Saturday, May 05, 2012

Zion Day 2: Deer Trap Mountain South Buttress/ Hidden Canyon Descent

Photos Map

Today, I weighed in at 162.2 pounds. Probably artificially light due to dehydration, but it gets worse. I ran 12 mlles this morning, up Zion canyon and back. Then we hitchhiked through the tunnel, climbed the South Ridge of Deer Trap Mountain, mostly casual with just one very dangerous pitch. We hiked over to the north side of the mesa and descended Hidden Canyon (6 rappels), finishing up by hiking down the Observation Point Trail to the Weeping Rock shuttle bus stop. I drank all 70 ounces that I was carrying and ate all my food. I was feeling fine, still moving well, but knew I was dehydrated some since I could have drunk double what I had.

Back at the RV and before showering, just for grins I hop on the scale. It read 157.0.... I didn't feel weak, though I sure didn't want to go running. I drank and ate copious quantities tonight. I hope I didn't over do it. I sure got in my exercise today. I ran for two hours and then we were out adventuring from 10:20 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. 

The approach to the South Buttress is just plain fun. It goes up a beautiful wash with steep walls on both sides and then we break out to the west, up slickrock slabs to a saddle at the toe of the buttress. We then just frictioned up the slabs in our sticky-rubber approach shoes. It gets pretty steep, but we're experienced slab walkers. 

A couple hundred feet before the top the buttress becomes nearly vertical and we scooted around to the right on ledges and did some steep scrambling on loose, crumbly rock. When it got too steep for our comfort, we roped up. We carried our ultra-light harnesses and two 30-meter, 7.8mm climbing ropes. Having two short ropes allowed us to divide the rope and carry very small packs. I led up steep ground to the lip and had to negotiate past a large, loose block.

Once on the top of the cliff we had to hike cross-country a bit to the true summit, which is just a bump on the mesa and looks like nothing once up on the plateau, because this really isn't a mountain, but a point on the edge of a large plateau.

We soon found the trail on top and followed it east for a mile or so. I was using a GPS app on my phone to track out location and we dropped into the very top of Hidden Canyon. This canyon runs south-to-north and directly east of the Great White Throne. I had been up the canyon pretty far a couple of times, as there is an official trail that leads from Zion Canyon up to the end of Hidden Canyon. We followed it all the way down to this trail, doing 6 rappels in the process, one of which could have been avoided with just hiking. We scrambled down a number of other obstacles.

It is so convenient to then just walk out to a shuttle bus stop and ride that back to our campground. I was thankful to get back a couple hours earlier than the day before.

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