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mini location map2016-10-29
14 by photographer avatarDallinW
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Cheops PlateauNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 29 2016
Hiking23.02 Miles 8,592 AEG
Hiking23.02 Miles
8,592 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
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I was on the prowl for a trip which would be a good stepping stone for more off-trail and climbing trips. I started looking at GC summits and opened a dialog with Lee, who has a lot of experience in this department. He offered to take me up Cheops this weekend, and it was impossible to say no. My buddy Alex got conned into tagging along too. This would be his first time hiking at GCNP.

It's been a while since I've been nervous about a particular upcoming trip. These are the trips which are good for you though. If you're not stepping out of your comfort zone (within reason) every once in a while, you're not growing.

We got started down SK around 5 am. As usual the views down SK are ridiculous, but you pay the price of admission with aching knees at the bottom. We took a quick break before heading up the Utah Flats route.

The climb from BA campground to Utah Flats was a great warm-up. The route is pretty easy to follow from the campground, up through Piano Alley, and out onto Utah Flats. From there the tread becomes less distinct which leads to a more cross-country feel. I enjoyed this section a lot, and would consider it a destination in and of itself. Somewhere around this time, Lee started making strange barking noises and spontaneously ran around in circles... I'm not sure what that was all about.

The climb to the Cheops-Isis Saddle was annoying. Lots of loose rock and plenty of agave to poke you. Although my trail runners held up admirably, my ankles are a little sore this morning. This is the kind of hike where you maybe want to consider some extra ankle support if you have it. So don't bring sandals for this one. :D

On the saddle I felt a little intimidated at first looking up at what we were about to scramble. My scrambling experience was limited to things with little to no exposure. Lee gave me great advice on good hand holds to use on the more tricky spots. I kept focused only on what was in right front of me, and never gave attention to the exposure. After that it was mostly like any scramble I had done before. The crux was still very nerve wracking for me and it's definitely a little tricky, but with Lee coaching me up, I was able to put the fear aside and make the summit. I highly doubt the crux would have been doable for me without Lee's coaching.

Some of the best views in Arizona are on this plateau in my very humble opinion. If you have the ability to do this hike, you should.

After the down climb from the plateau, we decided to skip the pyramid on this trip and save it for another day.

We tackled the climb out via SK much better than I had anticipated. I figured around 4.5-5 hours to get out. I was way wrong. We did it in just over 3 hrs. :)

This was very memorable trip, and it has me hooked on the idea of pursuing more GC summits.

A big thanks to Lee for dragging my butt up the Plateau! With a competent/capable partner, this one is doable for anyone.
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