Behind the Canvas: The Approach (11/2023)

Behind the Canvas: The Approach (11/2023)

** Certain locations have been left intentionally vague but can be found and enjoyed with a little bit of research. Please practice responsible recreation ethics, leave no trace, watch for cryptobiotic soil, stay on developed trails, only camp in established areas, and generally respect the landscape. ** 

My partner and I had long bonded over a shared love for the backcountry of Zion. The quieter yet just as beautiful portions of the park, and those that sit right outside of it. 

Hayden had learned to climb at this particular area in college, so this area held a special place in his heart. I had been to the area to hike and explore, though I hadn’t climbed any of the routes yet. October of 2023, we decided to gather our friends for a (now traditional) birthday climbing trip in St George, with Zion Backcountry at the top of our list. 

Over the next three days we climbed from morning til night, our headlamps guiding the way up the wall when the stars began to peek out from the slot. After my brother Sam sending it first -for the sake of acquiring “booty” (abandoned gear)- we made multiple runs up Beastiality (5.11 a/b), the fan favorite of this trip. The neighboring Nutten’ but Mutton (5.11 c) was well loved, though definitely tired us out more with razor edge crimps. Amongst our logged climbs were Ewe-Phoria (5.10b), Ewe People Suck (5.12b), Italian Route (5.10a), and of course… Easy Up (5.6).

We ended the trip with Time’s-a-wastin, (5.12b) full of crimps, delicate moves, and some pretty terrifying run-outs. Sam rope-gunned this for us in the dark, as the rest of us cheered him on below in awe. For the rest of us, this route was a bit above our grade, literally a “shot in the dark” but Hayden and I both flashed the route on top rope and were damn proud of it. 

This trip was most definitely one for the books, good climbs and great company. “The Approach” is a love letter, to both Zion Backcountry and to my partner, Hayden, who shared a place so dear to him with me. This piece depicts our first evening here, approaching the canyon, rustling through the sagebrush and juniper as the setting sun painted the landscape golden. “The Approach” intends to tell a story, not just of a climbing trip, or even of the laughter shared over the duration of it, but the story of the connections we have to the places we love and the people we love. 

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