Friday, March 31, 2017

2016 Travels. Canyoneering Undercover in Utah and tribute to our friend, Kim Ruble.

Our most interesting and challenging canyoneering adventure is Undercover, a true slot canyon on the north side of Arches National Park. We've done this with Kim and Lisa the past two years. It's an hour drive from Moab so we have to leave town early. The final leg of the drive is on dirt roads with some high-centering rocks and sandy patches. The canyoneering route takes about 5 to 6 hours to complete. It's an all day excursion.

Five friends ready for adventure. Kim, Lisa, Cissie, Jackie and Jim
I didn't take pics of the hike across the flats to the head of the canyon because we've done it before. The desert is undefined. The land looks fairly innocent, cut by shallow drainages, but walk in any direction and you'll soon be cut off by a maze of sheer, deep canyons. We're looking for a particular drainage that looks like all the others with the exception that it will lead us into a slot and to the bottom of the canyon complex. There are no signs but if you look for the foot prints of those who came here maybe the day before or maybe last week, and if the wind hasn't blown the prints away, you will find the canyon. Otherwise, you just need to know where you're going.

. Lisa, Cissie, Kim and Jim at the beginning of the slot in Undercover.
The approach to the slot is beautiful but it's at the slot where the fun begins.

Cissie and Lisa hike into the slot.

Kim, Jim, Cissie and Lisa hiking through an easy, wide section of Undercover.
At times the slot opens and the hiking is easy. Then it closes in again with interesting down-climbs and pools and cracks to stem across.

Overlapping walls block out the sun.
Overlapping walls block out the sun and the slot becomes a tunnel.

Cissie, Jim and Lisa stem across cracks and pools where the canyon narrows.

Going on down the canyon.
We arrive at the first rappel and Lisa and Kim rig the ropes to a fixed anchor.

Lisa and Kim rig for the 1st of 3 rappels.

Jim takes the lead.
Jim takes the lead. The first rappel is only about 30 ft. but requires starting out on our knees to duck our heads under the pointy arch. The edge is also undercut at the top.

Cissie and Jim at the bottom, Kim at the top.
The second rappel is just around the bend. It's an interesting one.

Cissie in the grotto above the 2nd rappel.
We prepare for the 2nd rappel in a beautiful, ambient-lite grotto.

Lisa instructs Cissie on rigging for the 2nd rappel.
The anchor for the rappel is at the top of a pour off into a silo of rock. We can't see anything of the descent until we back down a crack and into the spaciousness of the curving walls of the silo. The exit into the slot at the bottom is a crack that is too narrow for a person but we have to lower ourselves far enough into it to have enough rope to defy gravity and move sideways across the tilted rock face. The goal is to get on top of a log jammed into the crack and rappel another 20 feet to the bottom of the slot.

Jim goes first, I follow and Cissie comes 3rd. Kim and Lisa come last. Jim has the most work to do going sideways across the rock face and onto the log then pulling the rope into position for the last 20 foot drop.

Cissie descends the silo.

Cissie stands on the log jam on top of the crack.
Jim on belay uses the rope to help pull us over to the log when we get down to the crack at the bottom of the silo. He coaches Cissie in the final 20 foot drop. The walls are canted and it's easy to bang knees or get wedged in by the backpack.

Jim coaches Cissie in the final 20 foot descent.
This is the last photo I took of our Undercover trip. The lens motor drive failed, the camera shut off and never opened again. If you look back to our Moab posts from 2014 and 2015 you'll see photos of the final rappel and the hike and climb out of this beautiful canyon. It's one of our favorites.

A Tribute to Kim Ruble.

Jim and Kim on the Morning Glory Arch canyoneering route.
Two months after we left Kim and Lisa in Moab, Kim was killed in a plane crash as he took off from the Moab Airport on an early morning flight on December 12, 2016. We were shocked and heartbroken. It was devastating for Lisa, for his daughters, for all his co-workers, and hundreds of friends. We don't know what caused the crash but from the video it may have been a medical event.

I had to write this because Kim has been a big part of our blogs about Moab. He and Lisa are the reason we spend so much time here. He was a veteran, a great pilot and friend. We flew with him several times and went on so many adventures together. He had a deep laugh that came from his core, a wacky sense of humor and a joyous outlook on life. He was compassionate and took time to know and mentor other people. He described himself as "just an old liberal". We all sure got along.

In memory of Kim here are some pics from our canyoneering adventures.

Kim tosses the rope into the Medieval Chamber on the Morning Glory Arch route.

Kim and Jim at the rappel into the Medieval Chamber
Jim wanted to descend first into the Medieval Chamber. When he got to the point were he could see into it he laughed and said to Kim, "You didn't tell me there was a pool down there." Kim said  "Well, you didn't ask."

Kim and Jim shared a special bond and knowledge, Kim as a pilot and Jim as an aeronautical engineer.
Kim descends free-hanging from Morning Glory Arch.
Here we are on a canyoneering trip in Behind the Rock above Moab.

Aron, Kim, Lisa, Neal and Jim Behind the Rocks.
Here we are ascending Elephant Butte, the highest point in Arches National Park.

Jim, Kim and Jackie climbing up Elephant Butte.

Soul Mates. Kim and Lisa on Elephant Butte in Arches.
Kim and Lisa were like stars circling in a cosmic dance. They made each other shine.

Kim, Lisa, Jackie, Neal and Jim on top of Elephant Butte.

Kim and Jim in Undercover.

Kim on belay at the 1st rappel in Undercover.

Kim at the top of a down-climb in Undercover.

Kim free-hanging on the last 100+ foot rappel in Undercover.

Jim and Kim on the hike out after the last rappel in Undercover.
Kim's destiny was his own and not for us to say. We lost him but the loss is soothed by the warm friendship and all the memories we shared. He was one of the very best human beings we've ever known as a friend. He would want us not to grieve too much or too long. We'll take his memory along with us into the canyons. His pilot name was Redtail and we'll have a thought for him when we see the hawk on the wing.

Kim makes fractioning up a steep, rounded shoulder of sandstone look like a walk in the park.
When we left Kim and Lisa at the end of October we hugged a farewell. He said, "We love you guys, you know that". We love you too, Kim.

Thanks for joining us in this tribute. Until next time.
Jackie and Jim

1 comment:

  1. I completely missed this post when it came out (I was on the road at the time and wasn't keeping up like normal.) Again, better you than me with all that technical climbing!!

    I've always found it a shock to lose someone unexpectedly, but after watching my father waste away while becoming more and more detached and isolated from the world around him by slowly progressive medical conditions, I would prefer to go out a little sooner doing something active that I like.