I got a late-ish start, (3 PM) so I did not take any pictures on the way up. I summitted at 6:20, and thats where this adventure starts. Make sure to read to the end for the “actual” story of what happened.
directional summit plaque- installed in the 1920s but rarely seen since few people now frequent this summit…
looking up Zion Canyon
on the descent I got some opportunities to take a few night photos (which I love…)
and Rob happened to be available for a portrait as he enjoyed some of his tofu-scramble…
a great day, with great friends.
More to come!
Editors note: At the time of it’s original writing this blog would not have been an appropriate place to tell the “real” story of what happened on Lady Mountain. Now it’s all good, so I will share…
I did get a late start–that is true. I decided that I would try to free solo the short technical sections on this route–which go at low 5th class–but have huge exposure so a fall would be fatal. I flew up the trail in the afternoon light–even the technical climbing seemed laughable to me. I kept eating to balance my blood sugar and kept climbing.
Things got more tricky on the descent. I was able to climb down to one point where the trail back down–which looked very different in the fading light than it did several hours before–sort of disappeared. I kept going up and down hoping to regain the path, but each time I would find myself cliffed out. This means being stranded without a way down.
It got dark, I panicked. I had enough gear to spend the night and the weather was reasonably mild but the idea of being stranded on a cliff in the dark in an unfamiliar place (at that time) really rattled me. I decided to try sending a text message to Rob (who now runs Zion Canyon Guides). I expected him to make fun of my poor decision making and lack of preparedness. Instead, he said, “Stay right there, I’ll be up to you in about 45 minutes. I think I know right where you are”.
I knew I had to save my battery to signal Rob and Corey who were driving up the canyon, scanning the darkened cliffs in search of my light. There’s no way he knows where I am, I thought. 45 minutes? Is he insane? It took me 2 hours to get up to this elevation earlier…
Just then, I saw carlights flashing down on the road below. Keep in mind this is about 2000 feet below me, so they are still a long way off. At least they know where I am, I thought. I settled in to wait for Rob and within 15 minutes I saw his headlamp. Not so much climbing towards me as floating at great speed–I thought for a moment that it was some sort of illusion–a ghost perhaps. It didn’t move with the cadence of a human host, but rather it sailed, darted and flew.
Minutes later, Rob dropped down next to me on the cliff. I had never been more grateful to see another human being. He confided in me that he really enjoyed night hiking and that he appreciated the opportunity to get out with me. We climbed together back down to the road and the waiting car; and I was safe again.
I learned a lot that day (and night). Things can get serious in a hurry when you fail to prepare and manage time wisely. Panic is never a good strategy. A good partner can salvage a bad day out.