Full Imlay Canyon Descent, Zion National Park, with Anchor Work


Went through Full Imlay with Steve Brezovec and Kelly Birdwell - to enjoy the canyon, of course, and to work on the anchors. (All photos this rave by Steve Brezovec.)

Found some interesting things.

We started the canyon from Potato Hollow, from the very tip-top there, a few hundred yards higher than I had before. We used a retrievable anchor off a tree in order to not leave a sling visible to the public.

Rappel high in the canyon

Rappel high in the canyon

Downcanyon a ways, we found a tied off rock for the third stage of a rappel that can be done as a three-stage rap. This rock was cleverly wedged in a slot, but was tied off with some cord which was quite pretty, but had a core of paper (indicating that this cord was never intended for any purpose requiring strength).

Further down, we found an anchor tied with a non-knot... but I guess it held for whomever tied it!  (Facepalm)

Quite a few anchors in the canyon were tied with the Minnesota-clip style of equalization - especially scary since on a lot of these two-bolt anchors, one bolt is an ancient eroded stud-type bolt (very unreliable). We re-rigged 4 or 5 anchors with fresh webbing.

Minnesota Clip - don't do this. We re-rigged many of these.

Minnesota Clip - don't do this. We re-rigged many of these.

The upper section of the canyon was not especially full, and water quality was exceptionally poor. Between the Sneak Route entrance(s) and the bivy Alcove was a 20' tall wood jam (in one section) and a section of dense log stew. The long two-stage rap, though, was free of debris. Water from the pool at the Alcove was murky, but we were able to filter and purify. Sweet bivy spot and a good rest was had.

The next day, log jams in the corridors section were present, but less of a problem than I had expected. Going into the first Extrem Narrows, we passed a group of 5 from Arizona who were wrapping a tweaked ankle from hitting a rock on a downclimb. Water quality was good and water level high for the rest of the canyon. We added a 1/2" x 3-3/4" to two anchors that did not have at least one GOOD bolt in the upper Narrows, including the rap into Big Bertha.

Pressed by time, we passed on re-bolting in the lower Narrows, but no anchors were at the same level of "scary" as the two in the upper Narrows we reinforced. At the second-to-last rappel, someone had added a bolt to the dangling chain/hanger (and empty hole) Jonathan had left earlier in the year, so it was now up to snuff. I brought a bar to torque out the bolts from the cut-through aluminum hangers, and with the bar they came out easily. I added a steel hanger and put one of them back in, but was out of rapid links, so it is not tied into the chain.

Several of the pothole anchors in the lower section were of the Minnesota-clip style mentioned above, and we re-rigged with fresh webbing cordalette-style.

The Potholes were mainly full, with only a few that were difficult to get out of.

Kelly working the last keeper pothole

Kelly working the last keeper pothole

At the final rappel, Steve and Kelly took off to catch their plane while I stayed and added a bolt to the anchor. In this case, the two-bolt anchor is in a good-but-precarious position, and a convenient safety line runs between the good two-bolt anchor and the old two-bolt anchor on the wall before that. The two ancient bolts are of the eroded rawl-stud variety which in my book are very suspect. I placed a 1/2" x 3-3/4" bolt in this position to supply a secure starting point for the safety line.

The third party in Imlay that day caught me up just as I was finishing the 'work', and generously carried out my ropes - my pack being conveniently full before adding the 235 feet of rope from the last rap. Thank you Evan, Susie and crew from S.G.

Great canyon, as always. My thanks to Steve and Kelly for the patience to allow time for some anchor maintenance work.