Canyoneering Route Description

Holy Cow Canyon - 4A(B) III
Escalante National Monument, Utah.

Quick Facts

2017-05-28, 6 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 7.5 hours) Pictures Icon
2018-04-07, 5 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 6.5 hours) Pictures Icon

Time Required - 6 to 8 hours
Distance - 4.3 miles Total, 0.5 miles Technical
Rappels - 6 Rappels, Longest Rappel 100 feet.  Will need 120 foot rope.
Elevation Range - 5425 - 6125 Feet
Shuttle Required - No Vehicle - Passenger, if bad road conditions High Clearance Permit Required - No

Gear Used for Canyon

Rappelling and anchor gear, Ropes and or pull cords for rappels up to 120 feet and 20 feet of 1 inch webbing just in case.  Wet suits generally not needed in warm weather but a good idea with cool weather and wet conditions.  Sandtrap, a few potshots, Smooth Operator or other retrievable anchor.

General Comments

Holy Cow is on Little Bown Bench and offers incredible scenery, an upper section with solid pothole practice, a lower section with skinny winding walls where stemming to 10 or 15 feet up makes life easier and an incredible set of arches near the end. Holy Cow, this canyon fun and pretty.

The approach we originally used was up a boulder filled ravine, scrambling up very steep sections of slickrock to the mesa top then following the mesa down to Holy Cow. Jenny West told me about a shorter route she had used in the past to access the mesa. Her route follows a ramp up the side of the cliff band to where you then also scramble slickrock to the mesa top and follow down to Holy Cow. Jenny's route is shorter (more direct), easier and does not encounter sections as steep as our original approach. Thank you for sharing the route Jenny.

This route description has been updated to reflect the newer, shorter, easier approach route.  After using both approach routes, it is thought this shorter one is also the easier one.

One spot on the approach described here has steep exposed slab scrambling.  Having a confident climber / scrambler along can give great peace of mind if they go up and set a rope for a hand line for others.

This canyon is not considered beginner friendly. There should be a couple people along who are experienced with pothole style canyons and retrievable anchors. The potholes will require a fair amount of work and teamwork depending on conditions. A Sandtrap and potshots are needed.

Some of the potholes in Holy Cow can be bridged over by taller people.  Having at least one person close to 6 foot tall can speed things up as they can bridge over then assist shorter people out the other side of potholes. With good partner assists and potshots shorter people can just play through, but having a tall person is mighty helpful on this route.

The clay / mud in this canyon can be very thick and very slick! Be prepared for some work to haul each other up out of potholes since the person being hauled will have zero traction with feet.

Bring at least 3 potshots. The first major pothole was about 10 feet deep and we were able to partner assist out. If sand (er uh clay) scours out this will be difficult or not possible. A potshot toss will be required. The toss is a long one with a large flat patio on the other side. Multiple potshots may be required to get sufficient weight. What you can not see is a tight slot for the potshot to catch in on the other side of the patio around a right hand corner.  If you are unable to toss far enough, use less sand and try to toss around the corner.

The final rap can be anchored using a Smooth Operator from a bush and drops about 100 feet. A 120 foot rope works perfect for this drop. Be very careful when rigging the Smooth Operator for this drop. The bush has a couple pinch points that can trap the rope so do a test pull. There are also choke stones in the crack leading to the drop that can stick the rope and care must be taken to avoid getting the rope stuck.

How Holy Cow was named:
I had my eye on this canyon for almost 2 years but had no idea how to get up to it. November of 2016 I talked Tracy into scouting an approach that looked possible on Google Earth. Turns out it did not go but we had a lot of fun playing in the narrow subway slots and getting lost in slickrock loaves. May of 2017 we found ourselves back in the area for the annual Saddle Fest and I talked Tracy into trying out another option we spotted as a possibility on the way out of the last scout. This time it went! So off to the canyon we went.

After the first rappel, down a couple downclimbs and getting to the first major pothole it looked a bit deep to partner assist so we tried a potshot toss. The potshot toss needed to be done from a semi-stemming position in a slot, over across large pothole, across a flat patio then around a corner to what we later found out was a tight V-slot that would work well to catch the potshot. It was an eye opener to be faced with the fact that I did not have the physical power to make the toss. I could only get the potshot most of the way across the flat patio and that was still only a half full potshot! After eyeballing it a bit more we decided we could climb back up-canyon if needed to reverse the route.  We decided to drop in and try partner assisting out. After moving a few large rocks to step on, I played ladder and Tracy climbed up using my knee, hand, shoulder then more hands. With my arms fully extended and Tracy standing in them she was just able to wiggle out of the pothole. The very thick clay like mud was everywhere and so thick your feet were useless to assist climbing. Tracy tossed me a rope to haul me and packs up.

After a couple more downclimbs we got to another pothole that we would need to rappel into this time.  Knowing we could still reverse the canyon at this point we decided to send only one of us into the pothole and see how it felt. I was able to toss a potshot up over the lip but it was not enough weight. Knowing we would not be able to reverse this pothole we decided to retreat rather than toss more bags of sand.  Going into multiple pothole problems with only two people and crazy slick clay was more than we wanted to get into.  We had dinner plans and Hells Backbone Grill later that eve!

Reversing the canyon would have been quick and easy if it were not for the very-thick, very-slick clay mud everywhere. On one upclimb we each took a turn flailing madly trying to get into a chute but just kept sliding in. On a second try I was able to get up into the slot with Tracy providing some foot spotting. That second attempt left me winded for a couple minutes. All that flailing up that chute had us wondering if we were going to be forced back down and through the canyon.

After getting to the bottom of the first rap we walked the very wide shelf looking over the canyon below.  It looked like we had done most of the hard part and were disappointed we turned back.  Little did we know the canyon had A LOT more to offer, which we found out a couple days later going through with friends. As we got near the end of the canyon we did a couple raps to get to the canyon floor near the final rappel to exit. Before turning down canyon to the final rappel I took a short walk up canyon and was met by a 20-ish foot drop and could not see much above it. Little did I know the gem of the canyon was just above that drop.

As Saddle Fest continued we talked about wanting to go back and finish the canyon. A few friends joined us on the adventure 2 days later. The canyon delivered fun challenges and awesome scenery all the way through. This place turned out to be an absolute gem. The arch room is jaw droppingly beautiful. Each of us kept saying it was one of the best things we had seen in a canyon.

Tracy named the canyon Holy Cow. Originally she named it due to the many small holes found in the rock on the approach and the potholes we encountered on our first attempt.  As time went by Holy Cow had more meaning. The canyon offered more pothole fun than we thought and we kept saying Holy Cow this is cool. About half way through the character of the canyon changed to a winding and undulating walls in narrow slot. We kept saying Holy Cow this is incredible. When we got to the arch room, the view was incredible.  We looked at two holes to chose from to continue down canyon.  Seeing that spot the Holy Cows were flying out of our mouths like water. After going through one of the holes, a whole new level of Holy Cow was uttered as we saw another arch along with a large undercut / chamber on the side.  What an incredible thing to see. After getting under that next arch you could see another arch forming on the RDC wall and if you walk over to the wall you can see sky through the crack.  Under that arch is a large cave / hole leading back 15 to 20 feet in the canyon wall.  As we looked this spot over we all took time to chill and enjoy it and kept saying Holy COW!

Thanks to Jeremy, Rick, Kelton and Stephanie for helping us finish this route!

Driving Directions

To get to the Trailhead

From the town of Boulder Utah turn off of highway 12 onto the Burr Trail Road.  Follow the Burr Trail Road east for about 18.4 miles to an exit to a dirt road on the right (south) which is the Wolverine Loop Road (extWolverine1). 

Turn right (south) onto the Wolverine Loop Road and follow it south about 5.6 miles to the a large junction (ExHorseCyn) where the Horse Canyon road branches off to the right (west). 

From the junction of Horse Canyon Road (ExHorseCyn), stay left and continue on the Wolverine Loop road.  About 4.6 miles from the junction is a turn off (extWolverineTH) on the right (west) to a short spur road for the Wolverine Creek Trailhead.

From the Wolverine Creek Turn off (extWolverineTH) stay straight / left on the Wolverine Loop Road and drive about 2.7 miles to the turn off on right (exLilDeathHlw) for the Little Death Hollow Trailhead.  Turn right (south) and drive about 200 feet to the Little Death Hollow Trailhead (tLilDeathHlw) and park.  There is room for a quite a few cars here.

Note:
The hike in is down a drainage sometimes referred to as Little Death Hollow but on maps is usually labeled as Death Hollow.  To avoid confusion it is good to be aware that this is a different drainage from the Death Hollow about 17 miles west of here near the town of Escalante.

To leave the Exit Vehicle / Escape Pod

No exit vehicle is needed.  This is done as an out and back.

Maps - - - - GPS coordinate information listed at the bottom of this route description.

For information about my waypoint naming convention and map symbols, refer to the Glossary page.

Map Link Icon
Click the links for maps of the route.
Map of the drive into the route.
Map of the entire route.
Map of the Approach.
Map of the technical section.

Details

The Approach:
From the trailhead (tLilDeathHlw) walk southwest down the huge wide open wash following trails.   About 1 mile to a spot along the trail (jHolyCow-Apr) where you can look straight up a large prominent boulder filled ravine running up to the north. At the head of the ravine a weakness can be seen where you can climb up into the slot above.  There is no landmark at the spot and the boulder filled ravine is the largest one you see.

Leave the trail (jHolyCow-Apr) just past a very large boulder sitting next to the trail. From here you can get a visual on the approach route. Leave the trail here and hike about 900 feet west across the desert toward the rubble filled slope at the base of the cliff band. Looking west from here note a large light colored arch-like indention in the cliff band then note the saddle just to the left (south) of that. Just below that saddle is a ramp leading up the cliff side to a small patch of vegetation. Route find your way to that ramp.

Note:
A large boulder filled ravine can be seen to the north from here and can optionally be used to approach Holy Cow but will add distance and time to the route as well as require scrambling some sketchy sections of steep slickrock.

Example Pic. Overview of the old and new approach routes.

Example Pic. Looking west from here note a large light colored arch-like indention in the cliff band then note the saddle just to the left (south) of that. Just below that saddle is a ramp leading up the cliff side to a small patch of vegetation. Route find your way to that ramp.

About 900 feet away is the bottom (HolyCow01) of the rubble filled slopes leading up to the cliff band. Route find your way a little over 500 feet west up the rubble toward the slickrock ramp.

Scramble to then up this slickrock ramp / fin with some cowboy / moqui steps. At the top of the ramp (HolyCow02) is a short upclimb where it may be helpful for partners to help with backpacks. After getting to the top of the upclimb, scramble your way west up the steep slickrock domes for about 160 feet to where you get a good view of the convoluted terrain to the east.

As you top out on a slickrock dome (HolyCow03), look west over the convoluted mix of slickrock domes and valleys and note a crack / chute to upclimb just below a small prominent sandstone peak about 300 feet away. Route find your way over to the bottom of that chute.

Example Pic. Look west over the convoluted mix of slickrock domes and valleys and note a crack / chute to upclimb just below a small prominent sandstone peak about 300 feet away. Route find your way over to the bottom of that chute.  Then follow north up the slickrock ridge.

On the way over to the chute will be a crack (HolyCow04) to step over and traverse just before being able to drop down into a vegetated section leading over to the crack / chute to upclimb.

After getting to the top of (HolyCow05) an easy crack / chute to go up of about 8 feet with lots of features to aid in the upclimb, turn right (north) and scramble your way up a moderately steep slickrock ridge. About 300 feet up the slick rock you can scramble up to the large dirt layer above.

Once up onto the large dirt shelf above (HolyCow06), veer left (mostly west) and walk about 450 feet to where you can scramble up to the next higher dirt level.

Once up onto the next large dirt layer (HolyCow07), continue west for about 350 feet to where you can look down into the upper portion of the Holy Cow drainage.

When you can see down (HolyCow08) into the Holy Cow drainage, route find your way about 600 feet down dirt slopes down into Holy Cow.

You will likely find your way down in Holy Cow just below a drop (HolyCow09) in the wash of about 20 feet.  The shelf is about 20 feet and can be scrambled down over ledges if you happen to drop in above it.  Turn left and follow south down the Holy Cow wash for a little over 500 feet to the top of Holy Cow (yHolyCowTp).

The Canyoneering / Technical Section:
Rap 1 (yHolyCowTp) is at the head of the canyon anchored from a tree up on the RDC side and drops about 50 feet with free hang most of the way down. About 60 feet of rope will be used from anchor to ground.

A little over 100 feet down canyon is a downclimb of about 8 feet (HolyCow30). Shortly down canyon is a downclimb of about 12 feet with a choke stone at the top making the start of the downclimb awkward. The exit from the large sand-filled pothole after the 12 foot downclimb has a very narrow pinch to stem a couple feet up over.

Shortly down canyon is the first deep pothole (HolyCow31). This pothole can be climbed down into with a partner assist and is about 10 feet deep on the down canyon side. When we were there a partner assist got us up the other side but if sand (um clay mud) scours out the pothole may become deeper requiring a potshot toss. The toss is a long one with a large flat patio on the other side. Multiple potshots may be required to get sufficient weight. What you can not see is a tight slot for the potshot to catch in on the other side of the patio around a right hand corner. If you are unable to toss far enough, use less sand and try to toss around the corner.

Note:
A tall person can bridge over then dynamically run the side of this pothole to cross. Most people will be unable to perform the task.

Just after this pothole is a sloped downclimb of about 10 feet then rap 2 which is about 70 feet from the first big pothole.

Rap 2 (dHolyCowR2) anchored from on of many rocks using a Smooth Operator or retrievable anchor and drops about 12 feet down into a pothole. The pothole is about 9 feet deep and can be partner assisted out of and has a drop of about 8 feet to downclimb on the down canyon side of the lip.

Shortly down canyon is a series of 2 drops (HolyCow32) of about 15 feet then 25 feet. Both look like rappels but can be downclimbed with partner assist. The top of each is easily downclimbed but the last 6 feet of each will require partner assist.  At the bottom of the second downclimb is a long pool of waist to chest deep water.  If no one wants to bridge over this section it is possible with moderate effort to partner assist down into, up out of then down the drop on the other side.

Shortly down canyon is a drop of about 10 feet into a pothole then a difficult exit out the down canyon side using potshots and / or partner assist. This pothole can be bridged over by tall people but has an awkward transition on the down canyon side. Having a tall person of around 6 foot makes this pothole crossing easier as they can assist the others up out of it after bridging over. On the other side of the pothole is a downclimb of about 6 feet to a sandy area.

A little over 100 feet down canyon is rap 3.

Rap 3 (dHolyCowR3-4) anchored from a sandtrap down in a pothole and drops about 20 feet down into a sand filled chamber with rap 4 at the other end.

Rap 4 at the bottom of rap 3 is anchored from a sandtrap and drops about 12 feet with an awkward start in a skinny crack to an overhang.

Raps 3 and 4 can be combined into one rappel if desired. Be careful not to get the sandtrap stuck.

Down canyon of rap 4 is easy walking in a corridor that then gives way to short open wash sections mixed with a couple spots to galumph a few feet in short narrow spots.

About 300 feet down canyon is a pinch in the canyon with a downclimb (HolyCow33) of about 8 feet to a small chamber followed by a downclimb of about 12 feet after the chamber. The downclimb out of the chamber can be made much easier by downclimbing to a thin ledge about 5 feet down then travers to the large ledge LDC.

Just after this double downclimb is a very scenic subway shaped corridor leading to a pinch with a drop (HolyCow34).

The drop (HolyCow34) at the end of the subway corridor is a downclimb of about 15 feet to pothole with an easy to escape. The brave people in the group can can bypass the pothole by carefully walking a very featured ledge on the RDC side and make a semi-dynamic run at the other end to a larger ledge. This ledge bypass is exposed and the features become small at the end.

After the pothole (rather you bypassed or went down through) walk along the RDC side to bypass 2 potholes then scramble back down to the canyon floor by a cross joint / drainage on the LDC side.

Just after the cross joint (HolyCow35) the next 500 feet of canyon has narrow and sometimes skinny twisting and undulating walls. Travel could be done on the canyon floor for most of it but stemming up 10 to 15 feet will make life easier through large portions of this section. This section is very pretty and worth taking the time to admire.

Near the end of the skinny section is a downclimb (HolyCow36) of about 6 feet that can be awkward then shortly down canyon is a downclimb of about 12 feet. The 12 foot downclimb is awkward at the top as you drop down into a crack with slick walls but lots of features. About 100 feet farther down canyon is a downclimb to the arches.

At the end of the narrow section is a downclimb (HolyCow37arch) of 12 feet that may need an aggressive partner assist to get down. At the bottom of the downclimb is a chamber like spot with an arch to walk through or around. Going under or around that arch reveals another larger arch overhead and chamber like area on the RDC side with another arch forming on along the wall.  Walking over to the wall  you can see sky between the arch and the wall. Going up canyon from the side wall arch is what almost looks like a short cave extending back 15 to 20 feet. This spot is truly amazing and time should be taken to enjoy it!!! The next rap is just past the arches.  Just past the arches is rap 5.

Example Pic. Under the arches!  The larger arch is not in the picture and is just overhead.

Rap 5 (dHolyCowR5) is anchored from one of many bushes and drops about 25 feet down a slope but will use about 50 feet of rope from anchor to ground. Be careful of what bush is selected for an anchor as some of these have loose root systems. Shortly down canyon is a deep crack forming that is easily bypassed on the RDC side then easy walking and galumphing down to the final rappel.

Rap 6 (dHolyCowR6) is anchored using a retrievable anchor (Smooth Operator) from a bush about head high on the LDC side about 15 feet back from the drop and drops about 100 feet. A 120 foot rope works perfect for this drop.

Note:
Be very careful when rigging the Smooth Operator for this drop. The bush has a couple pinch points that can trap the rope so do a test pull. There are also chokestones in the crack leading to the drop that can stick the rope and care must be taken to avoid getting the rope stuck.

From the bottom of rap 6 scramble your way down through large boulder debris for about 400 feet to where the terrain levels off and travel becomes mostly walking (yHolyCowBt).

The Exit:
From where the walking gets easier (yHolyCowBt) Continue down the wash about 0.2 miles out to the main Little Death Hollow drainage (jHolyCow-Ext).

Note:
As you exit the Holy Cow drainage and get to the main wash it is tempting to turn left and walk northeast up the wash. An option for easier travel is to continue across the large wash and up the banks on the other (south) side. Just at the top of the bank you will find the very well used and easy to walk main trail system of Little Death Hollow.

Turn left and follow the trails northeast about 1.8 miles back to the trailhead (tLilDeathHlw).

GPS Waypoint Information

GPX Files Available for DOWNLOAD.
Downloadable GPX files for many of the canyons listed here are now available at the BG-Gear Store.  In addition to the waypoints, the GPX files also offer routes and tracks for the canyon.  Over time more GPX files will be added.

If you want to avoid manually adding waypoints into your GPS or mapping software, want the additional routes and tracks or simply want to support the efforts put into BluuGnome, head over to the BG-Gear Store and grab the files that interest you.

Elevations are approximate.  Waypoints with no elevation data will display NaN in place of the elevation.

For information about my waypoint naming convention and map symbols, refer to the Glossary page.

Notes for GPS information:
BEFORE
entering coordinates from this website, please ensure your system (GPS or mapping software) is set to the same datum used here.  Waypoint coordinates are listed with WGS84 datum and in Lat/Lon hddd.ddddd° format.  Entering coordinate information with inconsistent datum's can result in the waypoints being off by hundreds of feet.  It is important to keep this in mind when entering waypoints from any source.

Holy Cow (1) - Drive In
  1. extWolverine1          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.92427   W -111.22069        Elev: NaN Feet
    There are 2 exits for the Wolverine Loop Road off of the Burr Trail Road. This is the farthest northwest and is labeled on some maps as the Escalante Grand Staircase road 110 going south from here.
  2. ExHorseCyn          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.85064   W -111.22351        Elev: NaN Feet
    Turn off to Horse Canyon to the west on road 11120.
  3. extWolverineTH          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.80409   W -111.20641        Elev: NaN Feet
    Turn off to the Wolverine Trailhead off of the Wolverine Loop Road.
  4. exLilDeathHlw          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.78455   W -111.18047        Elev: NaN Feet
    Exit off of the Wolverine Loop Road to the Little Death Hollow Trailhead.
  5. tLilDeathHlw          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.78402   W -111.18060        Elev: 5,550 Feet
    Trailhead for Little Death Hollow. Space for quite a few cars to park. The drainage down from here is sometimes referred to as Little Death Hollow but on maps is usually labeled as Death Hollow. To avoid confusion it is good to be aware that this is a different drainage from the Death Hollow about 17 miles west of here near the town of Escalante.
Holy Cow (2) - Approach
  1. tLilDeathHlw          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.78402   W -111.18060        Elev: 5,550 Feet
    Trailhead for Little Death Hollow. Space for quite a few cars to park. The drainage down from here is sometimes referred to as Little Death Hollow but on maps is usually labeled as Death Hollow. To avoid confusion it is good to be aware that this is a different drainage from the Death Hollow about 17 miles west of here near the town of Escalante.
  2. jHolyCow-Apr          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77332   W -111.19234        Elev: 5,480 Feet
    A spot on the trail just past a very large boulder sitting next to the trail. From here you can get a visual on the approach route. Leave the trail here and hike about 900 feet west across the desert toward the rubble filled slope at the base of the cliff band. Looking west from here note a large light colored arch-like indention in the cliff band then note the saddle just to the left (south) of that. Just below that saddle is a ramp leading up the cliff side to a small patch of vegetation. Route find your way to that ramp. A large boulder filled ravine can be seen to the north from here and can optionally be used to approach Holy Cow but will add distance and time to the route as well as require scrambling some sketchy sections of steep slickrock.
  3. HolyCow01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77445   W -111.19521        Elev: NaN Feet
    Bottom of the rubble filled slopes leading up to the cliff band. Route find your way a little over 500 feet west up the rubble toward the slickrock ramp.
  4. HolyCow02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77471   W -111.19702        Elev: NaN Feet
    Scramble to then up this slickrock ramp / fin with some cowboy / moqui steps. At the top of the ramp is a short upclimb where it may be helpful for partners to help with backpacks. After getting to the top of the upclimb, scramble your way west up the steep slickrock domes for about 160 feet to where you get a good view of the convoluted terrain to the east.
  5. HolyCow03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77454   W -111.19761        Elev: NaN Feet
    As you top out on a slickrock dome here, look west over the convoluted mix of slickrock domes and valleys and note a crack / chute to upclimb just below a small prominent sandstone peak about 300 feet away. Route find your way over to the bottom of that chute.
  6. HolyCow04          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77450   W -111.19843        Elev: NaN Feet
    A crack to step over and traverse just before being able to drop down into a vegetated section leading over to the crack / chute to upclimb.
  7. HolyCow05          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77441   W -111.19869        Elev: NaN Feet
    Top of an easy crack / chute to go up of about 8 feet with lots of features to aid in the upclimb. From the top turn right (north) and scramble your way up a moderately steep slickrock ridge. About 300 feet up the slick rock you can scramble up to the large dirt layer above.
  8. HolyCow06          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77514   W -111.19919        Elev: 6,050 Feet
    Scramble up onto a large dirt shelf above the slickrock. Veer left (mostly west) and walk about 450 feet to where you can scramble up to the next higher dirt level.
  9. HolyCow07          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77554   W -111.20062        Elev: 6,125 Feet
    Scramble up onto the next higher dirt layer. Continue west for about 350 feet to where you can look down into the upper portion of the Holy Cow drainage.
  10. HolyCow08          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77581   W -111.20189        Elev: NaN Feet
    Top of a dirt slope where you can see down into the Holy Cow drainage, route find your way about 600 feet down dirt slopes down into Holy Cow.
  11. HolyCow09          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77640   W -111.20379        Elev: NaN Feet
    Shelf in the wash where you will likely drop into Holy Cow just below this shlef. The shelf is about 20 feet and can be scrambled down over ledges if you happen to drop in above it. Turn left and follow south down the Holy Cow wash for a little over 500 feet to the top of Holy Cow.
  12. yHolyCowTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77502   W -111.20417        Elev: 5,980 Feet
    Top of Holy Cow. Rap 1 is here anchored from a tree up on the RDC side and drops about 50 feet with free hang most of the way down. About 60 feet of rope will be used from anchor to ground.
Holy Cow (3) - Canyon
  1. yHolyCowTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77502   W -111.20417        Elev: 5,980 Feet
    Top of Holy Cow. Rap 1 is here anchored from a tree up on the RDC side and drops about 50 feet with free hang most of the way down. About 60 feet of rope will be used from anchor to ground.
  2. HolyCow30          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77466   W -111.20418        Elev: NaN Feet
    Downclimb of about 8 feet. Shortly down canyon is a downclimb of about 12 feet with a choke stone at the top making the start of the downclimb awkward. The exit from the large sand-filled pothole after the 12 foot downclimb has a very narrow pinch to stem a couple feet up over.
  3. HolyCow31          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77439   W -111.20418        Elev: NaN Feet
    First deep pothole. This pothole can be climbed down into with a partner assist and is about 10 feet deep on the down canyon side. When we were there a partner assist got us up the other side but if sand scours out the pothole may become deeper requiring a potshot toss. The toss is a long one with a large flat patio on the other side. Multiple potshots may be required to get sufficient weight. What you can not see is a tight slot for the potshot to catch in on the other side of the patio around a right hand corner. If you are unable to toss far enough, use less sand and try to toss around the corner. Note: A tall person can bridge over then dynamically run the side of this pothole to cross. Most people will be unable to perform the task. Just after this pothole is a sloped downclimb of about 10 feet.
  4. dHolyCowR2          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77417   W -111.20428        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 2 - Holy Cow. Anchored from on of many rocks using a Smooth Operator or retrievable anchor and drops about 12 feet down into a pothole. The pothole is about 9 feet deep and can be partner assisted out of and has a drop of about 8 feet to downclimb on the down canyon side of the lip.
  5. HolyCow32          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77404   W -111.20430        Elev: NaN Feet
    Series of 2 drops of about 15 feet then 25 feet. Both look like rappels but can be downclimbed with partner assist. The top of each is easily downclimbed but the last 6 feet of each will require partner assist. At the bottom of the second downclimb is a long pool of waist to chest deep water. Shortly down canyon is a drop of about 10 feet into a pothole then a difficult exit out the down canyon side using potshots and / or partner assist. This pothole can be bridged over by tall people but has an awkward transition on the down canyon side. Having a tall person of around 6 foot makes this pothole crossing easier as they can assist the others up out of it after bridging over. On the other side of the pothole is a downclimb of about 6 feet to a sandy area. If no one wants to bridge over this section it is possible with moderate effort to partner assist down into, up out of then down the drop on the other side.
  6. dHolyCowR3-4          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77361   W -111.20433        Elev: NaN Feet
    Raps 3 and 4 - Holy Cow. Rap 3 anchored from a sandtrap down in a pothole and drops about 20 feet down into a sand filled chamber with rap 4 at the other end. Rap 4 at the bottom of rap 3 is anchored from a sandtrap and drops about 12 feet with an awkward start in a skinny crack to an overhang. Raps 3 and 4 can be combined into one rappel if desired. Be careful not to get the sandtrap stuck. Down canyon of rap 4 is easy walking in a corridor that then gives way to short open wash sections mixed with a couple spots to galumph a few feet in short narrow spots.
  7. HolyCow33          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77288   W -111.20487        Elev: NaN Feet
    A pinch in the canyon with a downclimb of about 8 feet to a small chamber followed by a downclimb of about 12 feet after the chamber. The downclimb out of the chamber can be made much easier by downclimbing to a thin ledge about 5 feet down then travers to the large ledge LDC. Just after this double downclimb is a very scenic subway shaped corridor leading to a pinch with a drop.
  8. HolyCow34          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77250   W -111.20482        Elev: NaN Feet
    Downclimb of about 15 feet at the down canyon end of the subway corridor to pothole with an easy to escape. The brave people in the group can can bypass the pothole by carefully walking a very featured ledge on the RDC side and make a semi-dynamic run at the other end to a larger ledge. This ledge bypass is exposed and the features become small at the end. After the pothole (rather you bypassed or went down through) walk along the RDC side to bypass 2 potholes then scramble back down to the canyon floor by a cross joint / drainage on the LDC side.
  9. HolyCow35          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77237   W -111.20487        Elev: NaN Feet
    Just after the cross joint the next 500 feet of canyon has narrow and sometimes skinny twisting and undulating walls. Travel could be done on the canyon floor for most of it but stemming up 10 to 15 feet will make life easier through large portions of this section. This section is very pretty and worth taking the time to admire.
  10. HolyCow36          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77138   W -111.20542        Elev: NaN Feet
    Near the end of the skinny section is a downclimb of about 6 feet that can be awkward then shortly down canyon is a downclimb of about 12 feet. The 12 foot downclimb is awkward at the top as you drop down into a crack with slick walls but lots of features. About 100 feet farther down canyon is a downclimb to the arches.
  11. HolyCow37arch          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77101   W -111.20553        Elev: NaN Feet
    At the end of the narrow section is a downclimb of 12 feet that may need an aggressive partner assist to get down. At the bottom of the downclimb is a chamber like spot with an arch to walk through or around. Going under or around that arch reveals another larger arch overhead and chamber like area on the RDC side with another arch forming on along the wall. Walking over to the wall you can see sky between the arch and the wall. Going up canyon from the side wall arch is what almost looks like a short cave extending back 15 to 20 feet. This spot is truly amazing and time should be taken to enjoy it!!! The next rap is just past the arches.
  12. dHolyCowR5          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77094   W -111.20559        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 5 - Holy Cow. Anchored from one of many bushes and drops about 25 feet down a slope but will use about 50 feet of rope from anchor to ground. Be careful of what bush is selected for an anchor as some of these have loose root systems. Shortly down canyon is a deep crack forming that is easily bypassed on the RDC side then easy walking and galumphing down to the final rappel.
  13. dHolyCowR6          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77040   W -111.20616        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 6 - Holy Cow. Anchored using a retrievable anchor (Smooth Operator) from a bush about head high on the LDC side about 15 feet back from the drop and drops about 100 feet. A 120 foot rope works perfect for this drop. Note: Be very careful when rigging the Smooth Operator for this drop. The bush has a couple pinch points that can trap the rope so do a test pull. There are also chokestones in the crack leading to the drop that can stick the rope and care must be taken to avoid getting the rope stuck. Scramble your way down through large boulder debris for about 400 feet to where the terrain levels off and travel becomes mostly walking.
  14. yHolyCowBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.76930   W -111.20659        Elev: 5,470 Feet
    Boulder hopping begins to level off and travel becomes easier walking. Continue down the wash about 0.2 miles out to the main Little Death Hollow drainage.
Holy Cow (4) - Exit
  1. yHolyCowBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.76930   W -111.20659        Elev: 5,470 Feet
    Boulder hopping begins to level off and travel becomes easier walking. Continue down the wash about 0.2 miles out to the main Little Death Hollow drainage.
  2. jHolyCow-Ext          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.76781   W -111.20425        Elev: 5,425 Feet
    Exit route of Holy Cow meets the Little Death Hollow trail here. As you exit the Holy Cow drainage and get to the main wash it is tempting to turn left and walk northeast up the wash. An option for easier travel is to continue across the large wash and up the banks on the other (south) side. Just at the top of the bank you will find the very well used and easy to walk main trail system of Little Death Hollow.
  3. jHolyCow-Apr          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.77332   W -111.19234        Elev: 5,480 Feet
    A spot on the trail just past a very large boulder sitting next to the trail. From here you can get a visual on the approach route. Leave the trail here and hike about 900 feet west across the desert toward the rubble filled slope at the base of the cliff band. Looking west from here note a large light colored arch-like indention in the cliff band then note the saddle just to the left (south) of that. Just below that saddle is a ramp leading up the cliff side to a small patch of vegetation. Route find your way to that ramp. A large boulder filled ravine can be seen to the north from here and can optionally be used to approach Holy Cow but will add distance and time to the route as well as require scrambling some sketchy sections of steep slickrock.
  4. tLilDeathHlw          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 37.78402   W -111.18060        Elev: 5,550 Feet
    Trailhead for Little Death Hollow. Space for quite a few cars to park. The drainage down from here is sometimes referred to as Little Death Hollow but on maps is usually labeled as Death Hollow. To avoid confusion it is good to be aware that this is a different drainage from the Death Hollow about 17 miles west of here near the town of Escalante.