By Published On: December 24, 2023Categories: california, canyoneerTags: , , ,

Wow!!! There aren’t enough adjectives to describe the incredible Typhon 4 Canyon, located in Death Valley NP. This canyon descends a mind-blowing 6,000 feet, starting at Dante’s View Scenic Vista Point and ending below sea level near Badwater Basin. Dante’s View is a major sightseeing destination, especially at sunrise. An easy paved drive takes you right to the top of the overlook, where you can see a distinct set of mountains in each direction, framed by the amazing Lake Manly covering Badwater Basin.

We did this canyon as part of a Christmas trip to Death Valley last year. As you can imagine, the canyon involves a lengthy shuttle, which is best set the night before if possible. There are no permits required, aside from the park entry fee. Bolting is not allowed in the park.

We started right at sunrise, and it was freezing and windy at the top. Since we were going to lose so much elevation, the key is to bring lots of layers to remove throughout the day. The hike started right from the parking lot and followed a very good trail along a ridge for about three miles, then started descending very steeply down a scree slope, past an old mining camp with preserved wood and metal fire pit.

After losing over a thousand feet in under a mile, we got to the beginning of the canyon descent. The exposed bedrock in Typhon 4 is spectacular the entire length of the canyon. The rock layers are very polished and show many different colors and textures all through the various elevation bands. The predominant layers are pinks, yellows and whites with swirls and inclusions of other colors within the layers.

Wandering through this canyon is an otherworldly experience. There are polished narrows of different colors at every turn, and you can’t put the camera away the whole day. In addition, there are non-stop views of the valley floor and Badwater, which got better and better the lower we descended. We were also very lucky to see small pools of water throughout the canyon, which we were told by the locals are a very unusual sight.

This canyon has 19 rappels and numerous downclimbs, so it’s definitely a long day. Most of the rappels and downclimbs are down polished chutes of varying colors. The rappels are mostly cairn anchors, all of which had to be inspected, rebuilt if necessary and backed up. We had a great party of nine experienced people, including two of the first descenders of this canyon: Rick Kent and La T Tretina, so we were able to move forward fairly efficiently.

Much to my surprise, I spotted and carried out the remnants of a mylar balloon, which I found in the middle of this very remote canyon. Last year we also found a balloon in Coffin Canyon nearby, so this appears to be a common problem. Please think twice before unleashing balloons to float away. They can wind up in wild and protected places where they don’t belong.

Just as the sun was setting around 4:30 pm, we made it to the last downclimb and got out of the canyon in time to see the sunset on Lake Manly. An amazing day in a five-star canyon with a great group.

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