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Isis - Cheops Saddle Route, AZ

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4 6 0
Guide 6 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northwest > North Rim
Rated
4.3
4.3 of 5 by 3
 
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Statistics
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 3.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,320 feet
Elevation Gain -800 feet
Accumulated Gain 400 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.23
Interest Off Trail Hiking
Backpack Yes & Connecting
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
35  2015-11-29
Phantom Canyon - Upper
Dave1
17  2014-04-24
Isis IV - Knockin' on the Backdoor
joebartels
17  2014-04-24
Isis IV - Knockin' on the Backdoor
JuanJaimeiii
30  2013-03-23
Cheops Plateau
chumley
15  2011-04-09
7 Days Wandering Around in the Big Ditch
nonot
4  2011-04-09 nonot
Author nonot
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 236
Photos 1,969
Trips 476 map ( 4,511 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, Oct, Nov → 9 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn
Sun  6:16am - 6:26pm
Official Route
 
3 Alternative
 
Water
Fauna Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Land bridge to the west
by nonot

Overview: The Isis-Cheops Saddle route is an important route used to connect the Utah Flats Route to the Trinity Canyon complex, allowing backpackers to link up with routes that go further west off-trail on the north side of the river. A few may hike this route only to the saddle from Utah Flats.

Warning: The route is isolated and there is no water along the route, though within about a half mile of the terminus of the route are water sources. Some exposure will be encountered, though nothing I would consider serious. However those with a fear of heights may get a little nervous in some sections. There is virtually no shade anywhere along this route.

History: I'm not sure if Harvey Butchart went the way I will show this route, I know he made it to the Saddle via the Utah Flats route, but the maps I've found seem to show him generally contouring to the south of Cheops to get to Trinity. I believe George Steck was the one who popularized this route, which (I have read) is better than the Cheops end-around alternative. (I may be mistaken on this w/respect to Butchart going this way.)

Hike: Finding the eastern terminus of this route is difficult, since it is fairly faint as compared to the Utah Flats route. There may be cairns there and upon close inspection you may find they are actually marking a turnoff and not just the Utah Flats trail itself.

The trail contours west towards a talus pile beneath the saddle, which it will ascend about 150 feet, contour north/east on a ledge, and then switchback a ways up to get above the cliffs and onto the level of the saddle itself. As you approach the saddle from the north, the trail is well-defined and mostly free of vegetation. Grab your hat before you step out onto the saddle as you may lose it otherwise.

The saddle is an interesting wind-swept land-bridge with a small dip in the middle. From here you can see the south rim, much of the north rim, and almost the Colorado river itself. Directly to your south is the 91 mile canyon complex. To your north is Phantom Creek Canyon and north of that, Buddha temple with its many arms. The climbing route towards Cheops goes across the saddle.

Along the west side of the saddle, the trail continues going down fairly steeply. It quickly deteriorates and I lost the obvious route as it heads down the talus pile. As it reaches somewhat more level ground, a trail re-establishes itself as you weave around the first major cut in the side of Isis due to an arm of 91 mile. It is reported there is both an Indian structure/ruin and a route down in this arm, though I wasn't able to spot either.

The trail on the far side of the first bay becomes faint, but the terrain is more level as the shelf widens with some easy hiking. Going around the corner, the trail becomes more distinct as the hiker is forced onto the generally only way to contour around the remaining small bays and gullys along the side of Isis. Great views of 91 mile below you continue and you will begin to make out the Trinity Canyon complex as well as Horus temple and the Tower of Set, which were previously blocked from view around Isis.

The trail will leave the shelf when you reach a point on the west side of a south buttress of Isis and contour around a drainage of 91 mile. The trail descends on a not-too-steep path around the gully and then seems to disappear into the harder-packed Tonto layer. From here you can hike down the slopes and ridges to your south, picking your way through the brush and cactus that dot these hills. I found game trails in this area, but was not able to string them together into what I would call a "trail". After heading south and reaching the flat Tonto level, travel in just about any direction is possible.

Heading west, one will encounter the drainages that allow one access to the "Fault" drainage into the eastern arm of Trinity. This fault drainage is fairly easily travelled and doesn't generally require any scrambling to get down the fault to complete the connection into the east arm of Trinity.

From here one can use several routes within the Trinity Complex to travel further west in the canyon.

Water Sources: None along route, though the end of the Utah Flats Route and the Trinity Complex both have water sources.

Camping: Some may camp near the eastern fault out of Trinity canyon on the Tonto level. The saddle would make a poor camp spot, although fairly flat, the wind comes roaring through there at 30-50 mph often enough to make it undesirable.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2011-04-09 nonot
  • Grand Canyon Use Area Boundaries - Dynamic Map

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Isis - Cheops Saddle Route
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Isis IV - Knockin' on the Backdoor
Down to 20 degrees driving to the canyon, 90 degrees in the afternoon. Light from 5am to 7:30pm. Screaming cold to borderline hot, 14.5 hours of light... the perfect window of opportunity!

We know the SE corner is doable without rope. The exact route and whether or not our huevos would cook or spoil was the question at hand. The base of the SE corner came easy. Skirting the sides looked ridiculous. We headed up. JJ started skirting on undesirable terrain. I wasn't sure if I was up for any of it. Once you dig in the scope of doable increases.

West
First we checked out the west. You can see a huge ravine on satellite. Last year we looked down it from the top and swore it off. We needed to check out the bottom angle. There is a shallow living room sized alcove in the lower end. I'm still not crossing it off. There may be a route to either side of the alcove. Hoping it's here too as the sphincter scale notches up on the east side...

East
Next we eased across the unthinkable without issue skirting over to the east side. On the due east tip we may have found cairns above. Tough to say. JJ cast a mini ballet, voted me to check it out and closed the polls before I knew what was going on. Up I went. Sketchy. Doable. Then to the left. Then a four foot gap to cross. I'm done. Apparently the polls opened back up. Noise from below, "step across so you can check out what's around the corner". Um, I'm not sure if I can get back. "All you have to do is step across". Okay I gave it a try. In the end I crossed that sucker a half dozen times. Around the corner it looked like a step up from the "jj shortcut". I'm 60% sure this may be the route. I'm 100% sure I was glad our turnaround time was screaming forget it.

North
jj wanted to check the north. While it didn't net a route up he did score a seldom visited cave.


We returned at a moderate pace and made good time. It sure was nice to familiarize ourselves with the base of the SE corner. It's been sitting in the back of my mind for 11 months!

Carried 4.8 quarts, consumed 4.5
Isis - Cheops Saddle Route
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
7 Days Wandering Around in the Big Ditch
Bright Angel to Indian Garden - Plateau Point - Tonto Trail from Indian Garden to Cremation - to South Kaibob Trail and down to Phantom - Utah Flats - Haunted Canyon - Upper Phantom - Climbing Exit to Isis-Shiva - Down Trinity - Trinity West Arm - Trinity to Isis-Cheops - Utah Flats to Phantom - out Bright Angel Trail.

Since almost all of these trails are not on HAZ yet, I will probably end up writing a few pages on some of these areas. It was an interesting way to spend 7 days, in which I went 5 days without seeing a soul. Some parts were better than expected, others went as planned, and some were a bit of a let down. But to get away from everything for a week and not have to think about much other than the basics was a refresher I needed.

This trip is fairly remote and a few parts of this trip are a bit dangerous. I'd recommend that this type of trip only be considered by people who have a good deal of experience under their belt. This covers about all terrain between class 1 and class 4 YDS.


Directions
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Road
Connector trail - Not Applicable

To hike
This is a connector trail accessed from the Trinity Complex or the Utah Flats Route.

You will need a backcountry permit from the NPS to do this route. Entrance into the park by vehicle incurs and additional fee.
page created by nonot on Apr 09 2011 11:41 am
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