We made the drive up to Tanner trailhead Friday morning and started about 9am. The plan was to hike down Tanner Trail to the beach on the river and then continue on the first part of Escalante Route downstream towards our destination Unkar Creek. However, instead of hiking the 3 miles of Escalante Route to Unkar we ended up pack rafting that distance from just below Tanner Rapids to Unkar Rapids. Most of the current between rapids is fairly calm with only a few riffles.
Once we were in Unkar Creek we headed upstream to find a camp. We were surprised by a pleasant flowing stream in Unkar that Dave had mentioned last time was nearly dry. Eventually we found a good camp spot about 6 miles upstream to set us up for the summit attempt.
Next morning started hiking around 6am up canyon towards Freya Saddle which was top of the red wall. The red wall break to Freya included two bypasses around pour offs but they were fairly short and easy to navigate. We made the saddle by 830 and then continued on the traverse over to the Supai layer which was the next obstacle. The traverse is very long rough terrain so it took us a few hours to navigate to the Supai. From this point we didn’t have good data on the Supai route so we had to figure it out and piece together the route. There were some cairns that assisted getting through several layers but eventually we cliffed out on the top Supai layer. We looked around and tried several different approaches but could not find anything that looked like the right route or could work for us. After several hours trying figure out the puzzle we decided that a summit was no in our future.
We took a break before heading back on the traverse to Freya Saddle. The trip was faster going back and the down climb from the saddle back to camp also went fairly quick as well. Once back at camp we decided to pack up and hike the 6 miles back to the Colorado to make the last day shorter. We made camp late around 730 but still some light to setup.
Next day we just had to hike out from Unkar up the Escalante Route back to Tanner beach and then up Tanner Trail to the vehicle. The clouds rolled in on the hike out so the temps were cool and towards the top it started to rain and actually quite cold on the rim with wind and rain. Despite not making the summit it was a fun weekend in the canyon and we learned more about the route. Just need better data and research to make the summit more likely.