By Published On: February 20, 2024Categories: arizona, canyoneer, grand canyonTags: , , , ,

After five posts in a row about Death Valley, it’s time to move on to something completely different. Let’s talk about the Grand Canyon! There are a number of great technical canyons near Page, Arizona that we wanted to visit. The first canyon we explored was the North Fork of Badger Canyon with our niece Mira and our friends Mel Rader and Kieran Corrigan. It was wonderful of Mel and Kieran to take the day off and play with us.

Badger is a short canyon that is easily accessible from US 89A in Marble Canyon, Arizona. From a pullout right by the highway, you can drop right into the canyon drainage. There are no permits required and beta is available here: Badger Canyon – ropewiki. To give you a brief overview, the north fork of Badger has four rappels and a short walk to the Colorado River. There are two ways to exit. The first and most popular is to leave fixed ropes in place at each of the four rappels and to re-ascend the ropes on the way out. The more adventurous route is to bushwhack up the Colorado for two miles, followed by a strenuous and sketchy climb up some steep vertical cliffs. We decided re-ascending would be an entertaining way to practice our skills and avoid a sketchy slog.

The first thing we noticed was the very slippery and thick mud throughout the canyon. We were fortunate that the numerous pools of water were completely avoidable, which is not always the case here. There were a few areas of “saucy mud”, which consists of a mud crust that jiggles if you step near it. Be careful of stepping too hard or you will fall through!

The approach hike is about 15 minutes down an easy wash to the start of the canyon. The scenery in Badger is somewhat similar to the nearby Cathedral Wash hike, consisting of wide ledges lining the walls and huge boulders the size of small houses everywhere. The scale of the place is quite difficult to imagine. It’s almost as if you are somewhere very Grand 😊.

The first rappel is 40 feet down a chute with multiple ledges, descending like steps to the bottom. The second rappel is about 60 feet off a boulder. After this rappel the canyon enters a more narrow and polished section with some beautiful downclimbs and water-sculpted features.

The next rappel is about 50 feet, off a ledge, with a clearly visible bypass trail on the opposite slope that requires a bit of scrambling to get around. This is followed by the last rappel, about 35 feet off an overhung ledge.

At this point we had shed all of our ropes (they were attached to the rappels) and headed to the Colorado for a late lunch. The water was a beautiful and clear green. We ate our sandwiches and remarked on a section of rapids that were right next to the canyon mouth. As we were about to leave, four large rafts approached. We watched with bated breath, sure that they were going to capsize in the rapids, but each boat took the rapids with ease. We got some great photos and headed back up the canyon to do it all in reverse.

The first ascent was definitely the hardest due to the overhung lip. This was Mira’s first time ascending a rope outside of practice and she took to it like a fish to water. We were very happy to have our Croll ascenders with chest harnesses that made life a lot easier. As we ascended and up climbed all the downclimbs, it was getting late in the day. A few in our party opted to bypass the third rappel to save time.

The last ascent was probably the most time consuming because the ledges were interfering with the climbing angle and my foot loop kept coming off as I was standing on the ledges all the time. We got out of the technical section just as darkness fell.  Such a fun time was had by all in this incredible place.

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