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UT: Zion Ghosting Heaps and Imlay Part 2

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Anthony Dye, Jul 9, 2018.

  1. Anthony Dye

    Anthony Dye

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    Location:
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    After Imlay Canyon Chris and Taylor headed home. Saturday Tom and I had a chill day. We opted to do middle and lower Echo Canyon. We both realised we didn't know the beta for lower echo and didn't really care to find out, so we just hauled as much rope as we wanted to carry and headed up. We made it down 7 rappels before we ran out of ropes and ascended back up. It was fun to have a reminder of my caving days ascending up everything we rappelled.
    2.

    The next morning at 5:00 we were ready to start the hike to Heaps from the West Rim trailhead. The team was Tom Collins, Braden Jenkins, Cassy Brown, Scott Matthys and me.
    3.

    We took a pretty fast clip reaching the first rappel in 3 hours. Down the rappel, and over "the knife's edge". After rappelling the 210' into Phantom Valley I noticed a core shot in our 360' rope. It wasn't where any of us had rappelled, it was just sitting on the ground... I had coiled the rope the night before and pointed out a frayed spot to Tom, letting him know to keep an eye on it, but it wasn't anything to worry about right now. I would have rappelled past it without concern, and here it was fully core shot with no use whatsoever?! Cassy had the idea the it could have been from all of the rope twisting while we rappelled. Scary.

    This also brought up another complication. We were planning to combine the final 2 rappels of the canyon for a whopping 450' rappel from the lower tree, and we were planning to pass a knot at or before the bird's perch where you could have your feet on the wall. Scott had specified before he came on the trip, that this was the only place he was comfortable with passing the knot and free hanging below the perch was above his necessary risk tolerance...and now we had 2 knots to pass and one would definately be below the bird's perch. We were already committed so we continued on. We laughed and said "of course we have to pass 2 knots"

    We got to the start of Heaps just as an overnight group had finished putting on their wetsuits. The worst possible timing for playing leapfrog. We didn't have any idea how fast they would be or how slow we would be, needing to set up our own anchors, but we quickly caught up to them and were on their tails for most of the first narrows.
    4.
    A big part of the canyon drops was meat anchoring the team down and last man (or whoever else wanted to) down climbing or jumping into pools of varying depth. At the end of the first Narrows we did need to use a Waterpocket. It was not ideal geometry but there wasn't another obvious solution. One by one we did the rappel and for each person the anchor would have failed if not backed up by Tom, resulting in a big fall followed by a giant bag of water landing on you and likely maiming you. Tom was LAMAR and rappelled like the boss he is making it to the ground safely without pulling the anchor on top of himself!
    5.
    The first jump

    6.
    9.
    Tom doing a big jump

    In the second Narrows we caught up to the the other group quickly again and there was finally an option to pass a few of their team. While waiting for them to escape a pothole I saw a slight chance of stemming over it, It was over water so there wasn't much risk but it was one of the hardest potholes I have stemmed. While still 5 feet above a member of the other team I answered a question Tom had asked me. That guy was looking back and forth for 20 seconds before he said "I'm trying to figure out who is talking!?" I laughed and said "Right above you"..."Well how the hell did you get there?!" We all had a pretty good laugh.

    It was at this point that their TL asked us to pass them. I should have waited because it made two of their group stay in the water (waist deep) for 3-4 extra minutes. Bad foresight on my part and I still feel bad about it, though it seemed they were fine with it. Their TL explained to his group "we are letting the purists pass us" ha ha. Braden and I teamed up to throw my pack over the lip and somehow the sling slipped off of my wrist and my pack fell 20' over the other side. The other team's TL said "I'm starting to lose my faith in you guys" ha ha perfect timing.
    7.
    Braden heading down to check depth for the next pool
    8.
    Scott refusing to be kept by the keeper
    a.
    Tom looking mysterious AF

    Soon after we used the Waterpocket for a 15' drop Tom going last.
    c.
    In the third narrows we stayed in the water course where you would usually exit on the left. That was a lot of fun, and I will do it that way every time in the future. For the final rappel before the climb up to the last sequence, we used a sandtrap in tostada mode to add some weight to make up for poor geometry. I think Cassy was LAWAR.
    f.
    Pulling the Sandtrap

    d.
    Cassy stemming a pothole

    We were now at the climb for the final rap sequence and it was time to address the extra knot pass that was now necessary. One idea was for Scott to wait until the other group caught up and to use their ropes. The problem with that is we hadn't seen/heard from them in hours. We had no idea how long before they would make it, and there was always a possibility that they wouldn't make it out that day. We determined that a stacked lower & rappel would work best. Tom and I headed up to rig the drop. We fiddlesticked the top tree and got to the second station. There was the typical cluster of 6 colors of webbing from the tree put there by pounding hearts at dizzying height. Our plan was to wrap the tree with our own webbing and quicklink for the lower and a tether. It was to be removed by the LAPAR in the spirit of ghosting the canyon.

    When I got to the station I was pulling out my webbing and the thought of adding onto this mass of loops and confusion didn't seem too appealing. We had a somewhat complicated system to rig with lots of moving parts I wanted to see clearly while I was working. I pulled out my knife to cut it all out, and had the image of the group behind us getting to the tree cold and tired and not having any webbing to replace what I was about to cut off. I voiced my thoughts to Tom and we agreed to leave the existing webbing and use is as our lower and safety tether, having had a plan and knowing that ghosting the tether would not have added any difficulty for us, but may have put those after us at risk.
    g.
    For the stacked lower I rigged a MMO and attached it to another MMO which was then attached to the tree. Scott rappelled down to us and hooked his Critr just below the lowest knot. I released the overhand and Mule knot and lowered him until I was out of rope. I released the second overhand and mule and we lowered Scott until his whistle let us know the rope had reached the ground. He rappelled the last 250' feet. The most difficult part of this rigging was the 480 feet of rope we had to keep organized on this ledge. I had a huge pile of lap coil and Tom had the same.

    Here is a re-creation of our rigging cleaned up a little and more spread out so you can see what is going on. On the ledge it all had to be crammed together to make it short enought that Scott could fit below it. This was used so that we didn't have to "pass any knots" through the entire process. Does anyone know if there is a different name for this setup?
    IMG_20180629_183728868.

    We pulled up the rope and re rigged to rappel, removing the Munter and carabiner and retying the ropes together. I headed down first a little excited for the knot passes. I've done them before at similar heights but in caves so there wasn't really the same feeling of exposure, just the rope disappearing into blackness above and below. Here you could see the tiny tourists at the bottom enjoying emerald pools and it really gives you the sense for how high you are. The first knot pass was at 330' just above the bird's perch.
    h.
    View from the top of the Rappel

    k.
    View from the second (lower) knot pass
    j.
    The second knot pass was free hanging at 240'. Bonus points for getting dizzy due to spinning while passing that knot.

    Next came Tom, and then Cassy. Both of their VTs wouldn't hold well enough on the second rope and they involuntarily slid down until their devices were jammed into the knot. They rigged a loop for a step up and were able to use it to move up and get past the knot. Both with level heads and no sweat.
    l.
    Cassy reenacting the troubleshooting

    Braden was last. He was the only one to do this ALREADY sketchy rappel without a safety biner on the fiddlestick. He threw the 3mm Amsteel pull chord from just below the bird's perch and managed to keep from twisting up with it. He made it safely down and his first words were "That was my first time passing a knot guys! I just didn't want you to worry because i wasn't" ha ha what a bad ass.
    Sequence 01.Still044.
    Tom had to pull hard to get the fiddlestick to release and then the waterfall made up of 900' of rope and pull chord came crashing down. You could not ask for a better grand finale to an awesome canyon/adventure/weekend with terrific canyoneers and friends!

    Thanks for reading!
    Anthony Dye

    Here is a link to the video. I apologize, I usually try to keep my videos to 3-5 minutes but there was just too much adventure to cut all of that out (much like the novel above...sorry again)

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  2. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    Maybe with a level head eventually, but there was a moment of panic and more than a little sweating going on when my VT slipped. After 2-3 minutes and the panic induced dumb idea of thinking I might be able to pass the knot through the eye of the critr (it looks big enough I said to myself) I realized I'd have to ascend just a foot or two and then reset the VT to try and get it to hold. I had a micro and a ropeman handy so it wouldn't be too hard. The sewn runner I use as my foot loop had my pack hanging from it so I had to move that, and with the VT on the rope I could only shift the top ascender 3-4" before it ran out of room, fortunately the VT seemed to hold once I shifted it up so I didn't have to retie it, I just removed the ascenders and proceeded with passing the knot. Even after passing the knot I was tense the rest of the way down, and when I hit the ground I was so worn out that I could barely stand. I think I need to take a practice day somewhere to work on my knot passing skills. I might know what to do, but I wasn't exactly comfortable doing it.

    Thanks for putting together the videos for this trip, it was a great time with a great crew and a couple of days that I will remember for a long time, and of course a thank you to @ratagonia for showing me the stacked lower on a previous trip through Heaps. It's kind of obvious once you see it, but at least for me when Tom J told me we could tie three ropes together and not have to pass a knot I was stumped trying to figure out how it would work.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
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  3. Anthony Dye

    Anthony Dye

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    Were you the one that remembered to use it Tom C? I knew you were the one to bring it up to me, but wasn't sure who brought it up first in the group. I had talked with my brother about it before and understood how to do it, but that was my first time setting it up. Fun stuff
  4. pynkchink

    pynkchink

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    Good job on the problem solving! (The best part of canyoneering!)

    FYI, after passing knots on numerous occasions in “the thick of things” with a VT, Hank showed me a more simple way to pass a knot using a tibloc. Rappel down to the knot so it’s against your device, rig the tib with a footloop, step up into it and clip a sling that has been adjusted to length which will unweight your device. Pass the knot, lower yourself down very carefully, then shake the rope a bit and retrieve your tib/footloop. Done!
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  5. Anthony Dye

    Anthony Dye

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    Yeah, I've done it the same way with a prusik and a different time with my microtraxion though I didn't shake the rope. Once I had passed and weighted my rap device I could still reach my rope grab
  6. RossK

    RossK

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    Great report and video. It was cool to see a rare video in Heaps where as well as filming the bottom of the canyon and swims the GoPro was also pointed at an upward angle to the rims and sky to get more of a feel of what it's like in there.

    Understandably people tend to generally shoot photos and video down at potholes or their rappelling or swimming friends below, or at least ahead, and most footage I've seen is taken from the person at the top of the rappel looking down.

    I've heard so much about how deep the canyon is and the high walls so it was good to see film with someone panning up.
    (Although I appreciate Heaps is such a big undertaking that people are pressed for time and don't get much time to stand still panning their GoPros from the water up the walls!)
  7. Kevin C

    Kevin C

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    I had a similar experience last trip through Heaps. Due to lack of communication and my own tunnel vision I found myself dangling 10' above the perch and short of rope. Luckily I had all my self rescue gear & others in my group above me with a rope long enough to send down so I could transfer ropes and continue down. At first I had all sorts of panic induced dumb ideas like free climbing the crack down to the perch, its only 10 feet and If I fell I would probably land on the perch...probably. I had practiced self rescue and transferring lines numerous times hanging 5 feet off the ground in my garage, but of course the first time I needed to do it in canyon I was dangling 300'+ off the ground.

    This is a fairly accurate representation of me before, during and after that experience.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
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  8. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Wow...nicely done!
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  9. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    I was, although I just knew the theory as I'd only seen it, not set it up either.
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  10. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    Fun crew. I'm jealous. Glad you guys pulled it off, but you made it look lots easier than your trip through Imlay.
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  11. Anthony Dye

    Anthony Dye

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    I actually think it was more physical than imlay. No super deep potholes but a lot more semi deep potholes with lots of swimming escapes. Way more fun than my previous trips through Heaps

    Imlay had more technical pothole escapes (though it loses a lot of it's difficulty with experience and a super team), heaps had more technical anchors.

    Which did you think was harder Tom?
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  12. Jolly Green

    Jolly Green

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    Why didn't you guys just bring a 150' rope so you could pass the knot easily while standing on the bird perch instead of just above it? With 5 ppl to haul gear, one of whom seemed to be opposed to passing the knot, that seems to be the simple fix (nothing much you could do about the coreshot though).

    Well done. That is definitely a solid crew and a great accomplishment. I would imagine that passing the knot while free-hanging wasn't all that fun with a pull cord right next to you, Braden. Quite the accomplishment!
  13. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    Because we didn’t have a 150’ rope, the closest size we had was 200’ which would have put the knot passed the bird perch or else we’d have 50’ of tail on whatever knot we used to attach the ropes. That would also mean one less short working rope for the group in canyon.

    As for the guy being opposed to passing the knot, he was fine with passing it above the bird perch, which was in the original plan. He just wasn’t fine with passing a knot free hanging 200’ in the air which was the result of the coreshot, and the only way around that was to do the stacked lower where he didn’t have to pass any knots.
  14. UtahNich

    UtahNich

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    I'm curious what kind of pull-cord you guys used for the fiddlestick and how much it weighed. Any difficulties/worries with the fiddlestick coming out prematurely when the rappel line was unweighted?
  15. Tom Collins

    Tom Collins

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    We used 3mm dyneema, the weight of 450’ of rope kept the knot pretty tight even when no one was on rappel. It took a pretty good tug on the release cord before the fiddle popped free
  16. Canyonero

    Canyonero

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    I really like that stacked MMOs trick. You could do that for an infinite number of ropes/knots really with a big enough ledge/space. Last guy still has to pass all the knots though.
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