Escaping the Zion Heat
So it is a good idea to start early, and stay out of the sun. So we did, mostly, by doing a canyon on the East Side, possibly the third intentional descent. Part of the research for the Zion: Canyoneering 2nd Edition. Thanks to Robby Brower and Hayley Walker for inviting me along. Thanks to Kip Marshall for the beta.
We got a 6 am start, which thankfully only slipped to 6:10. And off we go. The approach took just over 2 hours to the first technical section, and a very pleasant hike it was in the cool. We did not expect to have that benefit on the way out.
We did some downclimbs, some wades, some raps. The canyon has numerous small potholes made easy by the lack of water – we boosted out of all of these. There is a skull arch. There is an intimidating downclimb that we set up a SandTrap for, and then just downclimbed. There is a downclimb with very slippery rock which we rappelled off a convenient jammed stump. We were able to ghost all drops using 1 SandTrap, 2 FiddleSticks and a nice pack stack. A technical catch was useful at one drop.
About noon we came to the end of our descent at the intersection with another fork, our exit route. We checked out downcanyon, and it is rather impressive – the walls are big and dark, as in several hundred feet big. A 90-foot rappel leads down to a 10 foot wide slot, that turns a corner ahead with the promise of a big drop just past there. We could hear the river from there.
Even in the shade, and even with a few waist-deep wades, it was still warm in the canyon. The next portion made me glad that I started with 3 liters of ice, which were now cold water. We hiked up the side canyon for 10 minutes, then found a place to climb out and up to the top of the ridge. We followed the ridge and three hours later, with several longish cooling off breaks, we were back at the car.
Fun Canyon, okay in the heat but… Might be fun as a splasher, and might require some ingenuity to get out of the several keepers. I can wait until fall to do it again, assuming it rains in Zion again. Some time.
(Location and details will be in the upcoming second edition).