Adventure Travel


by John Hart  

















 Dave at the first drop. 









Gully at the bottom of the first two drops (~400 feet down).
















Not alone.



Sept. 30, 2002.  While riding the Zion National Park bus back from a hike down the Narrows, Dave Pitney and I noted an interesting pour-off starting about 300 feet up from the Virgin River Valley floor, located approximately a quarter mile south of Weeping Rock.  The associated canyon appeared to be tucked right up against the huge north wall of the Great White Throne, one of the most prominent mountains of Zion National Park.  A day later we did a little exploring and found a route up a ridge that was accessible from lower Hidden Valley.  From the very top of this ridge the canyon appeared pretty straight, extremely deep, and hopefully a little sweet.  It looked to be a tall canyon, about 1100 feet in vertical extent, and only a quarter mile or so long.  Any nasty constrictions?  Log-jams? Huge interior drops?  The topo map was not too helpful because the canyon is too short and narrow to appear in much detail.  There was no sign of canyoning activity at the top and neither us had heard anything about it.  We easily recruited Carl, who was eager for a little adventure, and off we went.   

A half hour hike from Weeping Rock got us to the entry of Hidden Canyon.  We schlepped up 1000' of rope (2 x 200' and 600', all 8mm).   Being old guys and basic chickens (speaking for myself), we wanted to be ready for whatever  unknown drops were contained in this steep crack.  I thought it much better to carry a long rope than have to bolt up a relay station.  A short NPS-installed chain on the left (up canyon) in Hidden is across from a vague social trail that starts in the dirt on the right and angles up to a nose that overlooks Weeping Rock and the Valley.  Heading southeast from there up the steep narrow ridge (class 3) leads, in another 30 minutes, to an intersection of the bushy and lightly-treed ridge with the wall of the Great White Throne.  This is where we dropped into the canyon.


We rapped off a tree down to the bottom of the first V (170').  One could proceed from there down an ugly wedge, but a much prettier route is to walk out on the ledge to the right (down-canyon) to a healthy pine tree about thirty feet back from the rounded edge.  

The rap off this tree is the most spectacular in canyon.   Be sure to click on the above picture for the full view!  The opposite wall is essentially the full extent of the Great White Throne.  From our anchor on the walk-out ledge it's about 230' to the floor.  We ended up doing this with The Big-Dog (the 600 footer).  Two 200' ropes will get you to a relatively wide and comfortable lip with a few feet to spare, but the thirty or so foot down-climb from there to the floor is a little nasty.  With an extra 50' of line one could rap all but the last person (best climber) down to the bottom.   Top rope the last person up-canyon along the lip to its head, then have him/her down-climb the short wedge with a spot from below.  Other variations are possible, but you can't see the bottom from the walk-out ledge.

Continuing down- canyon from the 2-rap entry one encounters some bouldering, a fair amount of brush, and a couple of small pools that can be worked around.  Even after heavy rains the canyon was pretty dry.  Raps are necessary to negotiate drops of about 20, 60, and 90 feet.  There are plenty of chockstones and trees to use as natural anchors.

Nearing the bottom we encountered a lone bolt (labeled RT: un-necessary, we would have removed it if we had had the tools).  At the top of the last big drop we found a dried-out sling attached to a bark-less, cracked, and rotten old tree trunk.  Use it and die.  It has been said that all the canyons in Zion have been descended, and this one is apparently on that list.  If the state of the sling and status of the tree are any indication, it has been a long time since anyone has been down here. 

About five hours after starting we reached the pour off overlooking the Zion valley.  The exit was not as sheer as it looked (foreshortened) from high up across the valley.  We again used The Big-Dog to do a full 300' of it in one go.  The still-green base of the bark-less tree would provide a 200' beginning, and a healthy cottonwood then could anchor a  100' second step.  A thirty foot rap off a huge log at the bottom led us out. 


The Gully is a fairly nice half-day canyon with two awesome drops at the beginning.  The middle part is rather brushy with some log-piles to negotiate.  The last rappels down into the valley are quite scenic.  This is more of a straight V-canyon, not a sensuously sculpted slot.  Short and steep.  A true gully or crack.  The exit is one of the easiest to be had in Zion:  a couple hundred yards of walking down to the road to catch the Weeping Rock bus.

Canyon length:  about a 1/4 mile.  Depth: ~1100 feet.  Abundant natural anchors.  Eight rappels to ~230 feet.  Descent Time:  4+  hours.  Access:  moderate climb of 1 hour.  Exit:  trivial, out to the shuttle bus.