Imlay Canyon Trip Report, 9.2.2012

Went through Full Imlay Canyon with Steve Brezovec and Kelly Birdwell – to enjoy the canyon, of course, and to work on the anchors. Found some interesting things.

We started the canyon from Potato Hollow, from the very tip-top there, a few hundred yards higher than I had before. We used a retrievable anchor off a tree in order to not leave a sling visible to the public.

Downcanyon a ways, we found a tied off rock for the third stage of a rappel that can be done as a three-stage rap. This rock as cleverly wedged in a slot, but was tied off with some cord which was quite pretty, but had a core of paper (indicating that this cord was never intended for any purpose requiring strength).

Further down, we found an anchor tied with a non-knot (versus a Water Knot)… but I guess it held for whomever tied it.

Short drop off a log jam anchor, Imlay Canyon

Quite a few anchors in the canyon were tied with the Minnesota-clip style of equalization – especially scary since on a lot of these two-bolt anchors, one bolt is an ancient eroded stud-type bolt (very unreliable). We re-rigged 4 or 5 anchors usually with fresh webbing.

The upper section of the canyon was not especially full, and water quality was exceptionally poor. Between the Sneak Route entrance(s) and the bivy Alcove was a 20′ tall wood jam (in one section) and a section of dense log stew. The long two-stage rap, though, was free of debris. Water from the pool at the Alcove was murky, but we were able to filter and purify.

Log jams in the next section were present, but less of a problem than I had expected. Going into the first Extreme Narrows, we passed a group of 5 from Arizona who were wrapping a tweaked ankle from hitting a rock on a downclimb. Water quality was good and water level high for the rest of the canyon. We added a 1/2″ x 3-3/4″ to two anchors that did not have at least one bolt in the upper Narrows, including the rap into Big Bertha.

Pressed by time, we did passed on re-bolting in the lower Narrows, but no anchors were at the same level of “scary” as the two in the upper Narrows we reinforced. At the second-to-last rappel, someone had added a bolt to the dangling chain/hanger Jonathan had left earlier in the year, so it was now up to snuff. I brought a bar to torque out the bolts from the cut-through aluminum hangers, and with the bar they came out easily. I added a steel hanger and put one of them back in, but was out of rapid links, so it is not tied into the chain.

Several of the pothole anchors in the lower section were of the Minnesota-clip style mentioned above, and we re-rigged cordalette-style with fresh webbing.

At the final rappel, Steve and Kelly took off to catch their plane while I stayed and added a bolt to the anchor. In this case, the two-bolt anchor is in a precarious position, and a convenient safety line runs between the good two-bolt anchor and the old two-bolt anchor on the wall before that. The two ancient bolts are of the eroded rawl-stud variety which in my book are very suspect. I placed a 1/2″ x 3-3/4″ bolt in this position to supply a secure starting point for the safety line.

The third party in Imlay that day caught me up just as I was finishing the ‘work’, and generously carried my ropes out the Zion Narrows – my pack being conveniently full before adding the 235 feet of rope from the last rap. Thank you Evan, Susie and crew from S.G.

Great canyon, as always. My thanks to Steve and Kelly for the patience to allow for some anchor maintenance work.



About Tom

Tom Jones is an inventor, author, entrepreneur, gear tester, photographer, and, first and foremost, a canyoneer, living in the hamlet of Mt. Carmel, Utah, on the east side of Zion National Park. Tom is also a valued member of the ZAC Guide Corps, weaving in numerous training and guiding days amongst his myriad adventures and responsibilities.
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