The following is a true story, only the names have been changed, to protect the guilty.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Entrajo Canyon and The Medieval Chamber

Yet another tall tale from the Utah Super Trip.

      Saturday, after riding the Slick Rock Trail we planned on an easy canyoneering trip to Entrajo Canyon. We headed south of Moab and started out walking down a 4WD trail. I was really excited to use my new canyoneering boots that I bought with the money from the sale of my old cyclo-cross frame and fork. I was also hoping to get in the canyon and get the boots dirty before anyone with canyoneering experience would see them and expose me as the fraud I really was at this sort of thing. No luck, as soon as we started, there were three canyoneers exiting  as we were heading in. I tried to look all cool, ask some "smart" questions, and hide the new boots that were practically glowing and screaming "inexperienced". Moving on.  Typically one only goes down canyon, this route headed up and traversed around the two rappel's giving the traveler a good look of what needed to be negotiated, or you could just skip the raps altogether. Somewhere on the way up, Steve and I missed the side canyon trail that would take us up past the second pot hole and rappel. We were only supposed to gain about 200 feet of elevation and be able to drop back in. Instead we went on a wild goose chase scrambling over loose boulders and having to climb a short cliff face. About 400' up, we knew we were off course, but could still see our prize in the distance. Traversing across a high ridge for a few hundred yards, we found a good spot to descend, and were soon back on the right route. We continued up canyon until the slots ran out and it became a wide wash. Heading back down is the fun part, the first rap was only about 20 feet and the second one around 90 feet. The second one was worth the whole trip, It dropped into a pothole filled with water 60 feet down, we swung over it and dropped the remaining 30 feet to the bottom in a small alcove. Canyon trip #1 successful!
Slot in Entrajo

When we messed up on our route up canyon, we had this nice view to make us feel better

The route description said we might need wet-suits, not today

We named this the spiral of death, It was like a spiral side only it was 12 feet tall  and sunk  into the ground  another ten feet to a small tight pit

This was the first short rap' of the canyon, into a pot-hole. The rocks pilled on the other side are so you can get out!

The last and longest rap' , the water was not deep and if you were careful  your feet stayed dry

I mostly have photos of Steve, so I'll break it up a little, and add these of myself
       Sunday, Medieval Chamber to the Morning Glory Arch (it's misnamed and is actually a bridge) and a nice hike out to the van. On this trip we had to use the bikes as a shuttle, the start is up on Sand Flats road while the finish is at the end of Negro Bill Canyon. This is the actual name of the canyon, if you don't like it call the state of Utah and have them change it. We did a leisurely 10ish mile ride through town and back up to Sand Flats Rd  after dropping the van at the end of NBC canyon. We passed back by our camp and used the fat-bikes for the final 2 miles on Sand Flats, another ploy to justify bringing them. They are a lot of fun anyway and tend to get conversation rolling with other riders and those wondering what the heck those bikes are. A few spins on the bike-lock tumbler, and we were off on our next canyon adventure. The route was easy this time and required no back tracking so it was all new scenery, the way I like it. The canyon was a broad wash at first, narrowing down to some tight slots, and opening up again, just before the first big drop. This first drop was aprox. 90 feet into the Medieval Chamber. A group of youngsters(20 somethings) were there before us getting set up, these were true nubies.  A couple of them had never rappelled before, they all were wearing sandals or flip flops, and they were all messing around dangerously close to the edge. This is when Steve busted out our rope and got set up on the anchors before them. We both figured if we were down and out of ear shot ASAP we would not hear their screams and witness a mangled body laying in the pit below. Steve went first, I snapped a couple pics on my way down and hoped like hell none of them would fall on me. Once down Steve wrapped up the rope and were ready to go. Moments later we heard the courtesy call "ROPE" from above. Their rope draped nicely on the canyon wall, the only problem was the ten or more feet it needed to be to get them safely to the bottom. "Your rope is about ten feet short" we called to them. It was actually 20 feet short over-all because the rope is doubled at the half way point when threaded through the anchors. Not our problem, the best we could do was let them know of their predicament and get the hell out of there. The second drop comes very shortly after the Chamber, it's also a little longer at a solid 100'. When Steve threw out the rope there was about 6 inches of both ends touching the ground, perfect.  The anchor for this rap' was on the end of a 40 foot piece of webbing tied to a juniper tree, and hung just past the rolled lip of the 90deg face we were rapping on. Assuming the group behind us had at least 20 more feet of webbing to make their rope long enough to touch the ground below, they would already be beyond the easy vertical face and into the overhanging portion of the rap'. You can not belay yourself through a bunch of webbing, knots, carabiners and quicklinks, and safely attach to the rope that would carry you to the bottom. Again, not my problem, we planned ahead. I am curious about what they did to get down, there is no walk-off and no way back up the Chamber once you pull the rope. I went first on this one. The rap' goes in between the cliff face and the bridge itself, with about a ten foot slot separating the two. The bridge is well over 100 feet long and can be walked on, it could probably be driven on by a car if you could get one there. Below is a shaded alcove with lush green trees and ground vegetation (poison ivy), water is present and flows from a spring in the side of the rock. This was the best rappel I've ever done! The rest was an easy scenic hike down canyon to the van. Canyon trip #2 successful, my boots looked much better now too.   
Getting our bearings before setting out on Medieval and Morning glory

Who is this supposed to be?

Stuff like this short down-climb  is common and a lot of fun

Medieval Chamber lies below


"that was my foot"

It was hot out, so we walked the river on the way back when we could


  1. Absolutely fantastic. Good story about the kids. Wonder how they ended up.

  2. The way to extend a rope that is two short is to tie the webbing/extension to the bottom end of one side, not the top, then rap single strand on the other side.