The Stinger Canyon! Second Descent in the Heart of Zion National Park
Mike casually mentioned he had his eye on a certain canyon, a painfully obvious one, in the heart of Zion. "No way", I said. "I've been looking at that for 5 years!"
Plans were made. Matt was coming down from SLC to lead the hard pitch. The approach was no chump, and the last drop looked rather big. I went up and took some pictures, did some algebra, and calculated the height at 290 feet. Hmmm. Better cut a rope somewhat longer than the usual 300 - how about 360? It proved useful.
Getting to the head was a pain. Scenic, in spots, but... 4 pm Saturday found us atop Bee Hive Peak, ready to start the canyon - with a 240 foot rap from near the summit - down to the slabs. Wandered down a few hundred feet, then a 180 foot rap down into the bowl. Cut around to the other side, rap off a tree (200'). Then another rap down into a cool slot by headlamp, and we were really in the canyon. 7 pm. Full dark.
I think the canyon was pretty cool, but kinda hard to tell in the dark. Thankfully, no pools we could not avoid. About 10 raps mostly in the 50 foot range. Quite a few where we looked back up and said "um, daytime downclimb". We wandered, then stumbled toward that big last rappel... Found some anchors, too. Somewhat disappointed - no First Descent for us. Some slings around rocks, a rock shoe half-buried in the sand. A sleeping bag rotting under a rock. Some empty water bottles. Junk. Unfortunate. So we did get the first-descent-without-leaving-a-bunch-of-junk-in-the-canyon consolation prize.
Finally made it to the end about 10:30 pm. Nice little perfect bivy spot, then some big boulders, then lots of air. The lights of Springdale twinkled down below. We were tired, dehydrated, worn out. A nap was suggested before rapping off. Agreed on. 15 minutes later, a bivy was suggested and endorsed.
Good decisions will be rewarded. We each had just enough gear to sleep (once Mike took pity on me and let me have his space emergency blanket). My problem was dehydration, which meant waking up a couple times with major cramps starting in my quads - uhhhhhh.
Sunlight in the morning sure felt good. We looked over the big drop. Some trees on the side offered an easy anchor, but the line of descent crossed a bunch of sharp ferrous edges - not a good idea. We went back and tried the other side. Rocks offered an anchor, but that ended in a nasty tree about 10 feet down. We considered the possibilities, and chose to drill a 2-bolt anchor (1/2" x 3-3/4" 5-pc Powerbolts) (ok, mostly Matt did the work). Got a good clean line to the side of the tree. Dropped the ropebag. Heard the thud as it hit bottom; rapped down ending in a small forest at the base of the cliff, with 20 feet of rope to spare. Whew!
We still had 1600 feet to lose to get down to civilization. We stumbled downward, found some downclimbs, rappelled when we had to. Ended up being 5 more raps before we stumbled into NPS employee housing. Three PM -- a half hour later --the A Team was digging into substantial piles of victuals at Oscars... ahhhh - game done.
The Stinger: 4A V about 20 Rappels to 310 feet. 2nd known descent Mike Schasch, Matt Brejcha, Tom Jones. Nov 3rd and 4th 2012. 2 bolts placed.