The Rabbi
The Rabbi, preparing for Shenanigans.

Mischief, deceit, and trickery. Shenanigans has it all, and would not dissappoint. After changing the plans from the Roost to North Wash, I was hoping we’d take a shot at Shenanigans, since it seems to be wideley considered a classic. Tom had already made it known he didn’t really want to go do the route again (he’d done it two weeks previously) so when El Ramoo came into town, I made sure I threw it out there for consideration. Ram seemed excited at the possibility of doing the canyon while full of water, so he wasted no time telling us to get ready. With a nice storm moving through on Saturday, there was sure to be some water.

Gene First Rap
Gene “The Alabama High-Stemmer” down the first rap into Shenanigans.

Ramoo avoids the full swim
Ram staying mostly dry by doing some creative underwater stemming. I, and the rest of the crew, swam this one. I think he only went to a few inches above the waist by stemming.

The crew downclimbing in the first narrows. The water was about knee deep most of the slot.

We moved through the first and second narrows pretty quickly, serenaded by a few rumblings of thunder overhead. By the time we reached the third narrows, there was a small drizzle of rain hitting us, and everyone was noticeably nervous. But we moved confidently and quickly through the third. I think we were all pleasantly surprised how well the team was moving. Between the third and fourth, there is a place to have lunch, and an exit from the canyon. We had a quick bite, then contemplated jumping out while we still could. After a few minutes, we decided the weather would hold, and we made a run at it. Good choice.

Slanted Hallway
The slanted hallway in the 3rd narrows.

To the 4th Narrows we go. I was feeling surprisingly relaxed, despite the ominous clouds overhead and the primal fear of being stuck. The 4th narrows aren’t too long, but they take a good while to get through. After the grim crawl, Dale took the lead, and quickly encountered what ended up being two very tight constrictions we had to negotiate. He was unable to pass the first one on a couple of attempts. He backed out and I took a shot. I was able to squeeze through after two solid attempts and some serious tippy-toe action. About 30 feet downcanyon, I arrived at the super skinny. From my estimations, it is about 8 feet to get through the worst of it. I was able to wedge into the first 4 feet after a few seconds, but it took me a good minute or two to get through the last few feet. Some interesting pelvic thrusts and swivels, a millimeter here, a millimeter there, and slowly I crept through.

As protocol when Ram takes a group through Shenanigans, the first person through becomes the “dwarf.” Basically, the guy who shuttles packs and helmets through for the others to stand on to gain a few inches elevation to get their waste above the tighest part. Well, Carol came through next. Carol and I had opted not to get out of our wetsuits, expecting we could get through. Add the extra few millimeters of neoprene, and the fact that this particular day the slot favored the taller folks, Carol wasn’t slipping through as easily as we’d planned. I dropped my pack and helmet for a stand to try and help her up, but she was wedged pretty good. What’s more, for some reason I couldn’t get back through to get closer to her to either give her a spot or to slide the packs closer to her. After about 10 minutes of manuevering, we had made no progress. I was puzzled why I couldn’t get back through, so I decided I would walk downcanyon and slip out of my wetsuit to try and skinny up a little more. Remember, we are talking a matter of millimeters in there. Only problem, my pack is back in the constriction, and it has my clothes in it. I can’t reach it, nor can Carol, so I am left to slide back in there in just my skivvies. Needless to say, the term “belt sander” only begins to describe what it felt like in there.

Grim Crawl
Dale after completing the “Grim Crawl” on the right side of the image. Most of us rapped down this.

Light in 3rd Narrows
Some beautiful narrows. Nice slot, skinny and sexy, just the way we like ’em.

Carol Through Arch
Carol sliding through the double arch.

Me trying to slither through the first real tight constriction. My nose is touching on one side, my helmet on the other, and my waste is comfortably wedged. It took me a couple minutes to get through.

IVANHOE! Seriously, the man is a hero. Literally gave me the shirt off his back.

But hey, the stripping worked. I was able to slide back down in the slot and put a hand under one of Carol’s feet, and prop her up just enough to get over the constriction. Next came Ram, who has been through this slot something like 18 times. He made it through without a heroic effort. He graciously offered his shirt to me as protection as I went back in to shuttle packs and what not for the next couple people. At this point, I was a little worried. Nothing against our buddy Randy from Alabama, but I was thinking he’d be the hardest one to get through, and he was up next. Eyeing up the problem, Randy (who is a very experienced caver, by the way) decided “to hell with that” and started some phenomenal frictioning-slithering-wriggling upclimbing moves that got him about 4 feet off the ground, and into a slightly larger corridor. Wow. Randy slides through with no problem. Nice moves there. Not sure how you even move sideways with nothing to support your feet, but apparently it can be done. Stronger dude than I am, I suppose. Dale and Gene came last, but they had already slipped out of their wetsuits, and easily used the helmets and packs to get through.

Ughhh…. The worst (or is it best?) is finally over. Slot Canyons 401 finally concludes. Next up, the graduate course. Some pretty straightforward stemming for about 40 yards. Well, at least that’s what the professor told us, before he and Carol slipped off down the canyon and out of sight. I don’t have much stemming experience, but I head off across the slot anyways. It starts off easy, with the wall with my back on it slightly less than vertical. A few yards into it, I got the funny feeling that this is a little more difficult then I was expecting. The walls slowly shift, with the wall my back is on now slightly overhanging, and my feet less than vertical. It wasn’t very easy to stem, because it just wasn’t wide enough, and my feet weren’t sticking. Well, if it ain’t wide enough, go where it’s wider, right? No problem, I go up about 6 more feet. Now I’m a little more comfortable, though uncomfortably high off the deck. Anyways, I inch myself down canyon very slowly. I hear Ram yell out from below “You guys coming?” He’s been down for five or so minutes, and we are only a quarter of the way through the stemming. I don’t reply, instead choosing to focus on the task at hand. Out of curiosity, Ram comes around the corner to see what is taking so long, to see all four of us 35 feet off the deck, moving very slowly.

“What in the hell are you doing up there?” Ram yells.

“Uh, I dunno. Where else are we supposed to go?” I mutter. I look back over my shoulder, and notice that Gene isn’t really all that comfortable either. Well, I cautiously slid back down to the end and back to safety. But the others decided it was time to switch sides, and put their backs on the other wall. With a few partner assists, they all made the turn and made it down without trouble. Needless to say, it got my blood flowing again after being near-nikked and freezing earlier.

Then came the last couple raps. By this point, our confidence had slipped a bit, and we were all a little slower paced. Carol and I went ahead to set the last two, and descend down. Of course, my wetsuit is off at this point, and I am the first to go down into the pool at the bottom of the rap. I had been told to not come off belay until I had located a ledge on the left of the pool to traverse back. Well, I found the ledge, took a few steps and felt secure. The water is a little higher than normal here, and I can’t see what I’m stepping on. One more step… The ledge dissappears. I go for a nice swim. Man, we seemed to fly through the first four sections, now the last 200 yards of the slot, we are getting stuck, falling into pools, and just generally sucking it up. I think it took us two hours to go through the final sections.

Last Rap
Gene finds the magical ledge. Right about there, I went for a swim.

Finally, we’re through. A collective sigh of relief and round of high-fives, and were off to the cars. Gene and Randy dropped off a car at the mouth of the Butler fork and highway 95. Ram, Dale, and I decided we’d take Leprechaun back. Lep was sure to be full of water as well, so it’d make a fun diversion back to camp. There was at least one swimmer in Lep, and a few deep pools. Fun way to see that canyon, as I had done it bone dry earlier this year.

Dale DCs
Dale downclimbing in Leprechaun. Dale’s a solid climber.

Last Rap Lep
Last rap in Leprechaun.

Nice way to spend another stormy spring day. Tomorrow would take us to Capitol Reef for Cassidy Canyon. Stay tuned…