Back in October last year Lee and I made a Vishnu attempt but was half hearted at best. So we returned with Dave for another shot who suggested a twist on the approach going up Vishnu Canyon instead of Unkar. This proved to be a great decision even though we were unsure of the redwall break. Hiking down from Grandview Trailhead there was still some decent snow so we used micro spikes which was only top 3/4 mile or so. Then we hiked past Horseshoe Mesa and then down to Cottonwood Creek. Very nice along Cottonwood Creek with great water the whole way. Then we hiked the Tonto west towards Old Grandview trail that took us down to the river. Old Grandview is rough and steep but fun access to the river. Once at the river with packrafts inflated and Vishnu Canyon in sight we launched from the beach and crossed the 1/2 to the other side.
After getting our packs reorganized we started up Vishnu Creek which was just as Dave had described. Well worth the effort with narrows and good water most of the way. We ended up camping maybe 5 miles upstream to put us in striking distance of Vishnu Temple for the next day. We had a great overhang camp which proved to be very comfortable base camp for two nights.
Day 2 we started our day hike summit initially following Vishnu Canyon upstream. Eventually it gets to the redwall base where we had to find the route. As Lee mentioned we had only partial info on the route but managed to find it and bypass some large dry falls in the canyon. The route dropped us back in the drainage above the dry falls where we continued up the redwall break to Vishnu Saddle. Took a short break and then continued on approach reaching the first obstacle the Supai Crux fairly quickly. Setup a hand line and everyone made it up. There were two more obstacles that required a hand line assist with Lee making the lead climb to set the line. The last one was right below the summit but we were all really happy to have reached the summit and took in the fantastic views. We also had excellent weather with sunny skies and almost no wind on the summit. Checked out the register, celebrated the successful climb and then packed up to head back down. It was a long hike back to camp especially back to the saddle with the rappels and scrambling. After the saddle it was back through the redwall break and finally at camp just before dark. Another nice night at camp with the satisfaction that we accomplished our summit goal!!
Next morning we headed back down Vishnu Canyon to the river. The river crossing was more interesting going back utilizing the backflow eddy that allowed us to paddle upstream and cross over the launch beach at Old Grandview. Quite the workout but everyone made it across in one piece. Then we packed up and hiked out the very steep Old Grandview trail to Tonto. On the Tonto we had some good bonus views of Vishnu across the river as we headed towards Cottonwood Canyon. After that it was the usual grind to get out of the canyon. Some snow still lingering near the rim to make it interesting. Great hike...thanks to Lee for getting the permits and Dave for the Vishnu Canyon suggestion