Icebox Canyon North Pass and Slickrock Pass Routes

Kolob Canyons Section, Zion National Park


Hidden behind Timbertop Mountain and Nagunt Mesa is an interesting canyon that makes a fine adventure on a long summer day. Two entrances are available: the Slickrock Pass start offers a big wall, technical, station to station rappel route suitable for a small party of expert canyoneers; while the North Pass start provides a dramatic 4th class slickrock couloir at a more moderate standard.

The canyon itself is narrow and lush, keeping a trickle of water even in drought conditions. A few rappels and a swim lead to the top of a huge, three-drop waterfall. From the bottom end, this canyon is known as Waterfalls Canyon . Bypassing the waterfall and descending the adjacent ridge, the delighted canyoneer passes one of the world’s largest arches (Kolob Arch) on her way to LaVerkin Creek. Then there’s only the little matter of a 7 mile, 1000 foot gain (11 km, 280m) slog back to the trailhead.


Two different entrances into Icebox Canyon

See what you're getting into?


Either route can be done as a long day-canyon or as an overnight trip. However, humping bivy gear up the wooded ridge and down the rappels is a lot of work, and is hard to recommend.

North Pass Entrance

Rating:

3B IV

Season:

Summer or Fall. Snow would make this very difficult, so Spring is not recommended.

Length:

8 to 12 hours.

Longest Rappel:

165 feet (50 meters)

Equipment:

Extra slings, drybags for your gear. A wetsuit may be required in fall.

Drinking Water:

Treatable water is available once in the canyon.

USGS 7.5′ Map:

Kolob Arch.

Difficulties:

A long and wonderful adventure in a wilderness setting. The beginning of the descent is easy, but quite exposed.

Logistics:

Starts and ends at Lee Pass.

Permit:

Required.

Flash Flood Danger:

Low. Weather Report available at Visitor Center .

Driving

From the Kolob Visitor Center , drive to the Lee Pass Trailhead. Continue past it ¼ or ½ mile (400m to 800m) to any of several turnouts from which a good view is available. Take a good look at the area between Beatty Point and Nagunt Mesa. Note several passes, and the wooded ridge leading up to the passes on the left. The V-notch at the top of the ridge is ” North Pass “. The slickrock pass to the right is “Slickrock Pass”. Return to the Lee Pass Trailhead and park.


Approach

Descend the trail to the bottom of the ridge where it crosses a small wash. Turn left, down the wash, and hike about 100 yards (100m) to an intersection with the main drainage of Timber Creek. Turn left and ascend the wooded and brushy canyon 1-1/2 miles (2 km) to where the canyon splits, the left hand split ending in a dry fall after a couple hundred feet. The fun begins here.

From the canyon junction, ascend the dirt between the arms to an alcove. At the right end of the alcove, climb a short cliffband to attain the open slopes above at the base of the wooded ridge. Head left of the crest of the ridge to find more open terrain and climb the ridge.


The Canyon

Follow the ridge to the top (See Var-1: Slickrock Pass Entrance). Descend the slickrock couloir on the other side. Single bolts are available at odd intervals for setting up a rappel or handline. They can be hard to see. Descend the fall line to a ledge with several bolts. From the ledge, note a small pine tree down and right (right facing out). Rappel or downclimb to this ledge.

Rappel from the pine 160 feet (50m) to a good ledge with several bolts. Rappel from the ledge 140 feet (45m) to the canyon floor.

Once in the big canyon, enjoy the lush vegetation and hike downstream. A small trickle of water will soon appear. Follow the canyon. Interesting slots come in on both sides that are worth a few minutes exploration.

Three obstacles must be overcome in this section of canyon. The first is a short drop into a slot with a pool, avoided by traversing on the right to a bolt anchor. Careful rigging and a diagonal rappel avoid a swim. The second drop goes into the pool and swims a short, cold pool. The third drop is again avoided on the right by a long hike out to a bolt anchor.

Enjoy a fabulous view from the top of the waterfall. From the top, traverse on a small trail left to the adjacent ridge, then past the crest and down into the gully on the other side. Descend to the main canyon floor, then walk out the beautiful and dramatic canyon, mostly staying in the center of the drainage. After a half mile, Kolob Arch becomes visible on the right, and an official trail can be found. Follow the official trail out to LaVerkin Creek, then turn right and follow the main trail back to Lee Pass.


Variation: Slickrock Pass Entrance

Rating:

4B IV 

Season:

Summer or Fall.

Length:

8 to 12 hours.

Longest Rappel:

165 feet (50 meters), but it is a stretcher. 60 meter ropes are recommended.

Equipment:

Extra slings, drybags for your gear. A wetsuit may be required in fall.

Drinking Water:

Treatable water is available once in the canyon.

USGS 7.5′ Map:

Kolob Arch.

Difficulties:

Big Wall station-to-station rappels. A few short swims. This is a long route in a wilderness setting. Due to the hanging rappel stations, maximum workable party size is 3.

Logistics:

Starts and ends at Lee Pass.

Permit:

Required.

Flash Flood Danger:

Low. Weather Report available at Visitor Center .

Note/Warning

This entrance requires excellent rope technique and is not suitable for parties larger than 2. It is NOT a place for beginners – both members of the party must be competent. The hanging rappel stations are just that – bolts on a steep wall with no ledge. Experience in rappelling with a large pack is recommended (hint: don’t wear it).


Canyon

Ascend the wooded ridge about half way, then work your way over to the slickrock below Slickrock Pass. Climb to the pass, then descend the opposite side. A short section of slab climbing (5.2) leads to a cool slanted corridor. A bit of 4th class downclimbing leads to the top of a slab leading to a steep dropoff. A single bolt at the top of the slab can be used to set up a handline down to the first anchor.

R1: Rappel 160 feet (49m) to a bolt anchor on a steep wall.  R2: Rappel 164 feet (50m) to a bolt anchor on a steep wall.  R3: Rappel 140 feet (40m) to the canyon floor.

Follow the main route from the canyon floor.