Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lower Buckwater Draw Slots - May 2013

After a downright lazy float down the Ruby Horsethief Canyon, Kristin and I headed north to spend a couple days exploring the Vernal area with Mike McMahon. Kristin and Mike had heard about some relatively unknown slots near Dinosaur National Monument that we decided to check out. Our googling skills are apparently a bit sub par, so the day started with a nice 5 km hike under the scorching sun to the North Buckwater Draw.

Who would think there could be a slot in there?

We dropped into the draw a bit early, which led to some lovely bushwhacking and probably explains Kristin's tick problem - hopefully she doesn't get Lyme Disease or Spotted Feaver. In retrospect, this bluff marks the appropriate place to drop.

Slotting up:

Mike setting up our first rappel:


Kristen getting ready for the big one:

hmmm...where did she go?

The Magic Chamber: good thing we brought the 60 meter rope!

Just past the confluence with the south fork:

Staying tight and deep:

Too soon the slot ended and we found ourselves following some suspicious tracks down the wash...very suspicious in fact:

Convinced we missed something, but also quite sure there was nothing more below us, we headed north and met back up with the 7 km slog up the dirt road towards the car.

The next day Mike and I headed back to check out the South Buckwater Draw. This time we had much better luck. The draw visible below the two bluffs near picture center:

Probably some interesting stuff down there:

After a brief walk from the Plug Hat Picnic Area, we dropped off the north side of the Bull Canyon rim where some largely painless bushwhacking brought us to the draw.

This cool hidden tower is located just upstream of the start of the south slot:

Mike entering the south slot:

One of the two rappels in the south fork, climbing back up this proved to be a bit of a challenge, but was solved by some exciting chimneying:

Getting tight!

One of the many fun little moves:

Photo: Mike McMahon

Photo: Mike McMahon

Mike on the last rappel, immediately before the confluence with the north fork:

Looking back up at the south slot:

Once at the confluence, we briefly headed up the north fork to see the Magic Chamber. Then we retraced our steps, climbing back up the south fork. In retrospect, both forks could be done in one awesome day. Next time, we'll start at the Plug Hat parking lot, descend the south slot to the confluence, follow the main draw down until it is possible to rejoin the small dirt road to the north. Then, follow the road up to drop back into the north fork - this way you still get the awesome 30 meter rappel into the magic chamber. Then I'd climb back up the south fork slot towards the parking lot. Thanks to Mike and Kristin for taking the time to show me the ropes, I'm lucky to have such wonderful friends!

Photo: Mike McMahon


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