Old South Face, Left Side
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Google Earth showing approach and south face of Th...
|Seasonal Raptor Closures ***** RAIN AND WET ROCK ***** The sandstone in Zion is fragile and is very easily damaged when it is wet. Holds rip off and climbs have been and will continue to be permanently damaged due to climbers not respecting this phenomenon. After a heavy storm the rock will remain wet, sometimes for several days. PLEASE DO NOT CLIMB IN ZION during or after rain. A good rule of thumb is that if the ground near your climb is at all damp (and not powdery dry sand), then do not climb. There are many alternatives (limestone, granite, basalt, and plastic) nearby. Seasonal Raptor Closures MORE INFO >>>|
I'm entering information on this route just for the historic value of Zion climbing. First climbed in June of 1927 by W. H. W. Evans by himself. After making it to the summit and lighting a fire for proof of topping out, he got most of the way down and slipped and feel 200' on the descent. He was rescued by some of the Park staff, suffering from delirium and a cracked skull, lying in the bushes, after a few days.
The second ascent of Evans' route was also a loner solo climber who had walked from California to Zion named Donald Orcutt on June 30th, 1931. He is reported to have died just after this on a solo of The Cathedral. But, I heard from the third ascent party that he was killed on the descent from the Great White Throne.
Probable third ascent (as told to me) was in the late 40's by a team from Brigham Young University lead by Don Decker (Decker was later on the first ascent of the Direct South Buttress of Mount Moran in 1953).
Fourth recorded ascent was Herb and Jan Conn from the Needles of South Dakota fame in 1949.
I got sparse information from Don Decker - who mentored my introduction into climbing - in the late 60's and in 1974 made an ascent of probably where this old route goes. Not sure, many possibilities exist - none of them safe! None of them worth repeating! We climbed to the left of the new Smoot Diagonal Route.
Blaine Brown and I drove around in my VW Beatle for most of a day on the back dirt roads of Zion's east side. Ran into a hermit that tried to run us off 'his' property (might have been Park land). After finding out we all had spent time in New Zealand he became our new best friend and told us exactly where to drive and park for the approach to the south side of GWT. We camped at the VW and did the climb the next day. This old and horrible dirt road may share some parts of the current Deer Trap Trail.
On Goggle Earth, you can see the exact south side of GWT and get an idea of several roads/trails to get to the gully described by Smoot on the Diagnoal. Descend the gully and head up what ever looks reasonable on the left side of the south face, following a line of bushes and trees.
We carried some pitons, runners and old crude nuts. We belayed off of less than stable or secure bushes and small trees. We sort of down climbed, lowered and rappelled the route in reverse. Decker had cautioned me to take two long ropes for the descent - which we did. But, Blaine left the second rope on the ground at the start of the climb instead of in his pack. Surprised us both on top.
This ascent in the fall of 1974 had ALL of the elements of a 'for sure' disaster. Lucky to have an extended learning curve in those days.
Old initials at the base of the left side of the S...
South Face of The Great White Throne showing 'old'...
Dec 9, 2014
Thanks Kim! Love hearing tales like this. Great History lesson to boot!