Just Imlay and Heaps in A Day: The Zion National Park JIHAD

taking the cake

taking the cake

We had thought of it maybe two years ago. The ultimate enchainment: Zion's two heavy-hitters, Heaps Canyon and Imlay Canyon, in a day. If someone was going to do it, it should be us.

Us, in this case, is Steve Brezovec, of late from Berkeley California, and me, Tom Jones, of Mount Carmel, Utah.

I did some training, he did some training. We discussed tactics, gear, ropes. I did Imlay many times, and Heaps a few less times. We set a date. It came up too fast; we set another date, September 23rd. Steve Mallory volunteered to run support. The Jihad was on.

All Photos this Rave by Steve Mallory.

Two AM start, more or less. Steve drops us off at the West Rim Trailhead, with gear for both canyons. Off we go. Potato Hollow 2 hrs later, drop the stuff for Imlay, proceed to Heaps.

We suit up as dawn is breaking. 6:42 AM. The first pothole requires a pack toss to exit. Uh oh, Heaps is supposed to be full - easy - fast! After a few potholes, the water is back to being full. We streak through Heaps...

To maximize style-points, we plan the purest of form. No physical support. Car to car. Carry all our stuff, pull all our ropes, break all our broncos ourselves.

Long Sandy corridor. 8:36 AM. Usually a good lunch stop.

Steve rapping the big drop in Heaps.

And again – I just liked this picture!

Re-rig. Pull up the 300′ 9mm we had stashed in the poison ivy the day before. My turn!

… and this is kind of a nice picture…

A quick stop at the Grotto parking lot for lunch.
Steve, Sharon, Mark and Diane came down to cheer us on, heartily appreciated!

Steve spreads out some stuff to dry and warm up, at lunch.

And Stevee is off, carrying up his drysuit and underclothes, plus a little bit of our combined hardware and headlamps. See you at Potato Hollow.

A few minutes later, and I am off as well, just carrying water. Gotta tell you, running up to the West Rim after doing Heaps kinda hurt. My time was 3 hours, 10 minutes.

Imlay was fine. We got through the upper canyon and down to the Crossroads with light still left. Headlamps on, we entered the first of the 'Extreme Narrows' just as it got fully dark. The First Narrows was in good shape and we made good time. A hook move here, a little throw-to-guided-rappel there - all good. At the break we took a break and relaxed a bit. On schedule.

We suited back up and charged onward. After 20 hours on the go, our bodies were slowing down, and we struggled to warm up again, after the break. Then we got to the first big pothole. Ooops, the water level is down, way down. We felt a little exposed, standing there. Not a good place to bivy. We had some gear, but not a lot. I tried throwing, missing 6 times in a row. Stevee hit it first try.

At the next pothole, our brains were fried. I think we stood there for 5 minutes, just looking forlorn. Well, if the water is down, that means the bottom is up. We charged in, used a little partner assist. Worked our way through the difficulties. Clearly, we were slowing down, not quite as snappy as at the beginning of the day.

If this was a story, something dramatic would have happened right here. Thankfully, it did not. We got to the last rappel, rapped to the Narrows, picked up the gear and started hiking. The Narrows hike was slow, we were fried. We stumble out to the road. Steve and Sharon are there, with cold pizza, which we devour.

Yeah, we’re a little tired.

Check, and check. 23 hours, 6 minutes. Full Heaps and Full Imlay.

Big thanks to Steve Mallory to running shuttle and saving us a lot of worries. Cold pizza is good. Thanks to Sharon, Mark and Dianne for coming out and supporting the troops. My special thanks to Stevee B - a great partner, strong, and cheery most of the time. Surprisingly, we had a good time.

Now, you think you could add Kolob Creek...