Greatheart Mesa & "Rams Peak"

November 26, 2009

A Thanksgiving scramble under the sun

Early morning sun

The crew descending from the rim via what is actually the beginning of the famous Subway route that begins at the Wildcat Trailhead.

South Guardian Angel

South Guardian Angel as seen early on during the approach.

Slickrock descent

We descended pleasant slickrock slopes down into the wide canyon.

Greatheart Mesa

Greatheart Mesa as seen on the approach. The summit is on the right and our access point to the plateau is the small saddle on the far, far left. For the descent we bailed off the ridge closer  to the saddle between "Rams Peak" (left) and Greatheart Mesa, the larger saddle just right of the first one.

Das Boot

During the approach we had to cross over the slot canyon known as Das Boot. Luckily CP knew the magic point at which to climb down into it and back out the other side without getting wet, something that can apparently be difficult to do.

Ice in Das Boot

There was plenty of ice in Das Boot. These cool patterns seem to occur when ice forms and the water then drains from underneath it.

"Rams Peak"

"Rams Peak" as as seen on the approach. We climbed the wide gully that ends in the notch to the right of the summit.

"Rams Peak" access gully

Dominic in the nifty, slickrock access gully on the west side of "Rams Peak".

Slickrock ramp

Dominic heading up a slickrock ramp in the gully.


Dominic on a giant slab of slickrock in the gully.

Ridge to Greatheart Mesa

The north ridge of Greatheart Mesa as seen from "Rams Peak". We had no beta for it and weren't sure if it would go as a scramble or a serious rock climb, but we were about to find out. The summit of Greatheart Mesa in out of sight on the right.

Guardian Angels

South Guardian Angel (left) and North Guardian Angel (right) as seem from "Rams Peak". The two are separated by the deep canyon known as The Subway. The small peak just left of North Guardian Angel is Tabernacle Dome.

North Guardian Angel

North Guardian Angel as seen from "Rams Peak". The standard route to the summit is the ridge on the right.

Descending "Rams Peak"

Dwight and Dominic begin the descent of "Rams Peak" with great views of North Guardian Angel.

Root or tree

Dwight climbing down with the aid of either a root or a tree, we couldn't figure out which.

Dirty scrambling

Dirty scrambling on the approach.

Heading to the saddle

CP, DB, Matthew and Dwight making their way up slickrock slopes to the saddle between "Rams Peak" and Greatheart Mesa.

Greatheart Mesa's north rudge

CP and DB investigating the north ridge of Greatheart Mesa.

Meat anchor

Dwight serving as an anchor for a short, crumbly downclimb on the ridge. Dominic is the backup. "Rams Peak" is in the background. Dominic downclimbed unroped with a spot from below.

Crumbly downclimb

Dwight beginning the rappel/downclimb of an extremely crumbly step in Greatheart Mesa's north ridge.

Summit shot

Dominic, CP, DB, Matthew and Dwight taking a relaxing break on the summit of Greatheart Mesa.

Greatheart Mesa crux

CP downclimbing the dirty, bushy crux on Greatheart Mesa. This is where the north ridge meets the mesa top.

Dirty descent from Greatheart Mesa

Instead of retracing our steps all the way down the north ridge we bailed west down a nasty gully. For the most part the gully was comprised of sand and dirt with large boulders implanted in it, anxious to move. We had to be very careful so nobody was in danger of being hit by rockfall. Here Dominic is prepared to stop Matthew's slide down a very unstable section. Notice the sand in motion by Matthew's feet.

Bottom of gully

Dominic and DB downclimbing more stable rock near the bottom of the gully.


On our alternate descent route we were forced to do one 25 meter rappel.

Moon over "Rams Peak"

The moon over "Rams Peak" on the hike out.


Sunset on "Rams Peak" and Greatheart Mesa.

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