Backcountry Adventure. Spearhead is a nice, rarely visited canyon in a difficult to get to location. The entry into the canyon is big and scary, with potentially very difficult anchors. The middle part of the canyon is easily descended using natural anchors. The final, bolted chimney section is a rarely-used climbing descent route.
Spearhead is the canyon running south from the pass between Cathedral Mountain and Mount Majestic. It descends behind The Spearhead into the Emerald Pools cirque.
Start by hiking up the West Rim trail and attain the summit plateau of the Majestic/Cathedral massif. The best route is probably Behunin Ridge – the ridge that climbs toward the northern summit of Majestic Mountain from the top of the first rappel in Behunin. Climb steeply from the flat slickrock, then cut left and avoid the sub-peak and attain a loose, steep, brushy gully heading toward the top. The last pitch follows the crest of the ridge, and weaves through trees on steep 4th-class rock to the plateau rim. The ridge is south-facing and steep, and unpleasant in all but the coolest weather.
Cross the Manzanita to the col between Majestic and Cathedral. From the Majestic side, spy out the best descent route down the wall across the way. About 500 feet south of the apex of the canyon, note two large snags, the second next to a 30-foot red cliff. Just beyond the second snag, note a "Christmas Tree" on a small ledge about 40 feet down from the rim.
Hike around to the rim above the single tree.
R1: 40 feet (12 m) from a tree to the single pine tree on ledge.
R2: 290 feet (88 m) to a brushy ledge.
Note: the pine tree is not particularly sturdy, and is perhaps not suitable as an anchor. I suggest that placing bolts on the white ledge 30 feet below the pine might be appropriate.
Follow the ledge right (upcanyon) and down some to a tree perched on the edge of a drop.
R3: 165 feet (50 m): Rap 40 feet (13 m) down a steep wall, then through brush another 125 feet (40 m) to a stout tree.
R4: 290 feet (88 m): Rap another 30 feet (10 m) to the top of a steep wall, then down to the canyon bottom.
The main canyon quickly heads south, providing a beautiful though easy walk in a deep canyon. A couple of short rappels are intermixed with a few pools that may require swimming, and are likely to provide water for a bivy in even dry conditions. This part of the canyon only drops a couple hundred feet before arriving at the final chimney. Carefully rappel the final chimney from natural anchors and bolts to the main canyon floor. Cut left and descend game trails through the woods to the Emerald Pools Trail.
Once on the Emerald Pools Trail, you can return to either the Zion Lodge shuttle stop or the Grotto Trailhead. Both descents take about one hour.
A printable canyon descriptionand map you can take with you.
Have all Zion's classic canyonsin one convenient book.
Behunin Canyon, Map for Spearhead Canyon
Click on any map to browse a larger view,then right-click to save and print.
Deluxe maps are available in two formats:
• 1 Mb files in the Map Download Center, designed for printing on 11" x 17" paper • Canyoneering Maps for Purchase in the Canyoneering USA Store. Printed maps are 13" x 19", nicely presented on 24 lb. white paper.
Zion: Central Canyons and Trails
Spearhead was first descended by Brian Cabe and I over the course of 2 days, Oct 14 and 15, 2000. The second descent of Spearhead was by Jenny West, Steve Ramras, Pascal van Duin and I ten years later, Oct 14 and 15, 2010, using the Behunin Ridge approach.
Spearhead, Ten Years After, 10/14/10 - Tom returns to Spearhead to introduce Ram, Jenny, and Pascal to its charm and its fire-induced manzanita-less-ness