Wednesday, December 21, 2005

 

The South Fork of Choprock Canyon

We woke up around 5:30, and got around a 6:30 am start. After missing the real turn off from the river, we found a route up the cliffs from the head of Choprock Canyon then backtracked a little to get back on course. It wasn't long before we reached the top of the plateau and were looking down into the canyon we were about to descend.


The view from the rim.


Ben and Josh along the rim.


Josh checkin out the slot.



The canyon wasted no time, after dropping in we found it narrow and steep right off the bat. We decided to throw on the wetsuits at the first sign of water to make sure our clothes stayed dry. While we were stopped, we figured we might as well eat our first lunch too.


Ben (back) and Me (front) downclimbing just after dropping into the canyon.


Ben led, and we followed.


The first swim of the day into a nice open area.

Soon after this open area, the canyon slotted up again



then the bottom dropped out. Time for rappel number 1





Josh rapping.


Ben coming down.

After Ben reached the bottom, he realized he forgot to unhook his safety biner at the top. Oops, it happens to us all. A quick trip back up the rope,



the biner was let loose and we were back on track. From this spot, the canyon takes a sharp turn to the right and it's serious, narrow nature changes to a pleasant wooded hike down a beautiful open canyon. This is what "Ram" and Tom Jones refer to as the Riparian Section.


Lots of green.


Bushwhacking through the brush.


Talk about beautiful!


A giant boulder pile.


Looking back at the boulder pile.

After climbing down the giant boulder pile, the vegetation started to get less dense. The floor of the canyon transitioned from sand to rock, and water started seeping out of the surrounding cliffs to the point that a very small stream started flowing through the canyon.


A bend in the canyon.


Entering the Subway-like narrows.



Just as we entered what "Ram" and Tom call the Happy Section, we stopped and had a power bar in the subway narrows. It was really a beautiful spot. If this canyon wasn't so hard to access and difficult to get through, this spot would be on all the Grand Staircase National Monument pamphlets (or is it in Glenn Canyon National Recreation Area?). It's up there with the best of the Escalante canyons as far as scenery goes.

The Subway section lasted for a bit, then it started to get narrow again. Lots of swimming and scooting made for some really fun times.









After swimming and squeezing we came to the next rappel.


Josh rappelling near the end of the Happy Section.

After this rappel, the canyon took a sharp turn to the left and really slotted up. It would be tight narrows from here on out.


What an awesome place!


Lots of really fun downclimbs would drop us into long deep pools. Some swims were more than 100 yards through twisting tight narrows. And did I mention how beautiful this place is?

After this swim marked the end of the Happy Section (or did it end before this swim. I don't remember) Time for what "Ram" and Tom call, The Grim Section. The canyon really got narrow, and had lots of log jams. One tumbled down on top of my head. Good thing I had the helmet on.





Josh downclimbing through this hole in the log jam.

The canyon didn't have a lot of rappels (like most Utah canyons outside of Zion) but had lots of narrow slots we would elevator down, like the one in the next picture.


Ben preparing to elevator down to the water in the slot below. Josh just behind.


Working our way to the end.


Another small narrow subway section.


Deep narrows.

One point in the canyon we ran into a long narrow drop into a long swimming corridor. It looked like a tough downclimb, but most likely do-able. How did we end up getting down? Ben found a really cool alternate route. If you're ever there, look around there might be an easier way, not obvious at first.


Me standing over thirty feet above the swimming chamber we need to get down to.



After a long day full of lots of downclimbing and tons of fun, we reached the end and the final 80 ft free rappel into a beautiful grotto.


Josh on the final rappel.


Ben on rappel.


Ben from below.


Me on Rappel


Time for the hike back to camp.


Tall cottonwood on the hike out.

After reaching the river, we decided instead of walking back to camp, to hold on to our packs and float. It was great fun, and a great end to an awesome day!


Josh floating the Escalante River.

Comments:
Wow...great pictures and trip report. I think that canyon would cause a flare up of my claustrophobia.
 
thanks for the visual recon. choprock is in the top 3 of next canyons on my list. nice pics!
 
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