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Thread: West Canyon - Lion Route

  1. #1

    West Canyon - Lion Route

    On April 13th, 2016, Mark Burnham, Tony Long, Sam Goodhue, Jim Clery, Tom Collins and I took a mind-blowing lap through what we call the Lion Route. Steph sat out this day to rest a sore leg.

    This is the same technical section mentioned in Mike Kelsey’s technical canyoneering book and on Ryan Corina’s website. Our drop-in point was here: 36 54 54 N 111 01 49 W.

    Lion lives up to the hype; it has several swims, incredible narrows, and a spring-fed waterfall at the bottom. Near the top of the route, off to the side of the canyon, is a stellar blimp-hanger feature that easily justified of a few minutes of exploration.

    Toward the end of the canyon is a cathedral worthy of its own special name. It is simply phenomenal in every way; a breathtaking Navajo sandstone chamber radiating reds, oranges and blues within. The cathedral even has an enormous bridge that spans across its midsection. Words do little justice for that level of beauty; it was a transcendent experience, leaving all of us feeling euphoric by the time we reluctantly proceeded downcanyon.

    The remainder of the canyon below the cathedral was also outstanding. A wondrous splash fest most of the way back to camp.

    It was a top-shelf canyon with a top-shelf group of guys. A day I’ll never forget.

    -Bob

    Inside the blimp hanger, perpendicular to the top of the Lion Route.
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    Inside the cathedral.
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    Sam, Tony, myself, Tom, Jim and Mark, just below the cathedral.
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    http://amazingslots.blogspot.com/201...nham-tony.html

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  3. #2

  4. #3
    stunning.....

    Sent from my Venue 7 3730 using Tapatalk

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  6. #4
    Great report. Any more photos? Is this the 750 metre (just under half mile) section that Kelsey describes as the upper slot? From where he marks his map Head of Upper Slot 1353 to Slot Ends? I think he said it took him 2 1/2 hours. From Slot Ends to where he marks a campsite and Old Sheep Trail is that easy hiking with no ropes necessary?
    And how does this section compare with the hikeable part down to the lake for scenic highlights for those of us who have little canyoneering experience?

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  8. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by kaniukr View Post
    Great report. Any more photos?
    Thanks! Unfortunately, no more photos.

    Quote Originally Posted by kaniukr View Post
    this the 750 metre (just under half mile) section that Kelsey describes as the upper slot? From where he marks his map Head of Upper Slot 1353 to Slot Ends?
    Yes and yes. Maybe not exactly 1353, but about there.

    Quote Originally Posted by kaniukr View Post
    Slot Ends to where he marks a campsite and Old Sheep Trail is that easy hiking with no ropes necessary?
    Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by kaniukr View Post
    how does this section compare with the hikeable part down to the lake for scenic highlights for those of us who have little canyoneering experience?
    We did not make it down to the lake, so I can't compare. The part we hiked through was amazing. Please see my West Canyon Narrows report for more info.

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  10. #6
    My group will be running West, top down in May. We will boat to the base, and then have an additional two nights - three days in canyon. Any suggestion on rope length, special gear? I've got the Lake Powell boaters guide by Kelsey and will have the Tech Slot book on burrow soon.

    Can anyone suggest 1 or 2 nights for a swift moving group doing this top down?

    Thanks for any advise!

    zul

  11. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by zul View Post
    My group will be running West, top down in May. We will boat to the base, and then have an additional two nights - three days in canyon. Any suggestion on rope length, special gear? I've got the Lake Powell boaters guide by Kelsey and will have the Tech Slot book on burrow soon.

    Can anyone suggest 1 or 2 nights for a swift moving group doing this top down?
    Hey Zul. So we are speaking the same language, entering West via boat would be bottom-up, entering West via overland approach would be top-down.

    So your trip would look like this?

    Day 1: Boat in, hike, camp
    Day 2: Hike, camp
    Day 3: Hike, Boat out.

  12. #8
    Day 1: Boat In
    Day 2: Hike Up (pre-dawn start if needed), Camp at the 'Side Canyon' camp site.
    Day 3: (Pre-dawn start again) Hike Upper slot: Lion (then grab overnight gear), hike Middle slot, hike lower slot to the Boat.
    Day 4: Boat Out

    This is the plan but we do have an extra day to play with:

    Day 5: Water ski and drink beer.

    Does the 4 day itinerary cut it? I would hate to cut into day 5 festivities but willing modify as needed.
    Rope length suggesttion?!

    Thx!!

    zul

  13. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by zul View Post
    Day 1: Boat In
    Day 2: Hike Up (pre-dawn start if needed), Camp at the 'Side Canyon' camp site.
    Day 3: (Pre-dawn start again) Hike Upper slot: Lion (then grab overnight gear), hike Middle slot, hike lower slot to the Boat.
    Day 4: Boat Out

    This is the plan but we do have an extra day to play with:

    Day 5: Water ski and drink beer.

    Does the 4 day itinerary cut it? I would hate to cut into day 5 festivities but willing modify as needed.
    Rope length suggesttion?!

    Thx!!

    zul
    Your 4 day plan should work pretty well. A 60 foot rope is all you'll need. You will be forced to swim with your pack multiple times, so be prepared for that. As you get toward the top of the West Narrows there are a couple of hallways that you will have to swim through. They are stunningly beautiful, you will know them when you see them. They would be a pain to swim through with a big pack, so I recommend camping below them; somewhere between the 4th and 5th falls in Kelsey's book.

    That plan will add some hiking time to day 3, so you might need to budget a couple of hours of hiking on day 4 to get back to your boat.

    Please keep in mind that our team did not go down to the lake, so we have no idea how long that bottom section takes. I've heard tales of a long swim (from the boat to the beach) followed by a long patch of quicksand. I might consider using part of day 1 to get through that part.

    Good luck!

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  15. #10
    Do you rename every canyon you do? Not only has this canyon been done many times, but it is already published. In a book. With a name.

    I did Pine Creek Canyon the other day. I call it The Lynx Route. It's awesome. I know, I know. Everyone else knows it by the name Pine Creek. But it's the Lynx Route to me.

    At least you acknowledged Kelsey in this report.

  16. #11
    So you are part of the sub minority of canyoneers that REALLY cares about what names people use?

    Aww, that's nice. Good for you. I'm happy that you've found a hobby, and happy that you know people that share the same hobby.

    That. Is. Adorable.

    *pats @Canyonero on the head*

  17. #12
    Hi Bob, great reports (this and Tiger) and photos. Is this Lion one then what Kelsey calls the 750 metre-long upper slot, that on his book map starts where he arrows "Head of Upper Slot 1353"?
    He calls it pretty easy technical canyoneering, but then goes on to say there could be a KPH !
    So, is the beautiful Cathedral you talk about above in this section that Kelsey describes, as he doesn't remark on that?
    If it is, can you reach it by hiking up canyon, then swimming the 9 or so cold pools, then seeing it - or would there be an insurmountable up climb for a non-experienced climber which means it can only be seen from top down?
    Tiger, I presume from your description is a side canyon that comes into this Lion (Kelsey?) one, and Kelsey doesn't mention Tiger?

    Would be really grateful if you can answer these as I always hoped to just hike up to the pools from the lake, but someone has suggested doing the upper slot, but I'm a very inexperienced canyoneer and have done no climbing with ropes (although the other person would be experienced). Although Tiger I will rule out as beyond me, the upper slot, which perhaps is Lion, I'm trying to weigh up in terms to technical difficulty and worthwhile beauty (as opposed to fun level), with less or more beauty influencing whether to push my technical skills.

    You make the Cathedral in Lion and the spot with 3 bridge spans that can't be capture in a photo sound so enticing that I presume you never took video which sometimes is the other option when one still shot can't get it. Maybe if you return that would be something spectacular to get! Thanks in advance for any help. Ross

  18. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by kaniukr View Post
    Hi Bob, great reports (this and Tiger) and photos.
    Thanks, Ross.

    Quote Originally Posted by kaniukr View Post
    Is this Lion one then what Kelsey calls the 750 metre-long upper slot, that on his book map starts where he arrows "Head of Upper Slot 1353"?
    Yes, Lion = Upper West Slot. We used cat names as working names on that trip. Upper West is the proper name.

    Quote Originally Posted by kaniukr View Post
    He calls it pretty easy technical canyoneering, but then goes on to say there could be a KPH !
    It is an easy keeper.

    Quote Originally Posted by kaniukr View Post
    So, is the beautiful Cathedral you talk about above in this section that Kelsey describes, as he doesn't remark on that?
    Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by kaniukr View Post
    If it is, can you reach it by hiking up canyon, then swimming the 9 or so cold pools, then seeing it - or would there be an insurmountable up climb for a non-experienced climber which means it can only be seen from top down?
    There is an insurmountable uplimb at the bottom of the cathedral. From the bottom you can peek up into the cathedral. See our group photo? That is the spot; you can hike there from the lake.

    Quote Originally Posted by kaniukr View Post
    Tiger, I presume from your description is a side canyon that comes into this Lion (Kelsey?) one, and Kelsey doesn't mention Tiger?
    Yes, Tiger (Arch Rival) drops into Lion (Upper West). Kelsey does not mention Tiger.

    Quote Originally Posted by kaniukr View Post
    Would be really grateful if you can answer these as I always hoped to just hike up to the pools from the lake, but someone has suggested doing the upper slot, but I'm a very inexperienced canyoneer and have done no climbing with ropes (although the other person would be experienced). Although Tiger I will rule out as beyond me, the upper slot, which perhaps is Lion, I'm trying to weigh up in terms to technical difficulty and worthwhile beauty (as opposed to fun level), with less or more beauty influencing whether to push my technical skills.
    Getting to Upper West is waaaaay harder than doing Upper West. I'd also recommend learning how to do the simple rap in there and seeing that slot. It is one of the three best I have ever done.

    Quote Originally Posted by kaniukr View Post
    You make the Cathedral in Lion and the spot with 3 bridge spans that can't be capture in a photo sound so enticing that I presume you never took video which sometimes is the other option when one still shot can't get it. Maybe if you return that would be something spectacular to get!
    The room with the bridges is a difficult place to photograph or film. Like many places in nature, nothing can replace the experience of standing there. Also, we had no time to film, a big black cloud was chasing us.

    Quote Originally Posted by kaniukr View Post
    Thanks in advance for any help. Ross
    No problem, Ross. Good luck!

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  20. #14
    Keep your fingers crossed @kaniukr , if the winter we've had so far continues into the spring, your hike from the lake should be a lot shorter.

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  22. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Sandstone Addiction View Post
    Keep your fingers crossed @kaniukr , if the winter we've had so far continues into the spring, your hike from the lake should be a lot shorter.
    Thanks. But the plan I'm working on is for May 2018. If the lake level is high though I wonder how it affects that first swimming slot that everyone says is so beautiful. Maybe the lake still wouldn't quite reach it so it's unaffected? Maybe if the lake does reach it still doesn't get deeper, although I guess it would if it varies from wading to swimming as it would be full? It may even become a longer swim? And perhaps if it gets too deep, it covers some slot and doesn't look so nice. Mind you, it would be good to avoid the long boat to beach swim and quicksand mentioned above.

  23. #16
    But the plan I'm working on is for May 2018. If the lake level is high though I wonder how it affects that first swimming slot that everyone says is so beautiful. Maybe the lake still wouldn't quite reach it so it's unaffected?
    The lake still won't reach it as it is above high water mark.

    Also, even if the slot was at the high water mark, there is no chance that the lake is even going to come even remotely close to the high water mark.
    Utah is a very special and unique place. There is no where else like it on earth. Please take care of it and keep the remaining wild areas in pristine condition. The world will be a better place if you do.

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