Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Zion National Park

[by Shelley]
We hit the road and left Vegas early in the morning to make our way over to Zion National Park in Utah. We've seen lots of photos of the area in climbing magazines so we wanted to have a look for ourselves. It was too cold for rock climbing and we just had time for an afternoon hike. We chose one of the more popular and scenic trails -- it's the off season and not busy so we didn't have to worry about it being crowded.

The trail up to Angel's Landing is rated as "strenuous" and although it's relatively steep, the vast majority of it is paved in order to prevent erosion. An interesting feature is the 21 switchbacks in the trail called "Walter's Wiggles" (named after some guy named Walter who designed them).

The great views just got better the higher we went. Utah is known for its amazing shades of red rock and Zion didn't disappoint. We looked at the sheer walls around us and wondered how many climbing routes there were. Surely, no climber could look at this place and not wonder what the best route might be.

The "for bad ass hikers only" part of the trail was the last 1/2 mile. It's narrow and very exposed! Although there are intermittent posts and chains to hang on to along the way and a few steps carved out of the rock, there are definitely some sharp edges with long vertical drops down to the canyon below. Our guidebook agrees that it's exposed but says that a stumble wouldn't do any harm. Well, we would certainly not want to be the ones to test out that theory! This part of the trail is definitely not for the inexperienced or faint of heart! The few people we did pass looked nervous. Especially on the sections that had ice on them for added excitement.

Once back at the car we did the scenic drive to the end of the canyon and got some better views and photos of the sheer cliffs below Angel's Landing.
2011-02 Zion

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