Backpacking Route Project: Moab West Side Monster Loop

Backpacking Route Project: Moab West Side Monster Loop

For a while now I have toyed with the idea of a really big cross country loop starting and ending in or near Moab (where Nunatak HQ is located!).

With inspiration from many shorter trips over the years, confirming water sources and sketchy passages, the pieces are now starting to fall in place. However there's still 'blank' spots on my map.

The length of the working model will allow the loop to be completed in 2-4 weeks. Resupplies could be pre-placed, but actual food outlets are not on or near the route.

The aim is to circle around outside the area National Parks to eliminate the issues of permits and pets. Snow bound high country is also skirted, making it possible to do the route from September to June.

The presence of the two major water courses, the Green and the Colorado rivers, makes it mandatory to bring a packraft. Some stretches are not merely crossings, but actual multi-hour paddle sections.

The whole area is mostly without trails. Careful navigation outside of the canyons is a must. Often hard to find key passages are the only route through a certain stretch.

It is not designed to be a technical route, although some might find the harder sections approaching 4th class terrain. In these areas a rope is handy to haul and lower packs and dogs, and for the occasional hand line. Expect exposure and plenty of no-falls terrain.

When finalized the route is published here as a line on a map, with some descriptive narrative. It will not be available as a GPX file.

Besides tricky route finding the most serious issue likely to thwart attempts is available water. The description is going to have detailed info on this make-or-break topic.

Highlights so far in random order:

* Full descent of Gypsum, one of the most remote and therefore, by default, incredible canyons.

* Traverse of bench land above little known Dirty Devil tributaries.

* Upper Salt Creek key passage to Butler Wash.

* Unique Lockhart Basin route, combining paddling and narrow ledges.

* A dive into the Behind The Rocks maze.

* A huge journey in massive Horseshoe Canyon.

During a weekend in December 2016 we checked out a long time established route gaining access to the center of the convoluted Behind the Rocks area just west of Moab. Using this shortcut made a jagged line on map a little smoother.  


    • Avatar
      Thomas Moreau
      May 13, 2017

      Hey! I'm on the Nunatak website! Hellz yeah!

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