South Guardian Angel
By: Gordon MacLeod
Traverse Russell Gulch and a portion of the Left Fork of North Creek; bag South Guardian Angel and North Guardian Angel (since they happen to be in the vicinity - J. Vitz).
ART DE GOEDE, HARVEY HICKMAN, BARBARA and ROY MAGNUSON, BILL SANDERS, GRAHAM STEPHENSON, JOHN VITZ and 5 VITZIANS (and that, John, is an example of a Vitzism).
GORDON MACLEOD, ERIC SCHUMACHER and ANDY SMATKO (and any of the above leaders who would complete their lists with South Guardian Angel).
In the little cross-road town of Virgin, Utah, some 23 miles to the east of St. George on Hwy. 15 after breakfast at 9:00 a.m. L.A. time on Saturday, 28 October 1972. (St. George would be a good place for breakfast.)
To put GORDON MACLEOD, ERIC SCHUMACHER, ANDY SMATKO, ET.AL. on top of South Guardian Angel, thereby completing their DPS Lists.
Send John Vitz and assorted Vitzians ahead on Friday to scout Russell Gulch to see if it "goes." Climb South Guardian Angel on Saturday or Sunday and North Guardian Angel on Monday and then drive home.
..and with that set of instructions, sent out by Gordon, Larry Fink and I set out Thursday afternoon and drove to St. George. Awakened by a slight drizzle, we had breakfast in St. George and drove to Virgin. After following the Kolob Reservoir Road up onto the Kolob Terrace north of the Guardian Angels, we ventured my MG over a muddy, rocky road for a short distance. After a sudden attack of cowardice (otherwise known as sanity) at an extremely rocky pitch, we continued on foot to the head of Russell Gulch.
In a constant drizzle we descended over the slickrock into the canyon bottom where a small stream was encountered. A 75-foot waterfall was encountered near the junction of two forks in the upper gulch, but we were able to descend the ridge between them. At least a dozen mule deer were spotted on the slickrock above us. The main gulch was attempted but soon proved impassable at a 50-foot waterfall. We backtracked to the junction and traversed the slickrock east of the gulch and descended to the rim of the inner canyon, which was about 10 feet wide and 40 feet deep.
We followed the rim upstream for a quarter mile before finding a break which allowed us to descend to the stream. After a few yards in knee deep quicksand we came to a small waterfall and we guessed by the looks of the area that it would be a miserable traverse downstream and probably impassable without a rope and/or considerable wading. Not having a rope and increased rain forced us to retreat to the car and an early dinner in Springdale.
We met with the other Vitzians (Jerry Haven, Chuck McQuillan, Jim Eder and Don Dumont) and with Gordon's Trolls the next morning. We reported our findings and suggested that the new route would probably be more difficult and that the best chance of success would be to try the standard route. Andy of course figured that you could climb it anywhere and started searching for nonexistent breaks in the cliffs around the South Guardian Angel. After explaining to him that Western Zion is not the Sierra we decided upon the standard route up the Left Fork of North Creek.
From the roadhead we descended a break in the wall along a deer trail to the stream and headed up. Eric and Andy started on ahead with a small group after I had explained to them where the campsite was. My final comment was "you can't miss it." Never underestimate Smatko. The Vitzians somehow gravitated, to the rear as we ascended the stream. We passed Gordon's group at a lunch break and arrived at the campsite shortly thereafter. Need I mention that no one was there? After dropping the packs we headed into the narrows arriving at the first trouble spot in time to see Eric's Elite pulling ,their packs, over the wall on ropes. In disbelief I informed them that they had accomplished the impossible and that I was returning to camp.
After lunch we took most of the group upstream to put in the route. A fixed rope was placed by Larry sine the Elite had left theirs lying coiled on the ground. The waterfall lip no longer had to be jumped as large logs had wedged into it; one log was recognized as our bridge across the large tank placed last trip. Just above the fall, the Elite had found a ledge suitable for a campsite and had dropped their packs.
The amount of sand in the canyon bottom had given me hope that the upstream log jam had cleared and sand would be more in the tanks. This proved to be the case and our large tank was easily crossed. The only obstacle remaining was a ten foot waterfall into a five foot poo1. The whole party was pressed into service to move a large log 100 yards upstream and flip it into place diagonally up to the lip. A few people got a little wet in the process as Roy had us pose for pictures. The next series of tanks which had caused trouble the last time, were full of sand and the rest of the route was easily put in. Eric had some anxious moments placing the fixed rope in the exit chute as the rock crumbled about him.
We explored upstream and confirmed our hypothesis as a series of large tanks were soon encountered. Back at camp, dinner was cooked in fading light and deteriorating weather. It sprinkled off and on all night and a cold front came through the next morning bringing snow, fog and a cold wind. We Vitzians who had climbed it before opted to loaf and return to the cars while Gordon led an uneventful summit trek (except for patches of ice on the exposed summit rocks). And because they' refrained from becoming lost on the plateau and returned without incident. All made the cars well before dark in what was now clear, cold and windy weather.
After invading, conquering and sacking Springdale we made camp near the roadhead. It dawned clear, cold and fast. Some had the good sense to flick in North Guardian Angel and head for Springdale for breakfast. Others drove up on the Kolob Terrace to look at it before driving to Springdale for breakfast. After which everyone split for LA at various times. Oh yeah - mustn't forget: Gordon and Eric did complete the list but it seems that someone had slipped McCullough, Tipton and Patterson onto the list while Andy wasn't looking. Poor Baby
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