Grand Canyon Peaks

pics by Harlan W. S., CP & ST
March 27-28, 2010


I joined CP, DB, Sarah and Andy for the first two days. I left early, with a warm glow from all the good companionship and adventures; those folks are probably still out there, trying to bag as many peaks as the weather allows. (I had been up 4 rough-rock peaks in the 8 days before the trip, and was so scratched up by March 28th, I was about due for a real bed and some new skin.)


This has been a snowy season, and the South Rim N-facing slopes have heavy snow and ice cover. We originally planned a long day to Pattie Butte and back, but after seeing 40 slopes of hard snow, with no trail and a run-out on cliffs, we opted for O’Neill Butte and Sinking Ship on the first day (borders of light orange and pink below). On the second day, CP, DB and I went to an unnamed butte that proved to be an interesting challenge, while the animals (Sarah and Andy) went first to Horseshoe Mesa, then to “our” unnamed peak, after we passed on some beta.



An overview map of the three “hikes.”

The first day we did the peaks marked

with red GPS traces; the 2nd day,

CP, DB and I went on the hike marked

in blue.


1st trip: O’Neill Butte.


Gathering at the Top of the S Kaibab Trail.

There was a lot of snow on the trail, but

the NPS had done an incredible job shoveling.





O’Neill Butte is visible at L.


O’Neill Butte. The route, class 4&5,

is on the back (N) side.


This class 4 ramp was the 1st significant obstacle.

Since we had originally planned a class 3 hike,

we didn’t have much “gear” except 50’ of

Supertape with a locking biner; Sarah

had a harness, and CP fashioned a diaper

harness for DB.





View NE toward Vishnu Temple.


Next are 3 portions of climbing in rapid

succession. I was too busy helping or struggling

to take photos on the way up, so I’ll mainly

show this stuff on the way down.


Now we are on top, looking ~S at the S Kaibab

trail near Cedar Meadows.







Lunching on top. As with most steep-sided

buttes, when you reach the top, it’s hard

to convey the drop on the sides.


…but I’ll try. I’m looking down to

the Tonto Plateau. The Kaibab Trail is to R.






We head back down the N side.


Andy on an overhang.





Sarah finishes the top “problem,” a

funky squeeze traverse, and prepares to…


…drop to here, where DB positions herself…


…to drop to this ledge, above the squeeze

chimney (this is CP above). The tightest

part of the chimney is at the very bottom.





I stuck my camera in the squeeze chimney

and pointed straight up.


View NW; Sarah relaxes.


This and the next photo show the 5th class

crack and bottom of squeeze chimney.





Here Andy drops out of the squeeze



Sarah comes down the last class 4 ramp.

There is a good finger-hand crack on the R,

but you need to find subtle footholds

on the L.


Andy comes down unbelayed, in what is

perhaps the oddest butt shot.





Now CP downclimbs that last ramp.


View back on O’Neill.


Next that day, we went to Sinking Ship

Butte. I stopped for a moment to peel a layer

(I’m always hot) and pee, and started a comedy

of errors. Since we started at 2PM,

we were rushing; when I was finally

ready to hit the trail, I followed the tracks

Of the other folks in the snow, till the tracks

disappeared at a mud patch. I was sure that I

was way behind, so I made a beeline to the end

of the rim mesa. I looked down on the correct

land bridge, and shouted my lungs out,

sure everyone was ahead of me. Then I backtracked,

thinking they might have gone to a separate tongue of the rim.

In reality, they were desperately looking for me.

Andy and I ended up doing 4 traverses of the mesa that day.





Here’s a picture of Sinking Ship, N end,

at the time when I was shouting and still believed

the other folks were ahead of me.



Finally we are together. CP showed us

some ruins; here one sees an old metate

(Harvey Butchart describes this

site in one book).



Next we entered a gully on the N side,

and went through deep snow up to…





…the crux, a gnarly 20’ too-wide chimney.

I got near the top of the chimney just in time

for my R leg to go spastic, and proceeded to

drop crap on Sarah and Andy while CP

went ahead to secure a belay.


Thanks to CP’s belay, I got up into the snow

above the crack. CP was graciously belaying

the other folks, and I went up the steep snow.

This view is N.


Now I’m looking off the S side of Sinking Ship.





View to NE, with Coronado Butte at R.



View NW to unnamed peak we will hit tomorrow.





After the big belay, the other folks climb the

Steep snow.


CP and Andy spent about 2 minutes on top,

then headed down to prepare the rap station.

I snapped this pic of Sarah…


…and she took this pic of me. The leg loops on

my harness kept pulling up the legs of my

shorts, so I looked like I was wearing a diaper,

or maybe hot pants.





Sarah plunges down the snow above

the rap station.


A much-abused CP downclimbs the

last class 4 below the crux. This might actually

be class 3, but with klunky wet mountaineering

boots, it felt tough.


Now we climb back up to the S Rim!





View back on Sinking Ship.


That same eve we went to Grandview

for a peek at the next day’s peak…


…and to look back on Sink Ship, from the NW.





OK, the next day, while Sarah and Andy

started on a grueling trip, CP, DB and I headed

to this unnamed peak. In low-snow conditions,

this might be just a class 2 peak; but with the

possible descent gully choked with snow,

we took a bizarre route, actually circling the peak

to avoid big cliff bands to the W.


At the start of the day, we don crampons

and use ice axes to head down the slippery

trail from Grandview.


Finally down, this pano shows our peak with

the cliffs that encircle it most of the way.





We went through a lot of route-finding,

then finally got to the talus so we could

circle the mountain counter-clockwise.


There was steep snow on the N side,

but fortunately we found moats near the wall.


Now we are heading S on the W side of the peak!





We split for a bit, CP choosing a less chossy

route for DB. At top, I snapped this

view NE to Vishnu Temple. I had dropped my

main water bottle, so I replenished my

hydration supplies with snow at top…


…Then CP and DB headed S lickity split,

knowing we had a convoluted trip back.


Vishnu Temple again.






CP belays DB up the 1st class 3+

gully. We weren’t sure of the rock, so we

climbed everything a bit harder than

needed, choosing far-apart holds over

those that might break off.


CP pulls a line up the 2nd chimney,

really the crux; though near vertical,

the rock proved to be good with many






We rest in the sun, CP smashes his shin

and demonstrates some colorful language, then…


We don crampons again to head over

Some steep slopes with creepy runout.


A view back at “our” peak, showing the

gnarly connecting bridge.






We were happy when this was over!