At 8:39PM on 5/26/2013 after 28 hours and 2 minutes, Buzz, Ryan, and I finished a route we call “Zironman”. Zion National Park has held a tight grip on my soul for most of my life and in the recent decade has lured me in to experience her multi-faceted beauty. This route embodies the type of excitement, adventure, effort, teamwork, and requisite planning that I have come to look for. The idea of this route sprouted out of past adventures the three of us have had together, which adds to my satisfaction with the fact that it was the three of us that executed it almost perfectly.
Buzz wrote a great account of the adventure, so if you’d like to learn more check it out! In an effort to not repeat the details Buzz captured so well, I’ll simply focus on several of the aspects of the adventure that stand out to me.
Ryan, Buzz, and I make a good team because we’re all pretty different and consequently bring different things to the table. Buzz has a resume of outdoor experiences rivaled by few, if anyone. He is brilliant at dissecting an objective, regardless of size or required skills, and is quick and intuitive with his planning. I always learn from Buzz. Once Ryan sinks his teeth into a project, any project, you know no detail will be overlooked. A master of identifying and mitigating risks, Ryan excels at planning and allocating sufficient time, effort, and resources to guarantee success. I bring enthusiasm and optimism to the table, and in the case of Zion National Park, experience with the nuanced geography and tricky route finding. We all have enough experience scrambling/rock-climbing and have all pounded plenty of dirt from years of trail running. Most importantly we’re great friends and have pushed through the best of times and also some really hard times together. We declared right from the get-go that there would be no pride, we would diligently double-check each other during the technical canyoneering sections and there would be no stupid mistakes as the consequences could be dire.
I’ll never forget the night section. Zion by moonlight is hard to beat. The middle of the night Guardian Angel linkup with a crossing of the Left Fork of North Creek (Subway) was simply magical. Scrambling up South Guarding Angel (SGA) by moonlight was one of those moments I’ll keep with me forever. It was perfect. I had run this about a month earlier so the winding contours of the drainages, the sandstone canyons, house-sized hoodos, and perfect eastern ridge were fresh on my mind. I felt so connected with the route and that I didn’t need to think about where to go, my body simply knew where to take us. We paused on top, just long enough to get chilled and scope the daunting “No Mans Land” route to our east, softly illuminated by moonlight.
Once past the bushwhack and into the upper portion of No Mans Land, the earth and sun had danced through astronomical dawn and the stars began to dim as the atmosphere glowed its faint terrestrial blue. Both Ryan and I were paying close attention to the path of solar rays and their rate of change. Based on where we were at, we’d likely outrun the rising sun as we made our way to the right fork of North Creek and clambered up the steep west side of the West Rim plateau. The sun kissed the top of South Guardian Angel in glorious fashion, illuminating only the top white sandstone cap, and then moving quickly down to the pinkish rock below. I vowed to come back someday soon with the sole focus of documenting what we were seeing in high resolution time-lapse fashion.
Full image gallery here.