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SOLO TRAVERSE AROUND THE EMERALD POOLS (CASTLE DOME, CLIFF DWELLING MOUNTAIN, LADY MOUNTAIN)

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Dan, Aug 18, 2017.

  1. Dan

    Dan

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    I'm mostly a rock climber but enjoy this site and posting on it when I do something you guys might call canyoneering...

    August 14-16, I did a solo (with rope) traverse of the formations that surround the Emerald Pools. Please reference Tom Jones’, “Zion Canyoneering”, for maps and details regarding canyons. I studied it hard !!
    And Courtney Purcell’s,” Zion National Park: Summit Routes”, for details on Lady of the Cliff and Lady Mountain.
    Traverese of the Emerald Pools - Map.
    I started at the Grotto. I hiked the West Rim Trail to the start of Behunin Canyon. I descended Behunin Canyon to just before the first rappel, the juncture where one leaves Behunin Canyon in order to climb Castle Dome. I climbed Castle Dome’s south face.

    From the summit of Castle Dome, I rappelled and down-climbed north into the notch between Castle Dome and Castle Dome Ridge, the ridge that leads out from the West Rim. Five rappels were required with a single rope (I had to keep it light. I had a full climbing rack).

    I descended west, down Castle Dome Canyon (can I call it that?) mid-way into The Gunsight Start for Heaps Canyon. At the bottom of Castle Dome Canyon two rappels were required to descend steep canyons walls into The Gunsight. I believe this to be the first descent of the canyon on the north side of Castle Dome.

    I descended The Gunsight to where it feeds into Heaps Canyon at The Crossroads. I continued a short ways south into Isaac Canyon where I climbed onto the north ridge of Cliff Dwelling Mountain which I climbed to its summit. No, there are no cliff dwellings on the summit. It’s a sea of thick manzanita.

    From the Summit of Cliff Dwelling Mountain I made several rappels into the notch between it and Lady of the Cliff. I climbed Lady of the Cliff on the west face up what appears to be the rappel route Buzz Burrell and Jared Campbell established on their first ascent and descent of Lady of the Cliff. According to “Tales from the Backcountry” in C.P.’s guidebook, Buzz and Jared attempted a new route on the east face of Cliff Dwelling Mountain. To get to the base of Cliff Dwelling Mountain they climbed up and over Lady of the Cliff. They retreated and reversed course most likely also climbing up what appears to be their rappel route on the west face of Lady of the Cliff..

    From the summit of Lady of the Cliff I rappelled east, climbed to the summit of a lesser crag between it and Lady Mountain and onto the northwest ridge of Lady Mountain. I scrambled to the summit of Lady Mountain and descended the Old Lady Mountain Trail to the Zion Lodge.

    A true believer in leaving the adventure and nothing else, I didn’t drill any bolts or leave any webbing.

    Rating: HA (High Adventure)

    On a scale of NA (No Adventure), MA (Moderate Adventure), HA (High Adventure)

    Dan Stih

    aka Deadly Dan or Dangerous. Even though I'm a very safe climber :)
    Ronnie Winn, Taylor, Ram and 9 others like this.
  2. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Awesome! I especially like the ethic of leaving no webbing or bolts.

    T
    Ram likes this.
  3. wisconnyjohnny

    wisconnyjohnny Lagargar pockets

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    i'm here like "der"
    amazing trip. crazy views i bet.
  4. Dan

    Dan

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    Thanks Tom. Your guide book and on-line maps and topos have been tremendous assets. I carefully read the descriptions and try to find ways of staying out of the worst (or best if you a canoneer) deep water and potholes :)
  5. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Wow...nice send!

    Given the nature of trying to rate such adventures...what would you say the hardness "pitch" or technical climbing you did was? 5.7-ish, give or take?
    Ram likes this.
  6. Yellow Dart

    Yellow Dart It's only hubris if I fail.

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    Savage, Stih... savage...

    How long, all told?
  7. Southern Canyoneer

    Southern Canyoneer Desert Hiker

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    Jeez that is simply awesome. Congrats!
  8. Dan

    Dan

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    Brian, there were sections on the bottom half of Cliff Dwelling Mountain (the red, blocky, discontinuous, section near the bottom when you come out of Heaps) where I used direct aid and my aiders. The placements were solid (the red rock there is good). With a partner it might be easier to zig-zag more, explore options and go up and down as needed until you find a route. For me there were times it seemed better to aid through a section. Probably harder than 5.7. (note: there can be a downside to having too strong of free climbing partner too. I've climbed with ones who climb 5.10 and think thy can just climb anything, straight-on. They keep going until they get us stuck:) The crux is navigating the cliff to find a route. I think you've been down Heaps before? It's so vegitated at the bottom you can't see the route above. It's very hard to scout a route. I'm working on writing a book that will include route descriptions of my other traverses (Altar of Sacrifice, Towers of the Virgin, Court of the Partriarchs, all of the Bishoprics, and some others) I'll include more details, tips and topos. But not so much to take the spirit of adventure away from what we all love to do. Best, Dan
    LonePeak, Taylor, Yellow Dart and 3 others like this.
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