Mystery Canyon in the snow, Zion National Park, UT


The idea was to sneak in one more good canyon before the weather hit, and Diana really wanted Kolob, so we scheduled a trip Monday Tuesday, hiking out the narrows and... And then it snowed. Plenty of snow up top, so Kolob was not going to be a good choice. Second choice... well, why not a Mystery? Christian had not done it yet, permits would not be hard to get. Ethan helped out by driving us to the top before heading off to go climbing... and off we go.

Sunshine in the eyes up at the trailhead.

Sunshine in the eyes up at the trailhead.

A lovely hike along the trail in a few inches of snow led to the top of the Gully of Death (pending). We donned the microspikes and the Coveralls and slid and spiked our way down to the canyon floor. With a little snow on em, the nuisance downclimbs were not going to work so, sad to say, we walked around two of ‘em, downclimbed two others. Rigged up for the first real rappel. Shortly into the rock narrows, which had just enough water to scare us into donning the dry suits.

Rappel in the Rock Narrows

Rappel in the Rock Narrows

Rappel in the Rock Narrows

The Lake was dry, thanks be to Fortuna.

Top of the Sand Pile

Christian is not real good with heights, so the Mystery Springs rappel and the Walk of Death was not his favorite part of the day. But he rallied across, then down the line and into the pool.  The Pool-where-we-used-to-jump has started getting deep again, and Amanda, who deftly avoided the Mystery Springs Pool, found herself almost swimming for the first time (so sad, hold on -- let me cry for a few minutes...).

Amanda and Christian on simul rappel

Amanda and Christian on simul rappel

Final rappel had many fewer tourists than usual, but was especially slippery. Amanda recognized that with the Scuttlebutt and Coverall, perhaps a buttslide down would be fun...

Mad Rappel Skills Lesson from Ms. Amanda Jessop

Mad Rappel Skills Lesson from Ms. Amanda Jessop

Mad Rappel Skills Lesson from Ms. Amanda Jessop

Beautiful day out. But it kinda seems like the Zion season is done for the year!


"I hope this doesn't hijack Tom's thread but I'd like to offer an explanation about the photo from his link that shows my rappel set up labeled, “For Ram”. Tom’s referring to a serious Jenny Near Miss (aka near death experience).


Last winter, Tom, Ram, Michael Schasch, Tim Hoover and I descended Mystery in beautiful snow and ice conditions. At the second to last rappel, I had a bad case of what we call, “harness interuptis”.

I had successful been birthed through the neck gasket of my drysuit, pulled the zipper from Hell (with help), pulled on my Alpine Bod harness and began to secure the buckle and leg loops as I continued to engage in some conversation.


Thinking myself ready, I clipped into the traverse line, moved across to the anchor where Tom had set the rappel. I had to pooch all the clothing against my chest to gain a view as I threaded the rope through my rappel device. Set now to unclip my safety cord, something felt terribly wrong! I’ve learned through many experiences to pay attention to this feeling of impending doom.

I said to Tom, “Wait! SOMETHING is wrong here! Check me, will you?”

We both visually inspected the set up through my device. We agreed, it was all good. But I felt that something was still terribly WRONG! Further checking showed that the waist strap on my harness was left unthreaded through the buckle! Bingo!


In other words, I was one unclick of a safety tether and one step away from serious injury and/or death. The best I could have hoped for was to hit the big chockstone, literally in the fall line (pun intended) and bounce into the pool below. I may have survived, maybe! Certainly it would not have been pretty.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a gazillion times again, “Check each other, completely. Double check yourself EVERY time, completely” Don’t let yourself or your pal go off a rappel until you hear the voice in your head say, “100% good to go” and be certain.