Heaps would be my favorite canyon in Zion, except that it is physically demanding a bit past my usual fitness level. Meaning, before a Heaps I have to bear down for two weeks, drink a bit less beer, do a few more runs or training hikes. So when Kip messages me on Tuesday “doing a Heaps this Saturday, you coming?”, I briefly hesitate. The good news is that Kip is strong and energetic and will carry the big rope, and has already assembled a super-fun team, so of course I will go. Kip and I with help from a few others are also working on the direct watercourse exit, and this will provide the opportunity to finish the work there (except it does not).
An early start hour is assigned and I TRY to get to bed at an appropriate hour, as in 4 hours earlier than my usual midnight, which does not happen. The weather has been iffy for … well, for two months. But our chosen Saturday has a bullet forecast. Heaps will be full, which usually means fast and easy, but cold, so I throw in a hooded neoprene vest and use my special small-lens glasses so I can jump stuff – only two of which worked out. As it turns out Heaps WAS full, and the water was not all that cold. Lots of sand in Heaps at the moment, so some of the long swims near the end of the final narrows were long knee-deepish wades, which is much easier, and much much warmer.
The Green Room
I prepared some brass tags with stamped letters to warn people away from the direct exit (with its 360 foot final rap), and we put those in place. Kip got the second bolt in for the penultimate rappel (3/8″ stainless Powers Powerbolt), and I got the hole most of the way drilled (in 2 hours) for the last rap, but it needs another hour of work. Crazy hard rock.
Big air on the final rap – photo Kip.
I took almost zero pictures, but Rachel Ross did an awesome job, and Kip took a few good ones too. All pictures this Rave by Rachel, unless otherwise noted. Crew for this day’s adventure was Kip, Ali, Rachel, Cassy and myself.
ye olde start of the day at West Rim Trailhead
Looking down into Phantom Valley
Cassy traversing the knife-edge ridge
Hiking the ridge down into Phantom Valley
Tom on rappel
Tom scurrying over atop the Arch to take pictures
First Keeper pothole – not a keeper this day.
Rachel tumbling into the under-the-arch pool. Photo: Tom
Under the Arch
One of many rappels
Ali on a tough climb out.
The jump-across. Intimidating, but not hard.
Heaps type stuff
Getting ready to plunge in…
Cassy swimming the Crossroads narrows
Great Sandy Corridor
Tom entering the final narrows – photo- Kip
The hop to the stump – or a more careful move…
The Green Room
The End is Near
Log atop watercourse exit
Cassy heading on down the watercourse exit
Kip and Ali huddle for warmth, waiting for Tom to get ‘er done.
Tom is the progenitor of Tom's Utah Canyoneering Guide, Utah's premier canyoneering information resource, and Imlay Canyon Gear, America's #1 maker of canyoneering-specific gear. If he's not canyoneering, he's probably snuggled up with a good book.
Posted on Aug 20th, 2016
Canyoneering, Heaps Canyon, Trip Report, Zion