Zion Observation Point Canyon: Potholes and Ice!

obs00.jpg

What a crazy year! After a brief cold spell, Zion warmed up again. Up for something - what faces south? I had done Observation Point Canyon only once, back in 2008. If it was going to be in the new book, I kinda needed to do it again. I drove up the canyon on Sunday to check if it had melted out yet - YES, and no flow coming out of it - all good signs.

Happy Valley comes to Zion

Happy Valley comes to Zion

For this adventure, my two favorite and best canyoneering partners, Amanda Josephine Jessop and Bailey Camille Schofield. THEY went skiing and boarding the previous day, so *I* got to play the man this time, carrying the 300' rope up the hill, holding open doors, helping with seatbelts, etc. We started at Weeping Rock and charged up the hill - a total of 2150 feet, to the scenic Observation Point. The temps were delightful for the hike up, at least while we were in the shade. HOT in the sun! Great views at Observation Point - stunning.

Beautiful views of Zion from way up here, with a touch of snow to make it even more scenic!

Beautiful views of Zion from way up here, with a touch of snow to make it even more scenic!

After a brief lolling in the sun period, we found a tree to rap from and set up the rope. Not as good a choice as last time, but a nice clean line all the way to the bottom. Down we go... we're in for it now!

First rap down a steep wall.

First rap down a steep wall.

First big rappel pulls cleanly past some bushes. GOOD! We work our way down the scruffy wide slot to a vast slickrock area. I had forgotten just how wonderfully delightful the whole amazing place is - big walls all around, lots of sunshine. We moseyed on down. There was ice to play with.

VimeoBreakingIce2

VimeoBreakingIce2

Then some route-finding down ever-steepening slickrock bowls. A little careful scrutinizing led to the top of the second rappel, where I previously botched the setup and stuck the rope, and climbed the rope, and re-rigged. My anchor from the last trip was still there.

We rigged up on a lower Mountain Mahogony, had some lunch, relaxed in the sun... guess we should actually rap this thing! Down into the shade we go.

vimeo josephine

vimeo josephine

This one pulls clean too - guess I might have learned something in the last six years!  We stroll through a shaded, woody section to get to the final slot, suit up and work on Bailey's five pound lunch of sauerkraut, potatoes and sausage!  Mmmm, hits the spot. A few pools ahead are chilly but brief. I show off my pothole escape skills, but the ladies show off their pothole-avoidance skills.

Second rap in the final slot

Second rap in the final slot

A few short rappels, mostly off bolted anchors, and we arrive at a whole bunch of air!  A seventy foot rap leads to a reasonable small ledge, and a one-bolt-plus two angle pitons anchor in the sun. So pleasant. Hard to leave. I am glad to be here in daylight. We chuck the rope down and proceed onward - a smooth 295 foot rap down a great wall. Once again, for me, the Sqrrl is the secret weapon - BEST RAPPEL DEVICE EVER!!

vimeolastrap

vimeolastrap

We scurried up to the Weeping Rock platform as the cleanest way to get out of there. A gracious visitor took some pics for us - then off to Springdale for a change of clothes, and ribs at Oscars. Awesome day, pretty darn good canyon, actually!