Mountain Project Logo

Cancel Trip to Zion?


Original Post
Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 175

I currently have a plans to head to Zion Jan 28-Feb 2 to do some aid climbing. Ive been watching the weather closely and it looks like its about as bad as it could get (from a precipitation standpoint). heard about the rock falls and such. Anyone with lots of experience in the area (or actually in the area now) have any advice? Is there any chance the cold weather will dry the rock out for even a couple days during the time Im planning to be there?

We are considering jtree and red rocks as backups but Im really hoping to make this trip happen as my partner and I only get one trip a year and already have our flights booked.

Aaron Danforth · · Cody, WY · Joined Sep 2007 · Points: 0

Do not climb on wet sandstone. Go to JTree if you have any worry about the weather.

Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 175
Danforth wrote:Do not climb on wet sandstone. Go to JTree if you have any worry about the weather.
thats kind of the point of this post. if i didnt know not to climb on wet sandstone, i woulnt have posted. im asking people who have spent a lot of time there, or are there now, if they have any insight into whether or not we can expect the rock to dry out.
Ryan Hill · · Oakland, CA · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 30

Lived in the area for about 7 years and climbed in Zion for several seasons. Unfortunately cold weather and short days don't allow for the rock to dry much. In particular the upper pitches of most routes are terribly soft sand that will hold moisture for a long time. If there is snow on the rim and warm temps you could see a lot of wet rock, even weeks after a storm.

That being said, I've climbed in Zion in January and February in amazing conditions. You've got almost two weeks for the weather to improve, so it is possible that the rock will be in shape by the time your trip comes around.

There are some locals on here that do a good job of posting condition updates, but the other resource is to call the local guide companies or gear shops. They should be able to give you up to date information.

Best of luck with the trip, hopefully the weather works out for you.

The Blueprint Part Dank · · FEMA Region VIII · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 460
Jake wander wrote: thats kind of the point of this post. if i didnt know not to climb on wet sandstone, i woulnt have posted. im asking people who have spent a lot of time there, or are there now, if they have any insight into whether or not we can expect the rock to dry out.
Hurm... that's almost two weeks away. I wouldn't get too worried about that forecast for a few more days. 48 hours after a typical rain shower is a general rule, but if it rained for a few days straight that time may increase.

The best rule of thumb is to look at the sand at the base of the climb. If it's wet and muddy, then you shouldn't climb that route. If the sand is dry and well... sandy, then you should be good to go.

Are you flying to Vegas then driving from there to Zion? Or coming into a different airport?
JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95
Jake wander wrote: Im really hoping to make this trip happen as my partner and I only get one trip a year and already have our flights booked.
With only one trip possible per year, perhaps you should have anticipated this and not planned your one big trip as January in Zion? Kind of a gamble, that plan...
Rob Warden...Space Lizard · · Between Zion, Vegas, LA, an… · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 115

5yr local here... Touchstone and spaceshot it's going to take 4 to 5 days maybe even a week to dry if it's been raining consistently. Low night temps coupled with clouds don't help ether

Rob Warden...Space Lizard · · Between Zion, Vegas, LA, an… · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 115

So keep and eye on those conditions

Aaron Danforth · · Cody, WY · Joined Sep 2007 · Points: 0

I used to live there and I guess I wanted to make it simple. It's January. Most years, there's a solid chance you can climb. This winter I'd say it's less than 50%. I commonly see people, often visiting climbers, out when they shouldn't be and the justification is usually "we've only got a few days because we're on a trip" as if that excuses it. I'm simply saying that if you only get one trip a year, hedge your bets, change your ticket and go to J-Tree.

Aaron Danforth · · Cody, WY · Joined Sep 2007 · Points: 0

It just seems to me that it would be cheaper to change tickets now, rather than the day before the trip.

Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 175

Ryan, thanks for the good info. Ive called NPS and Zion Mountaineering School. Both were helpful but gave different opinions so I was trying to add a few more data points.

The Blue. Thanks for the good info as well. We are flying to Vegas then driving to Zion.

JCM thanks for the most helpful response. We know its a gamble, but we are newER aid climbers and didnt want to slow other people down, so we decided to go during the slow season. We knew the risk. Not blaming anyone or trying to justify ruining any rock.

Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 175
Danforth wrote:It just seems to me that it would be cheaper to change tickets now, rather than the day before the trip.
hey thanks. we luckily wont have to change our ticket as the drive from las vegas to jtree isnt much different than the drive from las vegas to zion.

im trying to do as much research and get as much good info as i can from people like you, who have first hand knowledge. i am not going to be one of those visiting climbers who ruins the rock for when its too wet to climb. i plan to keep watching the weather forecasts, checking the zion webcam and calling NPS and Zion Mountaineering for advice. if they say dont climb, we wont.

i was really hoping some locals would say something like "oh yeah it sucks out here right now, but it does this every jan. and is usually good to go in a week and a half." or something along those lines.
Finn Chulo · · Touqerville, Utah · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 5

There is this too. (Road Closure)
goo.gl/ozIa9c

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Finn Chulo wrote:There is this too. (Road Closure) goo.gl/ozIa9c
That will be cleaned up very quickly, if it hasn't already. Even the garage sized boulder that came down in November only took a day-and-a-half, and that one needed to be blasted apart.
Aaron Danforth · · Cody, WY · Joined Sep 2007 · Points: 0

Sorry, I missed that you were flying into Vegas. You'll have a crazy amount of climbing within a 3 hour drive. If you only want to do Aid, it's worth holding out for Zion if possible. If you do decide to go to Zion and things stay wet, you can always head to the Utah Hills and clip some bolts.

Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 175

thanks everyone for the help.

the rock fall is what got me worried about how wet things were. the calls i placed to NPS and Zion Mountaineering have made me even more worried about our goals.

we may head to red rock (if its dry) as we both enjoy bigger climbs, especially when we can get out of MN.

if anyone who is out there has any updates beyond the weather forecast as the month comes to an end, feel free to post it.

thanks again

BigB · · Red Rock, NV · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 340

Jake,
Worst case if it does stay wet, you guys could book it to Cochise Stronghold. Which would let you get high still ....versus 1-2 pitchs at Jtree
....its only a 8 hourish drive ;)

Aaron Danforth · · Cody, WY · Joined Sep 2007 · Points: 0

Wherever you end up, hope you have an awesome trip dude!

BrokenChairs BrettC · · Sultan, WA · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 245

If you're set on Zion and the rock is wet but it's not raining you can always run a canyon. I'd recommend Englestead Hollow to Orderville and out the Narrows. It opens with a 300' rappel so come prepared with a 100M rope and pull cord. If I can't climb in Zion running canyons is always my next choice, you'll get to see a totally different side of Zion. Make sure to get a 7mm wetsuit because it will be very cold down in the slots. Good luck with your trip hopefully it works out.

canyoneeringusa.com/utah/zi…

Red Rocks and JTree always deliver though so if canyons aren't your bag then any of those won't leave you disappointed just trying to throw out another option for Zion since it is personally my favorite park and I think everyone should enjoy it and having technical skills makes it all the more enjoyable. There's also this wall which is overhanging and should stay dry mountainproject.com/v/namas…. Enjoy!

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
BrokenChairs Carlile wrote:Make sure to get a 7mm wetsuit because it will be very cold down in the slots.
Some of the slots would require a dry suit at this time of year. You can rent everything you need from the outfitters in town.

OP: If you've never done technical slots, get some instruction and start gently - there are some specialized techniques in the more technical canyons, including knowing how to escape a keeper pothole.
Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 175

Thanks for the positive vibes.

If the weather is bad in Zion, red rock and j tree we may just make the drive to Cochise.

Thanks for canyoneering tip. A big reason I want to go to Zion is a trip I made there 5 years ago to hike the narrows. I remember the shuttle pointing out climbers on the walls and thinking I need to get up there. The rock in Zion was so different from anything I'd seen before.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply