Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Random Chossy Zion Peaks

The three peaks we bagged

South Guardian Angel.  I didn't climb it yet.  But it looks cool. 

Great photos like those above here from joe braun. For crappy iphone photos continue reading on.

My immediate family minus the Burningham clan headed down to St George over the Thanksgiving weekend to enjoy some hiking. I decided to test their skills on some Zion choss to see who would be victorious on the sandy sugar hills.

We headed out from the Wildcat Trailhead on the Kolob Terrace Rd for the Northgate Peaks, with my internal intentions to bag North Guardian Angel and both East and West Northgate Peaks somewhat unstated. I'm not sure the family really knew what we were doing. We scrambled through the pass between the Northgate Peaks over to NGA and proceeded to climb the 3rd class slabs to the base of the east ridge. Most people didn't find this too difficult. The East Ridge itself however is 4th class and looks kinda steep from afar, which means nothing too terribly difficult for a climber, but for those unaccustomed to scrambling without  a rope it can be quite unnerving. I led my dad and Caroline (my mom and Rachel decided it looked a bit sketchy for their liking) up the ridge and they did really well considering how loose some spots were along with the exposed sections. They gained expert skills in crabwalking, carefully weighting loose jenga blocks, and trusting feet pasted on slickery slabs. My dad knocked a grapefruit sized rock down which hit me in the arm, but that's part of the game. Annie fed Timbre and then bagged the peak herself. We felt taking Timbre up 4th class was not good parenting.
North Guardian Angel's East Ridge from West Northgate

Great to see this chick out having a good time since most of her time revolves around feeding monster kid

View of the where the 4th class starts, head way right, then way left

Halfway up the ridge with West Northgate behind. I wore my Xmas colors in honor of black friday
Coming across NGA's summit ridge. "It just keeps going!"-Caroline

View across to SGA with Subway below. Next time! 
NGA saddle, with great view of Rams peak on the right

We then schwaked over to East Northgate peak. We lost my dad to the tired crowd but Caroline conceeded to do another one(little did she know there were 2 more) and we bagged that one via some pretty crappy rock on the west side involving pinching some brown sugar while mantling into manzanita with some fairly high consequence fall zone below with Timbre on my back. Bad parenting, but she was asleep. We descended the 2nd class trail on the North side(less fun) and back up to the Northgate Peaks trail. Annie and Caroline seemed a bit tired and Timbre was asleep, so they told me to go ahead onto West Northgate on my own. However, I showed them the cool 3rd class North Ridge and they changed their minds quickly.

Family photo on top of East Northgate. Yes our child can breath

West Northgate slabs

We downclimbed through some volcanic rock and enjoyed the final peak's fun solid scrambling, then headed back to the van. South Guardian Angel is now the only major peak on the Kolob Terrace side I need to bag to accomplish Jared and Buzz's 5 peak linkup, which sounds really cool since you have to descend the complicated ridge system into the Subway from NGA. Maybe later in the Spring my ambitious plan would be to climb all 5 peaks plus descend the Subway IAD!

Map of our peaks and how to get to SGA

Day 2 of my hiking tour took us to Water Canyon outside of Polygamy town Hildale. Jared had done a loop up Squirrel and down Water, but that 11 mile RT was a bit heavy for our group. We hiked up Water Canyon which was interesting, not very adrenaline packed but cool scenery. It was 2.5 miles up to the mesa where we consumed a large amount of Chex Mix. Later we fought over dinner about whether to watch "property brothers" or football.
Water canyon

After church the family headed home and we went back to Zion. Annie was tired and so was Timbre so I bagged Tabernacle Dome on my own. Tabernacle is located near the Left Fork trailhead, and I started directly across from "True North", a vacation rental house. I would not recommend this. It involved heinous bushwaking on volcanic rock through 3 separate gullies. The better approach is up the road another half mile to a big open flat area with a gargoyled NPS road. Its a bit longer but way less horrible, unless you like that sort of thing. I came back on this and it was very nice. 2.5 miles RT with around 900 feet of gain.

Access through the bottom cliffs was puzzling and required adept route finding, something I am not good at. I eventually found a cool tunnel/slot/rain runoff feature that I could stem up. Not sure if this is the only way up but it would be pretty neat if it was. More sandy manzanita winding through sandstone blobs provided access to the quite steep 3rd class friction of the North ridge. Like many Zion Scrambles, various trees with webbing appeared along the way for those who find descending a bit too scary for their liking. The view was pretty cool and my watch showed 27 min to get to the top, which would be far faster if you knew the route. Surprised to see 6 people had summitted in the last month since this peak seemed fairly obscure, though close to the road. We drove back to St George and slept at the Chuckawalla TH in our new van.
Tabernacle Dome from nice flat approach

Looking down the 3rd class friction. Mangled brown access rd visible

Standard Zion anchor
The weird slot thing that allowed passage to upper terrace

Van life!

I'm slowly learning climbing is any respect with little Timbre is a nightmare. She just won't sit by herself for any length of time without screaming, and praise heaven if a nap ever occurs. We went out to Turtle Wall so I could try my luck on a 13a called "the actual parchments" but it did not go well. Luckily some other folks were out there and gave me a catch on it while Annie patiently attended to Timbre's needs. I've never seen a kid so tired that refuses to sleep. No send but one day of effort on a 13 isn't really realistic at this stage for me. Maybe I'll be back in the future. I'm hoping maybe by next spring season Timbre will be walking and maybe that will be better so she can roam around. But who knows. Multi pitch trad climbing is essentially done for Annie and I till our kids are like 10, but I was hoping sport would be doable. It hasn't been so far. But she's pretty fun so I guess we'll keep her.

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