Thursday, January 12, 2006


FreezeFest 2005 - Video and Trip Report.

Ok, ok Trip Reports might start changing quite a bit here in the future. My photo TR's are in many cases going to be replaced by Video TR's. My first real attempt at this was at Freezefest this year. I borrowed a really crappy digital still camera and used its video feature to get some footage instead of the usual still shots. The results were... alright. The video is only 15 fps (somewhat jumpy) and really low quality. Future videos will be taken with an actual video camcorder, so quality should improve significantly, but for now this will have to do.

For my Trip Report, I will write a few things about the three days I attended FreezeFest. I will include links to Tom Jones' Latest Rave photo TR of the days I was there. To view the video just click on play above or click the link to view the video larger (the quality is really bad so viewing it larger probably won't do you much good).

Day 1 - No Kidding and Right Fork of Leprechaun.

The first day we descended "No Kidding" a short but surprisingly interesting little canyon. We wanted to go in to solve some of the difficult anchoring problems. I mainly went in to observe the masters solve the difficult problems. The canyon proved to be entertaining, but I think would lose quite a bit of its charm if it were bolted, eliminating half the fun, doing things like rappelling off of sandbags etc... A better TR with pictures and examples of how we solved some of the problems can be found on Tom's site here (be sure to look at both "No Kidding" pages):

After No Kidding we decided to make a mad dash to the Right Fork of Leprechaun. I followed Ram and his son Aaron down the canyon. They had descended the canyon many times and seemed to have every move memorized. We downclimbed where most would rappel and we darted where most would stop and stare in amazement, but... it is winter and the days are short, we need to get to camp before dark, so off we go. No video of this because well... I really didn't have time to pull the camera out.

Day 2 - Upper Stair and Left Fork of Leprechaun.

Day two could be titled "Off the deck stemming 101" with our instructors: Ram, Tom, Rob, and Aaron, all masters of the skill. Tim and I were more novices and Ram wanted to make sure we could handle this stuff in a canyon we could easily back out of if we got scared rather than in tomorrows canyon when we would have no choice but to go 30 - 40 feet off the deck if we wanted to make it out without a helicopter ride.

I'll admit being that high off the ground was a little unnerving at first but I got more comfortable with it the more I did it. If I want to do all the good skinny canyons I have to get some experience doing it sometime, might as well be when I'm with guys who have a lot of experience doing it. Stair was a really fun "sport" canyon that proved to pack a lot of punch in its short length. I'd like to continue down canyon and check out the wingate narrows below one of these days. Tom's photo TR of the day is here (notice Tom making fun of my wearing Levi's through the slot. I think they really did help with friction on the rock):

After Stair we headed down the Left Fork of Leprechaun. This time with a little more time to spare so we were able to soak in the canyon a little more than the day before. Belfast Blvd was the highlight, it was mighty dark in there late on a winters afternoon, very nice! No video of this either because of our hasty descent.

Day 3 - Hemlock Canyon

Day three was the big one, we woke up early in order to start the hike before sunrise. We followed Ram up, up, up to snow covered plains surrounded by rocky desert terrain. The sunrise was spectacular and the views amazing, we could tell it was going to be a magical day. The canyon we descended has lots of names, Tom calls it Achilles, I've heard it called Hemlock before, hence the name in my video. The canyon had a little bit of everything, yet didn't remind us of any other canyon we've descended before. The entry rappels were somewhat long and very beautiful. The open sections were snow covered and grand. The tight sections were deep and beautiful. The short high stemming section proved to be easy after our practice in Stair the day before. Partner assists, human anchors, ice breaking, pack zip lines, and a breathtaking big rappel to hanging icicles made for a phenomenal canyon day. After exiting the canyon some chose to take the sure route back to the cars, Ram, Aaron, and I decided to take the alternate, more scenic and fun route out. If there was too much snow, we would waste a lot of time by going this way, but luckily all worked out and we made it back to the cars not long after the sun had gone down. I threw my gear into my car, said goodbye to my new found friends, and made a mad dash back to Salt Lake in order to go to work for 12 hours the next morning.

All in all it was a phenomenal trip. It was great to meet everyone and the canyons were really great. Can't wait to have more time to devote to this great sport, but for now three days of canyons will have to do. Hope you all enjoyed my TR and the video above.

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