Imlay Sneak Canyon Route on Memorial Day Weekend, Zion National Park
A guest Rave, by Jonathan Zambella.
Imlay did not disappoint on our 4 person descent, May 27, 2012. We entered via the "short-cut" route and suited up at the sand cave. Soon afterward we were chest deep in log soup. This was a great start to the trip. We found the pools to be low in the middle section, not really getting very wet until the lower 4th of the canyon before the Narrows. We were happy we had drysuits on at that point.
Pools being low in the middle section was no indicator of water in the lower narrows though. Big Bertha was 2/3 full, only requiring one hook move. DuWayne, one of our party members tried to mono off one of the drill holes, but we soon pulled out the Pika "Le Bat" hook and made no haste.
The run down: 18 rappels up 125' (I disagree with Tom's route description claiming 135'), 20ish down climbs, 2 pothole escapes requiring one hook move, and 5 partner assists out of keepers.
Tom asked me to consider replacing the bolt station at the second from last rappel. He was right, it was hideous. I successfully used my Petzl Rok Peck drill to get us two x 1/2" holes, and successfully placed the first 1/2" Rawl expansion bolt with the Fixe chain hanger. BUT, embarrassingly, as I went to insert the 2nd Rawl, I bumped the threads and dropped the compression cone off the end of the bolt, and kerplump, down 60' into the pool below. This stopped the success train and instead left a little mess for others to deal with, as I was not prepared with a "back-up" bolt.
Imlay needs some anchor cleaning, retro bolting, or removal of most of the bolts, hole filling, and general anchor maintenance. On my project list to work on that again this summer.
For those who aspire to descend Imlay, 2012 may be the year. With low water expected through the summer, hooking and other pothole escape techniques will be in demand, eg., potshots, pack tossing, partner climbing, 2-man pulls, guidelines, etc.
I highly suggest first timers enter at via the upper Imlay section at Potato Hollow and spend the night. It is such a choice overnight, and though your camping gear will add weight to your packs, in the summer it can be minimized to an extra 5-6 pounds per person. Then you have more time to relax and enjoy the incredible rooms, swirling narrows, and lush greenery in the Imlay offers.
One of my favorite moments from all Imlay descents is the last rappel, sitting on the rock tongue, over-looking Floating Rock in the Narrows. Spectacular.