October 07, 2015

Top of the West Rim Trail for Imlay Canyon Full, Zion National Park, Utah.

Well the main event is here and the infamous Imlay Canyon is upon us. We wake up at around 530 AM and the darkness is still upon us as we gather what we need and head out from Lava Point to the West Rim trail. Patrick, Daniel, Walter, Mike, and I started out at exactly 645 AM on the West Rim and headed over the plateau through the sunrise over Zions high desert.

White Pass for Imlay Canyon
We had a shuttle car parked at the Temple which was situated right where we could access the car as soon as we got to the Temple which was a beautiful thing.

Top of the West Rim Trail for Imlay Canyon Full, Zion National Park, Utah.
We continued on the west rim stopping at some overlooks and enjoying the cool morning dry air as we hustled 5 and a half miles to the rim of Imlay in Potato Hollow. We eventually made it to a valley area and continued to proceed onward through Potato Hollow and passing it so we had to spend almost a quarter mile reversing back to the Rim of Imlay.  I wasn't paying attention as much as I should have been.

Walter Stech and crew hiking to the top of Imlay canyon VIA the west rim trail.
We get to the Rim of Imlay and it is a beautiful vista overlook of the canyon and surrounding canyons including other massive slick rock buttes and high rolling hills on top of one another.

Adam Haydock Dropping into the first 3 tiered raps in Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park, Utah.
The first section of Imlay was a series of three raps all between 50 and a 100ft in length.  Everyone got a chance to rig and everyone knows what they are doing now so we all went to work leap frogging from one drop to the next until everyone got to the bottom. We had to rig another anchor as the one anchor was not looking to healthy.

Top of Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park.
Once we got to the bottom of the final tiered rap we continued on and committed ourselves to the canyon not knowing how costly this canyon would become for us. haha.... we rap another drop and come to another section where there is a set of three raps all on an angle, including one rap that is a 170ft drop to the canyon floor with a shelf that could only fit one person at a time.
Walter about to rap of the top of the 3 tiered station in Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park
It was good to see Mike and the others troubleshoot this tiered drop as it was not the easiest to figure out and after Pipe Springs canyon, I think we all caught on to look for additional anchor points while the first rappeller descends the canyon.
Adam haydock overlooking a multi tiered drop on the first half of the full route in Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park Photo By Walter Stech

We each take our turns getting on rope and rappelling down the tiers to the final 170ft drop.

Rope Management in Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park
This drop was pretty interesting as it was on a shear cliff and the sun was reflecting heat off which made for a wonderful time and a great experience dropping into the canyon floor.
Adam Haydock rappelling the last of 3 tiered raps in the first half of Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park, Utah. Photo taken by Mike Green
This is a no joke kind of canyon and just what we were looking for in a route.  We all get to the bottom and proceed down into the wash of the canyon and proceed on to the next raps that we encountered.

Plunge pool in Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park
I should have been taking more photos than I was but the canyon landscape was a typical Zion backcountry setting with sections of narrow slot canyon and some water to traverse around until we got to the first series of potholes. 
getting cold and tired in Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park
We encountered a series of drops that took us deeper into slot canyon section and I threw my potshot bag with the cord into the water thinking that it would just land in the sand.   I plunge into the tiered pothole and use a pack toss to escape the pothole, rig the bottom rap only to find that the potshot bag sank in water over our heads!!

Mike Green attempting to hook the lost pull cord in Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park
That sucked.  Mike put on his wetsuit and Walter fixed all of the hooks on webbing and the etrier so we proceeded to toss the hooks into the water to hook the bag with no luck.  We also proceeded to plunge in the water to feel for the bag and one at a time we continued to look around with no luck what so ever.   It was like it just disappeared. I did a sweeping search with out any luck and time was ticking by. We spent almost a half hour looking for it and I decided that we will just leave it as we are wasting time in this canyon and I want to keep moving.  Lesson learned...always use flotation bags for any kind of cordage.

Daniel Swimming in Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park
We continued on and noticed how the canyon started to eat gear and also provided us with some gear.  We encountered small drops with flash flood debris accumulation that made it hard to maneuver around. We continued to encounter more rappels

Adam Haydock Rappelling in Imlay canyon Full
We encountered another drop into the canyon bottom and continued on to a narrow slot canyon section that included some swimming and plunge pools into potholes full of water.

Photo by Daniel Martin

  After we got done with that water section, we had lunch and proceeded to follow the canyon where it opened up into where the Imlay Sneak routes comes into the canyon. 

At the Full and Sneak route confluence, Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park
Nice!! we are making some pretty good time going through this canyon. we passed a bunch of sections of small narrows with a lot of debris and areas of open gorge like passage.
Photo By Daniel Martin

Now we get into some more picturesque sections with the grim section on it way. 

The left overs of a flash flood in Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park

We rapped through a small series of pothole drops which were full of water and to a sandy section of the canyon that had some beautiful towering walls and shear cliffs!!!!
Just past the Sneak Route in Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park
We were excited to see the canyon continue to change its dynamic once again on this epic trip through the best canyon I have ever been through in Zion. 

the mood as we went through Imlay before the Grim

The challenges started to become more interesting with a rappel into a slot filled with deep water and logs that rolled as you moved over them.  it was a energy sucking task to get over this section of deep water logs and climb up to the next section around large boulders but it appeared that this is where a lot of debris gets jammed up in the flash floods that rage through this canyon. 

Quite the interesting log run traverse challenge to get over in  Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park

After a few more rappels and a beautiful hike through a narrow slot canyon section with towering walls on wither side of us, we came to the rap that took us into the final section that I call the grim. The grim consisted of keeper potholes that were full of water and continuous rappels until we exited the canyon. 
Mike Green in the Simu rap in Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park
Thankfully...or not so thankfully...the keepers were filled with water which made the escapes easier to perform yet we found ourselves hooking a few of the keepers since there were no good handhold's. We came up to a section where two people can simultaneously rappel into the water to make for a quicker run which was very beautiful to see. 
Swimming up to the mouth of a keeper pothole full of water in Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park
The grim was very dark and at times lights were used, it felt like we were in a cave, and it was very wet.  We continued to switch around the groups so we could pack ropes and have other members proceed to the front.
Photo By Walter Stech

 That is another lesson learned for myself as I want to make sure I switch the group around from the back to the front and back people do not get left behind and people can rig and pack at different intervals within the trip. 

Narrow slot canyon passage in Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park
The grim kept going for a lot longer than I thought it would and continued to be a dark sinister place until about hour 10 when we poked our heads out into open canyon.
The "Grim" Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park, Utah.

This was by no means the end of the canyon.  we must have ran into another 10-15 rappels each with water disconnects and some with potholes full of water.  there were a lot of swims and pack tosses.
Patrick in Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park
I pulled out my cameras and realized that my keg had some water in it some how from all the banging around and wrecked my G12 camera that I had in there. Ugh I was so upset when I saw that and felt shitty.  Lost a potshot bag with cord and a camera now.

Mike Green floating in Imlay Canyon
Thankfully the others were taking pictures of the remaining trek through Imlay so I put there pictures up on this blog. It was one rappel after another until we could finally hear the narrows echoing the white noise of water running around and over the rocks below.  It was a beautiful site to see the last 120ft free rappel and another epic last rappel into the narrows just as the sun was starting to set.

Adam and Patrick in Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park.
We each rapped down this last drop into the narrows and it was a refreshing feeling to feel the heat and be out of the canyon. Daniel was to the point where he was shivering so he took off for the exit of the narrows while we took some photos and I proceeded to dry the sim cards which was successful!!
Last rappel in Imlay Canyon into the Narrows.
we pulled the ropes and ended up hiking out of the narrows and back to the car in around 13 hours from when we started our epic adventure through Zions geological adventure in Imlay Canyon. What a great experience that was and a perfect way to end our adventure in Zion.

Daniel Martin in Imlay Canyon, Zion National Park
I want to thank everyone for providing shuttle cars, equipment, and excellent team work that allowed us to get the job done and make this trip one of the best canyoneering trips ever.  I am already excited about next year and the years to come

Time: 13hrs (West Rim Lava Point to The Temple)
5 Gentlemen
46 rappels
It is always not in the pursuit of happiness but the happiness in our pursuit and we could not have been happier in our worst conditions we found ourselves in.  Smiles in the Grim section, laughs and mental toughness in the rough.

Adam Haydock rappelling down the multi tiered drop in Imlay Canyon Full Zion National Park, Photo BY Mike Green

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