Frye Creek Canyon (S'mores)
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Difficulty:3C III (v3a4 III)
Raps:13, max ↨120ft
Red Tape:No permit required
13 May 2023
"Waterflow has subsided a bit since earlier this month but is still quite sporty (maybe ~3 CFS) and we took a pounding at a few rappels. Also still a r
BEST in Mar - Apr;May - Nov
A super fun polished granite water canyon in the lower Pinaleno Mountains. Water flow levels can get dangerous fast in this canyon - read the HikeAZ beta. This canyon should probably not be attempted at anything beyond 5 CFS, and even that will be beyond the comfort level of many. Most will prefer between 1 and 3 CFS at the most. At 3 CFS a skilled canyoneer can avoid direct impact from most of the falls. Beginners to Class C canyoneering should be coached on foot placement, posture, and hip sliding. The watercourse in the canyon can be incredibly slick.
From the parking spot at Frye Mesa Reservoir beach, hike up the dirt road you arrived on. Be aware that most of this trail is in full sun exposure with hardly any shade. Head left up the 4x4 trail and hike uphill until arriving at a parking area and gate. Continue past the gate down hiking trail until you see another switch back trail cut off to the left. Take this trail up and around and down to the watercourse.
Once in watercourse, bushwhack a short ways to an open slick rock area where you can suit up. Again, rock is very slick, so use caution.
If you have a high clearance 4x4, you can set up a shuttle that avoids walking the road, as there is ample parking at the top, just before the gate.
R1: 60' Rock pinch RDC to shallow pool. (Alternative to use Tree set back high UCR in super high flow)
R2: 40' Bolts RDC to shallow pool.
R3: 80' Bolts RDC. Two stage with deep pool after first drop.
R4: 70' Bolts LDC. Heavy waterfall, deep pool.
A few small slides and tiered pools lead to the final drop of the upper section.
R5: 70’ rappel from rebar high LDC, 2 tier 50’ slide, or fixed handline bypass canyon left. Recirculating hydraulic before the 2nd lip in high flow.
The middle section is about a 30 minute creek walk. There is an alternate exit scramble at the fixed ropes before the creek walk in case anyone in the group is cold or having issues with the flow. You can also exit just below R5, following a trail back up to the 4x4 parking area.
The lower section narrows is a rare waterpark with hanging pools leading to pour offs. For this reason, in high flow, a skilled Swift Water canyoneer should be sent first to reach the anchors and rig a safety line for in-experienced group members.
Several small slides will be encountered which in high flow may need to be bridged / stemmed.
R6: 115' Bolt LDC. can be done as a controlled low angle sliding rap or rappelled walking down LDC (dangerous fixed handline removed).
R7: 25' Bolts LDC. Small two-stage, narrow section.
R8: 20' Bolts RDC. Shallow pool.
R9: 30' Tree set back from the lip. Narrow, heavy flow.
R10: 30' Bolts LDC. heavy flow. Potential for rope pull issues with boulder now in start of rappel.
R11: 20’ Bolt LDC added to eliminate rope pull issues from R10 boulder, or to be used as a redirect.
R12: 50' Bolts LDC. Slide into overhang, heavy flow, shallow pool at bottom.
R13: 50' Bolts LDC. Use caution on pour over. The rappel appears to be a wonderful slide opportunity, but the pool at the bottom is too shallow.
Shortly after the final rappel the watercourse enters the reservoir. From here, there are options:
- There is a nice trail going clockwise around the reservoir to the parking spots
- It is a short swim across the reservoir to the beach
- Intrepid canyoneers may wish to walk the damn wall, which is wide enough, but access is a hassle and the drop on the far side is over a hundred feet. A fall would be fatal, so this is not recommended
- Stav is Lost : Frye Creek Canyon (April 18, 2022)
- HikeArizona.com : Frye Creek Canyon - S
- OnRopeCanyoneering.com : S'mores Canyon
- WildPathsAZ.com : Frye Creek Canyon
Trip reports and media
- https://www.facebook.com/pat.winstanley.7/media_set?set=a.781771775214855.1073741936.100001461198708&type=3 This trip was done with a flow level of 4.5 cfs and scared one of our party away from water canyons pretty much for life. Use caution.
- Mark Kilian's Adventures : Frye Mesa Canyon - Mt. Graham Wilderness