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The SWELL and Escalante: tips and recommendations
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By Andy Novak
From Golden, Co
Mar 11, 2013
Living the High Life.

Headed to the San Rafael Swell in a few weeks, and looking for some beta as I have never been. Theres a TON of info here and on other sites, so trying to wade through it all is rather daunting. Thus, going the easy route and posting here. If there is another thread on this topic, please link!

We are looking at doing a multi-sport thing: climbing, canyons, and maybe an overnight backpack in the Grand Gulch. Its such a vast area so I'd love to get your not-to-miss spots, including pretty car-camping spots

-Dry canyons: both technical and non-tech
-Good craggin 5.10 and under, doable with a double rack.
-Multipitch 5.9 and under with good or decent pro
-Pretty overnight hiking routes, both in the Swell and Escalante.
-pretty car camping

Feel free to PM if you dont want your secret spot public (We are ultra-low impact)

THANKS!


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By germsauce
Mar 11, 2013
Hippos kill people

low impact? yeah right. just make sure you clean up all your dental dams this time.


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By Chris Schmidt
From Moab/SW CO
Mar 11, 2013

Do Neon Canyon or at least rap the Golden Cathedral.
I have also heard Choprock is pretty sweet


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By Eric Klammer
From Boulder, CO
Mar 11, 2013
Heading up the best pitches of the route. Perfect rock at a nice relaxed angle!

I'm also planning on being around that area in a few weeks, so I've been looking for things to add to the 'to do' list as well. A few things that might interest you...

www.mountainproject.com/v/private-pizza-wall/106065590 Looks like a few great moderate routes here.

For longer routes either 1200' of Fun, 1200' of More Fun, or Death by Chocolate in the Eastern Reef Area. These are 5.6 - 5.8 and could make great 'night hikes' if you feel comfortable.

As for canyoneering, Egypt slots in Escalante are great non-tech slots to hike. Most others have at least some element of water to them so a wetsuit could really open up your possibilities. Beware as well that both Neon and Choprock are not easy canyons and may require contact with water and pothole escape/slot abilities. If you're okay with that though, give them a try, we certainly will be!


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By Andrew Gram
Administrator
From Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 11, 2013
Andrew Gram

Buckhorn is the place for cragging. Double rack is not enough as is the case anywhere in the desert, though the swell tends to be more forgiving for smaller racks than Indian Creek since the cracks are generally more varied. Spaghetti Western Wall off Mexican Mountain Road that I just posted has two obvious easy cracks that aren't on the site yet or in any guidebook that are fairly short, so you could probably do those with a double rack with a bit of lowering shenanigans.

If you want some adventure, check out Swaseyland and Head of Sinbad. A walk on the Swasey Side is definitely not 5.6, but isn't harder than 5.8 and is a really cool adventure route. Division Bell Crack is high quality and right there too. Jacks' Tower- Pair of Jacks is 5.8 if you pull on a couple of quickdraws(otherwise 5.11ish) and is in a cool out in the middle of nowhere area - lots of petrified wood on the talus slope. Worth the View Spire is mostly an easy wander with a short pitch of 9+ or easy aid on bad rock. Annakenna Tower is fun 5.8 with a short ladder you can pull on draws on easily enough. The area around Worth the View Spire and Swaseyland in general has awesome campsites, but 4WD is pretty much required to get back there.

Might also consider some of the low 5th class adventure routes in the blue Bjornstad book. I haven't done them personally, but people I know speak highly of the scrambles on the Pinnacle, Mexican Mountain, and San Rafael Knob - plus the 5.7ish free route on Windowblind Peak.

Just hiking and being there is great too. Lots of petroglyphs around Worth the View Spire. I love that area.


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By Andy Novak
From Golden, Co
Mar 12, 2013
Living the High Life.

Thanks for the replies! Except you Germ; thats just weird.


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By Ryan-Nelson
From Fort Collins, CO
Mar 12, 2013
NCCC

I'm curious about the swell as well. I think I may head out there this weekend. Anyone have some info on the camping? Good spots? Is it OPEN BLM?


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By Garret Nuzzo-Jones
From Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 12, 2013
Cleaning up in Jenny Lake.

Ryan-Nelson wrote:
I'm curious about the swell as well. I think I may head out there this weekend. Anyone have some info on the camping? Good spots? Is it OPEN BLM?

It's almost entirely BLM land. Dispersed camping is the only way to go.


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By RoadTripRyan
From Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 12, 2013

Ryan-Nelson wrote:
I'm curious about the swell as well. I think I may head out there this weekend. Anyone have some info on the camping? Good spots? Is it OPEN BLM?


Almost completely open BLM. There is the San Rafael Campground in the Buckhorn Wash area that is pay, but better dispersed camping (in my opinion) away from the campground down the Mexican Mountain road. The Wedge Overlook is a good camping place, though 20-30 minutes from the cragging in Buckhorn Wash. Very worth visiting if your in the area.

The eastern reef is all open BLM.

There are many great spots to camp in the Swell, but I, of course, keep my favorites to myself... :)

-Ryan


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By RoadTripRyan
From Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 12, 2013

Andy Novak wrote:
Headed to the San Rafael Swell in a few weeks, and looking for some beta as I have never been. Theres a TON of info here and on other sites, so trying to wade through it all is rather daunting. Thus, going the easy route and posting here. If there is another thread on this topic, please link! We are looking at doing a multi-sport thing: climbing, canyons, and maybe an overnight backpack in the Grand Gulch. Its such a vast area so I'd love to get your not-to-miss spots, including pretty car-camping spots -Dry canyons: both technical and non-tech -Good craggin 5.10 and under, doable with a double rack. -Multipitch 5.9 and under with good or decent pro -Pretty overnight hiking routes, both in the Swell and Escalante. -pretty car camping Feel free to PM if you dont want your secret spot public (We are ultra-low impact) THANKS!


I'm a big fan of Little Death Hollow/Wolverine in Escalante for an overnight backpack. Down LDH to the river, camp, then up and out Wolverine. Easy walking, and nice scenery. I've done it as a long day hike, but its more enjoyable as a leisurely 2 day backpack.

Little Wild Horse, Ding/Dang are good non-technical canyons in the Southern Swell. Most of the others may have water. If you go to North Wash, 30 miles south of Hanksville toward Hite, you will find more technical canyons that are likely to be dry-ish....

Window Blind Peak in Buckhorn is a nice 5.7 summit with a bit of an approach. your likely to have it to yourself. A single rack of cams is plenty.

-Ryan


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