Big Blue Blunder

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Death Valley Dazed
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Big Blue Blunder

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:55 am

A failed attempt to reach Big Blue Mountain via upper Artist Palette around Little Blue Mountain. Turn around at huge dry fall and return via drainage north of Artist Palette toward Desolation Canyon - November 24, 2018.

Upper Artist Palette is truly a marvel and so worthwhile getting one's rear end up and over that north ridgeline into the colorful basin. One can easily spend one entire delightful day exploring all of its curious nooks and crannies as the morning light turns to sunset light.

Scooting down that ski-slope like scree field back to the parking lot is a heap of fun too!

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MojaveGeek
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Re: Big Blue Blunder

Post by MojaveGeek » Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:14 pm

It is a pretty cool landscape, but I'm not sure exactly where you were. It's pretty confusing in there!

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Kauri
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Re: Big Blue Blunder

Post by Kauri » Wed Nov 28, 2018 8:01 pm

Great photos and videos! Watching your movie made me almost feel like I was there.

I'm curious if you've tried to ascend the canyon you photographed which drains towards Desolation Canyon? It actually joins the Artists Drive road shortly past the Palette turnoff, and might be interesting. I tried it many years ago but turned around due to hot weather (it was late April).
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Death Valley Dazed
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Re: Big Blue Blunder

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:46 pm

MojaveGeek wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:14 pm
It's pretty confusing in there!
"Confusing" is an understatement! I've been all over Upper and Lower Artist Palette and often still get momentarily or completely confused. I've learned to incorporate confusion into the fun and mystery of Death Valley.
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Death Valley Dazed
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Re: Big Blue Blunder

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:06 pm

Kauri wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 8:01 pm
I'm curious if you've tried to ascend the canyon you photographed which drains towards Desolation Canyon? It actually joins the Artists Drive road shortly past the Palette turnoff, and might be interesting. I tried it many years ago but turned around due to hot weather (it was late April).
Thanks Kauri. Glad you enjoyed the vid.

The canyon you're referring to is, I believe, the same one that starts at 2:35 in the vid. Rather than ascending, I actually descended as my roundabout route returning to Artist Drive and back up to the parking lot at Artist Palette. I now realize I've got a few images out of order/sequence. Just to be clear, the canyon I descended as my exit is the one closest to that huge ridge/wall that heads towards Desolation Canyon area.

There are at least two additional smaller scale canyons that parallel this one between Artists Dive that originate out of Artist Palette.

While descending I realized how challenging the upper part of this canyon would be to ascend. I had to improvise several major bypasses around dry falls and chutes. At the base of the canyon is a huge dry fall that made me backtrack a few hundred yards and scamper/scramble the south side slope which eventually dropped me down close the Artist Drive.

By then I was pooped and when tired I take fewer images while focussing on getting back safely and on time. The geology of this area is just fantastic.
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Death Valley Dazed
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Return route back to AP parking lot

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:01 am

Kauri wrote:
Wed Nov 28, 2018 8:01 pm
I tried it many years ago but turned around due to hot weather (it was late April).
Kauri, just to be clear on my return route, here's an image of the area snapped two days ago from Badwater Road with my routes marked. I do want to return and hike up from the mouth of this large canyon to the huge dry fall just to see how tall it really is. It stopped me dead and I had to retreat back upstream a quarter mile before bypassing to the south and skiing down the scree to Artist Drive.

Image
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Re: Big Blue Blunder

Post by Kauri » Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:40 am

Thank you for the detailed image of your route! That is the same canyon I was thinking of. If I recall correctly, there is at least one dryfall, with loose rock, which I think is about 12-15 feet tall, in the straight stretch of canyon below the one which stopped you. I doubt it will give you any trouble, but that's where I turned around. Perhaps there are some nice narrows between the dryfalls!
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Re: Big Blue Blunder

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:47 am

Kauri wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:40 am
Perhaps there are some nice narrows between the dryfalls!
You're welcome. With your input here I may try hiking and scrambling up the canyon to see if there are some "nice narrows" and past where you turned around, figure out bypasses to the two dryfalls mentioned, retrace my steps back up to the saddle between this canyon and Upper Artist Pallete and then scoot down the tailings to the AP parking lot or to one of the mini-canyons at the base of the tailings between the main drainage canyon that flows right in front of the AP and between the parking. This would take me at least a half day to complete without hurrying and stopping to compose good landscape shots.

There are two tricky dryfalls in the upper portion of the canyon that may require some moderate bypass scrambling, but the geology changes, the view of that huge ridgeline on the north face make all of this effort worthwhile. The view from the saddle into the Upper AP basin is to die for as well.

I'd love it if someone here following this thread would beat me to the punch and post a trip report and images!
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