One member of the welcoming committee.


Nothing doing in the U.C. this weekend. Ashley was stuck working, everyone else seems just as busy, yada yada yada… Luckily, Thursday night John Varn bailed me out of my boredom, and wanted to hit up some Roost canyons Saturday and Sunday. This was the perfect weekend to tick off a few of the slots I’d left undone on previous trips. I had three canyons in mind for the two days: Larry and Alcatraz on Saturday, and Mindbender on Sunday. Bad weather kept me out of Larry earlier this year, and even worse weather kept me out of Mindbender and Alcatraz at Tom’s Fest in May.

John didn’t get out of work until 11 in Salt Lake, and would be driving through the night. Not really excited about that option, I left early Friday afternoon, hoping to catch a nice sunset and perhaps some solitude. I rolled into the Alcatraz campsite just as the sun was going down, and was promptly greeted by a few pronghorn antelope. I hopped out of the truck with a camera and gatorade, pulled out a chair, and watched the pronghorn skip around the flats as the sun dipped under the horizon. Not a bad start to my boring weekend.

Sunset near the head of Bull Pasture Canyon. Factory Butte can be seen in the distance on the left.

I woke up at 7:00 or so, to the sound of a car door shutting. John had finally made into camp, on something like 3 hours sleep. We had a light breakfast, hoping to save room for the combo-platter we had ahead of us. Larry for breakfast, siesta for lunch, and Alcatraz for dinner.

John on the first (optional) rappel. It can be downclimbed on the left, but we got ropes, right?

It seems like Larry gets mixed reviews. Some love it, some don’t. After looking at the map, we decided spotting a car was a must, as we’d heard it makes things much more enjoyable, especially in early-June temperatures.

The approach is super short, down a wash. The canyon starts to slot up after 20 or 30 minutes. You can bypass the first big dryfall by going down canyon on the left about 30 yards, and climbing a small nose down into the bottom. Didn’t look very interesting to us, so we rapped. A few more minutes down canyon, and you hit the first mandatory rappel.

John on the first mandatory rappel. The canyon is starting to get interesting.

Larry’s easily defeated keeper pothole.

There is supposedly water in Larry most of the time, the depth varies widely. The keeper with water in it? Dry as a bone. We didn’t get our feet wet once. Fine by me, I suppose. We then hit the second rappel, which is really the start to the best section of canyon. It is somewhat two stage, as you pop out of a little hanging alcove, and then downclimb another 10 feet around a small corner. The walls tower above, slightly overhanging, making for a beautiful sculpted room. A few feet down the canyon, a narrow slit drops out the bottom, and you enter the darkness.

The heart of Larry. After the second rappel, the canyon has an amazing little chamber, before dipping into darkness.

With headlamp ablaze, John descends into darkness.

Another little downclimb in Larry.

After the downclimb into darness, you approach the “slanted hallway.” I was not particularly looking forward to this section, as the beta we had made it sound like it was endless, so I figured 20-30 minutes in this thing. In fact, it is not very difficult, and fairly comfortable. It was maybe 10 minutes long, and some very interesting narrows. The slanted hallway is pretty much the end of the goods, and the slogging begins. I think the actual good stuff was around 2 hours long, which isn’t much compared to the approach and hike out.

The notorious “slanted hallway.” Not as bad as the hype sounds. A few hundred yards long, and just comfortably narrow.


John tops out on the 4th class crack exit from Larry.

Larry is kind of like cheap sushi. It tastes okay going down, but when it’s time to digest, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth and the stomach a bit unsettled. The canyon itself is pretty interesting, but the slog out is not even close to enjoyable. We even spotted a car, so the walk was limited to an hour or two. Without the shuttle, it turns into an epic 6 or so mile hike. Trust me, this one isn’t worth doing without the shuttle. Luckily, Alcatraz would have just enough water and tasty narrows to wash the foul taste out.

But now, it’s time for a siesta.