Sunday, September 25, 2011

Nippletop Peak

During my last trip to Zion NP, I tried hiking Nippletop Peak (Peak 6715) on the east side of the park. Here's a google map centered on that peak. I did not make it to the summit, and I'd really like some tips because I could not find a straight-forward route over the cliff below the summit (at 6,500 ft). Here's a photo taken from Progeny Peak showing Nippletop.

Here's a map showing my route.

This was a fun hike. The route I took was surprisingly easy. All class 2 with a short section of class 3. Here's the view from highway 9.

The initial slickrock canyon/gully looks really steep from the road, and as you approach it. But it was pretty easy to walk up.

I was reminded of the steepness each time I turned around and looked down toward the road. From that view, it looks really steep.

I was armed with the information from this post about Nippletop. It had a handy photo of the "crux" to gain the north ridge from the top of the gully. That was very helpful for finding it, as was Courtney's description in his book. I was a little above that spot, when I saw a small herd of big horn sheep taking that exact route. I barely got my camera out in time to snap 1 photo showing the tail of one going up the crux.

Here's my photo of the crux after I arrived. I was very unsure about the poor handholds, so I decided to take my alternate route.

I continued south along the east side of the hill to the large bowl on the right. My original plan was to go up via the crux route, then descend down the bowl. Continuing south toward the bowl looks like this.

The bowl is very easy. Basically, you just head deep into it, then turn right uphill (north) near the back. I followed some obvious inclines that had plenty of trees. Near the top it got steep and I was using my hands for balance. This turned out to be a nice route.

Reaching the ridge, here's a shot facing south toward Nippletop. Then some as I walked toward it.

I took these next shots where I got stuck right below the top edge of the cliff. It's quite steep there with lots of soft sand.

From back on the ridge, I took these shots using the zoom lens. I did this so I could examine them later and find a better route. I marked where I was (you can see how they correspond to the photos above).

Here's a shot of Nippletop that I took from the north ridge of Lost Peak. My GPS said I only made it to 6,500 feet.

Please leave me a comment if you know where I messed up. I wouldn't mind trying it again since it's so easy to get up there.

Safety Warning: Consider wearing leather work gloves when hiking down the steep slickrock (like in that gully). If you slip, the natural reaction is to brace your fall with your palm. That will result in a bad abrasion and losing much flesh from your hand. I am very comfortable and careful on the slickrock, and yet I slipped once coming down.

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