Scotty’s Bail


October 2105.

Alex and I had a great idea to loop through a bunch of the Kanab Creek slots, starting and exiting via Scotty’s Hollow.

A great idea. But it didn’t work well. The biggest challenge was the late season thunderstorms rolling through. We kept are eyes on the forecast and the sky, and opted to delay a bit, probe a bit, and bail a bit.

The first day was a late start because we decide it was too risky to hit the slot in the afternoon as the expected storms rolled in. Good call. They came. As it turned out, it didn’t matter, because we blew the entry! Not having been the way, we relied on some good beta, 2 or three cairns, and some footprints. We should have ignored the footprints! They led us in the wrong direction, and we spent a few hours looking for the break…getting further and further from the real way down. A long afternoon side hilling on loose crap. Quite sporty!

(The correct route is laughingly obvious from the bottom, less so from the top.)

DSC_00scottys hollow rim route

As we called it and headed back, we saw the storms come in and the washes feeding the Scotty’s slot flashing. With the rain and wind and looming dark, we bailed, pitched the tarp, and spent the night sliding out and crawling back in!

With the forecast calling for more storms the next day, we decided to abort, and retry two days later when things were supposed to be clear.  Good call.

Hot shower, cold beer, and a restart. But now we knew the trip would be shorter, and we’d have to cut out a few slots. Having restudied the beta, we quickly found the right break, the only break really, and headed down.

We opted to descend the North Fork of Scotty’s knowing we’d come back up the other side. The North Fork is nice, but not spectacular. Below that, though, Scotty’s is gorgeous and fun. No ropes needed, but fun scrambling, wading, and a bit of swimming in the recently replenished pools.

Kanab Creek was supposed to be the highway for this trip, allowing us the loop among the slots. By the time we got there, a good 24+ hours after the rain, the creek was still swollen. You’ll sometimes see photos of people walking in the less than ankle deep clear creek. We saw bubbling chocolate milk that ranged from just below the knee to the collarbones at one point. We were able to navigate and made it laboriously upstream to Showerbath Spring, but it was clear the going was too slow and sketchy for us to really make the distance needed.

Spending the night at Showerbath, we decided just to leave it for another day. We turned and took a leisurely time up Scotty’s and actually met two groups coming down. One group was Keith Peterson and Co., on their way down to what would be a successful climb of Scotty’s Castle–awesome! It was nice having Monkey Boy Alex for the climb up the chockstone’s in Scotty’s. The wet mud at the bottom of each chockstone made for some slippy feet. But we perfected sending the climby boy up the large man’s back, and then using a hand line to get to big guy up.


It seems the other group we passed was a couple of guys who apparently cairned the heck out of the trail down. Big cairns, and tightly grouped. While that would have made our first probe easier, I confess to returning a few of them to their natural state (when you can see five cairns from one spot in the wilderness, I consider that overkill).

Didn’t come close to the trip as planned. But not a bad way to spend a few days in the Hole.

And we’ll be back to tackle the original Plan soon.

(Here’s a bigger set of photos and a set of bigger photos.)




About Mike Rogers

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