Dante’s View  5400 ft) to the park low point (Badwater -200 ft). This is one of the more traffic’d canyons in Death Valley with no need to replace any webbing or fix any anchors. Therefore, it felt a lot more chill than Typhon Canyon, but still an adventure with many 100 ft rappels.

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Five Days on Foot in the Grand Canyon

February 26, 2022
View of Colorado River from the Beamer Trail

Over “ski week” I drove off to the Grand Canyon for a multi-day backpacking trip on unmaintained backcountry trails. I am kinda a snob about the difficulty of backcountry travel outside the steep and stark Eastern Sierra, expecting the backpacking to be easy, on a beach and along a river after the way down. What I got was rugged trails, 3rd class, exposure and a tourist destination all to ourselves.

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Surprise rappels in Typhon’s South Fork

January 19, 2022
A short, more slotty section of the canyon

We were driving out of camp at 5am, an hour and a half before sunrise, for my first big canyon. Our beta was we were going to descend Typhon (South Fork) (there are many forks) rappelling 18 times down 6.5 miles of technical canyon. It was a good crew, that worked well together and a great day of consistent efficient moving that reminded me of multi pitch climbing. (Typhon Canyon (South Fork) IV)

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Dapper Canyoneering with Fossil Snails

The reason I met my life partner is because I was at a climbing meet up in cosmic leggings which gave the opinion I must be fun. This would not be the last time I wore bright colored leggings, costumes and even a wig climbing. I do this to express some flair and inject some fun in adventure sports that some approach very seriously. After the camp lightened up at 6:30am I brought smiles to my friends as they saw me in my gray three piece suit ready for a long day exploring a canyon filled to the brim with fossil snails. (Fossil Snail Canyon IV)

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Apollo Canyon-eering

January 2, 2022

The day after our canyoneering clinc a few of us got off to a late start to do Apollo Canyon (3A IV). Like many Death Valley canyons, the only beta was a Facebook photo album from First Descentionist Scott Swanny. As I am getting the feel for these ground up, 2/3000 ft approach canyons, getting off the chossy ridgeline was maybe the highest risk thing we did that day. It was a fun, rarely visited canyon that with a 200 ft rappel off a cairn anchor.

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Vinegaroon Canyon Clinic

Where to go at the end of December that isn’t too cold or snowy? Death Valley! (It was cold, windy and rained half the trip though) Over the New Years Eve holiday block, a group of us from Mammoth and friends arrived in Death Valley for a 5 day canyoneering trip. I classify Death Valley canyoneering as advanced canyoneering because it typically involves Cairn Anchors which could also be classified as ‘piles of rocks’. Thereby needing additional measures to counter the increased risk.

The group had a variety of skill levels so our trip organizers arranged a clinic going from rappelling and team dynamics to cairn anchors and fiddle sticks in Vinegaroon Canyon. I would call myself an intermediate canyoneer with about a dozen canyons under my belt, but cairn anchors were always very intimidating since I outweigh most men by 30-60 lbs (I’m ~210lbs) so this clinic helped a lot move them from mysterious things to trust to inspectable protection.

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Hike up to Hopkins Lake

September 27, 2021
View of Big McGee Lake from Hopkins Pass

Getting in a couple more backpacking trips before it gets too cold. This weekend Sadie, Piton and I went up McGee Creek just a couple canyons down from Mammoth Lakes. It took us seven hours to hike to 11,100 ft camp along an eight mile, 3500 ft gain trail and three and a half hours back. [Map]

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Dog Ascent of Kettle Peak

September 13, 2021
Hiking up a slot gulley we found. It looks solid but is really loose.

On a weekend trying to find activities outside of the closed Inyo National Forest I picked another random peak. This time a 10 mile day with 3,500 ft of elevation and dogs. [Map]

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