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Heaps = Not Behunin???

Discussion in 'Accidents and Near Misses' started by ratagonia, Sep 18, 2013.

  1. ratagonia


    Mount Carmel, Utah
    Zion National Park News Release
    June 2 , 2006
    David Eaker 435-772-7811

    Three Hikers Rescued from Heaps Canyon in Zion National Park

    Three overdue hikers, canyoneering in the backcountry of Zion
    National Park, were located and rescued by park search and rescue
    teams. The three hikers, Nolan Porter, Ogden, Utah; Nathan
    Cresswell, Woods Cross, Utah; and Ray Miller, Salt Lake City, Utah
    were successfully rescued from Heaps Canyon on Friday, June 2, 2006.
    The hikers apparently entered the wrong canyon when they relied upon
    Global Positioning Units to find their location instead of maps.
    They then became stranded when the equipment they had was not
    sufficient to complete the required rappels. There were no injuries
    to the rescued hikers.

    The three hikers obtained a permit for canyoneering in Behunin
    Canyon on Wednesday, May 31. They were reported overdue late
    Wednesday and a hasty search was conducted without locating the
    hikers. The following day a search team traveled the length of
    Behunin Canyon but did not locate the three hikers. A Bureau of Land
    Management helicopter then joined the search and the search area was
    expanded to include Heaps Canyon to the west of Behunin Canyon . One
    of the hikers was located in Heaps Canyon and a pack containing
    food, water, a park radio and a sleeping bag was lowered to him.
    Through radio conversations, the hiker confirmed that he was
    uninjured and did not require immediate assistance.

    The remaining two hikers were located farther down Heaps Canyon and
    supplies were also lowered to them. With darkness approaching,
    search and rescue operations were suspended for the night but
    resumed on Friday morning. Through radio conversations, the two
    hikers indicated they wanted to complete the canyoneering route.
    Additional rope and climbing gear were lowered to them and they
    successfully completed their descent into the Upper Emerald Pools
    area on Friday morning.

    A park ranger reached the remaining hiker and took him to a location
    where the helicopter could land. He was then transported by
    helicopter to Zion Canyon . None of the hikers required medical

    Visitors are reminded that hiking, canyoneering, and climbing in the
    park can be dangerous and should not be underestimated. Good
    planning, proper equipment, and sound judgment are essential for a
    safe and successful trip. Hikers should check in with a park ranger
    about all backcountry routes, leave a good itinerary and contact
    information in case of emergency, and notify family or friends of
    their plans and expected completion time. Permits are required for
    all overnight climbs or hikes in the park, as well as all technical
    canyoneering routes.

    -NPS Press Release-

    Heaps of Fun

    (from an interview with Nathan Cresswell, July 2006, by Tom Jones)

    Nathan and Ray headed down to Zion for a casual weekend of canyons,
    Behunin and Spry the likely suspects. Nathan hadn't been out for
    quite some time, and this would be his first time really leading the
    canyon, so he researched both canyons and printed out maps from the
    internet. He used both Kelsey's book and Tom's online guide, and
    had picked out GPS points on the map himself.

    In the permit line, they ran into Nolan, a friend of a friend who
    was going to solo Pine Creek or something. "Come with us" they
    said. "OK" said Nolan. They headed up the trail, and got to
    talking, and before they knew it, were at the West Rim Spring.
    Nathan pulled out the map and the GPS, and they continued on up the
    Rim Trail. The GPS points weren't really close, but they kinda made
    sense. They cut down a ridge and could see the big streaked wall
    they remembered from the website – it didn't seem quite right but
    close enough. Soon they found a tree with a sling around it and
    rapped on in.

    Raps and downclimbs led down an impressive steep canyon. Sort of
    right, but… About half way down, it began to dawn on them that this
    was not the right canyon. Their rappel count was up around 10, and
    it did not look like the canyon was about to end. Worse, they were
    starting to run into some pools, and it was getting late. Nolan and
    Ray swam a longish pool while Nathan cut around and rapped from a
    tree. That pretty much did Nolan in, as he was getting stumbly and
    hypothermic. They cleared the crossroads and got to the Long Sandy
    Corridor, Ray charging ahead while Nathan helped Nolan along.

    Part of the consequence of not having a general area map, of just
    having a small, specific map, was now apparent. They knew they
    weren't in Behunin, but where the heck were they? None of them knew
    the lay of the land well enough to figure out that they were in
    Heaps, the granddaddy of Zion canyons, the big Kahuna, with long
    sections of very wet narrows and a 300' rappel at the end.

    As Nathan reached the end of the Long Sandy Corridor and stared into
    the darkness of the slot, he had a bad feeling. Which was enhanced
    when he heard Ray calling for help. Ray had started into the wet,
    dark narrows section without considering the late hour. After
    sliding into a few waist-deep potholes, he realized this was not
    going to be a casual evening stroll, but also that he could not
    reverse some of the moves without help. Nathan and Nolan anchored
    the rope and sent some ascenders down to Ray, and he climbed and
    jugged back out.

    By now it was quite late, and their meager lunch was but a fond
    memory. They were starting to get cold, so they found a sheltered
    spot in the Long Sandy Corridor and lit a small fire to huddle

    The morning dawned bright and hungry. They climbed back up-canyon a
    bit to see if they could hike around the deep narrows – no dice. At
    this point, Nolan was pretty much out of it, and did not want to
    dive into the narrows; Ray was antsy to get going and push through
    the final narrows to get out; and Nathan was somewhere in-between.
    They agreed the best plan would be to split up – Nolan would stay
    here, with a clear view of the sky, and wait for rescue. He had a
    lighter to send up a smoke signal if deemed necessary. Ray and
    Nathan would push on and, when they got out the end, would arrange
    rescue for Nolan. Should a helicopter come by fairly soon, Nolan
    could warn them that Ray and Nathan were down in the final narrows.

    Nathan and Ray plunged into the narrows, figuring on an hour or so
    of swimming – then they would be out. In a way, they were lucky.
    Full from winter snow and spring rains, Heaps was in cold but easy
    condition. They would find many long swims, but none of the
    difficult pothole exits that might have trapped them later in the

    After an hour of swims and downclimbs, with no end in sight, Ray and
    Nathan knew they were in trouble, and they pushed forward even
    harder. Nathan credits his survival to those many early-morning
    practices on the swim team. The thought of just giving up appeared
    in his mind, but he pushed it firmly away. They persisted, becoming
    more hypothermic. At one point, after a short rappel, the rope got
    stuck. Unsticking the rope would have meant swimming back across a
    pool – it seemed wiser to push onward. Eventually they came to a
    more open section and the canyon relented. Warmer air and dry land
    beckoned, and they stopped for a rest and to warm up. Late in the
    day, a helicopter appeared above them and lowered a radio. This is
    when they found out they were actually in Heaps - the biggest,
    meanest canyon in Zion.

    The radio assured them that they were near the end, and offered to
    send in a rescue team or to lower gear and assist them in getting
    out on their own. They realized that getting a rescue team to them
    would be difficult and dangerous, and with food and warmth, they
    could manage getting out on their own. Nathan, at least, had
    completed the 300-foot rappel in Englestead, and so was cautious but
    not scared of the 300-footer ahead. The helicopter slung them dry
    suits, sleeping bags, MRE's and liquids – unfortunately most of the
    liquid packs burst in the process, but the rest of the stuff,
    especially the food and sleeping bags, was greatly appreciated.

    In the morning, in radio contact with Zion Rescue Team veteran
    Bo "Mr. Heaps" Beck, they completed the final three rappels,
    including the 300-foot final free-hanging rap, and carrying out all
    the stuff dropped to them.

    Nathan credits his and Ray's survival to their good conditioning and
    swim team experience, but mostly to just plain good luck and their
    persistence and will to live. They realize that they just barely
    eked it out, and do not recommend Heaps without wet suits to other

    (reported by Tom Jones, July 2006. NOT verified by Nathan at this
    point). © Tom Jones, July 2006. All rights reserved.
  2. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

    I know Ray personally and this story cracks me up
  3. ratagonia


    Mount Carmel, Utah

    I would be interested in knowing if Ray finds my version of the story accurate.

  4. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

    Much more so than any of the other accounts.
    ratagonia likes this.
  5. ratagonia


    Mount Carmel, Utah
  6. Canyonero


    Not quite as good as the German tourists in Imlay story.
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