Imlay Christmas Day |

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Imlay Christmas Day

Day 3 - Fortune favors the bold... most of the time..

As is the usual on a Ram trip, we get an early start, getting up at 3AM, and starting to drive to the trailhead before 4. Yawn!

By 5AM we are geared up and leaving the Grotto trailhead. Man it feels early, but the main canyon is quiet and peaceful in the moonless early hours. We make good time, reaching the split off from the West Rim trail to go to Imlay just a few minutes before the sun begins lighting the day. I have to admit to having a few butterflies. This seems big, and it has been awhile since i have done a canyon with Ram. Hopefully I can still keep up!

The approach goes smoothly up to the pass, with large frozen waterfalls emerging as we get higher in elevation. The descent, of course, is covered in snow and slippery. Even still, we only had to do 2 short raps down to get to the Crossroads.

Big Icycle

Tim hidden in the brush

We all suit up, me in a drysuit, the real men in the group wearing wetsuits, and head down canyon. The first hour has some ice, and a log jam section that had not been there my last time through, but overall was smooth. All too soon the first extreme narrows begin. Gulp!
A bit of a log mess

In we go. The first rappel is into a keeper. Clearly the water levels are low. The first narrows section has quite a few potholes we have to boost and help each other out of. Some pools have ice, but not enough to hold our weight. As an optimist, I would say the best feature of the canyon this time of year is the pools have silted out, and are crystal clear.

The effort of getting in/out of the pools, and fighting with the ice begins to take a toll on me. Fortunately we pop out of the first narrows right as I needed food. The team is very strong, and we are working quickly at solving the problems and getting drops rigged as we go. Aaron is the climbing gun and is making very short work of the pothole escapes. I tend to stay in the rear and be the rope monkey, bagging the rope after each rappel, and occasionally jumping forward to boost Aaron when needed. The upside of being rope monkey is the effort to bag the rope makes sure I stay warm, a trick I learned a long time ago.

Ah, it's only 2PM, but the day already feels to be fading and still one more section to go! Everyone stuffs some food into their bodies, and we are off! Into the final narrows. Almost immediately we reach the biggest keepers of the canyon. These require pack tosses or hooking. Since Aaron is the rope gun, it is fastest to put an aider on one of the hook holes, then have him fire the climbing moves. It's humbling to see how quick of work he can make of the exits. If it were me on lead, I'd have to make several aid moves before being able to climb out. Ah youth and skill!
Tim rapping in the first section.

Unfortunately the lighting is bad, and I feel rushed, so don't get many pictures in this section. This section is colder than the first narrows, and has quite a bit more ice. When Aaron proclaims we are at the second to the last rappel, a big grins crosses my face. We will make it to the narrows before dark, and once in the narrows, it's a pretty sure bet everything will go well and we will be at the cars in an hour or so.
Toward the end of the second narrows

A few more photos:

Great Light
First Rap
The Narrows!



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