Employee Canyon and Mountain of the Sun
Need a good workout? This adventure climbs a peak with splendid views of Zion Canyon , then descends a steep canyon to a “big wall” rappeling exit. It makes a fine adventure for the fit and experienced canyoneer. About 3000 feet of climbing are involved, so pick a day with cooler temperatures.
Spot a car at Canyon Junction and then drive up Pine Creek to the Mt Carmel Tunnel. Park at the east end. Walk east on the road .3 miles to where it crosses Pine Creek (wide, flat, sandy wash). (This is the second side canyon that the road crosses). Drop left into the sandy wash.
The impressive south buttress of Deertrap Mountain looms above – you wish to climb left of the buttress to the pass between Deertrap and East Temple . Hike up Pine Creek about 20 minutes. Where the canyon narrows, an easy 4th class slickrock watercourse allows exit from the canyon bottom. Climb this bit of rock, then follow slabs and gullies above, and ascend steeply to the pass.
Looking West from the Pass
On the left, East Temple; then Spry Canyon and Twin Brothers; then a slot pass next to Twin Brothers; then a large buttress leading up to Deertrap Mountain. The head of Spry Canyon is a large bowl – traverse the bowl to the right toward the slot pass, finding a narrow slot canyon. Drop into it’s head, and push through some brush to descend the canyon all the way to the bottom. Turn right, and hike up to the slot pass and drop over the other side. You are now in Employee Canyon.
Descend Employee Canyon . The first section is brushy with occasional steep drops. Pass 2 obstacles on small trails to the right. After 3/4s of a mile, the canyon opens into a slickrock area. Mountain of the Sun (MOS) is now above you on the left, though you cannot see the summit area. A large ramp leads back up-canyon and to the col between Twin Brothers and MOS. The ramp has trees on it and a small canyon behind it.
Mountain of the Sun: (2 hrs round trip, 4th class)
Ascend the ramp to the Twin Brothers / MOS col. From here, climb dirty slabs and vegetated sections on the right hand corner of the south face to the base of an orange vertical wall facing Deertrap Mountain . Follow the ledge/gulley at the base of the vertical wall north (right) several hundred yards to near it’s end, where a steep gulley allows easy escape upwards. Follow a faint trail up and around to the summit. (Pay attention, the trail is difficult to find on the way back down). Return the way you came.
Follow the canyon north. It soon begins to narrow and drop precipitously. Avoid the first drop by climbing around to the left, then downclimb slabs into the canyon, and work your way down as far as possible before rappelling.
WARNING: it is very important to find the buttress exit off to the right side, and not go straight down the watercourse at the end (rappel #4) – the final drop in the watercourse is about 400 feet free hanging. There’s also a bunch of bad juju associated with the exit rappels – at least two people have fallen to their deaths from this spot.
WARNING #2: this canyon has a history of sticking ropes. Do not assume that the anchors are set correctly. Extend the slings as much as prudent. Watch out for rope eating cracks. Rap #s 2, 4 and 5 are especially bothersome – be smart, think.
Rap #1: Cross the canyon and traverse on a small, sandy ledge to a small tree. Rappel off tree 165′ (50m) to edge of pool. Rap #2: Off two bolts on ledge on left, 165′ (50m) to edge of pool. Rap #3: Off two bolts on R wall, 30′ (10m) to ledge. Rap #4: Off two bolts, 40′ (12m) to buttress on right – Do NOT go down main chute. Rap #5: Off two bolts with long slings, 200′ (60 meters) down right side of buttress to ledge. (2 bolt station at 165′ (50m) can be used). Rap #6: Off two bolts with long slings, 165′ (50 meters) free hanging next to waterfall, to ground.
You are in a delightful grotto. A spring fed stream provides refreshment. Follow trails to the left down, past another waterfall to the main valley floor. You are behind the Zion Lodge Employee Housing area. Follow roads right to Zion Lodge.