Canyonlands: Tales from Narrow Places

Three close friends in Tatahoysa Wash

Posted in Northern Arizona & the Mogollon Rim by canyoneering on January 20, 2015

Chris and Eric are silhouetted against the red wall in Tatahoysa Canyon in the Grand Canyon.

Tatahoysa Wash, 3AIV
Grand Canyon National Park
12/14/14 – 12/15/15

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It has been too long since I have gotten into the thick with these two. Geography, injuries and life have gotten in the way. It has been nearly 5 years since just Chris Erwin, Eric Luth and I have been adventuring together. After a vehicle mishap we reach our destination on a frigid December night over 20 miles from pavement on the rim of the grand daddy of them all. Tomorrow morning the three of us will throw on our packs and step over the edge, but tonight we’ve got some drinking to do.

I wake with a hang over not as bad as would be expected. Frost has coated everything. I look to the east of the massive expanse of desert longing for the sun to the pop over the edge. I want the adventure to begin. My partners in crime are still sleeping, so I do what I do – start cleaning camp and packing up to make as much noise as possible. Eric and Chris wake up with not too much resistance. They are also excited for the adventure to get going. Gear is divided, packing completed, a knee brace secured and we are on our way.

The Eminence Break route is a fault that splits Marble Canyon allowing entrance on the south rim. The terrain is steep but fairly easy to negotiate as we make our way through the subsequent layers of geology. Upon reaching the Red Wall Limestone we don our harnesses as the technical canyon, Tatahoysa Wash, begins. As I take out my camera to document the first rappel I realize my camera is not working. I try every in-the-field repair I know which basically amounts to taking out the battery and putting it back in. I soon realize it is not coming back to life on this trip. I quickly commandeer Chris’ camera informing him I will return it when the trip is over. He doesn’t put up a fight.

Steam rises from Chris' rappel device after touching it with his sweaty glove at the bottom of a 150 foot rappel in Tatahoysa Canyon in the Grand Canyon.

Steam rises from Chris’ rappel device after touching it with his sweaty glove at the bottom of a 150 foot rappel in Tatahoysa Wash.

Tatahoysa Wash, is rather pleasant indeed. Near continuous rappels in magnificent indirect light as it cuts its way through the Red Wall and towards the Colorado River. The rappels are rather straightforward despite several of them being over three figures in length. The canyon is also with the exception of one pool that is easily stemmed over, bone dry. This is greatly appreciated on this cold winter day when wetsuits were left behind. We are thoroughly enjoying the canyon and the company. Before a final rappel that appears way higher than it’s actual 150 feet, we reach the river. We find a suitable beach to camp at in eye and ear shot of President Harding rapid. There is still lots of daylight left despite the fact that we are a week away from the Winter Solstice.

We spend the afternoon filtering water, chatting and snacking. Three friends catching up in the most beautiful of places. Night then comes quickly and with it the cold. It is before 7pm and we crawl into a three- person tent. We wake over 12 hours later. The hike out the Eminence Break is strenuous but in the cold air proves not too challenging as those who previously used this route in early Fall. In a few hours we are back at our vehicle. Our vehicle mishap must still be dealt with extending the amount of time these three close friends get to spend together.

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3 Responses

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  1. Steve S. said, on January 21, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Thanks for another great adventure.

  2. Mitch Stevens said, on January 21, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    wow, great photos, great writing. What an adventure. I hiked the Eminence Break route on a short hike from the river several years ago on a dory trip through the canyon. It was very steep but the views were stupendous Keep on trekking!

  3. canyoneering said, on January 23, 2015 at 5:58 am

    Thanks Steve and Mitch.


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