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.
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.
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.
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