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Phantom Canyon - Shiva Exit Route, AZ

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Guide 13 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northwest > North Rim
3.7 of 5 by 3
Warning! Technical climbing skills required. Risks include serious injury to death.  Risks are not eliminated by skill.
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Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 0.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,425 feet
Elevation Gain 785 feet
Accumulated Gain 785 feet
Avg Time One Way 1.5 hrs
Kokopelli Seeds 3.32
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
Dogs not allowed
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21  2019-02-09
Isis Temple
47  2014-10-24
Isis Cheops Double
44  2014-10-24
Isis Cheops Double
17  2014-06-01
Isis - Blazing Inferno
25  2014-06-01
Isis - Blazing Inferno
36  2013-06-01
Isis III - Humble Pie
8  2013-06-01
Isis III - Humble Pie
25  2013-05-16
Isis Temple
Page 1,  2
Author nonot
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 236
Photos 1,969
Trips 476 map ( 4,511 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, Oct, Nov → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:12am - 6:33pm
Official Route
6 Alternative
Named place Nearby
by nonot

A class 4 hike/climb route out of Phantom Canyon to get to the northeast slopes of Shiva. Used as a connector route to those either going to Shiva Saddle (north) or Trinity Canyon (east).

Climbing in remote places is inherently dangerous. Climbing solo is inherently dangerous. Free-climbing high class terrain is inherently dangerous.

Don't do it!

Seriously though, anyone without rock climbing experience should not attempt this. Many groups will want to set up a belay, bring a 100 ft rope and proper climbing gear. Climbing without your packs may help as well, and is something to consider if you are not by yourself. Free-soloing it is not the smartest thing to do, but sometimes your options are what they are, know your limits.

I believe that Butchart did this one first (not accounting for any original Puebloans, though who knows if they used this as a route), and I'm pretty sure Steck describes this as an option. I had only found one account of a group trying it about a decade back, but was surprised to find newish blue webbing set-up as belay/rappel anchors on the way, so it may get a little more use than I was expecting.

From Hippie camp, in Upper Phantom Canyon, proceed up the streambed of Outlet Canyon. The presence of cattails suggests this is a year-round source of water, though it was mostly damp and swampy. After scrambling up a 5-6 ft small cascade in the creek, the area widens. A small ledge appears on your left at the bottom of a large talus pile is separating a drainage coming from the south from another drainage coming from below the high dryfall you can see above you. On this ledge may sit a solitary cairn.

At this point, leave outlet canyon and scramble up the scree slope with sign of previous travel. The slope is pretty nasty and loose, and somewhat steep, so be careful of your footing. The scrambling goes up about 400 feet to the head of the talus pile where you will find a cairn up against the rock face. The route is not that distinct.

From here, my beta suggested there were two 40 ft climbs that were class 3. That wasn't quite what I found, although I was climbing with a fully loaded 40+lb pack loaded up with 2 gallons of water (wasn't sure if I would find water the next day). Plus I was doing it solo, which amps up the mental difficulty as well.

Pitch 1: I estimate 50 ft pitch, class 4. The first 10 ft are easy, maybe they didn't count that for the beta? I would like to say I cruised right up it, but about halfway up the route up I felt fear creep in as I couldn't find either a left hold or a left foot I liked. I contemplated turning around and reversing the route. I contemplated yelling for help. My pack kept pulling at me. I realized my best option was to continue. I made due. Luckily the last 15 ft had better holds. I found a rappel anchor at the top. I think it qualifies as class 4. I've climbed stuff in the rock gym that seemed easier.

There is a little room to manoeuvre as you scramble up a little further. Finding the beginning of the next pitch is a little less clear. I didn't want to traverse out too far to my right, and also I wanted to get off the brown crappy looking rock and onto the more solid looking whitish rock to the left. I have no idea what type of rock this stuff is, it's not redwall limestone. I picked my line to angle a little left after only a few feet of the brown rock.

Pitch 2: I estimate 30 ft pitch, class 4-. Along this pitch as I climbed it is a small bush, it seems to have been used before. Once I started the route, I kept going without trouble. It seemed a little easier than the first. I liked the holds for the most part. Another rappel/belay anchor at the top of this one, and what I read suggested most people belay both the 1st and the 2nd pitch, so it seems to meet the definition of class 4 as well.

After these two pitches, there is a small scramble up further to get to a ledge system that traverses to your right. The ledge is maybe 6 ft wide for the most part, and wider in some areas, though it slopes off near the edge. If you hug the wall you don't get that feeling of exposure of the 400+ ft the ledge drops off to your right. Along the ledge there is one exposed spot though. A good foot placement is there. You hang over the abyss below you very briefly, but its still enough to get the heart racing. There is one more obstacle in the form of a troublesome agave. I wonder if anyone has ever gone to the right of it? I hugged the wall.

The ledge will eventually break up as it converges with the slot above the dryfall. Go under the conifers and continue staying to the left as it climbs up along the left wall of the drainage (looking up canyon). After only about 100 yards, turn left and climb up towards the large cairn above you. This is maybe class 2+/3- and should be easy after what you've been through.

Beta suggests if you don't climb out of this drainage this soon, that it is much more difficult to get out later on. So I will reiterate that after leaving the traversing ledge and heading up the drainage to the dryfall, the turnoff is only about a hundred yards in.

From here it is a bit of a bushwhack up this small side-gully, it seemed to turn to the right halfway, and you scramble up to the top to flatter terrain on the perimeter of Shiva. At the exit (for those doing this the other direction) there is a large cairn in a tree. I thought that was interesting. It might be easy to miss the cairn from certain angles. There isn't really a distinct trail at the top, you have to pick your way through the bushes.

Water Sources
Phantom Canyon has water in spring, and there are springs just downstream a few hundred yards from hippie camp.

Hippie Camp at the start is a small site that will hold 2-3 tents. After doing this route, you will either head towards Shiva saddle (camping option there) or Trinity Canyon (some camping options along that route as well.)

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2011-04-10 nonot
  • Grand Canyon Use Area Boundaries - Dynamic Map
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
Phantom Canyon - Shiva Exit Route
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Isis - Blazing Inferno
June is easily identifiable by the singing locust somewhere in the 3.8-5.5k range. Riparian areas sport life from damselflies to mosquitoes. Dinosaur sized crows keep the canyons and peaks in surveillance. If you aren't experiencing one of the above you may be hiking in a skillet.

We set out with a feasible game plan. Dave was kind enough to wait for the BCO to open then catch up with the balance of the group. 7:30am from the auxiliary SK parking Karl and I made it to the river almost on time. Up Utah Flats, over to the SE corner and down to Phantom to fetch water. Next, 1.5 hours behind schedule, we would head back up to the SE corner to meet Dave and begin the ascent.

The SE corner of Isis towered above us. We made our way up to the base. I could see and hear Dave up near the first obstacle. By the time we reached Dave we were 2.5 hours behind schedule. It was immediately apparent the game plan needed to change. On the same token Karl and Dave could still have a very memorable experience.

I went up the first obstacle and Karl followed. Dave is really good at calculating safety ratios. He said he was pro-life and decided to do another hike. Which sucked as I enjoy his company. Well at least when he's not making fun of me. Karl and I made fair time heading up. We both lugged near 10 quarts of water. Our packs were in the 30-34 lb range. From the 1st obstacle to the top was 2 hours, 5pm. 1.5 is probably feasible. I'm certain I could clear it in an hour with a pack under ten pounds.

At the base of Isis I gave Karl a couple options. Up 1 tier, around the west in the sun and down the jj shortcut in the morning. Or the shorter and shaded east side. We took the east and got to the north 7:40pm.

Slept well with my new REI FLASH air pad in my Escape Bivvy. The only issue is it's too tight to turn or sleep on your side. It got down to 51 degrees which was borderline comfortable. Compared to tyvek, wind and forty degrees Robin Leach would approve.

Day 2 we headed down the Shiva Exit and slow poked it to the south rim. Despite coming up short it was good exercise and great company!

The inferno title is for the masses. By chance I Chrome Domed this one. While the results are questionable in the high humidity of August it's a home run in June.
Phantom Canyon - Shiva Exit Route
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Isis III - Humble Pie
trip 1 = explore
trip 2 = conquer
trip 3 = enjoy... :sweat:

Although we summited on our last trip, it was miserable running out of water. My pack was 24lbs and jj had 10lbs for a 3 day trip. For this trip I downsized to an 11oz REI FLASH 18, dirt cheap on sale for $24. With a piggyback 4qt, 2-qt bottles and my 3qt Camelbak bladder I was ready to fill up to 9qts. The next factor got 24lbs down to 13 with the same 3qts to start.

Game Plan
2 days instead of 3, up the "jj shortcut", summit, down the SE corner

We have a "last supper" ritual before these hikes as neither of us are backpackers. It works since the initial hike is walking down the SK ramp into the canyon. We stopped at BA creek and drank up a bit as the faucets were off. Up UFR and down into Upper Phantom. At the last good flow I pumped to capacity.

Feeling great I made it halfway up pitch 1 on the redwall standard route. I imagine I choked at the same point Steve felt the pressure with his 40lb backpack. It still amazes me he did it solo with all that weight. So off came the pack and out came the rope.

Humble Pie - Bite 1 - up the jj shortcut
We made decent time to the "jj shortcut". For weeks I was excited about going up. Apparently the dehydration on trip 2 gave me super powers. A slanted 6mm rope without gloves ( had to get that pack size down ) seemed ridiculously unsafe. The only good thing was jj wasn't liking it either so we made a quick change of plans. The southern spider leg intrigued both of us and had been planned for Autumn. No biggie, bite the bullet here and move on out to the Autumn plan.

Reality Check
Apparently the jj shortcut baffle destroyed me physically and mentally. The southern leg would have to wait for morning. Instead we opted to camp on the WSW leg. Which had nice soft ground to sleep. After 3 sleepless nights on the prior trips I actually slept an hour or two!

Day 2
Nice start admiring and checking out the southern leg. For reference Isis is surrounded by 7 bays, between each is a wall jutting out like a spider leg. This one is special being nearly a half mile long.

Humble Pie - Bite 2 - SE Corner Exit
On May 14th I sent jj a PM titled "SE Longshot" based on some map work. Later we found others have completed it! Not sure I can translate what happened into words. Just know that had we summited the day before we would have been in possibly serious trouble.

The standard route is a 5 hour drudge. It just seemed best to swallow bite 2 of our humble pie and get out alive.

Super Reality Check
Shouldn't it be enough that we didn't get to summit, didn't conquer the SE corner and drudge through multiple obstacle courses back to SK. After consuming FIVE gallons of water I was under the impression I'd feel better than dehydrated. Typically I fare better than most in heat but oh brother, this was just horrible.

Hate it, hate it, hate it!
Okay I'm better now, let's go back... :scared:
( slightly longer hiatus, like summer though... )
Phantom Canyon - Shiva Exit Route
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Two weeks after Hello Isis. Study, study, study. Secure permits. Round II set. 4 days to go I tweaked my ankle at WCC swelling up pretty good. There was mention to jj he might get the solo...
reply Screw that! You are going Damn it!

Day 1 - 17mi to Boulders Camp
- higher temps notched up the drag factor, most notably due to pack weight
- pretend sleep in Escape Bivvy on fantasy Isisland

Day 2 - Game Day
- 200 oz of water from the creek was 70oz in the morning... dear god
- "easier than Shiva Exit" pitches beta... ha ha it's a joke
- 1st tier non-technical route drains simple resources
- 2nd tier revealed more climbs than anticipated for the entire hike
- 3rd tier, sour cherry lure into Hermit Shale scree awaits your fear

Oops I got a little ahead. 40 minutes to noon turnaround... I was out of water and impossible was screaming my name. We daisy chained off each others strengths barely unlocking to tier 3. A true view of the peak had us hooting and hollering.

What should only take 30 minutes took an hour extra to learn up. Walking across the mini ridgeline I should have been in seventh heaven. I lifted my head for a brief moment to indulge. My body was too numb to translate.

1:18 pm - 3 entries in the register. 2008, 2010 and May 25th 2012 was a larger party. Both of our cameras broke earlier in the day and no pencil to jot down our names. It didn't matter, we made it. jj had a clever idea to get our names in the register.

3:30 pm - We made it down to the bottom layer of the 2nd tier. 6 hours was the best case scenario to water. Class four delivered us to the temple but we needed to save skin. We short rappelled with jj's 6mm rope(luckily 40ft was enough) off my dyneema loop, cheated death and saved 3 hours.

5:30 pm - shade
7:00 pm - water
9:12 pm - alcove camp

Day 3 - Go home
Still no sleep, perhaps an hour if you consider dazed. We walked back to the South Rim. A stop in Flag was in order to enjoy the best caesar salad on earth followed by some great pizza.

This was magical for myself. Thanks to all that have helped and encouraged along the way. My ankle just told me 12k on that terrain was a no-no so "Roma" gets a few
Phantom Canyon - Shiva Exit Route
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Hello Isis
This temple taps into an energy field only associated with the most memorable moments in life.

new territory... heading further on the UFR we dropped down into Phantom. Box Elders typically flourish in the most unique areas Arizona has to offer. Their presence here is fitting with Crimson Monkey Flower on occasion.

Our first task, up to Shiva Saddle was possible due to Steve's generous description.

Pitch 1 is fun. Don't read into that too much. It scared the crap out of me at first. Coming back down you will notice it has several (maybe 3) terraces. Which gives you a chance to collect your thoughts and rest your limbs. At the bottom stay on the light colored rock to the left. I was able to downclimb this on my own without issue.

Pitch 2 is more fun. Albeit shorter in length the sheer verticalness at the top really messed with my mind. I had zero intentions of going back down on the return trip. jj took the time and helped me step by step spotting my blind footholds from a short distance away.... beyond appreciated!

I have a new respect for Steve in doing this with a huge pack, alone and with less specific information. Looking up from Phantom Creek or down from above this route looks impossible. Forget that, it doesn't even look like it exists, even after you have done it. You conquer 900ft in a quarter mile.

With an 11am start on the South Rim it took us 8 hours to reach Isis and night was falling. A simple lollygag pace to get us to camp. My pack was a ridiculous 6 pounds over my standard. Stuffed to 18.5 pounds, my camp set up (a sheet of tyvek) barely fit in.

Research and planning is done on a need to know basis. I thought I was stepping it up Bruce style. I checked for temps and more importantly rain. All looked good and I assured jj we could camp light. An hour after bedding down I hollered over to camp jj that I made a mistake.

Howling repetitive wind gusts at 40 degrees left us swearing we were gonna die. I slept(joke, that never happened) face down into the ground to keep my heater(heart) from blowing a valve. A lot goes through the mind in nine hours of torture. The most reassuring thing I could think of was the movie Titanic. Those that fell in the water died within an hour. Whereas the few that stayed afloat survived much longer. I figured we weren't soaking wet in an ocean and it wasn't freezing.

When I stood up in the morning I couldn't feel anything below my knees. It was like walking on stilts. After a half hour I was good to go.

We said hello to Isis. Then left with 1,200 feet of unfinished business.

There are times in life when you see opportunity. It gets wicked cool when it starts chasing you faster. Walking out of the canyon we were literally invited back...
Phantom Canyon - Shiva Exit Route
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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.

Map Drive
Connector trail - Not Applicable

To hike & climb trip
This is a connector trail that allows water access in Phantom Canyon to those coming from Trinity Canyon or the Shiva saddle route.
page created by nonot on Apr 10 2011 1:52 pm
3 pack - loud whistle
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