The only redeeming feature of Mindbender, a 150 foot freehanging rappel into beautiful grotto.

Looking down the first rappel in Mindbender. Boy, I look cheery.

Larry and Alcatraz were the priority canyons I wanted to check out for the weekend. Sunday was just going to be a short trip, and John and I kicked around a few different ideas. Thought about a couple Bluejohn variations, as well as Not Mindbender, but decided they would all probably be too long. Mindbender was the next logical choice. We set up a car shuttle to shave off the last mile or mile and a half of the exit. Seeing as it would be around 90 degrees out, there was no need to suffer any more than necessary. By the end of the exit, we were glad we did.

John doing an airwalk from a little chimney move. At first, this looks like you have to rap into water, until you spot the little chimney.

Mindbender was nothing like I had pictured it. I dare say it isn’t worth the hype. There are a few sections I’d actually consider slots, but they don’t last long. Lots of open canyon between the sections. As for scenery, it is impressive. I’m a sucker for nice pools with hanging gardens and what not, but this canyon is really pretty tame.

John on a nice little downclimb squeeze.


John on the first rappel.

After the first rappel, there is a few hundred yards of nice slot. Doesn’t take long for it to widen back up again. Fortunately, alot of what is lacking in the canyon is made up for by a pretty impressive last rappel, 150 feet free hanging into an amazing desert oasis. After seeing how underwhelming the rest of the canyon was, I wondered if this fabled last rappel was something of a chest-beater for the been-there-done-that crowd. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. I slowly creeped out to the edge, apprehensively trying to get a good look at what lies beneath. The view was oxymoronic. Coming from above is a hot, dry canyon with only traces of water. Below, is a glossy emerald pool framed by a ring of oak trees. I may have cracked a decent smile from up there. I dropped the rope bag and secretly wondered if I would hear it hit the ground. After a few seemingly long seconds, I heard the thud.

Since I set the rappel, John made me go first. It was a breathtaker for sure. After a slow methodical rap, I was relieved to have my feet back on terra-firma. The view from the ground was nearly as impressive as from above.

Another view of the last rap.

John doing his best Tarzan impression…

The last rappel was refreshing, and rewarding enough to get me stoked for the slog out. And if the heat wasn’t motivation enough to make quick work of the exit, the swarm of a thousand deerflies that quickly began feeding on every inch of my bare skin was. At times we literally took off running to try and get them off of us. John tore down a couple of tamarisks to use as giant fly swatters, while I mastered the art of the walk-and-flail, hoping that if I moved my arms fast enough, they couldn’t land on me. Unfortunately my shoulders didn’t move fast enough, and they still bit through my shirt. We probably made record time to the Moki exit (maybe not, AJ and his crew probably would’ve beat us, but you get the idea).

John made the moves on the climb, and gave me a handline. After a short bout of heat exhaustion (the heat won), we finished up the last climb to the car spot.

Is that John puking from the deerfly escape?

Mindbender is a decent canyon, though I’m not sure I’ll check it out again anytime soon. The actual canyon is pretty mild, and even a little uninteresting in spots. If it wasn’t for the last rappel, I’d say it was pretty weak. As for the exit, I suppose we got it in pretty bad conditions, but it didn’t seem too bad. Still, a nice way to spend a half day, and a reasonable finale for the weekend.