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Bringing Back Beartrap... but Briefer?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Yellow Dart, May 13, 2017.

  1. Yellow Dart

    Yellow Dart It's only hubris if I fail.

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    In the recent thread by @Scott Patterson concerning the waning use (peculiar in this age of the sport) of certain canyons, he listed Beartrap as one such canyon.
    http://canyoncollective.com/threads/formerly-more-popular-canyons.24661/

    Lived around Zion for 2 years, have been venturing here for 5, and have never heard of such a place.

    A little googling showed me why: apparently it's arduously long, a bushwhack, and primarily an out-and-back.

    I crunched some numbers, and here are the profiles of the three ways to do this historically:
    From Lee Pass, through Bear, back to Lee:
    21 miles, +4300' total route
    From Hop Valley, through bear, back through Hop Valley:
    21 Miles, +5111'
    And the less out-and-backish - From Hop Valley, through Bear, out to Lee Pass (in that order to avoid steep scramble up):
    21 miles, +4370 up -4575 down, yielding overall -200' car to car.

    Any way one cuts it, 21 miles and a lot of up, for not a lot of canyon.

    But what if this was the approach:
    beartrap alt.

    4miles through, about -3400' to La Verkin Creek, then up and out Lee or Hop.

    Alternate and out Lee:
    12 miles, +1303 up, -4445 down, nets a -3142 car to car
    Alternate and out Hop:
    12 miles, +2044 up, -3909 down, nets a -1865 car to car

    So I guess my question is, has anybody done or know if this way has been done? Seems relatively straight forward and a much easier way to see a seemingly forgotten canyon.
  2. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    So I guess my question is, has anybody done or know if this way has been done?

    Yes, the route above (and below) the lake is called Chasm Canyon or just Chasm. It doesn't seem to be done anymore since there are private land issues. If you did do it, there are several rappels down to the lake, the highest being less than 200 feet. There are also several rappels below the lake. You still should be able to do that part, but it's short.

    Faster, for just Bear Trap, you used to be able to drive the 4wd from Kolob Reservoir. It used to be listed as an official NPS route, but I believe private land issues have become an issue there as well and the route has been taken off the park maps. You can still call for permission to use the route (it's actually a good trail).

    As far as the bushwhacking goes, it wasn't bad at all if you could find and stay on route, but the route to Chasm Lake used to be more popular than it is now (there used to be a brochure for the route in the Kolob Visitor Center). I haven't been since 1994, so I don't know how it is now.

    There is also a rumored slot below Chasm Lake as well, but I haven't seen it.

    The thing about Bear Trap Canyon is that the most scenic part is below the rappel so you can see that part from the trail. The canyon itself is OK, but not much different in scenery than what you can see on non-technical hikes in the immediate area.

    Bear Trap never was crowded, but it used to be more popular than it is now. It was the first technical canyon that my wife ever did (September 1994).

    As far as the mileage goes, Bear Trap was and still is considered to be a side trip and not the destination. The waterfall itself and the canyon below it is one of the best places in Zion that can be reached by easy hiking.
    Last edited: May 13, 2017
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  3. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I have not attempted the Chasm Lake/Beartrap loop as shown in the Green Book. Is this the route you are talking about Scott? Not to pull a Kelsey on you, but that would be the LaVerkin Creek/Chasm Lake/Beartrap loop hike.

    Trespassing on the private land near Kolob Reservoir is both forbidden and enforced. It is possible to get in there without trespassing, but it is neither easy nor fast.

    Tom
    Last edited: May 14, 2017
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  4. deathtointernet

    deathtointernet

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    I like to do the simple, one-rappel La Verkin Creek-to-Willis Creek-Beartrap Canyon every couple of years when the memory of that damn brushy hill fades a little. For some reason I find Beartrap is one of my favorite places in the park, and I don't mind making a two or three day backpacking commitment to run through it. Maybe because it isn't terribly easy to get to and there isn't much technical canyon to draw crowds. The canyon above the rappel doesn't have much to excite your typical canyoneer. But it is very pristine and a great place to spend some time alone. Last time I did it in 2015, the ranger told me I was the third person that year. Before that, in 2011, I was the only one (and thus was wonderfully surprised by a landslide lake that has since breached its dam). I'm probably happy with it never becoming popular ;) If you do it, enjoy, just leave the place neat and fiddlestick the tree so I don't have to look at your anchor when I visit, haha!
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  5. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    On the other thread, the Green Book route and Chasm Lake Loop is what I was referring to as more popular in the past, or so it seems. It never was popular, but it seems that it used to be done more when the Green Book routes were in style (same with Lower Kolob and possibly even Right Fork).

    In the past, the 4wd trail from Kolob Reservoir used to be promoted by the NPS as an entrance to the La Verkin Creek area and the National Park, but this started to change around 1990 or so. By the early 1990's, permission was still granted, but the NPS gave you the phone number of the rancher you were supposed to contact before coming in that way. Permission was always granted for us, with the standard answer of "just don't bother the cows" or something similar. This is the route I was referring to as "private land issues have become an issue there as well and the route has been taken off the park maps".

    Just a hunch, but perhaps one reason for the change in access since then is that the NPS stopped the grazing of cows in that part of the park sometimes in the 1980's. I still remember cows as far down canyon as the area around Kolob Arch in the 1980's.

    We actually did the route from Kolob Reservoir to La Verkin Creek many times in the 1980's (apparently once in the 70's as well, but I was too young to remember), back when it was considered an official NPS access route. Back then access wasn't an issue and the NPS used to issue backcountry permits for that route and it was on all the park maps.

    In addition to the Green Book Route, I was also speaking of another additional route that I have not done. This is Chasm or Chasm Canyon. As mentioned, this one has private land issues. The canyon used to be done periodically, but I don't think it is much anymore (if ever, because of the private land issues).

    Chasm Canyon comes down at the head of the canyon above Chasm Lake, swims Chasm Lake (deep and cold!), then descends the slot below the lake. the route was usually combined with Bear Trap. I have not done this route, but was given brief beta years ago. I don't think this route is an option because of private land.
    [​IMG]

    I have not seen Bear Trap above the Green Book Route if that's what you are referring to.

    ===============================================================

    PS, canyoneering aside, there are actually several places in Zion that aren't as visited as much as they used to be.

    There are old sheep and cattle trails into the Phantom Valley area, for example. Almost no-one uses those routes anymore (or at least not many people that I am aware of).

    Chasm Lake used to be visited fairly frequently. Also, there are old sheep trails into Parunaweap Canyon and of course the old cattle trail into the Left Fork North Creek/Subway area.

    Camp Creek isn't as visited now as it used to be, but there are better areas in Zion. I don't think North Fork Taylor Creek is as visited as much anymore either, but this is just a guess. Lady Mountain is another place which used to see more visitors.
    Last edited: May 15, 2017
  6. deathtointernet

    deathtointernet

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    I've heard of a few descents of Chasm Canyon/Lake in recent years. I believe Kip went through there last year, so it's not impossible to get permission but I couldn't tell you what it entails. Courtney Purcell mentioned a completely different means of accessing the canyon, by ascending Long Point and then dropping down through the South Fork of Beartrap (to the left of peak 6781 on the map) which is actually the source of much of the flow in Beartrap, but that really doesn't save much in terms of mileage and definitely not in effort.
    Last edited: May 15, 2017
  7. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    I heard there were leeches in Chasm Lake...can anyone confirm?
  8. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    That is what I have heard as well. LOTS of leeches.

    And please, let's call this what it is... Chasm Lake Canyon.

    Tom
  9. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    The first descentionists call it Chasm or Chasm Canyon, at least from everything that I have seen:

    It is a canyon we called Chasm Canyon. It drops in from Kolob reservoir into Chasm Lake. It is a nasty V canyon that drops more than a 1000 feet in about 200 yards. Then you have to swim the lake and finish down the established slot. It is a really good descent. I would highly recommend it.

    Source:

    http://www.utahclimbers.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?t=141

    When the original TR went online, the canyon was simply called "Chasm".

    It was also called Chasm Canyon on ZionCanyoneering.com, but the beta has long been deleted.
    Last edited: May 15, 2017
  10. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    You have an amazing memory, Scott.

    Do you know who Jun is?

    What a dumb name for a canyon.

    Tom
  11. Yellow Dart

    Yellow Dart It's only hubris if I fail.

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    Further down 'jun' said "also, there is a one day trip to get out so you don't have hump it all the way out Hop Valley or the South trail, past the arch."

    So I've done the hike up and out Lee Pass, and the Hop Valley trail.

    But where might "the South trail, past the arch" be?
  12. Yellow Dart

    Yellow Dart It's only hubris if I fail.

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    I think this website needs a ghost emoji.
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  13. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Out to Lee Pass is the south trail, past the arch. The Willis Creek Trail used to go back up to the Reservoir.

    Tom
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  14. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    I don't know those guys, but they used to have a website called canyonquest.com. I also have brief beta from the canyon based on the (presumably) 1st descent.

    I looked through my old binders, but the old beta really doesn't say much:

    [​IMG]

    Also, I forgot I had it, but I also found the information (mentioned above) that the NPS used to give out for Chasm Lake. This is from 1983:

    [​IMG]

    My first trip to Chasm Lake was on April 2 1983, so that would put me at 8 years old (but turning 9 in June), with my brother 7. Our second trip to Chasm Lake was on April 6 1985. The most memorable parts I have about both trips was wading the cold La Verkin Creek as there were still snowbanks in the upper canyons. The third trip was sometime later in the 1980's (Memorial Day weekend, I think), but I don't know the date. My 4th and final trip to Chasm Lake was on September 3 1994. I used to frequent Zion much more than I do now.

    Off topic, but gong through the binder looking for more information on Chasm, I also found one of my original canyons list for canyons that I wanted to complete, several of which I had scouted out at the time. The ones not scouted out were added because I went through all the topo maps at the Salt Lake Library and thought that they looked good on the map (this is before Google Earth!).

    Untouched simply meant beta-less and seldom visited. Since the list has Secret Falls Canyon and not Imlay Canyon, it was written sometime between those trips, so sometime between September 1990 and September 1992. Some hand written information was added at later dates.

    Some of those canyons have had different names (examples: Twin Corral Slot is Alcatraz, Smith Fork #1 is Psyco Damage, East Fork Sevenmile is now HDH and GDJ, etc.) and some have become popular and well known. Some now seem silly to think of as remote or untouched, but 25+ years ago, they used to seem that way. Some have now were closed before I got a chance to visit.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 16, 2017
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  15. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Wow, Scott...nice history!
  16. Yellow Dart

    Yellow Dart It's only hubris if I fail.

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    When you die, can I have your old binders?
  17. Kip Marshall

    Kip Marshall

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    Let me clarify: In the several times I have crossed the lake (on multiple occasions), I have not encountered one leech, not on my feet, legs or body. I think it is entirely possible that previous parties have mistaken leeches for the many sizes of tiger salamanders, some up to a foot in length.

    Kip
    Last edited: May 18, 2017
  18. Kip Marshall

    Kip Marshall

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    Access to the top down chasm requires exclusive written access from two landowners; one of them owns half the lake.

    Canyon quest was Wade Christianson's old site. But there were bolts in the canyon quite a while before him.

    Kip
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  19. Kip Marshall

    Kip Marshall

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    The 'Beebe Hollow' route is straightforward but also crosses a huge piece of private land which is used primary for hunting. I have direct knowledge that they do not like trespassers.
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  20. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    When you die, can I have your old binders?

    I can scan anything people might want.

    Canyon quest was Wade Christianson's old site. But there were bolts in the canyon quite a while before him.

    Do you know if "jun" is part of Wade's crew, or is he/she from an earlier era?
    Last edited: May 16, 2017
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