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TRs on Latest Rave - Heaps and a Glen Canyon trip.

Discussion in 'Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group' started by TomJones, Oct 28, 2009.

  1. TomJones

    TomJones Guest

  2. lvuci

    lvuci Guest

    Enjoyed, indeed!

    Beautiful photography, Tom!

    cheers, Larry
  3. What a great night time shot at Rainbow Bridge.

    On Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 12:50 PM, TomJones> wrote:

    > Just finished up the fall trip reports with a Glen Canyon one from > September, and a Heaps from last Monday.
    > Enjoy.
  4. Mudcat

    Mudcat Guest

    Bill Westerhoff and I had been bugging Tom for a few months to take us through Heaps, so I guess to stop the harassment he finally relented. We were joined by Nick Wilkes, the head of guiding at ZAC, so another seasoned pro. Bill and I have done a few canyons before and he's a great guy to have on your team--a total workhorse and always good-spirited. It took me about a nanosecond to realize I was the weakest link in this group.

    To make matters worse, I had woken up feeling pretty sick on Sunday (no, not H1N1--I've had that already!) but decided to drive down to Zion anyway in the afternoon. I warned Tom in an email that my participation might be a game-time decision. We met, geared up, packed, ate and set up the tent for an early night. Unfortunately, being a bit sick I didn't get much sleep and when the alarm went off at 3:45a my throat felt lousy and I was croaking, but figured I could grunt my way through anything.

    The eight-mile approach on the West Rim Trail in the morning darkness was a delightful way to start the day, and my body gradually warmed up to the task. Daylight revealed extraordinary vistas of the park to the east and all the way to LaVerkin to the west. Before long we were suiting up for the wet, technical section and I was feeling more robust and confident.

    Ah, the technical section. I was surprised that I didn't think it was prettier. There is a stunning corridor that goes on about 200 yards with near vertical walls and perfect symmetry. And there were some lovely spots. But to me it seemed to lack the natural beauty of, say, Imlay or Kolob. Instead, Heaps seemed to me an ornery slot, an exceptionally long and relentless series of ice-cold pools and corridors, awkward raps and cumbersome logs with the singular intent to beat you into submission. Lots of fun though, even without the aesthetic rush.

    The water was high, which Tom said makes the canyon much easier. And up until the famous last rap it was certainly more grueling than technically challenging. Of course it helped to have Tom's masterful expertise and Nick's experience and strength--he carried the 300' rope the entire way and still was the man on the trickiest partner assists. It was also nice to benefit from the teaching moments from these two, of which there were many, and I am grateful for their kindness and willingness to make suggestions.

    As the canyon wore on, my body began to wear down. By the time we reached the final rap sequence (maybe 8:00 p.m.) I was chilled, weary, losing my voice, coughing and struggling to keep my mind sharp. I was beginning to lose touch with my body, and didn't know if I was needing food or not, dropping temperature or mentally straight. There's a short climb (maybe 5.4?) with some exposure to get to the last rap sequence. But by that time, my body was not responding to my mental commands and I'd lost my confidence. So sheepishly I asked for a top belay for the climb, which was kindly proffered. However, all this time I made an internal commitment that I would muster my remaining energy to keep my mind sharp for the final rappels.

    Fortunately, this proved easier than I thought, even though we were soon engulfed in darkness. I had anticipated being solo on the bird perch and having to re-rig--under most circumstances pretty straightforward, but in the dark, after a long day and 285' above the deck it could certainly get your attention. But as it turned out, Tom engineered the descent like a conductor with a baton and we all four met together at the bird perch. There was precious little room to stand, but we were hooked in so there wasn't much concern. In fact, it was pretty cool being squeezed in there in the darkness and then rappelling into the unknown.

    I'm pretty light weight so had never done a z-rig, even on 300' raps. But in this situation it seemed like the thing to do, and Tom calmly and gently talked me through it. In retrospect, at my 145 lbs. I probably should have stuck to adding a simple leg loop biner, as the rope pull down the first half was draining and seemed to take forever, and too little friction wasn't a problem even toward the bottom.

    By the time we were all down I was totally wasted. I think it was pretty clear to everyone that all I was good for was stuffing rope. On the mile walk down to the parking lot every step felt like an adventure, even though it is a heavily trafficked tourist trail.

    Despite my physical condition, I really enjoyed the canyon. It felt like a test of wills and it was my own personal mission to conquer it. However, I'm sure I was saved, and my enjoyment enhanced immeasurably, by having highly capable and exceptionally patient and good-spirited partners, especially at the end. Thank you Tom, Bill and Nick.

    In retrospect, I probably should have skipped the canyon that day. It battered me more than I expected (I'm still recovering), and I don't like the thought that I might have put the group at risk. It's definitely a consideration for the future. And I absolutely plan to do the canyon again, under different physical circumstances. And maybe a long, hot day in the summer would be nice as well, eh? Bill

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, "TomJones" <ratagonia@...> wrote:
    Just finished up the fall trip reports with a Glen Canyon one from September, and a Heaps from last Monday.
    > Enjoy.
    Tom >
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