Downclimbing Hidden Canyon, Zion National Park


Ram said: "It's good, otta do it."

Hank said: "I'm in."

So we blast down to Zion. A Saturday evening in February finds Springdale very quiet. We consider crashing the Mayor's wedding reception, but feel a little underdressed.

Hank, surprisingly perky at this early hour.

Sign at the start of the trail.

Morning finds us swilling Joe at the Mean Bean, as usual, and grabbing a permit at the V Center. We drive to Weeping Rock and pack, then start up the trail. We have 7 miles to go before reaching the head of the canyon, so hoofing it is the order of the day.

The slot of Echo Canyon, from the Echo Canyon trail.

Hank following the numerous cairns of the Echo Canyon trail.

Nice light provides beautiful views, while walking up Echo Canyon.

A bit of snow on the north-facing side

Zion was remarkably dry, with only a bit of snow clinging to the north sides of things. The trail heads up a northfacing buttress near the top of Echo Canyon, and a little snow on the trail allowed us to see the tracks of a bobcat that had recently gone our way.

Looking in the top.

The long hike across the top of the mesa leads, finally, to the top of Hidden. It's BIG - much more dramatic than I expected. Luckily, the right flank of the canyon is relatively snow-free, and we make our way down to a tree to rap into the canyon.

A bit alpine at the top, with plenty of snow and ice…

Our third rappel in Hidden, probably an easy downclimb in summer.

A couple short rappels and some downclimbing, and we are in the canyon and past most of the snow. Working our way down, we found lots of interesting terrain. Jumbles of boulders mixed with narrow slots lead to a bunch of downclimbing, and a couple short rappels. Ram says he's done it with only 2 raps, and that seems excessively bold. Given the season, Hank and I take a more conservative tack...

Interesting rock-jams are characteristic of the canyon.

A sling here and there.

Slings here and there show that the canyon is fairly well-trodden. Signs of passage show up surprisingly high in the canyon. Climbing-logs placed at many of the drops show that someone has been working on the route up the canyon, rumored to be roughly 5.9, but looking like it would have some runout leads on friable rock.

See, Hank can smile. Well, grimace at least.

More downclimbing. Found a nice arch while scouting for a way around a short drop. The simul-rappel did not look so good - one edge of the arch was quite sharp.

Hank – Walking the Plank!

Much of the canyon looks much like this.

Tom himself and the Leprechaun Arch in Hidden Canyon

More downclimbing, and we get to the part of the canyon easily accessible from the mouth. More tracks, a little bit of litter, more developed social trails - and familiar terrain like this little arch.

Sign at mouth of Hidden, they try to keep us safe…

Hank and the end of the canyon.

And we're out by about 5 PM, in time to catch some really nice light at the end of the day. Another fine canyon. BETA: 2 to 10 raps up to 100 feet. EZ on all natural anchors. Lots of downclimbing. Took us 8 hours, hustling the whole day. A long day in a wild canyon. Perfect for fall or spring, once the snow is gone. Ya hike to the top, and pop out at the bottom. Enjoy.

And a fine sunset it was…