Pandora's Box (4AIVR)

Where: Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
When: March 2009
Partners: Kip Marshall, Matt Smith, Bo Beck, Ryan from Provo, and 5 other folks whose names I never got

Taking a short break atop the mesa

Some months back, Ram suggested Pandora's Box as a particularly nice canyon for me to do in Capitol Reef National Park. And like so many other recommendations I've gotten over the years from reliable sources, I filed it away on my ever-growing to-do list.
Aaah, at the head of Pandora's Box

So one day not long ago, Kip sent me an email asking if I'd like to do Pandora's Box with him. Of course I did!
An early rappel in Pandora's

Joined by 8 (!) others, including former partners Bo Beck, Matt Smith and Ryan from Provo, we had a large and festive group slogging up the approach trail that dumps you off (and then disappears) on the mesa adjacent to the canyon. Once there, we stopped for a quick break and a few snapshots before making our way over to the head of the canyon. Right away, a couple rappels and the squeezing began...
Bo in the first squeeze, where it's so narrow that one must shimmy along the bottom

Leading the group at one point, I came to the first squeeze, got on my belly and started through...for about 6 feet. As it got tighter, I balked and asked Bo (who's thinner than I) to check it out for me. When he reported that it was very, very tight down-canyon, I crawled back up-canyon and elected to stem over this slot, where the going was easier. Soon, the canyon widened.
The canyons widens up

Soon slotting up again, we encountered more thin narrows and some high-stemming in and around beautiful chambers. A really nice canyon, this one.

And there was the occasional rappel...

And plenty of high-stemming over narrow slots...

While this was no beginner canyon (as there are numerous tight narrows, awkward downclimbs and rappels, as well as plenty of strenuous high-stemming), the going wasn't bad and it was super-fun!
A spicy downclimb

Most of the way through the canyon, there's a sustained (100-yards) stretch of tight narrows. As we made our way toward it's end, Matt spotted fresh cougar the tight slot! Sweet!
Just past the cougar-print slot

Just beyond a brief widening point in the canyon, it slotted up again and then dumped out into a mesmerizing Subway-like chamber.

Just beyond the subway chamber, we came to the final rappel sequence. Here, a beautiful perch provided views into the stunning amphitheatre at the mouth of canyon.
At the top of the 50-foot rappel leading to the final 170-foot rappel to terra firma

Looking up at the final rappel

Done with the technical canyon, I had a bite to eat and waited for word to arrive that the rest of our group had reached the final sequence. Hearing that, I bid farewell to the party and set out for the car. Along the way, I found some nice petrified logs...

I arrived back at the car 8.5 hours after starting out.