Above Chimney Fall In The Funeral Slot

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Death Valley Dazed
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Above Chimney Fall In The Funeral Slot

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Wed Apr 17, 2019 12:11 pm

A rare peek into the half-mile section of Upper Funeral Slot Canyon above the 60-foot Chimney Fall. Access by dropping down into the head of the canyon where a multicolored and massive fault opens up the way. Exit just upstream a hundred yards from the impassable Chimney Fall by scrambling through a narrow crack in the north ridge. Enjoy some bizarre and charming geological and biological artifacts along the way late March 2019.

I noticed this gorgeous canyon to my right (southeast) as I passed it on my way to a failed attempt to climb Winters Peak from its south face a few months ago. So I naively thought I could return and drop down into this same spot and descend all the way via Funeral Slot back to Harmony Borax parking (from whence I commenced). Everything was perfect and eye candy as I meandered down the canyon and over a few easy dry falls until I hit a dry fall I was not aware of, the sixty footer named Chimney Fall (I later read about in Michel Digonnet's Hiking Death Valley) and for good reason.

I could not lean over the fall with outstretched arm far enough to capture an image of the drop-off and not knowing how far down it was except that no way was I going to scale down this one, I backed up a hundred yards or so and luckily picked out a crack in the north ridge that led to my escape from having to completely retrace the route.

I could have bypassed Chimney Fall on this north ridgeline with some difficulty but not knowing if I'd get stopped again and being tired I headed straight back to Harmony Borax via Roadrunner Rock and the main drainage.

While typing this trip report it just dawned on me how frequently bassackwards I go about exploring Death Valley. Step one: Get time off and decide when to drive the nine hours to Death Valley. Step two: Have some vague ideas of places to explore. Step three: With the goal of minimal driving in the park decide which area to explore which lately has been not too far from Furnace Creek. Step four: Get an early start - but not always, to enjoy the sunrise. Step five: Start the hike in generally the correct direction but then veer off as soon as another non-traditional route presents itself and then wander around and if lucky end up at the destination, return via another route for variety, if possible. Step six: Upon returning home get on Google Earth or into Digonnet's Hiking Death Valley or my National Geographic - Trails Unlimited Death Valley or Steve Hall's Panamint City, and figure out where the hell I've been. Step seven: Produce a video that may or may not make sense of the whole outing.

I used to try to plan out my trips to DV in great detail but then the details got in the way and I started having even more fun making things up as I went. I still don't take or rely on GPS or topo maps. I feel more like an old miner stumbling around looking for gold but this time I'm mining for great images and memories. An example is coming across my fourth bighorn ram skull and horns in the park near the entrance to this slot. The three others are in Trellis Canyon, below Panamint Pass, and a side canyon of Virgin Canyon (trip report in the works). I feel very lucky in my stumblings because rarely do I get skunked without finding some cool artifact, creature or formation.

I try to cram two adventures per day while in the park, but some are just all dayers or I'm too pooped to try another one. I usually fall asleep with a grin on my sorry mug while downloading the images or doing some basic editing at night. Sometimes it takes several weeks after returning from DV to find the time to pull the video trip reports together. So here's the latest.

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Re: Above Chimney Fall In The Funeral Slot

Post by Kauri » Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:16 pm

Very nice! I'm especially glad the colorful areas showed up well for your video and photos. When we visited that area, the colors were much more vivid in the evening and were more washed out in mid-day.

I think estimating 60 feet for the height of that dry fall might be a bit much, though. If we're thinking of the same impasse, Steve Hall estimated it at 14 feet (see http://www.panamintcity.com/photographs ... hotos.html) and that estimate seems more like what I recall.
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Re: Above Chimney Fall In The Funeral Slot

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:07 pm

Kauri wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:16 pm
Very nice! I'm especially glad the colorful areas showed up well for your video and photos. When we visited that area, the colors were much more vivid in the evening and were more washed out in mid-day.

I think estimating 60 feet for the height of that dry fall might be a bit much, though. If we're thinking of the same impasse, Steve Hall estimated it at 14 feet.
Kauri, I too was surprised about the vivid colors because I took most of the images during the brighter midday sunshine.

I certainly can be wrong about the following assumptions and notes about Chimney Fall or at least that's my disclaimer and I'm sticking to it. :idea:

After reviewing your excellent trip report about Funeral Slot and that of Steve Hall's (which BTW he mention your discovery of that tunnel/arch area in the main slot - very cool!) and that of a group who hike out of Las Vegas: https://www.birdandhike.com/Hike/DEVA/F ... rnSlot.htm I think that we are not discussing the "same impasse."

I believe that after I dropped down into the head of the first slot to the left of Funeral Slot, the one that Steve Hall dubs MSC "the main side canyon" and that you dub the first one on the left, I was stopped by Chimney Fall which Michele Digonnet describes in his masterful Hiking Death Valley in this paragraph found on page 152.

"The slot ends shortly above this fall. The fanglomerate abruptly leaves the stage to an open area of mudstone hills, even more cheerfully colorful than in the main canyon. The walls are shallower, more painted in tones of yellow and firebrick red, vibrant with light. Not for long, unfortunately: the wash soon dead-ends against Chimney Fall, a smooth, giant wall sixty feet high and topped by cavernous formations. The culprit is the same fault as in the main canyon. Here it has offset the Funeral Formation (down canyon) and Furnace Creek Formation (up canyon). Here too, erosion is having trouble keeping up. All that it has managed to carve into the wall is a narrow, shallow triple chute. Without either protection or a healthy dose of confidence, it cannot be climbed, and a bypass to the canyon above would be major work."

The only possible images of "Chimney Fall" that I could locate online are from the Las Vegas hiker group's trip report which I condensed and photoshopped into this one image which I believe shows the downstream view of where I was stopped out. FYI - this group uses the term "pour over" when most of here use "dry fall."

Image

Note the discrepancies in the described height of the pour over 40-50 feet vs. Digonnet's 60 feet. This is one reason that leads me to believe that I just may off and not describing the same impasse?

In the near future, I do hope to return to the area, complete the traditional Funeral Slot Canyon experience that you, Steve Hall and the Las Vegas folks enjoyed but add a twist of seeking a path from the main slot, north over the fault line area that separates the Funeral Formation from the Furnace Creek Formation to the left side canyon aka Main Side Canyon, circle around the Chimney Fall via bypasses and return back to the Texas Springs starting point. With some decent images and video, I may be able to resolve the mysteries discussed in this thread. :question: :drunkchug: :banana:
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Re: Above Chimney Fall In The Funeral Slot

Post by MojaveGeek » Tue Apr 30, 2019 6:27 pm

LOL, I hadn't seen this till just now (I was busy hiking SW Utah for some weeks and then doing some work after I got back). That "Las Vegas group" is mine :) and I took them on that hike probably based on Steve Hall's description. Jim who produces birdandhike and Liz are from LV, and there's myself, i.e. the guy with the hiking stick, Kathy, my son Ben (who was much younger then than now!), and Eric who joins us from SF each year and whom I've known forever. Jim does a great job documenting the hikes he chooses to post and we all enjoy hiking with each other. We really liked that hike too. Jim went part way up the chimney at the end but the rest of us were more cautious.

Jim, Eric, and I went up the other fork while the others hung out for a while. When we got back to the group Ben was holding a dead zebra tailed lizard. He had prepared a crypt for it but was waiting to show it to us. Jim said it was just cold, breathed on it a few times, and brought "Lazarus the Lizard" back to life.

Those zebra tails are like, though they are damned fast when warm, sometimes they seem to not even touch the ground as they run. Once in Palmer Canyon we were sitting at the base of the big red falls for a while when suddenly a zebra tail crawls out from the gravel under my butt. I guess I had warmed it up. You can imagine the kinds of jokes which followed. :)

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Re: Above Chimney Fall In The Funeral Slot

Post by Kauri » Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:21 pm

Oops, sorry, I forgot to reply earlier! I'll look forward to seeing what you determine on a future trip!

I still think the dry fall you encountered and the dry fall on the bird and hike site are two different ones. Based on your map at 3:58 on your YouTube video, I'm thinking you were stopped by the dry fall down-canyon of the natural tunnel and bridge, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

The chimney dry fall, which Steve Hall labels as the twin dry fall at
http://www.panamintcity.com/maps/funera ... utemap.jpg
and photos are near the end of
http://www.panamintcity.com/photographs ... hotos.html
I think is in a different fork of the canyon, again also based on your GE map in the YouTube video.
(For what it's worth, his "major dry fall" in FSMSC seems to be marked as further down canyon on that map than it really is. I spent a lot of time trying to bypass that dry fall, which is down-canyon of the bridge.)

Lastly, I certainly don't want to seem critical :) I'm just trying to clarify where you went on that hike. Thank you again for posting these YouTube videos of your hikes!
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Re: Above Chimney Fall In The Funeral Slot

Post by MojaveGeek » Mon May 06, 2019 12:41 pm

This is an interesting discussion. The area up around the top of the video is really beautiful. The verticals caused by the faulting are impressive! I'd like to figure out exactly how the pieces fit together. Do you draw your route by overlaying a GPS track on a sat image (e.g. in Google Earth or a topo app which displays sat imagery)? I'd love to see this route on a standard 7.5 topo, which is how I navigate (among other issues, my phone-based GPS apps are not allowed to cache the sat images per terms of service with Google).

In the pix from birdandhike, that big fall is definitely at the end of the "left fork" in the Furnace Slot canyon. There's a nice big smooth white rock at the junction, and our whole party went on the left side (which is also well photo documented at Steve's site), and we all encountered the fall. After that three of us went up the right (or straight) fork.

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Re: Above Chimney Fall In The Funeral Slot

Post by Kauri » Mon May 06, 2019 12:57 pm

MojaveGeek wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 12:41 pm
In the pix from birdandhike, that big fall is definitely at the end of the "left fork" in the Furnace Slot canyon. There's a nice big smooth white rock at the junction, and our whole party went on the left side (which is also well photo documented at Steve's site), and we all encountered the fall. After that three of us went up the right (or straight) fork.
This is the confusing thing about Funeral Slot Canyon. There are two major forks, the left one is the slot and the right one is the main canyon, and they fork at that white rock (which, last time I was there, was actually almost entirely covered by gravel!).

But the left one (which some folks confusingly call "the" Funeral Slot) forks again, with what Steve Hall calls Funeral Slot Main Side Canyon the left fork (this is where Crown Bridge is), and the main part of the slot that most folks continue to hike up is the right fork.

It makes more sense how the canyon splits if you hike along the northernmost ridge above this area. But I admit the the labeling in my reports and others on this area seems somewhat confusing.
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Re: Above Chimney Fall In The Funeral Slot

Post by MojaveGeek » Mon May 06, 2019 7:42 pm

Ah thanks so much for clarifying that Kauri! Now it fits together. I'm pretty sure we poked into that "main side canyon" - it has a pretty narrow opening I think? - but then continued up the main "slot" left fork to that dryfall at the end. Somehow we didn't poke our noses back in on the way back out. I think because we were eager to go up the right side from the white rock. That side has some pretty colors but no slots.

It's all very colorful up there, isn't it? Worth going back I think. I'm intrigued by where DVDazed went as well.

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Re: Above Chimney Fall In The Funeral Slot

Post by Kauri » Mon May 06, 2019 8:10 pm

Yes, the "main side canyon" opening is quite narrow, if I recall correctly.

And that area is very colorful! There appear to be more colorful hills between the two main forks of Funeral Slot Canyon that can be seen from GE and which I'm sure are worth exploring.

The upper reaches of the canyon just south of Funeral Slot Canyon is also very colorful. I think I recall you mentioning you'd followed the horse trail to the dryfalls at the lower end of this one?
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Re: Above Chimney Fall In The Funeral Slot

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Mon May 06, 2019 8:24 pm

Kauri wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 8:10 pm
And that area is very colorful! There appear to be more colorful hills between the two main forks of Funeral Slot Canyon that can be seen from GE and which I'm sure are worth exploring.
This thread has turned into much more fun than I anticipated and now has more mystery for me as well. How cool that MojaveGeek was in that video of the "Las Vegas people's" hike in the Funeral Slot. I get a big kick out of that connection!

After the layers of descriptions, routes, and geology of The Funeral Slot, I am certainly keen to return to the area, take careful readings, notes, and images, and take an entire day to make sure I've covered all of the bases. Maybe someone will beat me to this task, and more power to them, because I don't think I can return until the Fall.

Thanks, everyone for all of the input which none of was taken as being critical or negative. Oh, BTW, my route maps are overlayed on Google Earth images and are my best guesstimates not based on any topo maps. My videos are not really designed as trail hiking guides but more for entertainment and pleasure of park experiences.
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Re: Above Chimney Fall In The Funeral Slot

Post by Aedwards27 » Sun Jun 09, 2019 12:58 pm

I did this one in fall of 2017.

I was camping at Texas Spring and turned it into a loop hike of about 15 miles along the base of the mountains. There are a lot more slots in this area.

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Re: Above Chimney Fall In The Funeral Slot

Post by Death Valley Dazed » Tue Jun 11, 2019 5:49 am

Aedwards27 wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 12:58 pm
I was camping at Texas Spring and turned it into a loop hike of about 15 miles along the base of the mountains.
Do you have any images to share?
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Re: Above Chimney Fall In The Funeral Slot

Post by Aedwards27 » Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:12 am

Death Valley Dazed wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 5:49 am
Aedwards27 wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 12:58 pm
I was camping at Texas Spring and turned it into a loop hike of about 15 miles along the base of the mountains.
Do you have any images to share?
I do. I'm in the process of reorganising my stuff so I'll post them Friday!

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