Canyoneering – Leprechaun, West Fork, in North Wash, Utah

Dennis Scrambling Above Leprechaun
Dennis Scrambling up to the Rim of Leprechaun

Kim and Dennis Descending Leprechaun Canyon
Kim and Dennis Down Climbing in Leprechaun

Jill Setting Up a Hand Line in Leprechaun
Jill Prepping a Hand Line

Erin Downclimbing
Erin Down Climbing – Props to Byron for this rad picture!

Clare in the Leprechaun
Climbergirl is Canyoneering!

Coming Out of the Dark in the Leprechaun
Coming Out of the Darkness of Leprechaun

We woke up to a beautiful desert morning. Clear as a bell and already warm at 6am! I was excited for my first dry canyoneering experience.

It had been a warm night, so I didn’t sleep as well as normal. Dennis and I both just sort of dozed on top of our sleeping bags. It didn’t cool off until about 4am, so I tried to eek every ounce of sleep out of the morning and was the last one out of bed! Oh well, so much for being rested the first day of vacation!

We gathered our things together and finally left camp a little after 7am. We were going to try and climb up on ledges, to the right side (East side hike, in blue in the map below) of the canyons, but somehow missed the GPS waypoint.

USGS Topo of Blarney, Leprechaun, and Sandthrax

The directions were a little ambiguous, they said to scramble up on slabs towards the waypoint, but it was unclear *where* in the wash one was to deviate from the wash. I’m still not sure where that spot is. They almost need a waypoint for this spot. Later in the morning, we saw another group going that way, but didn’t see them until they were up high.

For the entire weekend, this would be my one gripe; that we couldn’t figure out the East approach. So instead of hiking the east side, we went to the left towards the west rim of the canyon (we started in the green wash and then deviated to the west, ending up on the east rim). Apparently, this was how Jill had gone before, so it was okay.

Byron Hiking to West Fork Leprechaun
Here’s Byron in the Wash

Erin on Approach to the Leprechaun
Erin Just above the Wash

Photo war! I think her picture of me is better…!
Camera War

Photo War - Erin's Shot

Climbergirl Ready for Canyoneering
About 1.5 hours of hiking and we’re just about halfway to the mouth of Leprechaun (West Side).

Desert Derby Move Sans Skates
Finally, we get to drop in! My impression of a Roller Derby Girl. Since I totally am geared up like one!

Come Hither
Erin with her awesome backpack and home made cover (I want one!!!)

Finally, we enter the canyon. I’m really excited, my first co-lead of a canyon. Yay! I hang back to help with rope management and assist with rappelling or down climbing. As a co-leader, it’s important to work with the leader to help with whatever is needed.

I also had the responsibility of carrying the rope, so that was an extra burden weight wise. I’m used to carrying weight, so it wasn’t necessarily harder, but it did make my backpack bigger. In talking with Byron, later that day, I learned that most canyoneers carry ropes separately and outside of the backpack. So the climber can more easily maneuver the terrain.

Dennis Rappeling Into West Leprechaun
Dennis Rappelling into West Leprechaun

Jill in West Fork of Leprechaun
Jill Descending into West Leprechaun

Clare Using a Hand Line
Climbergirl Using a Hand Line. Hand lines were helpful when the down climbs were either awkward or had nasty consequences. Nobody wants to break a leg in the middle of a canyon!

Fred Rappeling in West Fork of Leprechaun
Fred raps one of the ledges inside the West Fork. You can see Jill giving him a fireman’s belay, for safety! If something happened to Fred where he couldn’t control his descent, then Jill could just yank hard on the line and Fred would instantaneously stop because the friction in the line would prevent the rope from pulling through his rappel device.

Clare Canyoneering West Fork of Leprechaun
Enjoying the Sandstone Ripples!

Jill Detangles a Hand Line in the Leprechaun
Jill working the tangles out of the handline.

Looking out of the Leprechaun
Looking up from the depths!

Dennis Traversing the Leprechaun
Dennis squeezing through a tighter section.

Kim in Leprechaun Canyon
Kim about to do a 3 meter down climb, with a hand line as safety.

Jill Giving Dennis Beta About the Slide
One of the trickier down climbs. It was just odd getting around the block as there wasn’t a good place to put your feet. Once you were past it, it was easy to slide down the spiraling rock.

And the Leprechaun is This Big!
Having Fun!

Lunchtime in The Leprechaun
We finally meet the convergence of West Fork and Middle Fork. After a short snack break, we wander a little ways up the middle fork to see what we could find.

Byron Teaching High Stemming
Byron gives a little class on high stemming. Erin, Fred, and myself give it a shot. I find it very nerve wracking to be about 30 feet off the “floor” of the canyon. One false step or a slip and you’d fall really far. You would definitely get wedged in the constriction below and you’d be lucky not to break something. I was very happy Byron stayed with me and talked to me while I was up there. He was very good at teaching “Body Zen”.

Fred and Clare High Stemming in Leprechaun
High Stemming in Middle Leprechaun!

The lower part of the Leprechaun became really fun! We had to scramble underneath a chockstone and wiggle through a narrow corridor of rock for a long ways. This was where my shoulder got tired tossing my backpack in front of me. It was very dark in that part of the canyon, but we had enough light to not need a headlamp.

Byron and Fred in the Leprechaun
Byron and Fred in the Narrows of Leprechaun

Fred Ready for the Next Challenge
Fred excited for the next challenge!

Clare Exiting the Dark Narrow Part of Leprechaun
Exiting the Narrow Part of Leprechaun

Map 28 Blarney, Leprechaun, Sandthrax
Map for the day!

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