OLD BILL CANYON, NEVADA

May 22, 2017


James Edwards rapping down the Big Drop in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
Towering over the horizon west of Las Vegas is a beautiful Limestone and sandstone range called the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area.

Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
There is some world class climbing, hiking and Canyoneering within and just outside of the Red Rock area.

James Edwards and Kelly Mathis taking a break in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
Within the the towering walls that rival Zion, canyoneers have found a bunch of fantastic routes that have some interesting variation and beauty within the canyons themselves.

top of Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
The day before, I had some friends in town for a convention and I took them to Mud Spring Canyon. 

Kelly Mathis in the second drop in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
Once we were done with that, I headed home and went to bed so I could meet the group at 5:30AM for Old Bill Canyon.  Old Bill canyon is a few canyons to the north of Mud Spring and can take almost 12 hours to complete, so we had to make sure we got an early start. This canyon is rated as a 4BIV, so we had a pretty long day ahead of us.

Hoanglan Tena Nguyen and James Edwards going through a slot in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
I met up with Kelly Mathis, James Edwards and his girlfriend Hoanglan tena Nguyen at the first creek trailhead where we left a shuttle car.  We headed up to the top in search for the trailhead.

James Edwards in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
We mis oriented our road and headed up a rocky road to a truck that was in the middle of the road.  This was peculiar as it was sitting in the middle of the road and there were two people sleeping in the truck.  We walk up and Kelly asked them to move their car.  We didn't realize that they were broken down and the guy was not to happy with being woke up.  We were able to get around them as they did not need any assistance.
James Edwards and Kelly Mathis in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
We headed up and found a road that ended.  After looking at the topo a bit more we realized that we were on the wrong road and we had to back track and find another road that would take us up to the trailhead. We passed by the broken down truck and asked once more if they needed help. 
James Edwards tossing a rope bag in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
We ended up getting yelled at by the guy again so we took that as a "No" and kept going.  there were beer cans laying all over the field and he was sporting a glock on his right hip so I figured that we are not in the best of vantage points and left.  I think it is worth noting that people could stage that they are broken down on crappy roads where it would be really hard to turn around and create a trap in a remote area, be careful out there.

Kelly Mathis overlooking the big drop in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
We ended up finding the right road and the trailhead to take up to the top of the mountain.  The approach was a nice slopping switch back that worked up some hills.


Hoanglan Tena Nguyen going down the big drop in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
We worked our way to a ridge were we could see the head of the canyon but we had to cross another ridge to get to the head. We ascended a few more hundred feet and made out way around to the canyons descent. a spine went right through my shoe and into my foot so I had to pull that out with my teeth before continuing.

James Edwards and Hoanglan Tena Nguyen at the top of of the big drop in Old Bill canyon, Nevada
We made our descent into the head of the canyon and started our way down some of the yellow slab rock washes. We brought 200ft., 100ft., and 330ft. of rope We took turns carrying the ropes but our water situation was not planned right. I believe we all had around 2 liters of water each.  That was not good as the high in the valley was 97 degrees.

James Edwards rapping down the Big Drop in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
It was sunny and hot! we worked are way around some down climbs to a slot section that had a few 20-30ft drops.  One of the raps had a slot we had to chimney down which ate through my clothes.

Hoanglan Tena Nguyen in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
After some sketchy down climbs and a couple more small drops, we made it to the big wall.
Kelly Mathis coming down one of the sections of the big drop in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
For me, this was the most interesting part of the canyon.  We had a 150ft. drop, a 260ft. drop, and another 200+ft. drop that took us to the bottom of the canyon.

Kelly Mathis and Hoanglan Tena Nguyen on one of the shelves at a rap station on the big drop in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
In my opinion, all of the drops were not as difficult as they were made out to be and are mostly on a slopping wall. I am also of the opinion that all of the drops can be done with at least (2) 200ft. ropes.  The last rap on this sequence, has the option to rap down to another shelf and a walk over to a sloping scree pile that appeared to slope down to the bottom.  I can not confirm this but you can check the beta on www.bluegnomme.com to see what he recommends.

James Edwards on the big drop in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
We opted to rap down the wall since we had the 330ft rope for a total of over 600ft of descent on the wall.
Kelly Mathis coming down the big drop in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
It was getting really hot and I was about to run out of water, Kelly brought a pump and james had just enough for him and Hoanglan.

Kelly Mathis coming down the last tier in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
We continued on and scrambled around boulders and encountered a lot of downclimbs and some bush whacking.

Kelly Mathis, Hoanglan Tena Nguyen, James Edwards, and Adam Haydock at the top of the last tier on the big drop in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
We eventually made it to the "swimmer" where we had a 30ft rap into a 3-4 stroke swim and a passage that continued to the sun.  I thought that the swim was refreshing and a great place to cool down and since it was only three or four strokes, I opted out of setting up a guided rap.


Kelly Mathis, Hoanglan Tena Nguyen, and James Edwards in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
We all got down the and through the water without any issues and continued to head down canyon.  we encountered a few more raps and A lot of down climbs.

Coming down Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
We eventually came to a slab rock section and dropped down a few more raps until we found some hand line material on a down climb.  This was a sure sign that the technical portion was over and the exit was going to begin.


Hoanglan Tena Nguyen and Kelly Mathis in a tiered slot in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
The exit requires people to handlebar around the butte, just above the red ridge line which was a bit of a challenge in the 95 degree heat.

Hoanglan Tena Nguyen coming down one of the last raps in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
The little sleep, two long days, and little water was catching up a bit as the sun was baking on us.  Luckily we were able to find some shade around the butte and traverse down the chute to the desert floor.
Kelly Mathis in the lower section of Old Bill Canyon, Nevada
We eventually found the trail and headed back to the car.  This trip took 12 1/2 hours to complete. This canyon was really nice and a great workout. I want to thank James for setting this trip up before it got too hot out.
James Edwards rapping the one of the last drops in Old Bill Canyon, Nevada



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