Nickname: Happy Birthday Canyon
Time: 3+3 hrs
Advanced DCs: 2
Water: bone dry
One of the most beautiful canyons this author has had the pleasure of exploring in 60+ canyons over 5 years.
We parked at the Pinon Juniper campsite in Kelsey’s book and did the lower half first; it’s a short and easy hike in (and out at the end of the upper half.) The rappel at the very end really is only about 80 feet, despite looking twice that height from the top. The start is awkward and nerve racking and most of the rappel is free-hanging, thus turning an otherwise beginner-friendly canyon into something solely for those with iron constitutions. Allan was pretty shaken at the bottom. There is also a serious downclimb a little ways before that that looks impossible until you begin the descent and see the great holds around the corner. Above that is a larger natural bridge in a section of slot with beautiful colors and stripes, fins and chutes.
It’s a 2.5 mile road walk back the way you drove in from the PJ campsite to the parking spot at the top of the canyon, exactly at the Deadman Trail and Spur Rd junction, and from there your best bet is to follow the established trail to the southernmost entrance; that is, the furthest entrance. This way you get to see the colorful slot there, which you can miss by going into the two closer entries. There is a 2m slide/drop that left my lower legs buzzing and would likely prevent ascending this upper half of the canyon, although experienced climbers might do it with a daring stem maneuver . There is a very good upclimb in a side canyon at a big 4-way junction shortly before the 2m drop, and I want to take Allan back to try it.
All in all, this canyon is a walk-through. It would be an ideal place for an advanced beginner. The upper half is interesting, fun and imminently doable, while the lower half provides a couple of challenging downclimbs (which could all be rigged for rappel; they already have webbing and quicklinks) and a scary but not-dangerous rappel that can be escaped by retreating up canyon to the halfway point entrance in the event it’s too much.
It’s beautiful and fun, the only barrier is getting they’re – it’s about as remote as you can get in Robbers Roost; 4×4 and extra gas is required for all but the most careful and patient explorers.