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[TR] ZZZion - KeyholeKanyon-Moonlight-MolestedBySheep-HotTubb'N 4/4/2011

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Trip: ZZZion - KeyholeKanyon-Moonlight-MolestedBySheep-HotTubb'N


Date: 4/4/2011


Trip Report:

the eternal vexations of planning a spring break trip in the pouring northwest - find partners willing to agree to a vague objective somewhere within a thousand miles, then pray to the taco jesus like hell that the weather agrees - in 8 years of trying, this has worked out maybe 1/3 of the time?


the partner pull yielded the irascible tvash, down to a mean fighting weight as a result of a cutie nutrition specialist and an ubiqitious iphone app to monitor his daily ho-ho consumption, and the olympicmtnman, stewart, so goddamn alike in name and visage to moof (w/ whom he also climbed mideast crisis) that i musta called him sean a dozen damn times over the course of the trip - sorry dude - it's not you, it's me :)


by the time we were to blast off, the menu of options had grown damn dim - no hope at all in the nw - canada, are you fucking kidding me? the valley was snow and shit - only zion had some hope, and even there it took several long, strong drinks to convince me the 20 something hr drive would be worht the longshot the forecast would improve - we figured we'd sort something worthwhile out no matter what - hiking, canyoning, climbing, drinking, something...


my third trip to the utard desert - the ace in the hole this time was stew's schweeeeet ride, a '77 toyota chinook camper, which allowed 2 guys to sleep throughout the night as we binged and purged through the rainy darkness from p-town


originally the plan was to climb the classic space shot day 1, using hte afternoon we arrived to fix the first couple pitches


yeah, so, as the theme for the trip went, that bitch was fucked on arrival - strong chance of rain and snow starting at noon the next day made space shot seem daft, what w/ the difficult of bailing from up high and the warnings about descending from the summit in bad conditions - we had moonlight buttress on the agenda anyhow, and figured why not go after that the next day since it's easier to bail on if the weather really turned bad - instead we'd use the 1 afternoon of predicted strong sun to explore the keyhole canyon, which promised frigid waters and multiple raps in a short distance


a view of keyhole canyone from up high - jug canyon is at the bottom, mostly dry - keyhole above that - deep and slotted near the road, but higher up broad and kewl


before taking on the freezing water (for which both white-boys had wetsuits but i had only polypro, black tobacco and weak-wine), we went exploring up the dry part of the canyon - below a big wall we found a fellow traveler who appeared to have recently fallen a long, long way


snow, then it all pinched down to a long, tall chimney and a cool cave just below the mesa top


back to the entry point and i doned my official mountaineer garb to carry me through the bidness


up high the canyon is actually not so deep nor cold


stew stomping the sand


it all seemed too easy to start...


the suck in the ass of canyoneering i reckon is it's hard to take pictures of it while doing it - once we did the first rap, we were in water over even my gargantuan head, but in a canyon so narrow you couldn't hardly find room to swim, assuming you could manage that anyhow given the cold shock of being in water cold enough to make a polar bear puss out - we ended up invariably doing a retard doggie-paddle/fear-stem/hobble-fuck - took my testicles hours to re-descned once it was all said n' done - my chief memory, other than short raps and hand-over-handing down fixed lines, was of a hypothermic haze inspiring an endless sprint to get back into the fucking sun!


took the evening to hike up petroglyph canyon until my flipflops (genius that i am, i only brouhgt one pair of shoes, soaked now) barred further progress - gave us the idea of coming back for led-by-sheep on aries butte if chances allowed it


ghetto camp outside the entrance - the forecast had gotten shitter - to boot the river was so high wading seemed destined for disaster, and w/o time to check it out first hadn, we resolved to wake up stupid early and see what we could do


the long n' tedious approach from the grotto - turned out we coulda waded it w/o too much problem if we'd just manned up - sigh.


the moonlight buttress


intent on doing the route as quick as possible, we planned on doing the climb in 2 blocks - stew would get the first half, and me the second, w/ tvash the jug bitch!


pat jugging p1


ended up w/ a plenty fast setup - more often then not, pat would be done w/ his jug before i'd cleaned, so stew only had to short-fix for short stretches


stew on p3


me n' pat jugging up to stew atop p3 - note the kewl boulder that's been bolted to the wall to prevent the big tragedy :)


i helped sort rope while stew owned on p4


stupid cool pitch is 4 - bring all yer finger sized cams!


we were making great time, well on the way to being done before dark, and therefore strong shot at not having to walk all the way back to the visitor center since the shuttle stops at 10 - but then the predicted Suck arrived


we were at a bit of a loss - the forecast was for rain all afternoon, w/ a worsening forecast into the evening, but how does zion weather really work? i'd never been ther ein anything other than sunny skies - how seriously should we take it? as the rain picked up, it seemed stupid to go on, so down we went - fucking bastards!


this itty-bitty tarantula showed no need to bail


in the end it was a stupid decision - just a few minutes after landing (amidst a pile of raw human shit), the rain quit and stayed away the rest of the day - we woulda made it just fine...what can you do? wade across the river i guess...


we decided to spend the night outside the east entrance - the forecast for the next day was such shit we figured there was no sense going after a big route, but that the led-by-sheep route on aries butte might be short and high enough that w/ an early start we'd get it done


i repasted on fine home-baked goodies before leaving :)


aries butte from across the way - cool route, basically for yer girlfriend - couple bolts/drilled pins each pitch and nothing else really needed - easy raps back down - wierd for zion - all low-angle slab


woulda been perfect if it wasn't bitter cold and windy! luckily our keen-honed pacific nw sensibilities had us prepared


pitch 3


me n' pat following on 3 - keyhole and jughandle canyons in the background


later in the day we'd rumble aroudn though all that shit behind pat, who clearly is sticking a thumb up his ass :)


just below the top


on top and in the shelter of trees the howling wind back off a bit - jesus-fuck, there's goat tracks everywhere, but nothing but 5.6 routes to the top! obviously a lighting rod magnet up there as it was heavily burned


no shortage of sweet views from up there


stew on top


we made a circuit out of it by descending back tot he saddle and going out jug handle way - cool that way to be able to peer down into the canyon we'd run the other day


would love to see the goats down climb instead of rap :)



golly gee, old boy, it suuuuuure is a long way down there :rawk:



woulda been nice to have caught someon ein the act of passing through, but was a grim day for such endeavors


cool walk out above the canyon w/ a very narrow sidewalk keeping you from The Big Tumble


checking hte forecast back at the car after a sumptous feast of avocado, tortillas and tuna-fish, we checked the forecast for the rest of the week - horrid hate-fuck for the here-after - solid predictions of pouring snow for the duration of our time - nothign for it but to take a good long walk taht afternoon and get the fuck out of dodge, hoping to find somethign dryish on the way back for distraction


we choose to explore the desert-scape on the other side of the road, starting near the crazy quilt - i threw in a few warmish pbr's to make the saunter sane


pat set us to each claim a interesting site - he vacilated on picking this'un right off the bat - goddamn sandstone statuory is in surplus 'round those parts


pat ultimately choose a narsty, rat-piss encrusted pile of shit and bones tucked under an overlap and which he insisted on calling a "midden" as his Almighty Site - even took a picture of it too, but then decided to write a big old fancy scientific article on the subject and thus didn't want to queer the deal but putting those pix into a piss-poor piece of academia like this tr :)


i chose stone-roses as my entry, mostly 'cuz they're a fine group...


i didn't have the balls to clamber up on this bad-boy, mostly b/c i figured The Man would send me the bill for breaking it :)


one non-stop looney-toon episode after another...


done w/ the walk, and the first fell drops of frozen fuck-all falling, we turned our back on utard and headed west - very soon it was like the plains in january - blasting wind and lashing snow - i sat in the back as stew barreled down the road, hell-bent to find some ghetto-camp site before the shit got too shady - i laid in back, sucking down burgundy by the half-liter hit, and prepped the glorious dinner that was to be my only culinary contribution to the trip - breakfast for dinner bitches! a pack of fat bacon, eggs and bacon-fat fried hashbrowns by the pound :rawk:


not exactly an easy camp to make - stew and pat piled into my tent while i pounded in stakes to make all fast - don't think i'd had such an experience since denali? :)


fat w/ food, we all had a good sleep in the next morning, by which time the storm had broken for a bit - i enjoyed the first serious sleep in days, dreaming of storm gods and girls w/ the biggest boobies :grin: best yet, pat's soiree into healthy living seems to have miracolously cured his godawful snoring fits...


that day i dedicated to day-long drinking - waking late we drove a few hours to the cathedral park in nevada and made small talk w/ the locals - then binged and purged to the far north-western border of the state, pat convinced that a mystical "weather hole" would form over the santa rosa range and we'd find fine distractions there


we slept that night in a fine cow-country, snow falling late and prolifically in the hills above - we had a roaring sage-brush fire and fiddled around w/ observations of the heavens above, and i smoked my last cigarette, vowing to forego that forbidden delight for the rest of the trip as a sacrifice to the satan-weather-gods, who'd clearly marked me


at some point in the haze of the previous evenign we'd seen on a map that there was a hot spring not too far away, in paradise valley - i fought off the delirum tremens as we rambled on down the dead-end road to the methadonia town that was near it - the good citizens of the town had 10 teeth between them, but that was enough to choke out some more precise directions, which amounted to little more than driving down the cowpaths till we saw steam rising in the distance


little did we know we'd end up in a stampede :)


sure as shit that worked, and we ended up on the side of a side road in the mud - a short stroll w/ stew's surviving beers in hand - the hot spring a sweet site, it being 6 days since a bath or so - basically a big volcanic vent, choked w/ extremophiles, vigourosly bubbling, trickling down through metal tubes into the creek


having stripped down after discovering the plastic kiddie-pool that kept us out of the crick (complete w/ dead carp which apparently don't dig on swimming in searing heat), i rudely discoverd the tub was 140 goddamn degrees and absolutely unbearable for even the drunkest of bathers - our solution was strong headed and stupid determined - siphon out the boiling hot water while backfilling w/ a goddamn nalgene - only took 45 minutes in my drawers to get the it right!


soon thereafter we had the only injury of the trip - stew slipping in the slick mud and spraining an ankle scooting back to the chinook - we ate onion and cheese and chili, which i made those bastards pay for in a big way soon thereafter, while a squall passed, then set out for a desert hike up the local hills - didn't see much other than jackrabbits and bullshit and the occasional mine-claim, but it got the lead out for the big, big drive from there


i binged on bad budwesier (is there any other kind?) while we trailed away across northern nevade before crossing into ore-e-gone - a fine stretch of road i hadnt seen before - for the 2nd time in the trip we used the emergency gas as there is fuck-all to stop at for hundreds of miles at a stretch - time flew as i read the borrowed saga of red-orm, sell out to the shaved-men's god - i enjoyed the ample opportunities to stop and piss in the middle of the highway w/o worry


night fell and my turn to drive after a thoroughly lackluster meal in fuck all midles or whatever town that was near burns - the boys lost confidence in my skills, and rightly so, after swerving to avoid wierd road debris - threw down in a gravel parking lot, 4 hrs still from home - awoke to find meself snowed on once again


in exotic prineville we paused for some quality mickey-d's - pat used the opporutnity to get in some proper stretching


then that last blast down the familier 26, back into the land of big trees and endless goddamn rain - wasn't quite the trip i'd hoped for, but the compnay was fine, the chuckles and cuisine copacetic, and the adventure distracting enough to fend off the Blue Devils for long enough - i'm sure i'll be back to zion, just hoping to wint he lottery so i can get my own private goddamn jet before next time :)


Gear Notes:

don't skimp on the road-cokes and the brain bacon, eh?


Approach Notes:

watch out for fucking prickly pears n' yucca

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Wow, great trip report. I got my reading done for the week. What would be the issue if that block that's bolted to the wall were to be trundled? I've never seen anything like that.




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Not a huge issue but you've have to move the whole 3 bolt belay station down a ways to be able to reach it from lower. It may make the start to that pitch rather hard for the free climbers as well and the route is gaining popularity free (we ran into Cedar Wright and Nellie rapping down it). It's a stellar pitch, free or aid (and one of those where you can actually envision the moves to free it, 5.12+).


More of my pics of the trip here: https://picasaweb.google.com/matthiesen/ZionRoadTrip#


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D and I went down keyhole in late october sans wetsuits also. Frigid that time of year too. Frantic run from water, across sand and back to the road in the sun.

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How did the Chinook do on the road? :snugtop:

practically drives itself - in fact i generally felt closer to wrecking it when i tried steering - and hell, w/ only 4 forward gears, not much shifting to worry but neither!

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Wish I coulda been there for the obvious fun, intermixed with snow, rain and bad Buds. Next time.

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we found a fellow traveler who appeared to have recently fallen a long, long way




did you take some climbing gear to its skull? :)

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did you take some climbing gear to its skull? :)

1 word: maggggggggots!


i prefer to think of meself as filled w/ a great white light :)

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Awesome read eric, mucho appreciated. Bill and I are headed there next week! I hope the river crossing is manageable and I am really hoping to free climb some of those pitches.

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Awesome read eric, mucho appreciated. Bill and I are headed there next week! I hope the river crossing is manageable and I am really hoping to free climb some of those pitches.

you'll do fine i'm sure, especially on the first 3 - 4 looks like an endless enduro layback - bring a pair of shorts and river shoes for the crossing and look for a good spot about a 1/2 mile downriver where you can get across - river level was somethign like 400 cfs if you want to compare it w/ what you get - i went in up to my taint by my direct appraoch, but pat and stew found longer, shallower ways - might want to wrap yer rope and gear in a trash bag just in case :)

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Awesome TR, I love that place!

Cut my teeth climbing there and love those slots!


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Awesome read eric, mucho appreciated. Bill and I are headed there next week! I hope the river crossing is manageable and I am really hoping to free climb some of those pitches.


There's one good spot to cross at least, even if the river comes up a bit. It's a couple of hundred yards downstream from the big bend just downstream of Moonlight. Follow the rippled shallows diagonally across the river and you'll keep you sacks dry.

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