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UT: Zion Zion Englestead Anchor work July 20 - 2019

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by ratagonia, Jul 23, 2019.

  1. ratagonia


    Mount Carmel, Utah
    I’ve been working on the 2nd edition Zion Guidebook at a frustratingly glacial pace. So much to grapple with… It has not helped that I have been on injured reserve for the last 3 months, with much of my personal energy focused on healing my body.

    One concept I have been working on putting into words is the idea of Stewardship, both personal on my part, and moreover the stewardship the community and visitors take on, to keep the canyons clean, friendly and in as natural a state as possible. Keeping the canyons “natural” requires active management, as contradictory as that sounds, and producing a guidebook spurns the steward in me to take action, and deal with problems that have festered for a while. Recently, I see that the canyons would be in better shape if I had taken certain actions earlier - the poorly located “comb” rappel in Spry and the chewed up rock outcrop at the penultimate rappel in Spry come to mind as ones I could have “fixed” before they became ugly.

    Of interest for this Rave is one I have been contemplating for 10 years or so, the super-long sling off the log which is the 4th rappel (by some counts) in Englestead. The anchor is clever, and ‘natural’, but it does use a very long, often ugly, sling that is hard to get right, and hard to maintain. The pull is difficult. Rope grooves are forming. Given the popularity of E and the low-skill level of many who travel its depths, I thought it was time to replace that anchor with a well-positioned 2-bolt anchor.

    And yes, glad you asked. I HAVE removed quite a few inappropriate bolts from Englestead over the years, the first such removal almost resulting in a fist fight. The principle I am applying here is that natural anchors should be used where they are historical, safe and environmentally friendly, but should perhaps, sometimes, be replaced by bolt anchors where they would be demonstrably more environmentally friendly. Like here. Wise canyoneers may disagree.

    The opportunity presented itself as two skilled, strong canyoneers were available to do most of the work. I have been on the couch, so doing a full Englestead was probably beyond my fitness capability, but rapping in, doing the deed then jugging out would be… well, type 2 fun hopefully. It turned out to be just at my physical limit, which made it a good workout.

    Willie and Nick were up from SoCal to do Imlay on Sunday, so the could do the E project on Saturday. They both had a caving background, so jugging 400 feet out would not be an issue FOR THEM. I had done the jug before, though usually up the watercourse, which is friendlier to my tools and technique. In other words, it beat me up pretty good.

    We met fairly early, gathered gear and walked in the cool of the morning. At the top we met some friends doing the canyon that day, who were soon on their way. As we were jugging, we set up the “first rappel” in three segments: 90 feet to the corner stance; 155 feet to the large ledge; 50 feet to the bottom. Two short rappels found us at the anchor of interest. Chatted about the best position for a new anchor. It was easy to agree on a position tucked behind a lip (to protect from direct flow), high up (to give the easiest pull) and within reasonable reach, so it would not be too difficult to drill. We tagged team on the drilling (though Alex did most of the work) and placed two 1/2” x 2-3/4” Stainless Steel Powers Powerbolts. The rock was exceptionally good, almost too good as it took vigorous tapping to get the bolts in the holes, even after over-sizing the holes a bit.

    Now for the fun part. The short jugs went easily enough, and I took care to carefully measure the length of these rappels. Then the 155 foot climb. I made the two gazelles go first as I knew I would struggle. Their caving type systems (and shall we say slightly better fitness) made short work of the climb. I got ‘er done… slowly, painfully, inefficiently, but finally, arriving at the top rather spent. Willie and Alex pulled up the ropes and packed them in their packs. A not-short hike uphill in the full sun completed the torture.





    Englestead first rappel Topo.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2019
  2. Tirrus

    Tirrus Rope rider.

    Thanks for the well thought out post. That’s a heck of a jug out.

    While in the topic of bolts in Englestead, did the unsightly, sharp, and unfinished wave bolt removal ever get complete or patched?

    hank moon and Kuenn like this.
  3. Kuenn


    Truer words...X2

    Here's to a speedy and iconic recovery, Mr. Tom!
    darhawk likes this.
  4. willie92708


    That's a project for another day! The stainless steel in the wave bolts has high "hardness", so it has to be cut flush with an abrasive disc cutter. It can be done with another team doing a drop down and ascend up trip.
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