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mini location map2013-05-16
25 by photographer avatarJuanJaimeiii
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Isis TempleNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hike & Climb avatar May 16 2013
Hike & Climb38.20 Miles 12,000 AEG
Hike & Climb38.20 Miles
12,000 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break11 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Isis Temple Part Two....

Two weeks after our first attempt it was time to go back and give it another shot. The window of opportunity on this beauty is very limited and we knew if we didn't get it done now it could be six months or a year before we could make it back.

Joe had put in countless hours studying a possible route with his tools and with Google earth. I had continued to look for information in books as well as made contact with a couple individuals who had previously been to the top. It had been years since they went up so that information was a bit vague but much appreciated just the same.

We left early Wednesday morning with our plan, our gear, and extra water bottles. The trek started by going down South Kaibab to Phantom Ranch then up thru Utah Flats. We continued on the small use trail up into Phantom Creek just as we had done before. We loaded up with water from the creek and hauled the heavy load up the break in the redwall. Having just done this two weeks ago made the going easier but our packs were much heavier this time.

Once up top we headed out past the Shiva/Isis Saddle and started making our way towards the south east corner. That would be our starting point for Thursday. Just before we reached that corner we found a good spot near a couple large boulders to set up camp. Out went our emergency bivvys and we did our best to get some rest. The weather was great and we gazed upon shooting stars. Sleep was difficult. Maybe it was the environment or maybe it was the anticipation?

In the morning we broke camp around 5:30am. We found our first break in the cliff band which required a class 4 maneuver and then started to look for the second. From here we traversed the western side of Isis on top of that first layer. We were looking for any possibilities to get up to the next level. Eventually we passed a spot where I had attempted to come up to this layer two weeks ago. It looked like it wouldn't have worked out but we made note of its whereabouts. Finally we got all the way around to the side by the Shiva Saddle. It was here with the help of the Tomasi book page I had in my pocket that we were able to go up through the next layer. I had brought a small rope and we found it useful in pulling up the packs and in assisting our climbs from here forward.

From this point we continued working our way up layer by layer. Each having its own set of challenges. I would like to say we found some easy breaks but it really didn't seem that way.

As we continued there were times when Joe felt comfortable going up something and I would follow or vice versa. We worked as a team trying to figure this puzzle out piece by piece. We both wanted it bad but as time went on Isis wore us down. We had consumed most of our water and had a long ways to go.

With each setback we would find a small success and that kept us going. Layer by layer we continued on our quest. Then finally we got past the top (supai) layer and could see the large white (Coconino) top of Isis! There it was sitting at the top of a steep hill. Joe giggled and scurried toward the base of the top layer. I was dead tired and super low on water. I took it slow and upon reaching the base I leaned up against the wall and gave it a kiss. We talked briefly about continuing on to the summit or calling it quits. Time and water were not on our side. Against our better judgment we continued on.

The route to the top is in the middle of the eastern side. Just before reaching it you must cross a hermit shale scree chute. This was quite possibly the scariest part of the hike for me. Once across it I tied the rope to a tree and threw it to Joe. He made his way across and then came the moment of truth. Even after all that we had been thru the smart thing would have been to turn back. We had to give it a shot though. Up I went and Joe soon followed. From the saddle of the top layer you go around a bit to the west and head up to the high point. At 1:18pm we were sitting on top of Isis! We were exhausted and in normal situations the adrenaline would kick in now. This time that wasn't really the case.

Under a stack of rocks we found an old can with a register. One group every other year for the past few years had made it up. This is a coveted place and very few have been here before. Oddly enough there wasn't a pencil or pen in the register. I had one in my pack but I left it down at the base and didn't have the energy to go back down and get it. I started searching my pockets for something to leave behind to signify our visit. I decided to leave my American Express Card. Afterall it is easy enough replaced. Joe searched his wallet and chose to leave his REI Card (seemed fitting).

We took a quick gaze around and then started to make our way back down. The visit up top was brief due to our concern for time and water.

Layer by layer we unraveled the puzzle that we had just put together. Down we went. When we got to the top of the last layer we were in a bind. We had no way down except to traverse all the way around to where we had started. It would be another 4 miles of hiking and we were virtually out of water. As we were making our way around we came to the spot I had previously attempted to go up. Joe calls this the "JJ shortcut" in his previous triplog. The drop was too shear to go down with no hand holds or foot holds. There is a ledge about 8 feet down that could be traversed and then on to a class four downclimb. The problem was getting to that ledge. If we could figure this out it would be a game changer. It would save hours! On the top of the upper ledge was a large boulder. We talked about using the rope to go down to the ledge we needed to be on. This was only a stabilizer rope and is not intended to be used for this kind of thing. With that being said we were getting desperate and it seemed worth a shot. I went first to check it out and it worked! Joe passed the packs down the line and then down he came. Once on the ledge it isn't a problem. We had no choice but to leave the rope there and hope to go back sometime and take it down.

From here we headed to the Isis/Shiva saddle where we had cached a small amount of water. My mouth was so dry that my tongue was sticking to the roof of my mouth. It was 5:30pm and all we needed to do was get to the redwall and down to reach water in the creek. By 7:15 we were there. Joe had a filter and he pumped us several liters of water. I drank and drank. Then he pumped enough to fill our bags and on we went. In a short time I got my strength back. Joe had been doing better than me but I am sure the water helped him as well. We went a few miles down the creek to a place we spotted on the way in. This would be our camp spot for night two. It was nice and you could hear the creek flowing nearby.

In the morning we got up early and headed out around 6am. It was a relatively easy hike compared to what we had just been through. On the way home we stopped in Flag and devoured some salads and a pizza.

* Both of our cameras got destroyed in the hike. Joe’s took a hit when his pack got dropped and mine got so full of sand that it would no longer open. I will post what little pictures I have from the memory card when I can put it in another camera and transfer it to the computer.

* The first recorded ascent of Isis was done in 1970 by Alan Doty. I read that he did it solo and I have the utmost respect and admiration for his accomplishment. In fact it is incredible! Joe and I worked as a team and it was still a monumental task.

* We should have brought more water but I am not sure how we could have lugged it up there.

* The numbers may not look like much on paper but this is by far the most challenging hike/climb I have ever experienced. Half the battle was mental and the other half was physical.

* If we attempt this again it should prove much easier on the mental side of things as we would now know a general route.

* This was certainly the toughest thing I have done in my life. At the end of it I said I would never do it again. The following morning I was already thinking about going back!
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