Archive for June, 2009

Zion Trifecta

June 29, 2009

We’d been planning the Trifecta for over a year, and as of June 27, there is now one less amazing project in Zion National Park “undone”. Jared Campbell, Ryan McDermott, and I did the 3 biggest canyons in the Park in one day.

Zion is aptly called a “Sandstone Yosemite”. An appropriate name, but what “Yo” lacks, are the extremely narrow slot canyons deeply incised into the soft sandstone; they are often filled with cold water, are dark, and end in high vertical pour-offs above the main canyon bottom; an entire world apart, literally invisible until one finds and rappels into their depths.

Only in the last 10 years has the sport of canyoneering developed. Needless to say, the thought of not just doing them, but seeing how fast I could do them, entered my mind years ago. I’m way too old to win any trail races or set records on well known big routes, but age paradoxically has some benefits similar to those of youth: 1) You don’t try to fit in, and instead do what pleases you; 2) You can be a pain in the ass and your friends and family still tolerate you.

We’ll leave #2 alone; #1 is the aspect pertinent to this project. ¬†Projects like the Trifecta, are like “Plucking the low-hanging fruit, located way far out on the limb.”

HeapSteep

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Thompson Peak, Trinity Alps

June 18, 2009

Topping out at just over 9,000 feet, Thompson Peak is the highest point in the Trinity Alps, which is a high section of the Klamath Mountain Range in northwestern California. The peak is at the headwaters of the most rugged drainage in the Trinity Alps, the Canyon Creek drainage, where several peaks rise above 8,800 feet. Due to the geographical location of these mountains, they contain elements of the Cascades to the north and Sierras to the south. Their height is not impressive when compared with the Sierras, but their higher latitude and proximity to the Pacific Ocean allow for significant winter snow accumulation and the existence of a few small glaciers.

Upper Canyon Lake with the Wedding Cake and Thompson Peak refecting

Upper Canyon Lake with the Wedding Cake and Thompson Peak refecting

I climbed Thompson Peak via the Canyon Creek trailhead in 9:42, starting at 6:20 am and finishing at 4:02 pm (4:52 to summit, 22 minutes on top, 4:28 return). The climb involved 16 miles of trail and nearly an equal amount cross country travel, entailing bushwhacking, routefinding, talus hoping, scrambling, and snow. A large portion of the trail was good for running, but none of the cross country travel was runnable. There was even some class 4+ exposed moves to ascend the final summit block. I found spectacular mountain scenery and a true wilderness feeling beyond Canyon Creek Lakes where there is virtually no evidence of human impact.

Gear:

  • La Sportiva Fireblade
  • Ultimate Direction Wasp Pack
  • Petzl Snowracer Ice Axe
  • Kahtoola Aluminum Crampons

The Trinity Alps, often overlooked by Mount Shasta, are a real gem and I plan on returning here for more climbs in the future. Check out many more photos and a complete trip report at CascadeClimbers.com.