April 13-14: Buckfarm Canyon/Eminence Break
After meeting and spending the previous day on a long car shuttle, Todd Martin, Aaron Locander, Rich Rudow and I started on our grand adventure down Buckfarm Canyon in Grand Canyon National Park. The climbers from the dam builder crew around the year 1950 came in here with a mess of huge metal rebar spikes to try and rig a route through Buckfarm Canyon. Whether or not they succeeded in completing the entire canyon or just to the waterholes isn’t entirely clear (but I think they did go all the way through), but since then only two known groups have succeeded getting all the way through this remote canyon. Our group would be the third. This would also be Todd’s third attempt of the canyon and Aaron’s second.
Our route (or more accurately Todd and Aaron’s) down to the Redwall required crossing several “ledges of death” and was quite scary. A few years ago I came down to the Redwall via a less exposed route. We succeeded in getting all the way through Buckfarm and even did the Muav section direct. The only really difficult sections were the “ledges of death” well before we came to the Redwall slot and the technical section itself was actually quite easy. After reaching the river and in the afternoon we explored Bert Canyon, named for Bert Loper who lost his life here while running the Colorado. We had a nice camp on the beach.
The next morning we headed down river until visiting the Bridge of Poles, an old footbridge that is over 1100 years old and on a technical and very exposed route. The Anasazi were quite the climbers and Rich made the comment that judging from routes he had seen, if you weren’t born a 5.10 climber back then, then you were dead.
We then crossed the river one at a time on a small raft we carried down and Rich would retrieve it each time with his high strength fishing line. I ended up breaking the paddle on my crossing due to it getting snagged in the fishing line.
After crossing the river we climbed to the rim via the steep and rugged Eminence Break route. The route is only rated class 4, but is long and steep and it was hot for April with temps in the mid-90’s. It was a great route and traverse.