FreezeFest XV- December 26th-31st 2016


Feb 15, 2013
Here is a series of trip reports (5) posted on Canyon Collective, all together. They are the days between the Snowy Christmas and the January 1st Black Hole (December 26th-31st), which I will post later. It was a dry and warm Fest this year. Enjoy


So after the Water Canyon snow-fest, Wes and I awoke in Zion and drove to North Wash, getting there Noon-ish, to find Wes' dad Chris there and set up. So we set up too and prepared for a short canyon. For many years now, I have done Shamrock on the 26th, in the afternoon. I am a creature of habit and this is definitely one. It takes two hours or so and has a lovely approach over soil and slickrock. Then the canyon has short fun downclimbs. A perfect way to get "the feel" of North Wash again.

Before leaving we encounter Ronnie Egan, a stalwart in the battle to preserve wilderness
She had gone with her dogs, up to the subway section of Leprechaun. She would head home in the afternoon. Her accomplishments and relentless advocacy for our lands is legendary. She came to say hi to the FreezeFest-ers. She would stop in 3 days later too. If you are among those that are deeply concerned about the political climate as it relates to wilderness (I say you should be), please donate to these gals (and guys) who work tirelessly to protect our lands.
BTW....Our own Jenny West started the Broadband for SW UTAH and is quite active in this worthy organization.

With time short, we drive around to the top and head to the canyon. There are 6 or so fun downclimbs. The one I like least (forward facing bridging) has changed, with rockfall and is no longer a downclimb. We slide through lower Shimrock and out the bottom. The pleasant surprise of the day is that almost all the graffiti has been removed from the walls. We do the car shuttle and get to cook in daylight.

Dan Ransom arrives and we are 4 around the fire. Plans are made for the "morrow," along with catching up with each other. FreezeFest proper, still small and intimate, is underway.

The legend- Ronnie

Farther and son....on approach

downclimb, on rappel

Late day light on the car shuttle


Seems I often do this canyon during FreezeFest. Seems I do it on the 27th a fair share too. The last of the Dante's explored, largely due to a hard looking start, a fearsome looking pothole down low, when seen from afar and intense cross jointing that made "rim teaming" impossible. Paradiso intimidated, back before it was done. That initial descent will see a 10th anniversary this March.

The canyon would prove to fit right in the middle of the Dante's in difficulty, but it may top the heap in its beauty and variety. An old friend, I always seem up to visiting. Chris and Wes Grove, join Dan Ransom as the days partners. The long drive, higher temps, later start time and southern aspect take the edge off the AM cold. Still arriving at Purgatory Point and not being bent or cowering away from the wind, is unusual and not just at FreezeFest, but nearly half the year.

I used to car shuttle, to the north trail head, but have grown to love the bench walk that winds in and out, on the way to the drop in spot. We arrive at the canyon head, eat and armor up. We have decided on just one canyon today instead of the two that is often the choice on a Dante day. Dan films video. We mosey through the canyon's many and varied obstacles. A fine day where nary a foot got wet and everyone enjoyed each others company.

We take our time to such a degree, that we miss the last call for pizza at Off Shore Marina. Back to camp we go. We find that no one has arrived. We bravely joke that FreezeFest is dead. That no one is coming. Around the campfire, to nearly bedtime, our small group enjoys the evening. Then Basia, coming to FreezeFest for the third time, from Chicago, arrives. Her enthusiasm dominates the fire ring. We mull the next day's fare, before turning in.

On the drive

Dan on the entry moves



The man, the myth

A colorful place


The canyons signature wall

and beyond

Meat, then capture

Going over the swimmer

Staying dry

Got ya!

Boss Hog

We wake up the next AM and find that Jersey, has driven in overnight. We had decided on a leisurely day in Boss Hog. Late start, early finish and lots of photography. There is a rig at the trail head. Is it for drilling for water, oil, or what? Out of my depth with such things. We danced the entry ledges at the entry of Miss Piggy, entered the canyon and took our time. Basia and Jersey were ahead and I barely saw them till late in the canyon. We hiked up the gully and were quite pleased to be up top when a huge rock was loosed. That afternoon and evening, a dozen new FreezeFesters arrived and joined the fire.

Dan enjoys the the late start and sunshine

Digging what?

The wider Piggy Ledge

Rare Jersey sighting

A smiling hand line anchor

Perhaps the best introduction to stemming, of any canyon out there. PG+ at the most


There is Basia!

Heading back to camp

The Blob does Chambers

Dan wanted to do some filming. One is served by rendering unto Dan whatever his artistic vision is. "How about Shenanigan's" he asks. I say great....except I am about 40 pounds too big to fit through. How did I get so big again? Oh yeah...gluttony. Lack of discipline . Large appetites....let me count the ways. Dan follows up with..."How about Chambers?" At near 220 LB, I know this too is a very bad idea, but I want to give Dan what he wants. To film some super narrow footage....and there is less area in Chambers that I CAN"T fit through. How about that for fanciful logic? I sigh and sign on. But the little voice inside me guides the daily choices and we schedule other fare. Then we realize that we are out of time. It is tomorrow or not at all. I suppress the sensible "not at all" voice screaming in my head. I think of a title for the story I suspect this will elicit..."The Blob does Chambers."

Around the fire that evening, Nate says he wants on. He declares that it is high "on his list" of places he wants to go. I look at him. Perhaps he is a dozen pounds lighter than I? I say..."be careful what you ask for." This does not deter him and who am I to say no, when I am so clearly being....what?....illogical? Irresponsible? Delusional?

From the trail head

Nate ready to tick another off the list

Down? Down!

The drive there takes two hours and a lovely drive it is, circling back around to where you can easily see over the Dirty Devil to where you came from a few hours before. We hike, or in my case limp down to the entry. We are only missing 2 of the 4 helmets, so Wes, who has kindly joined our group, runs back up to get the head wear. I stretch, aware of, yet pushing out of my head, the battle that awaits. We are off. I am last and as I elevator down, I pick a wrong angle and wedge at the chest, legs suspended and promptly panic. That didn't take long. In shaky voice, reflecting a shaky mind, I call for help! Dan help! He comes close and out of my mouth comes.....all the platitudes that I offer to others when they are stuck. Like an old script, I talk to him like HE is the one that is stuck! In this way, along with his physical closeness to me, I ratchet myself down. I have a balaclava around my neck. It blocks the view of my lower body. Bad idea. It adds fuel to my war with irrationality. I can taste it in my mouth. The tin like flavor of adrenaline. This is really bad, as this often triggers irregular heart rate in me. "The Beast" and I are visiting again. I have invited him in and we chat. I eventually ask him to leave and he reluctantly complies, but he has left me compromised. If you have not heard of or met the Beast, here is some background on him

Back on some kind of mental footing, I proceed, last in our queue. Nate is having his own struggles. I now try to present a calm exterior because another needs it and this is a good thing. Suffice it to say, we both struggle and mightily, often having to go up several feet and still it is very hard to get our ample-ness through. We ask for and receive help from Wes, who takes packs, but also offers his hands to support our feet and his shoulders, to act as stilts. Most kind of him. I have gone on and on and on, over the years, ad nauseam, how our individual energy belongs to the group blah, blah, blah. I use this as justification for accepting the help I so obviously need. We finally push through the first half of the canyon and into the chambers proper. The worst of it is over and we have survived. I had on elbow and knee pads. I have bloodied all 4 of these points THROUGH the pads. Grace under fire...NOT! For the next week, these wounds fester and do not scab over. Ahhh the joy of lifting clothing, sleeping bag etc, out of your wounds, constantly. A reminder that I am presently a fat piece of....wait, this site is PG. You get the idea.

The canyon is a beautiful one and I enjoyed all the pieces including my struggles. I got home from FreezeFest on the 2nd of January and weighed myself. A tad under 219 LB. It is 17 days later and I weigh in at a bit under 203. Yeah, here I go again down, down, down in weight. Tom and I have had friendly competitions over the years, motivating each other to get into "fighting shape." Tom, you are duly notified. I am coming after you!! I also have put Chambers on the dance card for late spring. I have some skin and composure I need to retrieve from in there. One mustn't litter.

The Chambers

Ghost Rock



The last time I dedicated a day to this canyon was at a FreezeFest about 6 or 7 years ago. It was full on snow and storming to boot. A very talented group, did many a belly crawl, captures and were forced to set up 6 anchors to get through the canyon. We laughed heartily, imagining others seeing our anchors, after the snows melted and derisively laughing at some newby's over caution.That was the day I learned than in real winter conditions, the flat areas of a canyon like this one, makes it much harder when snow covered. A Shimrock (Middle Lep) is much easier in the snow than East Lep. Before that descent, I had often done this canyon as a way to camp after doing any of the 3 West Butler Canyons (Monkey Business, Shenanigans, Fooling Around) as the top of Lep is only a 10+ minute hike from the top of the Kelsey Exit. Easy right into camp.

The night before doing the canyon, I was asked by Laura to take her and Marshall through the canyon. By the next AM when I went looking for them, they were gone and other trips had departed. But the day was rescued as Deeps, Bill and Dean were up for the casual mosey through. Thus the last day of the year was spent in this way. Some other pictures added from 2 days before, including the Fests best sunrise. Good lighting all around these days. Love winter

Thanks for sharing with us @ram. I always love a good one from you.
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