Send us a suggestion!

Another Heaps trip

Discussion in 'Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group' started by cirrustwothousand, May 31, 2012.

  1. Hot on the heels of Shaun's post on his Heaps trip, I've got one too! (Shaun, I've read yours, but not watched the video yet - my bandwidth has been eaten up by uploading photos - but I will watch it today! Very interested in seeing the changes of three weeks.)

    On Tuesday, May 29, Bill Westerhoff, Tim Hoover, Dominik Nadolski and I descended Heaps Canyon. Here is my report. Skip to the end for photo link.

    Heaps Canyon

    On Monday evening, Bill, Tim and I finally managed to get together and start sorting our gear.  While checking Bill's 300 foot rope, needed for the final 280 foot free hanging rappel, we found a very frayed spot on the sheath, fairly close to the centre of the rope.  It wasn't a full "core shot", but we were not comfortable trusting our lives to it 120 feet above the ground, dangling on this 8mm thick lifeline. A couple of phone calls later, Bill had arranged to pick up another rope in the wee hours of the morning from a friend in Springdale.

    Lights out at 11:30, and the 3:30 alarm came way too soon! We didn't know whether Dominik was planning to meet up with us for the trip.  We didn't have his contact info, but the invitation had been made to him, while up in Boulder, to be a member of our party of up to four. After picking up the new rope in Springdale, we drove up to Lava Point, where we found Dominik waiting for us in his truck. Arrangements had been made for Bill's car to be picked up later in the day, so Dominik's truck would be stranded there until he could get a ride back up to it after the canyon.  Unfortunately, there wasn't very much communication about the logistics of the trip...

    We pulled the new rope out, and by headlamp and touch, Bill and I checked the length and integrity, and re-bagged it.  It was at least 300 feet, and I estimated it as 315-320 total.

    The four of us were on the trail at just after 5:30 AM.

    We made good time on the hike in, and started down the first rap into Phantom Valley at 8:50.  On the second rap, a little over 200 feet of fairly low angle slabs, Bill and I both rapped down at the same time - him on the 200 foot rope, me on the 300 we had just borrowed.  Shortly after starting down, I felt something strange on the rope as I rapped down, and stopped.  The strange bit was a little way above me, and I couldn't quite reach it, but it looked like a white imperfection on the sheath of the orange/red rope.  I continued down, and mentioned it to Bill.  We told Tim and Dominik to rap on the 200 only.

    When we pulled the ropes, we found a rather serious core shot about 30 feet from the end of the rope - much more serious than what had been on our original rope.  Now the thinking and wondering and conjecturing began.  How to safely descend the final free hanging rappel? Was there enough safe rope to make it all the way to the ground? And how could we be sure?

    We came up with a tentative plan: we would isolate the core shot with an alpine butterfly knot.  We would then set up a rap-and-lower rig off a contingency anchor, joining the 300 with one of the shorter ropes, with the knot that joined them below the anchor.  I would rap first, with a radio (we had two). If I reached the knot before I reached the ground, Bill would lower me the rest of the way to the ground.  We would do the same for Tim and Dominik, the Bill would re-rig, and pass the knot on his descent.  Of course, if I reached the ground before reaching the knot, everything would be fine, and there would be much rejoicing!

    We continued our descent through Phantom Valley, and eventually reached the first narrows around 11:00.  We were still making very reasonable time, and suited up and headed into the narrows at about 11:30 - six hours into our day.

    The first two sections of narrows , and the long, sandy Wall Street-like section that joined them, were a lot of fun - a watery playground, filled with beautiful rock, all scooped and swirled, and some sweet potholes that were fun to get in and out of.

    Two hours after entering the narrows, we arrived at the last rest spot before entering the final, long, cold section of narrows that awaited.  We ate and drank, then simply lay in the sun, soaking up the heat through our black wetsuits, in preparation for the onslaught of cold about to come.

    Finally, at 2:00, we started moving again. After walking down a massive corridor, we made a sharp left turn, and plunged into the dark narrows.  Based on the earlier portions of the canyon, we expected to take maybe a couple of hours or so to romp through this section, prior to reaching the final sequence of rappels.  In fact, it took us almost four hours.

    Dominik had been through the canyon nine days previously, and said that the water level had dropped by about six inches in the meantime.  It was not enough to put the potholes into a dangerous condition, per se, but it certainly did add to the physical effort needed to get through.  Heaps has been descended quite a bit by groups with lower experience levels over the past while, and has enjoyed pretty ideal conditions lately for those descents.  While the canyon was by no means in "difficult" conditions, it was certainly in less "easy" conditions.

    We reached the staging area prior to the final rap sequence around 5:30 or so - twelve hours after starting our day.  We ate, we drank, and we changed into dry clothing out of our dry bags. After warming up for a while, we started up the short easy climb to the final rap sequence.

    Tim, who carried the 120 foot rope, set the first rap, and I descended.  I set the 200 foot rope, which I had carried, and Bill descended to the "bird perch" stance.  He began to send down the knotted 300 footer toward the ground, while I reset the length of the penultimate rap line, and Dominik came to join me at the intermediate stance.

    We all began to gather at the bird perch.  Looking down as the 300 foot rope was fully extended, we could see that there was a significant amount coiled on the ground at the bottom of the rappel.  But we could not see whether the knot had reached the ground. Then we realized that if we attached something highly visible to the knot, we could tell whether it reached the ground.

    A pack was too big and heavy, and if it did not reach the ground, would add too much weight on the rope to permit me to rappel.  We decided to use one of our empty rope bags.  Slowly, laboriously, we pulled all three hundred odd feet back up to the now crowded bird perch, and attached the bag.  

    Bill lowered the bag carefully, as I unwound the coils I had gathered as we pulled up the rope.  We watched as the reserves in my arms dwindled while the rope bag still swayed on its way down.  Finally, with just a few feet left to spare - touchdown!  The rope bag was flat on the ground.  We could rap all the way to the ground without having to worry about lowering, passing a knot, or anything other than a simple straightforward rappel - if a 280 foot, free-hanging rappel can ever be called "straightforward".

    I hopped on the rope first, and reached the ground just after 7:45 PM.  With deployment of the pull side, and testing of the pull, plus getting everyone down that monumental drop, all four of us were on the ground by 8:45, just over fifteen hours after hitting the trail.

    Ropes were pulled and bagged without incident, and we started down the trail toward the grotto, and our waiting vehicle, just as dusk was upon us. Headlamps were needed, and we reached the parking lot just at full dark.

    We returned to town, and went to one of the few establishments that remained open, Amigos, for food - glorious food!  Shortly after eleven, we all went our separate ways.  Well, mostly separate - Dominik and I once again headed up the Kolob Terrace Road, to return him to his truck.  Dominik started home towards Pasadena, where he had to be at work in the morning - talk about cutting it close.  I returned to my tent in Springdale, where I stumbled into my sleeping bag about 22 hours after I got up that morning.  What a day!

    Total time, car to car: sixteen hours.  Sixteen hours of the most demanding, unrelenting physical workout I think I've ever experienced.  But also one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had.  The canyon was beautiful. I mean, stunningly beautiful.  And it just kept going and going and going.  Incredible stone, stunning bright mosses and ferns, glorious sculpting, sublime lighting, and more.

    The canyon was hugely demanding - it took and took from us - but in return, it just kept giving and giving back to us.

    I will be back, Heaps, and I look forward to seeing you again!



    Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos after the Iron Room. At the first sign of a low battery indication, I put the camera away, to save for the end. When I got to the bottom of the last rap, I wanted to get some glory shots of Tim and the others coming down. When I pulled out the camera, though, it was completely dead. Turns out I took video, IN MY POCKET, of my final rappel. The audio is great: "The dogs are in the yard." and "OK, I'm hanging free now!" and so on. In fact, I look forward to listening to it in future, to relive the moment - but it doesn't exactly make scintillating viewing...

    Photos:

    https://picasaweb.google.com/cirrus2000/HeapsCanyonMay292012



    Hope you enjoy, Kev
  2. RAM

    RAM Guest

    Great TR. Thanks a lot, enjoyed it. When I heard about the car being stranded up at the top...I knew....I just knew who would rise up and take the fella back up there, Why? Because EVERYONE knows...Kevin is a REALLY NICE GUY!

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "cirrustwothousand" <cirrus2000@...> wrote:
    Hot on the heels of Shaun's post on his Heaps trip, I've got one too! (Shaun, I've read yours, but not watched the video yet - my bandwidth has been eaten up by uploading photos - but I will watch it today! Very interested in seeing the changes of three weeks.)
    On Tuesday, May 29, Bill Westerhoff, Tim Hoover, Dominik Nadolski and I descended Heaps Canyon. Here is my report. Skip to the end for photo link.
    Heaps Canyon
    On Monday evening, Bill, Tim and I finally managed to get together and start sorting our gear.  While checking Bill's 300 foot rope, needed for the final 280 foot free hanging rappel, we found a very frayed spot on the sheath, fairly close to the centre of the rope.  It wasn't a full "core shot", but we were not comfortable trusting our lives to it 120 feet above the ground, dangling on this 8mm thick lifeline. A couple of phone calls later, Bill had arranged to pick up another rope in the wee hours of the morning from a friend in Springdale.
    Lights out at 11:30, and the 3:30 alarm came way too soon! We didn't know whether Dominik was planning to meet up with us for the trip.  We didn't have his contact info, but the invitation had been made to him, while up in Boulder, to be a member of our party of up to four. After picking up the new rope in Springdale, we drove up to Lava Point, where we found Dominik waiting for us in his truck. Arrangements had been made for Bill's car to be picked up later in the day, so Dominik's truck would be stranded there until he could get a ride back up to it after the canyon.  Unfortunately, there wasn't very much communication about the logistics of the trip...
    We pulled the new rope out, and by headlamp and touch, Bill and I checked the length and integrity, and re-bagged it.  It was at least 300 feet, and I estimated it as 315-320 total.
    The four of us were on the trail at just after 5:30 AM.
    We made good time on the hike in, and started down the first rap into Phantom Valley at 8:50.  On the second rap, a little over 200 feet of fairly low angle slabs, Bill and I both rapped down at the same time - him on the 200 foot rope, me on the 300 we had just borrowed.  Shortly after starting down, I felt something strange on the rope as I rapped down, and stopped.  The strange bit was a little way above me, and I couldn't quite reach it, but it looked like a white imperfection on the sheath of the orange/red rope.  I continued down, and mentioned it to Bill.  We told Tim and Dominik to rap on the 200 only.
    When we pulled the ropes, we found a rather serious core shot about 30 feet from the end of the rope - much more serious than what had been on our original rope.  Now the thinking and wondering and conjecturing began.  How to safely descend the final free hanging rappel? Was there enough safe rope to make it all the way to the ground? And how could we be sure?
    We came up with a tentative plan: we would isolate the core shot with an alpine butterfly knot.  We would then set up a rap-and-lower rig off a contingency anchor, joining the 300 with one of the shorter ropes, with the knot that joined them below the anchor.  I would rap first, with a radio (we had two). If I reached the knot before I reached the ground, Bill would lower me the rest of the way to the ground.  We would do the same for Tim and Dominik, the Bill would re-rig, and pass the knot on his descent.  Of course, if I reached the ground before reaching the knot, everything would be fine, and there would be much rejoicing!
    We continued our descent through Phantom Valley, and eventually reached the first narrows around 11:00.  We were still making very reasonable time, and suited up and headed into the narrows at about 11:30 - six hours into our day.
    The first two sections of narrows , and the long, sandy Wall Street-like section that joined them, were a lot of fun - a watery playground, filled with beautiful rock, all scooped and swirled, and some sweet potholes that were fun to get in and out of.
    Two hours after entering the narrows, we arrived at the last rest spot before entering the final, long, cold section of narrows that awaited.  We ate and drank, then simply lay in the sun, soaking up the heat through our black wetsuits, in preparation for the onslaught of cold about to come.
    Finally, at 2:00, we started moving again. After walking down a massive corridor, we made a sharp left turn, and plunged into the dark narrows.  Based on the earlier portions of the canyon, we expected to take maybe a couple of hours or so to romp through this section, prior to reaching the final sequence of rappels.  In fact, it took us almost four hours.
    Dominik had been through the canyon nine days previously, and said that the water level had dropped by about six inches in the meantime.  It was not enough to put the potholes into a dangerous condition, per se, but it certainly did add to the physical effort needed to get through.  Heaps has been descended quite a bit by groups with lower experience levels over the past while, and has enjoyed pretty ideal conditions lately for those descents.  While the canyon was by no means in "difficult" conditions, it was certainly in less "easy" conditions.
    We reached the staging area prior to the final rap sequence around 5:30 or so - twelve hours after starting our day.  We ate, we drank, and we changed into dry clothing out of our dry bags. After warming up for a while, we started up the short easy climb to the final rap sequence.
    Tim, who carried the 120 foot rope, set the first rap, and I descended.  I set the 200 foot rope, which I had carried, and Bill descended to the "bird perch" stance.  He began to send down the knotted 300 footer toward the ground, while I reset the length of the penultimate rap line, and Dominik came to join me at the intermediate stance.
    We all began to gather at the bird perch.  Looking down as the 300 foot rope was fully extended, we could see that there was a significant amount coiled on the ground at the bottom of the rappel.  But we could not see whether the knot had reached the ground. Then we realized that if we attached something highly visible to the knot, we could tell whether it reached the ground.
    A pack was too big and heavy, and if it did not reach the ground, would add too much weight on the rope to permit me to rappel.  We decided to use one of our empty rope bags.  Slowly, laboriously, we pulled all three hundred odd feet back up to the now crowded bird perch, and attached the bag.  
    Bill lowered the bag carefully, as I unwound the coils I had gathered as we pulled up the rope.  We watched as the reserves in my arms dwindled while the rope bag still swayed on its way down.  Finally, with just a few feet left to spare - touchdown!  The rope bag was flat on the ground.  We could rap all the way to the ground without having to worry about lowering, passing a knot, or anything other than a simple straightforward rappel - if a 280 foot, free-hanging rappel can ever be called "straightforward".
    I hopped on the rope first, and reached the ground just after 7:45 PM.  With deployment of the pull side, and testing of the pull, plus getting everyone down that monumental drop, all four of us were on the ground by 8:45, just over fifteen hours after hitting the trail.
    Ropes were pulled and bagged without incident, and we started down the trail toward the grotto, and our waiting vehicle, just as dusk was upon us. Headlamps were needed, and we reached the parking lot just at full dark.
    We returned to town, and went to one of the few establishments that remained open, Amigos, for food - glorious food!  Shortly after eleven, we all went our separate ways.  Well, mostly separate - Dominik and I once again headed up the Kolob Terrace Road, to return him to his truck.  Dominik started home towards Pasadena, where he had to be at work in the morning - talk about cutting it close.  I returned to my tent in Springdale, where I stumbled into my sleeping bag about 22 hours after I got up that morning.  What a day!
    Total time, car to car: sixteen hours.  Sixteen hours of the most demanding, unrelenting physical workout I think I've ever experienced.  But also one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had.  The canyon was beautiful. I mean, stunningly beautiful.  And it just kept going and going and going.  Incredible stone, stunning bright mosses and ferns, glorious sculpting, sublime lighting, and more.
    The canyon was hugely demanding - it took and took from us - but in return, it just kept giving and giving back to us.
    I will be back, Heaps, and I look forward to seeing you again!

    Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos after the Iron Room. At the first sign of a low battery indication, I put the camera away, to save for the end. When I got to the bottom of the last rap, I wanted to get some glory shots of Tim and the others coming down. When I pulled out the camera, though, it was completely dead. Turns out I took video, IN MY POCKET, of my final rappel. The audio is great: "The dogs are in the yard." and "OK, I'm hanging free now!" and so on. In fact, I look forward to listening to it in future, to relive the moment - but it doesn't exactly make scintillating viewing...
    Photos:
    <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/cirrus2000/HeapsCanyonMay292012">https://picasaweb.google.com/cirrus2000/HeapsCanyonMay292012</a

    > Hope you enjoy, > Kev >
Similar Threads: Another Heaps
Forum Title Date
Trip Reports Another Hot Day in Zion Jul 8, 2018
Trip Reports Another Canyon in the Canadian Rockies - Silverton Dec 26, 2017
Accidents and Near Misses Yet another Stuck in Zero G Aug 17, 2017
General Discussion Another Newbie Introducing Himself (I know "SIGH") Jul 20, 2017
General Discussion Another Shower Jan 2, 2016
General Discussion Hello from another New Guy May 28, 2015