The damage, after a weekend in the Swell. Mike’s toes, Justin’s arm, Dan’s knees, and my shin. Not pictured: Justin’s “inconvenient rash.”

After getting beat down by the Squeeze, our group was in tatters. Raver and his cronies headed back to SLC. Matt and his group started back to Durango. The Nelson brothers went straight Sally style on us and decided to bail because they are just plain soft. As we licked our wounds around the barbecue Saturday evening, we debated what our plans for the next day would be. No one was really feeling up for Quandary.

But as luck would have it, reinforcements arrived from Moab. A few of Justin’s friends decided to join us for Sunday. We couldn’t let them down after driving all the way out here, so we decided to do Quandary Direct, but with a catch. We would descend the keepers, then jump back on the bypass route and just upclimb the canyon back to the cars, hopefully saving us the long hike around.

Honestly, I was looking forward to the day’s events, despite being ridiculously tired. I had been in Quandary once before, and ended up doing the canyon in reverse due to inclement weather. I had kinda seen the whole thing, but enjoyed none of it. Today would be a day to take care of some unfinished business.

John on the first mandatory rappel in Quandary.
Justin doing a bad-ass rappel. Yeah man, you so tight.
It gets skinny for awhile. Not fun in shorts and a t-shirt.
Justin in the skinnies.
Justin one more time, just for the ladies sake…
The Monster. This was the biggest pothole I’ve ever encountered. Water levels were super low.

We found the canyon in very dry conditions. The three big potholes were nearly empty. No swimming required. I had heard before that the canyon yields easily to potshots, and we found that to be true. We ended up setting a guided rappel on the first big keeper, and just batmanning out on the remaining obstacles. The climb back up was super interesting, and highly recommended. All the rappels can be bypassed by upclimbs downcanyon, or by chimneying back up the watercourse. It’s crazy how different a canyon looks when doing it in reverse. It seemed like it saves us a couple hours of hiking as well.

Mike on the guided rappel over the monster.
John doing a little stemming. Dan from Monti in the pool.
Mike offering a meat belay on a difficult downclimb (at least for us mere mortals. Dan dispensed of it with ease.)
The last big keeper in the mix. Faye batmans out.
Mike going up and over.
Kief raps into another big keeper.
John Varn on the last rappel.
The party at the end of the technical keeper section.
A little wider view of the Direct Route.

And the widest view of the Direct Route. Lots of potholes in those few hundred yards.
The group, partying like rockstars. Or dirtbags. Take your pick.
John upclimbing the last difficult problem on the way back. Unknown female attempting a full body stem in the background.

The consequences of not being quite long enough.
Extra style points for getting it done sideways.