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Lefthand Canyon

The greatest slot of all.

We first explored Lefthand Canyon in November 2020 after gaining permission from the local 'gatekeeper'. The slot had never been entered, and is largely free from detail in all satellite images. I only knew to expect around 900 feet of vertical relief. Myself, Suhei Eddy and Ryan Mavis made the first entry, ever.

After four hours of traversing pinches, crawls, dry potholes, difficult downclimbs, total blackness, and ten rappels, we ran out of ropes. We'd done 10 rappels. It ended in a completely black zizgzag section barely wider than my helmet, with even narrower widths looking upwards. This canyon, we reasoned, may get so tight that passage becomes impossible. We returned up fixed ropes.

We had descended about 400 vertical feet, with 500 vertical feet remaining. Knowing the profiles of other canyons in this area, I suspected big rappels and/or significant keeper potholes in the final sequence, from which a tortuous exit or a strenuous return up fixed ropes is necessary.

We returned in April 2021, better prepared with proper rope lengths and a strong team of myself, Suhei, Nic Barth and Jared Church. In six hours, we reached the end of the slot and ascended back up. What we found is that the slot becomes progressively tighter and darker until it suddenly opens for 10 minutes of walking and scrambling before terminating at an arch room, which most years would be a swimmer pothole, that immediately drops into a 370-foot freehanging rappel. Yikes.

The area is privately owned, and your car will be spotted from miles away. Even if hiking in, you'll stand out, day or night. The few nearby homes told us they keep scopes to watch out for thieves. There's no way to poach this one, and you shouldn't consider it. We gained special permission, from a source that asked to not be named, after living and working on the Navajo Nation for several years and building relationships and gaining trust. All nearby roads are gated, and there's no other way in. Please respect the good local people and stay away until times are better.

Lefthand holds the title of the tightest slot yet descended on the Navajo Nation and possibly in all of Arizona. It's one of the shortest and best canyons on the Rez.

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