North Guardian Angel, South Guardian Angel
By: Lou Brecheen
The Guardian Angels sit there, astride the left fork of North Creek, just inside Zion National Park. They beckon the adventurous; the lover of beauty; the seeker of the very most spectacular. Vic Henney & Sue Wyman lacked 3 Desert peaks before finishing the List; 2 of them were the Guardian Angels (leaving Mopah), so they asked -- and we said: "Yes!" Actually, I believe that anyone who has been up the North Creek canyon is just waiting for an excuse to get back there.
We met about 8:00 AM Friday at the large parking area 8.2 miles North of Virgin; having taken 1-15 to 7 miles north of St. George, Utah, thence St Hwy 9 over to Virgin and the Kolob Reservoir road to the parking lot. There were Vic & Sue, Rick Beatty & Ron Young, In addition to the leaders. The trail from the parking lot over to the rim of the canyon is in superb condition--and about 100 feet down the cliff, carefully ducked, is a pretty good., graded trail which leaves the rocky, steep gully on the left side. You must look closely to ford it, but you will be glad you did. The lower end of that trail is marked by giant arrows of stones. We took our time hiking the 4 miles to the ledge campsite beneath the towering sandstone cliffs.
There are numerous stream crossings and each time a flood-tide comes ripping down the channel it rearranges the places and climbers of such crossings. Lunch at the camp and then we were off to see about setting ropes at the strategic places. Ron gave Rick Beatty a knee to get him over the first ledge and Rick tiptoed up the 30 foot friction to set a sling and fix a rope. Around the bend and through the Subway to the Hallway and the pesky, little waterfall. Vic threw a rope through the "Eye" and tied loops to get up. Ron, Vic & Joe continued up the canyon - scouting; Sue, Rick and I went back to camp to soak in the spectacularly beautiful surroundings.
Our National Park Camping Permit - $5. - forbade campfires so "happy hour" started early. It was so extensive that it was a rare one who prepared formal dinner. Saturday morning, though we arose leisurely and took our time with breakfast, we were away for North Guardian Angel at 7:30. The cold, chest-deep water in the pool before the waterfall was an unwelcome shock but it just cannot 1e circumvented. After getting past that, I led the way up the steep friction before the monkeycrawl and fixed a rope there. It was pretty dry along the Monkeycrawl ledge and no rope was necessary. We left the canyon for NGA opposite the takeout point for SGA. Ron led up a narrow gully, through much brush, across ledges and pine-covered tablelands to come out at the base of the 400 foot sandstone ridge, the primary route for NGA. He also led the 4th class friction at the first pitch, as well as the rest of the route to the top. A couple of lengths of webbing helped us across the Hairy spot near the top. We followed the same route to return to camp---and this time, the pool was a welcome respite from our exertions.
About 4:00 P.M Bruce Turner came trudging into camp and said he had Terry and Leora Stoler back down the canyon a ways and Ron & Rick went to see if they could help with the heavy packs. It was a good thing, too, since Terry and Bruce had packed in all the ingredients to prepare Quesadillas - cheese, tortillas, etc. I furnished Jalapenas and we ate good Mexican food, along with spiced beans, etc until dinner. That evening, another group from L.A. came in and camped just 200 yards above us on a different ledge. They were after SGA on Sunday, as well. They set duplicate ropes every where we had, plus a fixed rope around the Monkeycrawl. South Guardian Angel went as advertised. We gathered the ropes and slings and returned to camp for yet another night of fun before packing out on Monday and making the long and uneventful drive back to California. Thanks to all the participants and to Ron for leading the hard parts.
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