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San Rafael Swell

Canyoneering The Squeeze - San Rafael Swell Canyoneering The Squeeze
San Rafael Swell

Overview | Getting There | Route | Photos | Maps | Comments

Overview

RATING: 3B
LENGTH: 7-10 hours

Mon

82 | 52

Tue

82 | 51

Wed

85 | 53

Thu

83 | 55

Fri

78 | 55

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SEASON: Spring through Fall
GEAR: Standard Technial Gear, Wetsuit, Pothole Escape Gear
RAPPELS: Up to 16 and 30 m ( 99 ft. )
WATER: Generally quite a bit. Wetsuit required.
FLASHFLOOD: High. Do not enter if threatening rain.

Mon

82 | 52

Tue

82 | 51

Wed

85 | 53

Thu

83 | 55

Fri

78 | 55

View Full Weather Details
Tom Jones downclimbing into a pool

Tom Jones downclimbing into a pool

The Squeeze, draining high off the Moroni Slopes, is arguably one of the best and most difficult canyons in the Swell. From either of the two possible trailheads, it is a long day and physical canyon. The reward is an amazingly beautiful and fun canyon, including two natural bridges you go through. Because of the challenges, intermediate canyoneers or better. The canyon, when 1/3 or 1/2 full of water can provide serious pothole challenges, go prepared. If you happen to visit after rains when it is full, it is a delightful romp, and you'll wonder what all the "difficult potholes" talk is about.

The crux keeper pothole often has a fixed line to allow traversing above it, however on my first trip through; the line was missing. A stick clip can be handy in the crux, as well as 1 or 2 other potholes, and likely more expedient than pack tosses depending on your clipping skill level.

Note: There are three approaches shown here. The Factory Butte Trailhead is the shortest time-wise and recommended if you are worried about group speed. From Hidden Splendor, the recommended route is the Pictograph Approach, which is shorter and offers even more of the excellent upper canyon. Finally, the old recommendation of going all the way through the Gorge to the Cottonwoods and up the Moroni Slopes on the same final section of the approach as the Factory Butte route. This option is shown, but not recommended.
Commentary: Rumor has it the Squeeze was done years ago using only natural anchors. Doing the canyon completely on natural anchors would be a challenge! In recent years, bolts have sprung up, and some canyoneers have placed bolts while others have removed them. Currently (2010) the canyon seems bolted in a fair way. If you go through at full water levels, you may scoff at the proliferation of bolts protecting short downclimbs and drops. Be assured, however, at lower water the bolts may be required. This canyon is difficult to find natural anchors in if an anchor is missing. The bottom line? Please leave the bolts alone in the canyon. If you don't wish to use them, then don't, but don't pull them.
Tom Jones big rappel after the keepers

Tom Jones big rappel after the keepers

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