The Cathedral- Behind the Scenes

Pine Creek-4535

Behind every photograph is a story. Some stories are more exciting while others are dull. This one happens to be an exciting one.

A few days ago I descended into the depths of Zion into a canyon called Pine Creek. This canyon is technical and requires six rappels, the last being 95 feet. The canyon is deep, narrow and filled with many large pools of water that require swimming… lots of swimming. I am grateful to have an experienced guide/friend with experience doing this canyon and gear to make this possible.

It also takes the cake as being one of the coolest hikes I have ever done in my entire life.

The beginning of the canyon is filled with a series of deep pools and back to back rappels that lead to the coolest feature of the canyon, The Cathedral. The Cathedral is a section of Pine Creek where a large chamber forms into a double arch structure. To enter the chamber you must repel down from the top next to the arches and bounce your way down into the water.

Luckily for us there happen to be a sand bar under the surface of the water on the far side of the chamber for us to stand on. This is not so at the base of the cliff, as it is very deep and requires swimming. I went down first and had the opportunity to belay everyone else.

robby repelling

Once everyone else was down I had time to focus on camera work and take a few more pictures of the beautiful structure itself.

But this is not what makes this story a bit more exciting than desired.

We finished off the rest of the canyon strong. There was plenty of wading/swimming through deep water with a few more repels in between. It was when we were on the last rappel thing go interesting.

The weather for the day gave us a 15 percent chance of rain. Well we happen to catch that 15 percent chance. As we set up the line for the 100 footer thunder started rolling through the canyon… followed by rain. If you have ever experienced thunder in the mountains, take that experience and multiply that by two and that is what it sounds like in a slot canyon. This is when our guide went down the line.

Then it was my wife, his wife and me up at the top when the mother of all lightning strikes hit somewhere up at the top of the canyon. The world went white for a split second and then BOOM!!! The loudest thunderclap of my life reverberated around the canyon. It was spectacular and terrifying.

Then my wife went down the line.

Flash flood is now something to consider, but the rain stopped after 10 minutes. If it had occurred we would have been safe. We were out of the channel and we simply would have just sat around till things died down.

His wife went down.

Thunder still echoed around the canyon but it was receding as fast as it showed up. Then it was my turn. By time I was on the rope the rain had stopped, and the sky and moved on its way. If you have never done a 100 foot rappel, it is quite an experience. Life and death is separated by your .8 inch rope, your grip and the belayer down below.

But its a ton of fun. I even looked down for a bit, but I happened to be focusing on the cliff wall and the rope so not that much sight seeing.

I hope you enjoy the images!

Prints are available.

Pine Creek-4541



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