Such a gorgeous canyon. Pretty perfect conditions according to a member of our party who had done it 25 times. Full pools. Warm water by Heaps standards.
Down through Phantom Valley, twice in three days! The second time to recover a stuck rope on the final sequence.. Did not overnight on either day.. Potholes were pretty full. A romp!
Had a very difficult time "convincing" partners to join me on this one. Maybe it was because I was trying to bring along "canyon newbies" on my exploits and Heaps has been on my list for many many years. A combination of government shutdown (park closure), being snubbed from being invited to a party of friends earlier in the month who were doing it, and partners bailing, I experienced a few setbacks on this one.
Finally found an unsuspecting victim who didn't know any better. Did not do any research on this canyon before heading in (except verifying the potholes were indeed full which was my main concern), (just printed a bunch of pages and figured I'd refer to them as needed while in the canyon (lol), and I wish I had. #1: I would have known to bring a short rope given the abundance of 15-30 ft. rappels!!! UGGHH! and #2: those imlay rope bags are never in stock. Being pissed off and stubborn about it, didn't bother to get any rope bags for this canyon descent. Ugh, would have shaved couple hours off our canyon descent time.
The view of the canyon from the west rim was extremely enticing and daunting at the same time...a very dark and deep slot with the highest walls hiding the canyon secrets...the allure was great. Water was absolutely frigid, we only had 4/3 wetsuits on. Very cold, but it kept up moving!! Canyon was as spectacular as canyons get. I would say this is my favorite canyon in Zion. I think we got lucky in the latter stages of the canyon with the "last substantial narrows" where it slots up, gets really really dark and the walls close up above you, almost needing a headlamp in daylight even. This section is described as "intense" and "pothole upon pothole to the point of madness" and includes the special orange streaks room. Well it wasn't until the end of the narrows where we encountered a lot of swimming, the majority of the narrows were walking depth and we were able to blaze through it pretty fast and get much needed relief after the first narrows challenged us with strenuous swim-exits and climb out of pot holes (log jams). All potholes were full to full capacity. There was no issue there, I shudder at the thought of descending this canyon when the potholes are not full.
Was as strenuous as expected, the sandy corridors blew my mind, the dark final "narrows" section was sensational in how the walls spiraled and twisted into closure above our heads. Truly a work of art by nature. Lots of cold swimming towards the end, I love how dark the canyon got! Very cool.
And of course the grand finale 3 stage rappel exit which we did in the dark. WOW!!! I have been told about this final 3 stage rappel so many times from friends who have done it, that it wasn't too hard to figure it out in the dark for the first time. Did this in full moonlight conditions. Unreal.....I stopped multiple times on the final rappel just to take in the moment, as if it was seeping into my pores. Completely immersed in this moment, I could see my reflection on the main wall in the moonlight mid-rappel. 90 ft or more from the canyon wall, you are dangling in space for the majority of the 300 ft. rappel.
What a canyon, as a passionate canyoneer, it exceeded my expectations. A++++++ would do it again and camp in the canyon nestled into one of those spiffy and gorgeous sandy corridors. I can only imagine how this canyon changes shape and form and appearance dramatically throughout the year and in different conditions. Truly a quiet beast of a canyon, the heart of zion and the most spectacular and biggest of them all.
I convinced two friends that it was possible at this time of year. Bright sunlight the whole time, but there was still snow in sections, including the crossroads where the shortcut route comes down in to the main canyon. Every pothole was brim full of 32.1 degree water... we all got hypothermia, stopped at a log in a miraculous patch of sand in the third narrows section, managed to start it on fire, and spent the night recovering on that three foot wide spot. The next day when we came out, we couldn't believe the amazingly warm air blowing up from upper emerald pool.
Did it again the next year in June, this time with 6 of us (including the original two); less water, thicker wetsuits, and a better realization that the swimming/climbing/beaching goes on for a very long time. We were very efficient at getting so many people down so many raps. Much more enjoyable, and no incidents. I do not recommend Heaps for the freeze fest.
From the West Rim trailhead with Rick Kent and Tina. The extra mileage, in addition to the elevation gain due to rolling topography, make that trail hardly easier than hiking via The Grotto, but we chose it to avoid the Grotto trailhead's June temperatures.
We camped on the approach on the West Rim Trail before taking two partial days to complete the canyon. We spent a lot of time relaxing and enjoying the beauty of Zion's backcountry while camping at the crossroads before the final narrows.
Even though most of the pools were full, there were still some keeper potholes that needed to be avoided. Avoiding these potholes -- and having to ascend out of one -- made for a strenuous trip. All the swimming and jumping into full pools made the canyon a lot of fun.
The 500-foot final rappel sequence was rather stimulating, especially the second rap down to the perch. None of us had been there before, so I am glad that Rick rappelled first to find that one needs to swing over to that rap station which hangs 300 feet above Upper Emerald Pool.
Descended yesterday with Bruce. It's a very scenic approach from Lava Point and the views only get better throughout the day. I was very cold in a 2:1 half-length wetsuit due to the high water and cold temperatures. There is much more swimming in this canyon compared to Imlay, although the technical difficulty was less, of course the water level makes a big difference in that regard.
Topped the day off with a Churger from Virgin.
Not positive on the date. However, it was within a week or two of this date. Weather was fine, we were good with 10mm wetsuits, medium amount of water, only about 8 potholes that we couldnt climb out of. Used pack tosses, downed branches, and partner techniques. Great fun. Only difficulty was getting our ropes stuck on the final rappell sequence, had to jumar back to the top and try again.
I would recommend having a drybag for your 300 foot rope to limit the water weight carried through the day. We didnt do this and it ended up being quite difficult. Brilliant canyon one of the best in Zion.
Thanks for the article bobeck