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mini location map2019-02-09
21 by photographer avatarfriendofThundergod
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Isis TempleNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hike & Climb avatar Feb 09 2019
Hike & Climb38.20 Miles 12,000 AEG
Hike & Climb38.20 Miles3 Days         
12,000 ft AEG
IV  • Trad • 5.8 Sandstone Not good
 no routes
1st trip
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Well this one has a been a long time in the making. I think I have wanted to do Isis as long as I have wanted to do Grand Canyon summits. Isis however, always seemed unattainable due to not being a “real” climber and the general logistics of the climb. But after a fall of gearing up and training up, the summit of Isis finally came to fruition for me.

Day 1:

Missing keys, little sleep, a broken down vehicle and a detour for another rope led to a late start Saturday morning. Consequently, the Overhang won out over Hippie camp for our base camp. The hike in was pretty uneventful, apart from bumping into a "climbing" ranger on the Utah Flats route. Matt the climbing ranger was in the area for an Isis attempt as well. He was guiding a researcher from NAU up who was doing a research project on climbing in the canyon, but she did not give us many details. Their bid for Isis never got off the ground, as they were worried about the relatively significant amount of snow encircling the northwest edges and corners of Isis, just below the Coconino summit. We chatted it up with Matt and the summit enthusiast researcher for several minutes before going our separate ways. Matt warned of ice and snow and urged us to use caution, but also told us good luck and acknowledged we could find the conditions better than what they appeared. Nevertheless, I will admit that our conversation with Matt left me a little spooked and less optimistic about our chances of reaching the summit. After some quick camp chores and dinner, I think we were all in bed by 8 p.m.

Day 2:

Early start day 2. Head lamps hike for at least the first half of the hike up to Hippie Camp. One last gear check and consolidation at Hippie Camp and it was on to the redwall break. The redwall break was pretty tame climbing/scrambling and much easier than what I had feared for so many years. From the break it was the steep climb to begin the tedious traverse to the Isis-Shiva Saddle. Chris used a quick check of the Tomasi picture with route to identify the correct bay and level for the crux climb and we were off. It was your standard off-trail Suapi traverse to the crux. We decided on Chris leading the crux and I am glad we went with that decision. The lead was certainly within my ability level, but the sandstone was something new to me and there was a decent little crux move that I was happy to watch someone else do. Although, it should be noted that this crux move can be protected through clipping an older, but seemingly solid piton. Chris set up an anchor pretty quickly and had me on top belay shortly after. Top roped in the climb was a breeze. Dallin did take a small fall coming up the face of the climb, but he quickly recovered to finish the climb and the anchors held admirably, nice job Chris! From the crux things became a bit of a blur a few class five climbs, the house sized boulder crack and the crawling traverse. We blew through most of these obstacles pretty easily, but did take a couple minutes on two of the climbs to set up a quick body belay for Dallin. The traverse to the Coconino break was tedious, but strangely enough the snow did not seem to make it any more worse, in fact, it may have actually made it a little easier. Locating the break in the Coconino slabs that comprise the summit of Isis took a minute, however, the climb/scramble was not overly difficult. Then it was the Coconino shuffle to the summit. An amazing summit and an amazing feeling to be up there. The accomplishment felt tremendous for me and honestly it may have been the most difficult summit I have ever completed. I think the fact that zero parties/people signed the register in 2018 reaffirms this assertion of mine. It was hard to enjoy the summit too much because we knew we had a long descent ahead of us and it was now just after 2 p.m.

Our descent went pretty smoothly, but we ran out of light quickly and completed the last two raps in total darkness. We placed some new webbing at each of the Supai raps and reused some webbing and a quick link in the redwall. The webbing looked good and our guess was that it was left over from a group’s failed attempt at Isis in October. The final push from Hippie to the Overhang was a bit of a slog and we got back after 9 p.m. But there was no way that we were going to allow the long day and late night to detract from our accomplishment. Dallin and Chris celebrated with a little whiskey, meanwhile I busted out the Reese. High winds, rain and snow throughout the night made us happy to be under the large overhang.

Day 3:

We woke up to snow at camp level and snow all around us. The snow really made the hike out something special. You really can't beat the Utah Flats Route after a nice dusting of snow. Ropes and climbing gear are heavy and the Canyon is steep, but we made it out in a relatively good amount of time. The road was closed because of snow right before the SK Trailhead, but we were able to open the gate to get out.

Final Notes
Big thanks to Chris for providing most of the technical expertise on this one and thank you to Dallin for snagging the permits. For planning purposes it took us 7.5 hours to reach the summit from the Overhang Camp. You do not need much pro and a 60m rope is overkill. 19th Grand Canyon summit.
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