2004 Moab Easter Jeep Safari
Brought to you by Superior Axle & Gear
Story and photos by Lance Clifford

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Photos added daily!


Update: 4-5-04 6:54AM PST
Our first day in Moab was a beautiful one. We had a nice drive from Vernal, UT, down to Moab. We arrived yesterday afternoon at our condo where we parked the Pirate4x4.Com/RP Films rolling headquarters.

We recieved a call from Ron Stobaugh, president of Superior Axle & Gear (our title sponsor for this coverage) and he said he was heading over to Potato Salad Hill for a little fun. An hour later he called back to say he rolled his beautiful Superior TJ down Potato 4 times, and totaled it! The Jeep was taken to Moab 4x4 for a new cage. Hopefully the boys at Moab 4x4 can get it back into shape for today's run... We've got video of the rollover, and are currently in the process of getting it to the web. In the meantime, here's a few trophies -

Despite the damage to his Jeep, Ron hosted a BBQ last night at his condo, and was in great spirits.

Speaking of today's run, the weather isn't exactly cooperating. It's cold, and rainy here in Moab this morning. We'll post up later today after the Superior Axle & Gear sponsored run today on Moab Rim trail. Hopefully the rain will ease up and we can have some fun. On second thought, we'll have fun no matter what the weather is!

UPDATE: 4/6/04 7:15AM PST

Yesterday was the Superior Axle & Gear "The Rock" run. This was a V.I.P. run for people in the industry, such as vendors, competitors, etc. The weather was horrible, with it being cold and rainy as we all met at Moab Brewery. Even with the weather being as it was, over 50 vehicles showed up to brave the weather and go try and have some fun.

Our group caravanned toward our destination - Moab Rim Trail. About 1 mile down the pavement, my Land Crusier decided it had had enough, and the front driver's wheel bearing proceeded to catch on fire. It was pretty cool watching 2 foot flames shooting out of my hub! The axle actually got so hot, it grinded itself in half, and welded itself to the spindle!

We decided to leave the Cruiser on the side of the road, and proceed to the trail. I hooked up with DSI for the ride to the trailhead.

Once we arrived at the trailhead, we were greeted by the BLM asking us to stick to the trail, etc. He stated that the enviros were in the process of trying to get this beautiful trail closed to the public.

We began our ascent up the trail, which has a quite intimidating cliff of several hundered feet on the driver's side while coming up.

The ride up the rest of the trail went great, and we were treated to beautiful views of the Moab Valley at the top.

As we made it around the bend to our final destination, we were treated to a full tri tip lunch hosted by the Jeeper's Jamboree staff.

After lunch, people hung out and enjoyed the views, relaxed, and then headed back down the trail to civilization. By the end of the day, the weather began to cooperate, and the sun came out. Our ride back to civilization was much nicer than the ride in.

We would like to thank Superior Axle & Gear for letting us tag along on this ride. It was a lot of fun, and the Jeeper's Jamboree staff can sure fix a mean lunch!

UPDATE: 4/6/04 8:00AM PST -

We are getting our rigs ready to head out to Pritchett Canyon and Upper Helldorado. We will be sure to report back later with the carnage count! I've got a new axle/hub/spindle on my Land Cruiser, so she's ready to rock!

UPDATE: 4/6/04 9:48PM PST -

It was a great day on Moab's toughest trail. There was no traffic to speak of, and the trail was tough as ever. We had a great group of drivers in our group, and hoped that we could make it through the trail without major carnage.

Pat "Rizzo" Gallagher from RP Films was leading the way in his rental rock buggy courtesy of John Hall. Pat was followed by Kelly Clifford, and then myself, Dave Schnieder (aka: DSI), Kathy Crook, and bringing up the tail was Big Rich Klein in his rental CJ courtesy of Jeff Mello.

Rizzo making the first climb on Upper Proving Grounds look easy.

Kelly Clifford smoked the first climb like it wasn't even there in her Diablo II.

After the first obstacle on this trail, those of us that had never run it before knew we were in for a treat. The first waterfall was very tough, and several of the rigs elected to take the one and only bypass on this trail around it.

The next obstacle was a little easier, and was conquered by everyone in our group. While you expect a full blown Unlimited competition buggy like Kelly's Diablo II to make an obstacle like this, it was exciting to watch the lesser capable stock modified rigs driven by Kathy Crook and Rich Klein claw their way to the top.

Lance "Medium Bastard" Clifford climbing the next series of ledges on UPG..

After stacking a few rocks, Kathy Crook made it to the top of this difficult stairstep.

After conquering the stairstep, we made our way through a tight v-crack, and approached the next obstacle. This large waterfall had a difficult approach to it, as it required you to make a sharp left turn while trying to climb it. The tricker rock buggies shot right up the waterfall with no problems. The rest of the group had a tougher time, however. At the beginning of the trail, I lost hydraulics in my clutch, so I was driving the entire trail without a clutch. This normally wouldn't be a big deal on most trails, but Upper Proving Grounds is a little tougher than the average trail!

Lance smiling for the camera.

As you can see in the photo above, I had some issues climbing the wall. My old school Cruiser most likely could have made this climb if I had a clutch, but in the end I decided to winch up it.

Kelly one-shoted this climb and made most of us look stupid..

DSI spanking the trail in his S&N FAB rig..

Kathy Crook putting her Warn winch to work.

Big Rich winching up the waterfall.

The last obstacle was the great equalizer. What I mean by that is it was the only obstacle that nobody in our group could make. Not even the hot shots in their comp buggies could make this one. Rumor has it that this waterfall has been climbed before. Well not today. With 8 inches of water at the base of the waterfall, I'd give the pink slip to my Land Cruiser to anyone who could have made it today. Even with perfectly dry conditions, I would love to see somebody make the last waterfall. It's NUTS....

Needless to say, everyone in our group unspooled their winches and climbed up the wall, praying their cables and ropes were up to par.

Big Rich "let" his son Lil Rich winch up the last monster waterfall.

UPDATE 4/8/04 11:04PM PST -

Today was awesome! The plan was to run Upper Helldorado, which many claim to be the toughest in Moab. When we unloaded the rigs from the trailers, it began to downpour like we were in the Amazon rainforest! The rain was coming down so hard, we considered turning around. Those thoughts were made into reality when there was a literal flash flood in the canyon!

It rained so hard on UH that the trail quickly became a river..

Because of the flash floods, and also because of the fact most of us were not prepared for the insane rain, we elected to turn around and get the heck out of there and get dry and warm. We figured we'd head back to town, get some dry warm clothes, and make another attempt at Upper Helldorado after lunch.

Tough to tell in this photo, but it's raining cats and dogs!

After heading back to town and drying off, we had a great lunch at "The Branding Iron" and headed back to Hell. When we arrived back in Hell, the weather was sunny and warm! All of our nice dry jackets came off, and we hit the trail with the sun shining on us.

At the very first obstacles, Team Red Bull had some bad luck. Becca Webster popped one of her Pro Comp 40" X-Terrains, and Dustin Webster broke his front driveshaft yoke trying a crazy breakover.

Dustin Webster trying to back off of this rock after he broke his front driveshaft.

With both RedBull trucks broke, Dustin and Becca abandoned thier rigs and follwed us in on foot to see what kind of carnage could be had by the three remaining rigs - Mike Shaffer in his Diablo II, Lance Clifford in his Diablo II, and Dave Schneider (DSI) in his S&N Fab buggy. Of course RP Films was along for the ride getting footage for their upcoming DVD, Haulin' or Crawlin' II.

Mike Shaffer taking a sick line that would swollow wider full bodied rigs.

Shaffer spotting DSI over this nasty area on UH.Nice sweater!

The Waterfall.
The three rock buggies made short work of the trail, and it was great fun winding through the tight, off camber boulders. For those that are familiar with UH, the toughest part of this trail is at the end, just like on Upper Proving Grounds. Like UPG, Helldorado's last obstacle is a verticle waterfall. Only a couple of people are known to have made this waterfall unassisted, one of them being Johnny G.

Shaffer was dying to give this waterfall a shot, but knowing that there was just an insane rainstorm only hours earlier, not only would there be water at the bottom, but most likely water running down the fall itself. Sure enough, there was plenty of water and mud to be found. Mike figured he would most likely have to winch it, but wanted to give it a few shots anyhow.

Well after a couple of attempts at crawling it and going nowhere but down, Mike hit it with a little short star and launched right up it like it wasn't even there. Totally amazing!

Mike picks his line on the last waterfall on UH.

He nails the 270hp "Shortstar" and....

..He goes up like it's child's play!

Next it was my (Lance) turn. I lined up and launched the little Diablo in 2nd gear. Unfortunately the winch on the rig was broken, so I wasn't able to suck the front end down. This caused the front end to bounce and unload in a way I didn't like. I elected to be winched to the top and come back for revenge when my winch was fixed.

DSI gave the fall a few daring shots, and didn't have much luck. Then we broke out the spotter strap and Mike and I yanked him right to the top, first try. Hey, it's definitely better than winching!

DSI catching air while the two fat boys pull on the rope..

Tomorrow we will be going to the vendor's fair and checking out all the goodies. We also hope to run "Hell's Revenge" and play in the hot tubs. Stay tuned!

UPDATED 4/8/04 9:30PST -

Today we ran "Hell's Revenge". We started at the "Dump Bump" which everyone in our group crawled right up. Dump Bump is on Private Property, and the owner of the property was there collecting $1.00 per head to cross his property. I wasn't excited about it, but I forked over my buck and moved on.

Justin Reese crawlin' right up the "Dump Bump".

Hell's Revenge is a relatively mild trail which is more scenic than difficult. It is heavily patrolled by BLM Rangers, but we'll get back to that in a bit.

Our group of rigs pulling over the enjoy the view.

Our trail ride was a nice, mellow run through the slickrock backcountry. We stopped at several spots along the way to enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

We made our way to the well known "Hot tubs" which are large holes in the slickrock that you can drive through, if you dare. Mike Shaffer was up first, and he put on a great show by doing an awesome front wheel drive smoky burnout then launching right up and out of the tub like it was nothing.

Mike heating up the front tires to climb out of the hot tub.

Up next was myself (Lance) in the 'ole Land Cruiser. I gave it a few shots at low speed before I backed the beat up rig and hammered down in 2nd gear. I launched almost to the top, and ran out of gas! I backed the rig back down, hooked up the secondary tank, and made another attempt. Unfortunately I made one mistake - I forgot to secure the propane tank! The tank fell off the back of the rig, and ripped the brass fitting right off the fuel line. I was glad that the only damage was a brass fitting, and not blowing myself up!

We winched the Cruiser out of the hole and watched others attempt it. Several people made unsucessful attempts at it while we waited for Mike to run to town to pick up parts for my damaged fuel line. One of the unsucessful people was UROC pioneer Craig Stumph. Craig took an insane run at the climb and he ended up going on his lid.

Craig Stumph getting extracted from the hot tub..

Kelly Clifford decided to give the hot tub a shot in her Diablo even though there was nothing to hold the front end down (winch was broken). After a couple of attempts, she made it to the top to the cheering approval of the crowd.

Kelly climbing the hot tub.

We ended up getting the rig fixed, and headed back to the tow rigs. We ran into a couple of BLM Rangers who wanted us to pay $5.00 each for driving on the trail. While I felt it was odd having to pay to drive on land that we own, we elected to pay the $5.00 and be on our way.

I haven't been to Moab in a while (other than competing in an RCAA event), but it's getting very apparent that things have changed. The BLM Rangers are getting very strict, the rules are getting tighter and tighter, the police are getting more strict, the amount of greenies are rapidly growing, paying to run on public land, etc. Yes, it's still a fun place to be, but it's definitely not the Moab I remember from 1998. I just hope that responsible four wheelers can help keep these trails open for years to come without loosing too much freedom. I hope that the Moab community knows what a vital role we four wheelers are to their economy, and fight to make us all feel welcome in Moab for many years to come.

BLM "pulling us over" to collect $5.00 each and ask questions about permits, etc.

UPDATE - 4/9/04 6:20PM PST -

We've got videos of Mike Shaffer and Becca Webster spanking the final waterfall on Upper Helldorado right here!