Lodge Canyon and New Anchors, Zion National Park, UT
Working on the 2nd Edition of my Zion Canyoneering Guidebook, one of the 'benefits' of due diligence is that I 'get' to do all the canyons again at least once, to see how they are doing. Lodge Canyon was never a favorite, but, after two trips this spring, it is not so bad, really. Aniko The Hiker brought a gang up from the Phoenix area to do a few canyons, and invited me along for Lodge Canyon for their Sunday, get-away canyon. Last time I did the canyon, maybe 10 years ago, we used a small, not-long-for-this-world tree for the first rap... what was being used now? Bo at The Desert Rat had mentioned a 'cave' he always visits and I was anxious to find this interesting feature, too.
We hiked in, me taking notes via the camera and my seriously-no-so-good memory. We visited the Cave - a nice feature especially on a hot day, and only a 15 minute side trip. At the head of the canyon, we found the easy downclimb in, snuck right to avoid a drop, then came to the place where the small tree had died. A boulder pinch had a few slings around it, a bit messy but not terrible, and we rigged that with a FiddleStick to avoid a possible tough pull; then rapped 30 feet. A second rap was made off a tied-off chockstone, where we met up with other members of the party who had chosen a more-dramatic rap-in point.
The next rappel, #3, was a problem before and was a problem now. There used to be a small tree at this point, then a bolt was added to back up the small tree. I added another bolt to solidify the anchor about 10 years ago, hoping to save the tree (no such luck), but really, this anchor was in a sucky place. A low-angle slab leads to a sharp edge and a 130 foot vertical rappel. If you extend the anchor with webbing a long way, then the pull is good but the start is difficult (for the last person, assuming you set a courtesy anchor for all but the last). Or you could set the webbing short and have a difficult pull. Not good.
So I came back with other friends a week later and put in a new, two-bolt (1/2" x 3-3/4") anchor in the watercourse, which looks like a hard start, but is not. Better. I took the bolts off the old anchor but did not fill the holes. I hope people find this anchor better. (Yellow=old; Blue=new)
Down we went. Then the next anchor... Two well-placed bolts on the wall, right next to a tumble of boulders with lots of good pinches to be tied off with webbing. Next trip through, I removed the hangers from the bolts and used the webbing to rig one of the pinches, which actually made a nicer rappel.
Then, the crux move on the 'route' - the rappel to the peninsula, where it is important to escape from the watercourse, to avoid the 360'(???) rappel below, instead rappelling down the side of the fin/peninsula in two raps.
Last rappel, the webbing was rigged short (as shown), so I extended it out over the edge, and it turns out there are some ledges down there that make the start easy even with the ring over the edge.
A fine day, well, actually, two fine days in the canyon. Not such a bad canyon, for a short day out in Zion. Runs north so somewhat cooler than many other offerings. Fine companions on both trips - thanks to all.