Sunday, April 08, 2007

Zion National Park - West Temple Hike/Climb

It was a good day of hiking; almost stepped on a really bigrattler at the first notch on the ridge. The wind was a bit unnervingas we walked across some of the narrower ridges and ledges. We spentquite a bit of time at the "third notch" trying to find a waydown....just need to walk in front and find a nice coniferous tree toclimb onto! We found some of the obstacles from the notch untilthe "White Band Upclimb" more testy than the bolted climb itself..Definately a good day hike (with a rope). We started hiking at 6:30amand were back to the vehicles at 3pm. Could have been a bit shorter dayif either of us had hiked it before, but then the unknown is what madeit really rewarding!


Friday, April 06, 2007

West Temple Hike - Zion National Park

Its supposed to be inthe 80's this weekend. I hope to have some shots of the elusive WTafter this weekend. I've been trying (not very hard) for the last 8-9years to get this hike/climb done and it may come to fruition thissunday. Mountain Sheep- "Mike Nad", Denali- "Dave Nally", Woody-"Sherwood" and Moi have sketched in an attempt for this sunday. We'llsee how it goes?


Sunday, January 28, 2007

An Arch at Coral Pink Sand Dunes?

There is! Well close enough. It's on Hancock Road on the way into the park. This is a delightful arch that is found just off the road.

Heaps Canyon - Zion National Park

Having hiked a few classics and explored a few other non-published
areas in Zion in the 5-6 years past, I was hooked! I know others that
have experienced the same sensation. I found myself one day hesitantly
walking up to the desk with Oak Creek in the background at the visitors
center. I then asked the ranger on duty if I may peer at the 3 ring
binders that were stashed away for those and only those that knew of
them. Somewhat intimidated, I flipped one of them open and landed on an
account of "Heaps Canyon" by Royce Trapier. I had not heard of this
canyon so I had to see what and where it might be. After seeing that it
was a fairly gentle approach (up the West Rim) my interest peaked.
Reading further was just like adding wood to my fire. The descriptions
were vivid accounts of many awkward rappels into frigid pools of water,
scrambles across impossibly angled slabs of rock, climbs up log jams
that required every ounce of energy that could be mustered, but what
really stopped me for a second and third and fourth careful study was
something he described as the "Devils Pit". I believe the year was 1992?

I rounded up a couple friends that I had hiked Mystery and a couple
other classics with, (Mystery was not a classic back then) and gave
them my spiel! Carefully I assured them that this hike would be an
adventure not soon forgotten. I didn't describe the hardships
experienced by Royce Trapier in an attempt he had made previous to his
successful Heaps bid. I didn't want to lose any chance I may have to
recruit partners for this spellbinding hike. After placing a rope at
Upper Emerald Pool and leaving a vehicle at the Lodge, we made our way
to the trailhead at Lava Point. The hike was easy but hot on that June
Day and by 1PM we had arrived at a point that may or may not be the
entry into Heaps. We had sucked down all of our water carried and I
volunteered to run over to Cabin Springs to pump our bottles full of
another dose of the clear elixir. When I had returned to the head of
the canyon we were about to venture into, I realized that both of the
partners I had so slyly recruited for this adventure were very
dehydrated. I knew that the attempt was in jepardy, so we took a vote
and decided that it wasn't to be. Behunin was just down the trail and
we didn't want to have hauled all that gear and not use it. It was a
fun hike thru Behunin Canyon that day!

My thirst was just temporarily quenched. The next year I was able to
get two other friends convinced. Mike was a skating buddy (played
roller hockey together) and Mark was the owner of the roller rink that
we played at. I had hiked Mystery with Mike but Mark hadn't had the
opportunity to even rappel yet. I took Mark out to a local Crag 2 days
before our slated Saturday morning departure, and showed him the
delicate intricacies of descending a rope. He did well and had fun. The
night before the trip I went to the rink and met with the two, and
explained that this would be a very difficult hike, probably the most
difficult any of us may have ever experienced. I offered the chance to
end it here and now (in a way I was hoping they would resign!), but
they both said they would be ready at 4AM. Once again we drove up to
the Lodge and I ran up and stashed the requisite 300' x 8mm accessory
cord that would enable us to finish the hike with all of our gear. We
started up the West Rim this time from the bottom. By 1PM and slogging
in the heat of the day, we arrived at the spot that made sense for the
descent. Down we go and after about an hour of hunting, and pecking we
found ourselves at a tree with webbing. This is the start. Once we go
down and pull our ropes we will be committed (probably to an
institution!). Our packs were laden with lots of gear. I did not want
to fail! My pack dry weighed 65# and Mark and Mike carried a bit less,
but then it was my idea so I had the honors! We had 1100' of various
size and length rope, the questionable by todays standard full bolt kit
with hooks, a set of cams and nuts, my climbing shoes, overnight gear,
food and water and FULL, THICK WETSUITS rented from the local Dive
shop. See! I told you I didn't want to fail this attempt! We made the
rappels with only having the rope jam twice, re-ascending and then
onward again. As we looked thru the ever deepening almost limestone
textured rock, peering south toward "The Crossroads", I mentioned that
it was a lot like a "Gunsight". I think the name stuck? We arrived at
the Slab of rock that I remembered in the description. Carefully walk
down and then place hands on the east side and feet on west side and do
a full body stem for the next 100 yards (Its easier to rappel this
section). Holy Heck! (Hell in Mormon) You talk about a workout! On to
the next obstacles; a few rappels some short some long, a couple swims,
some short some long and Voila! 8PM and we are just above the
Crossroads....I think? We are beat...lets settle in above the wash and
cook some MRE's (Yummy) and get some sleep for the real McCoy in the

It took a while to get packed and going, but by 8AM we were on the
trail! I remember that at the Crossroads we need to ascend a very steep
ramp and then traverse 100 Yds. to a tree and then rappel 80' into
the "Alley". A tough start to the morning! (now I know that its easier
to just drop into the pool and walk around the corner! ;-) Well...its
9:30 and we are here! Man does this canyon slot down in a hurry! On
with the wetsuits and batton down the hatches and DIVE! DIVE! DIVE!
Absolutely stunning...absolutely amazing....absolutely
unique......absolutely wet and freezing! One pothole to the next
pothole to the next logjam to the next the next
downclimb........on and on and on! It was unbelievable! Where is
the "Devils Pit" I wondered? To a pothole, and its tougher to get out.
Need some shoving from behind. That reminds me! Mark, let me have the
bolt kit with the hooks since I'm leading....."What Bolt Kit?" Mark
exclaims! "It fell out in one of those swims and I wasn't about to go
diving!" Mark! Mark! Mark! Well..I sure hope to "Heck" we don't need it
in here! Onward! I kept saying, this must be the Devils Pit! Geez!
There are a bunch of Devils Pits! We came to a place that appeared to
fit Royces description best. This was it! Exit by scrambling up the 25'
high logjam and down the backside...too easy? On the other side of the
Jam? A single log stretched across a deep pothole for 20'. Now this
looked super balancy and exciting! Put a rope around my waist in case I
fall and you can drag my butt out of there! Now your turn! Now to
another pothole but this time, no log; feet on one side and back on
other and inch across. We made it......downstream just a short
distance, and I holler out, "Its a 20 foot drop and no
anchors!"..wheres the bolt kit when you think you need it? Could rig an
anchor back off the logjam if needed, but one more glance, ahhhhh,
theres an old bolt hidden in a small alcove on the right!

The canyon is widening out now. A couple long rappels and now at the
end alas! Now where? I sort of remember that we have some very long
drops ahead but I forget where we should go? Drop into the huge chimney
overlooking Upper Emerald? Nah! Too much work if its not the anchors.
So I head up on the ledge on the east side of the chimney. Nothing, so
it must be on the west side? I could jump across? Nope...too long to
fall if I miss! so back down and after a short scramble up a dirty
corner and a bit of romping, I peak my head over and shout...grab this
end of the rope and tie the packs on. Heave-ho and up the packs come
one at a time. Down to the anchor on a small pine tree and a short
50'er to a big pine tree and some GRAND EXPOSURE! Are those people down
there? Yep! Next rap to the slanting ramp at the chimney. Three of us
were snug as a bug in a rug! Pull out the 300'x8mm accessory cord that
had been stashed in the "wet" drybag and over I go! Dig around in the
grass for a bit, tie the stashes cord to the end and "Haul Away!". Mark
comes first after careful inspection by Mike (Mark was on about his
15th Rappel ever in his life) Down comes Mark with a little pressure
from my conditional belay. Next up...Mike on his way! A little more
assistance and at 9PM we're down! A couple handshakes and forced smiles
and a few night see'rs applaud and what do you know, theres some wives
and friends to lend a hand with the final jaunt to the vehicles and a
promise of some "cold pizza and cold beer". Yee-haw! I knew we wouldn't


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Highlines for SAR in Zion

Concerning the actual SAR of the boy that fell 40 feet in the Left Fork that
was described in the article. We had a team of 7 that were flown over
to the west side of Russell Gulch and 2 of us were flown to the east
side fairly close to the entrance of the standard "Subway" route. A
line gun was fired from the west side and we retrieved the line on
the east side and established a "Highline". The west side operated
a "Tag Line" and the "Norweigian Reeve Hoist Line". The west side
also was in charge of "Track Line" tensioning. On the east side we
were only responsible for a high strength tie off of the "Track Line"
and operation of the east side "Tag Line". We also would
eventually "ferry" the Medic and Patient to our side for the
helicopter evac. Rick was the medic with the patient and had never
operated the prusiks and safety clip-in on a "Reeve" so I was chosen
to ride the litter down into Russell Gulch on the Reeve. Our side
only needed Tag Line Operation so only 1 person was necessary
initially on the east side. I was ferried out over Russell and
conducted the lower into the bottom of the canyon, helped package and
instructed Rick on Reeve Operation, then ran back up to the east side
station while the west side hoisted the Medic and Patient up to the
track line. Once clipped in to the carriage, our east side team of
two hauled them over and carried the litter to the heli-pad for evac
to DRMC. The operation went very smoothly and safely and took very
minimal time.

We could have used other means of extrication, but they would have
been much more timely, difficult and dangerous to the patient and
attendant. We have used "Highlines with Reeves" in numerous actual
situations and find them to be invaluable. The terrain in ZNP
dictates the system, but often times the Highline is the absolute

I have many photos showing Highlines (Sloping, Drooping, Single-
double-triple Track, Norwegian and English Reeves) Guiding Line and
Tag Line operations, standard raise and lowers, all configs of high
directionals, pickoffs- horizontal and vertical scoops, tilts, pike
and pivot exits, patient packaging, anchor systems, MA systems, etc
that I've accumulated over the last 11 years being involved with ZNP

Originally when I got involved with SAR I assumed that you just went
down or up, got the patient and that was it! Since then I've learned
that there are many different "tools in the bag" available that make
High Angle Rescue safe and expedient.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Getting Ready to Hike Across Zion in a Day - Again!

It was an early morning start on a Saturday, May 6th 2006. Plans had
been made over the preceding month or so and it was beginning to fit
together. I was to pick up Rob and Denise in Springdale somewhere
around 3AM, and then shuttle back to Kolob Canyons and meet the rest
of the group, Jeff, Steve and friend to begin at 4AM, a long day of

This hike would travel through one of the most beautiful parks in the
National Park System and eventually culminate after roughly 50 miles
of walking. I had done this trip before some 5 years earlier, but had
started at the east entrance of Zion rather than the west side.

Steve and friend had driven up from Las Vegas the day before,
thinking that this would be a noble undertaking; Jeff on the other
hand had been on his annual dose of Zion and had thought that
seeing "Zion in a Day" would be a great fix! Rob....well....this
would be a "warm-up" for his 24 hour race in Southern Nevada next
weekend! Denise had spent many such outings that tested endurance,
stamina and will power, so this seemed to fit!

After our introductions and hello's at Lee Pass, the hiking began at
about 4:10. Headlamping as we descended, the group was pretty tight
knit all the way until we got to Hop Valley. Rob and I sort of broke
off to the front of the pack as twilight illuminated this magnificent
valley and we found ourselves stopping for some conversation and
reminiscing about some of the experiences we'd had in the past. Soon
the group formed again and we all converged at the Hop Valley
Trailhead where Steves lady friend and Robs lady friend had
refreshments and moral support. It was somewhere around 7AM or so. At
this point Rob had decided that he would be better off saving his
reserves for the race he had committed to next weekend. We started as
6, now down to 5. Steve and partner relaxed, took in some calories
and tended to feet while Denise and Jeff made a quick pit stop and
continued on the connector trail to Wildcat Canyon. I followed suit
shortly and caught Denise and Jeff somewhere around the Northgate
Peaks Trail. I was sure that Steve and partner would be shortly
behind. Denise, decided to stop and swap socks and told Jeff and I to
move along and she would follow. Arriving at the West Rim trail just
around 1 PM? a wonderful surprise! Tanya and Nikki awaited. What a
welcome sight after 25+ miles of walking. I hadn't expected to see
them until the Grotto! They had hiked from Lava Point with sandwiches
and drinks for us! Well, Jeff and I spent the next 30 minutes gorging
and enjoying the company and moral support these 2 wonderful ladies
offered, and soon the rest of the group had arrived. The miles had
begun to take their toll, as we knew they would. Realizing that it
was half over and that the next 14 miles would be downhill, Jeff and
I decided to get a start ahead of the rest. I told Tanya that we
should be at the Grotto somewhere around 4-4:30. was more
like 5-5:30, but there they were waiting, our support team! Thank
you! They asked us if we wanted to sit and rest before the long
ascent up the East Rim? I think both Jeff and I looked at each other
and without a word knew that if we sat now, we probably wouldn't (or
couldn't!) get up to finish. 39 miles down and 11 to go! We knew the
others couldn't be far behind and that support was waiting for them,
so off we went. Up the road (that shuttle sure was tempting!) and the
trudge up the East Rim. I think that knowing there were only 10 miles
left now made the ascent much easier, but I have to admit; the last
steep hill out of Echo Canyon was a BEAR! Even the gradual grade
beyond Stave Spring seemed like an eternity!
Ahhhhhhhhh....alas....the last 4 miles of gentle grade down was such
a relief! 2 miles before the end and here comes Tanya and Nikki!
Wow...such wonderful company and moral support this was. They offered
to carry our packs, but being proud, both Jeff and I declined their
generous offers. The next 2 miles were the best of the entire hike
with fun conversation and knowing that we were going to make the
entire 50 miles in one day. At 9:10 PM we arrived at Tanyas Van at
the East Entrance Of Zion national Park. We didn't learn that the
others had decided to end their respectable 39 mile journey at the
Grotto until later that evening. Jeff and I were ready for the 2 hour
shuttle back to our awaiting vehicles at Lee Pass, but Tanya so
kindly offered a motel room at her Best Western in Mt. Carmel
Junction. We were in heaven! I went out to the hot tub that evening
and low and behold out comes Steve and Crew! They had not found a
hotel room in Springdale as planned and also were staying at Tanyas
Best Western! After conversation and soothing soaking, I learned that
blisters and knee pounding had dampered their efforts to finish up
the remaining 11 miles. I have a feeling that Steve may want to give
this another go though. Denise also had previous arangements in
Springdale, so the Grotto was the logical stopping point for her as

Well....The next morning, Tanya shuttled Jeff and I back to our
vehicles at Lee Pass and we said our farewells.

I just want to thank everyone for a fun adventure and all the support

I sort of hope to be on the trail again this May if it is to be! If
there is anyone that would like to join, maybe we can give it another