Terepocki and Lost Creeks - September 2011

Terepocki and Lost Creeks - September 2011

Postby cirrus2000 » Mon Sep 26, 2011 8:35 pm

On Tuesday, Sept 20, I took a couple of people from the British Columbia Mountaineering Club on a canyoneering trip near the town of Mission, an hour or so from Vancouver.

Ilze has taken a number trips to southern Utah over the past few years, descending a variety of canyons in the Zion and Escalante areas. She's also done a course with ATS in flowing water canyons in the Mount Rainier area of Washington State. Jeff went on a canyoneering trip in New Zealand a few years back, and was looking forward to trying it out again.

Our primary destination for the day was Terepocki Creek, a 3C canyon that should take a half to a full day, with lots of swimming and up to 6 rappels, if doing both the upper and lower sections. None of us had done the canyon before, but we had beta from the first recorded descender, Chris Hood (Too Many Canyons).

After meeting up and driving to the destination area, we spotted one vehicle at the exit point from the canyon, then drove to the trailhead, suited up, and prepared to set out.

Ilze and Jeff, steeling their nerve for bushwhacking and cold water

At the crack of 11:50, we dropped into the gorge of Terepocki Creek. 5 minutes of light and fluffy bushwhacking down a treed slope brought us to a little rock escarpment, from which we dropped a meter or two into deep, clear, cold water, and swam downstream for about 50 meters.

We fetched up where a rocky knoll divided the stream into two, signalling the first rappel.

Ilze negotiates a large log near the first rappel

The rocky knoll splits the current into two uneven cascades - about 1/4 of the flow in the right channel, and 3/4 in the left (looking down canyon). The first rappel takes the lesser flow, on canyon right.

Ilze and Jeff at the anchor for the first rappel in Terepocki Creek

Unfortunately, I made a fairly basic mistake at this point. I read the beta about the height of the falls (12-15 meters), and paid out that much rope for the rappel, not considering the distance from the anchor to the brink of the falls. Unbeknownst to any of us, the rope ended at least 3 meters too short.

Ilze starts down the first rappel.

Ilze went first on the rappel. When she hadn't shown up after a couple of minutes, Jeff scrambled out to where he could see down the rappel, and spotted Ilze stopped at the edge of the falls, 3 or 4 meters above the pool below. In speaking to Ilze afterwards, she was torn at first about whether to attempt to scramble down the rock face, or wait a while for us to clue in, or attempt to ascend the rope. We had not set a contingency anchor, but considering Ilze's light weight, it was very easy to convert to a lower, which we very quickly did. A moment later, Ilze was off the rope and swimming across the pool below the rappel.

Ilze waiting on the other side of the pool, waiting for Jeff and I to join her.

Next, Jeff started down the rappel. Just before he went over the lip, he realized he didn't have his pack on. We laughed (nervously) about how smoothly the trip was not going so far...

A remarkably unencumbered Jeff heads into the first rappel.

After pulling the rope from the first rappel, we swam through a deep, beautiful pool, beneath a couple of propped up logs, then started walking and splashing along a bouldery section. After about 5 minutes, we arrived at the top of the second rappel.

The beta for the canyon advises to carefully evaluate the flow rate at this point, and we did so. What we saw was not promising. The rappel would normally be a two-stage affair, first into a punch bowl, then down a second cascade into a larger pool. The punch bowl was a turbulent mess, and the falls were absolute torrents. We could have easily set a rappel off a tree to the side, bypassing the entire mess into the lower pool, but to what purpose? The gorge only got narrower below, funneling the water into a faster and rougher flow.

The top of the second rappel. It is hard to see just how much current is heading over the top of the falls, but you can see the mist beyond from the waterfall below.

At this point we decided that we would escape the gorge, and go try another nearby canyon - Lost Creek - one I had done before, and that seemed less susceptible to higher flows. Lost Creek is quite short, so we would still have time to do the whole thing, but it packs a lot into a brief trip.

We found a spot where we could bushwhack up out of the canyon, and made our way back to the car, following weaknesses, creek beds, and old skid roads.

After picking up the other vehicle from the shuttle spot, we drove the 6 km back down the road to the trailhead for Lost Creek - at least it wasn't far away.

We dropped for about 2 minutes from the cars to the edge of the creek, and evaluated the flow. It was significantly higher than when I'd done it a year before, but looked, if anything, more fun because of the extra flow. We would scramble and swim until the first rappel, and re-evaluate at that point.

Splashing, swimming, and wading.

It was kind of like a watery playground!

We arrived at the first rappel - a huge boulder in the middle of the stream. The usual rap is down the right side, but the anchor there was inaccessible due to the higher flow. Instead, we went down canyon left, ending up in lots of water near the bottom of the rappel. Once again, Ilze went first, and made it look easy!

Ilze starts into the first rappel.

Ilze drops into the torrent. From this spot, she pulled some slack through her rappel device, and slid right through the highest flow, into the still water beyond. Very smooth!

Jeff working his way down the waterfall of rap one.

Looking back up at the first rappel. Normal rap is down the left side (looking up canyon, like this), which is visible. We came down the right, which is hidden in this view.

Immediately after the rappel, we walked under a huge log propped between the canyon walls, and entered a long, narrow swim through a beautiful corridor, with water dripping off the walls from small streams joining the main creek.

Ilze sitting by narrows entrance.

Jeff entering the swimmer narrows.

Next, we continued through a variety of narrows, pools, and short cascades.

A short time later, we arrived at the second and final rappel. This was rapped off a large outcropping of rock, around which the entire rope was wrapped like a huge bollard. Down over a short, very slippery, waterfall, and into a final large pool.

Me, below the final rappel, with Jeff starting down the rap.

Jeff on the final rappel.

Ilze starting down the final rappel. Unlike Jeff and I, she decided to stay in the main current, rather than exiting left and jumping in to the pool.

From this point, it was about 10 or 15 minutes of wading, splashing and scrambling downstream, then a 10 minute bushwhack up through the forested hillside. We rejoined the logging road there, and walked 20 minutes back to the car, arriving with lots of time to spare before dark.

All in all, a great day in a couple of watery canyons. The full descent of Terepocki eluded us, however, so we shall have to return!

Here is a link to a short video showing some of the wading and swimming, as well as the final rappel.

0:00 - 0:37 Splashing, then looking toward the top of the first rappel.
0:38 - 1:00 Ilze heads into the swimmer narrows
1:01 - 2:25 Jeff and I swim through the narrows
2:26 - 3:05 Slippin' & splashin'
3:06 - 4:18 The final rappel

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