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Pine Creek Zion TR (unknown date - pre-1977?)

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by ratagonia, Jul 28, 2018.

  1. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    PINE CREEK NARROWS

    The short section of Pine Creek that runs roughly parallel to the Canyon Overlook Trail is a very pretty and impressive canyon. It is extremely narrow compared to its depth and has interesting water-carved formations in its walls. The trip through these narrows is technical and should only be attempted by persons who are competent in rappeling and have the proper equipment. Two 150 foot ropes and rappel gear are needed, and a short handline might be useful. In addition, due to high flashflood danger, the trip should be made only in good weather. It should be done in warm weather since you must get wet and the temperature in the canyon is cool.

    From Canyon Overlook Parking Area, at the east end of the long tunnel, it is not practical to enter the streambed immediately, even though you can scramble directly down into it. If you do, you will run into very large potholes in a short distance. The last of these is deep and stagnant and has a long dropoff into it which would require a rappel into the water. In addition, it would be necessary to place bolts for a rappel anchor. These problems can be avoided by rappeling into the canyon a couple of hundred yards downstream, and just beyond the large pothole. Walk west on the Canyon Overlook Trail until you come to the first small drainage that the trail curves around. Continue around the alcove at the bend in the trail to the other side of the drainage. From here you can see the pine tree rappel anchor on the edge of the dropoff into the narrows. It is just upstream from where the small drainage meets the main Pine Creek drainage, and right where the slope turns to grey rock before dropping off into the narrows. An easy rappel from the trail down a patch of light-colored slickrock will take you into the side drainage and you can scramble on down to the second rappel point.

    The rappel from the pine tree into the narrows requires two 150 foot ropes and goes for about 30 feet on an angle and about 100 feet free. It is a spectacular rappel, somewhat like descending into a narrow cave, and you can touch the opposite canyon wall in places. You will miss some nice views if you go too fast.

    The narrows section is only about a half mile long, so there is no need to rush through it. The first obstacle you come to is a dropoff from a log. It can be climbed down with caution, but a handline or belay might be desired. The next dropoff can be climbed down to the right. This is followed by an obstacle that can be climbed down but, at times, will have a deep pool below it that you must swim across. An alternative is to traverse right and set pitons for a rappel. The last obstacle is a 20 foot dropoff from a large boulder. A rappel can be set up from a rock behind the lip of the dropoff. The rappel rope should not run directly toward the dropoff, but should first run left (looking downstream) then around the side of the boulder. The rappel is awkward and drops you at the edge of a chest-deep pool which must be waded. The last person to rappel has to flip the rope back over the other side of the boulder in order to retrieve it. A chockstone should be placed in the notch to prevent jamming.

    There are no other major obstacles now, but you must watch for the correct place to angle left before the dropoff into lower Pine Creek. This is fairly obvious, being at the end of the narrows and just past the boulder jams. A path of use will lead toward the tunnel windows which are now visible. Continue along this path and across moderately exposed ledges where you may want to belay or fix a handline. A short gap at the end of the ledges is bridged by an old board. After crossing it, scramble down into the creek bed and continue downstream in the canyon bottom.

    This lower section of Pine Creek is very pretty and fairly shady. There are numerous small pools among the large boulders that are strewn down almost the entire length of the canyon. The canyon can be hiked to where the highway crosses it at Pine Creek Bridge, or it can be climbed out of to the second highway switchback above the bridge. At this point, the highway is only about 100 feet above the stream and is recognized by a rock wall which can be seen from the canyon bottom. The only obstacle of any difficulty in lower Pine Creek is a waterfall between these two exit spots. The water- fall can be bypassed on the left (south) by following a path of use about 100 yards on a traverse and then scrambling down a series of dirt ledges and on down the somewhat exposed edge of a boulder.

    The entire trip can be done in three to four hours; most parties will probably want to take five to six hours.

    Jim Bellamy and Jon R. Dick
    From the Wilderness Desk Black Book, undated
    darhawk and gajslk like this.
  2. gajslk

    gajslk

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    That's the way we used to do it. We scrambled down into the side drainage, though, no need to rappel. These days, with all that traffic down below ... and those bolts in the watercourse ... and the slings visible from the trail ... maybe not the best entry. That drop into the narrows was in the the Trailside video, although the "entry" they filmed was somewhere else. An amusing and fun video if you can track it down. It features multiple Zion canyons as part of a fictional trip.
  3. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Turville's notes:

    Pine Creek Narrows — Although Park Service personnel did the middle of the canyon from the trail above, they avoided the initial section which leads through what we call the Cheeserock Factory where there are several holes through which flashfloods have cut. The Park folks also avoided the final big rappel and went off to canyon left. For the final rappel on the initial descent, we rapped from bolts on canyon right on a ledge of sand and big logjams of trees. This rap put us into a small alcove which we climbed out of, placed another bolt, and did another short rappel. (This is downclimbable, but we didn’t know that then.) This series of rappels is now impossible since the ledge from which we placed bolt anchors washed completely away. Subsequent descenders established the current rappel location in a hollow from which an entirely free rap leads to terra firma.

    September 21, 1977 — My first technical descent with Dean Hanniball.
  4. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    When was the first time for you, Gordon?

    I also found this accident report, which appears to be rappelling in from the side:

    2002-388 - Zion NP (UT) - Rescue – Pine Creek

    Park staff responded to a report of a rappelling accident in Pine Creek Canyon at 3:30 p.m. on August 11th. A 50-year-old man had been descending into the slot canyon from the north rim when he found that his rope end did not reach to the canyon floor. When he attempted to stop his downward movement, he turned upside down and rappelled off the end of his rope, falling 15 feet to the canyon floor. EMS personnel reached him at 5 p.m. and provided ALS. The man and an attendant were raised 100 feet to the rim. Rescuers got him to the trailhead at 9 p.m. He was taken by park ambulance to a hospital in St. George, where he was found to have fractures to four ribs and to his left femur in two locations. The leader of the five-person group was issued a citation for not having a canyoneering permit.
  5. gajslk

    gajslk

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    Mid/late-80s. Don't remember exactly.
  6. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    It's on youtube:




    Are you the same Gordon we used to go on trips with when I was a kid? It was someone named Gordon that told us about Pine Creek in the 1980's. My dad was friends with Lori Webb and we did a few trips with someone named Gordon. I remember that we did Buckskin Gulch and later Gordon and Lori were headed for Pine Creek afterwards because Gordon said how neat it was. This was in the 1980's. If you are the same Gordon, we did Dark Canyon together as well around the same time period.
  7. gajslk

    gajslk

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    Nope. Although I'm old enough ...
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