Alarm blasting, gahhh! We almost slept nine glorious hours in our fly-less tents. The temps were perfect for camping and star gazing. However, even nine hours of sleep didn’t seem like enough time to fully recover from our exhaustion the day prior. With a whole lot of work to go, we peeled ourselves from our sleeping bags and got breakfast rolling. Within an hour, we were all upright with packs on, ready to take on Cheops Pyramid. Even though it looked sketchier than the plateau, trip reports said it was supposed to be pretty chill Class 3 climbing.
We trekked out from camp once again, and we all knew it was going to be one long day, but hopefully a good one! We picked up the Utah Flats use trail and began hiking north once again. However, after a quarter mile or so, we left the trail and made a B line across the open desert towards the eastern wall of the Cheops Plateau. Looking like a battleship in ram mode, we covered the terrain, boulder hopping, kicking up off camber dust, and slowly picking our way towards the huge face in front of us.
We had to circumvent large sandstone dry waterfalls that would easily spell utter tragedy with one misstep. We hiked on, splitting up and rejoining, all trying to find the best way across the steep slopes on the eastern side of Cheops Plateau. Rene and myself went high while Mark and Kari stayed low. We continued to skirt the slopes and we all met up at the start of the Cheops Pyramid scramble searching for any sign of shade we could find. The sun had already started to go to work on us, warming our hat shaded faces. We sat down at the base of the climb for a quick snack and water break.
We chatted about the climb the day before and we were all curious as to what was in store for us. Soon we picked up our packs and set off again, headed up and left to circumvent a small vertical face. We encountered our first climb, which seemed a bit more difficult than described, but it went quickly. Route finding and cairn searching were back in full swing as we pressed up the face attempting to find the best way up. Some of the ledges ahead looked impossible without rope at first glance, but with a closer look we found the line, and a few faint cairns.
We ascended the next ledge and headed up and out left towards a small exposed arête. “This thing was supposed to be all chill Class 3, right?!” I thought to myself. I got on another small climb with questionable rock towards the top and just made it happen. The down climb was future Mike’s problem! We all took a quick breather and looked towards the peak, it was only 50 feet away, and once we noticed it there was no more need to break! We moved swiftly up the chossy rock and soon we were all, once again, simultaneously touching the top of Cheops Pyramid!
Man what a view! The Grand Canyon is such a beautiful place, the 360 degree view that we had the privilege of enjoying was nothing less than spectacular! I once again walked towards the bridge that connects Cheops Pyramid to Cheops Plateau to have a look, and once again it seemed like such a tough undertaking. All of the rock on the bridge looked chossy and the route looked hard to protect with gear; not undoable, but it would require a full level of commitment to a climb of questionable quality.
After signing the registry, we regrouped and picked our way back to camp. It always seems to be easier on the down climb, you see a line you didn’t before, or an easier way to take on the obstacles. This climb was no different, the seemingly tough Class 3 climbs lost their bite (except for the rocks, they were sharp as hell!) as we descended. The slog back to camp was a good long one. We finally got back to Utah Flats, packed things up, and divvied up our remaining water to get ready for the steep and loose descent back to Phantom Ranch.
After descending the sun baked steep and loose Utah Flats trail, we were soon sitting at the Phantom Ranch cantina with a cool Arnold Palmer in hand. We were all trying not to think about the nine miles and 4600 feet of elevation gain that stood between us and Bright Angel Lodge.
Finally, around 2:30pm, we geared up, threw our packs on, and started our walk out on Bright Angel Trail. On every switchback that turned our gaze back to the North Rim I took a moment to look at all of the buttes, temples, and massive formations sticking above the canyon floor. It’s like inception; you may never have noticed them before, but once you know them by name, and attempt to climb them, you can never forget their existence. The Grand Canyon is an incredible place. I love it here.
GPX Track:Utah Flats – https://hikearizona.com/gps=
10308Cheops Pyramid (Day 2) – https://hikearizona.com/gps= 20767Cheops Plateau (Day 1) – https://hikearizona.com/gps= 20766
Route Description:Cheops Plateau (Day 1) – https://hikearizona.com/
decoder.php?ZTN=1077Cheops Pyramid (Day 2) – https://hikearizona.com/ decoder.php?ZTN=1078
- Weather: Hi in upper 80s, Low in upper 40s, Sunny/Partially Cloudy
- Water: 4.5 Liters
- Food: 1/2 avocado, 1 Power Bar, 1 Kroger Protien bars, 1 Cliff Protien Bars, 1 granola bar, 1/2 bag of gummyworms, Orange, 1 Mountain House: biscuites and Gravy, 1/2 bag of Salt and Veinagr Chips, 1/2 bag of Pizza Pringles, 1/2 bag of trailmix.
- Time: 12 hours
- Distance: 14 miles
- Accumulated Gain: ~6500 feet
- 58 liter exos osprey backpack
- Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 tent
- Big Agnes QCORE SLX sleeping pad
- Cosmic Down Kelty Sleeping Bag (rated to 20 deg F)
- Jet Boil – Sol
- Black Diamond trekking poles
- SPOT Gen3 Tracker
- Wool T shirt – IceBreaker
- Cotton hankerchief
- Pearl Azumi arm coolers
- Arc’teryx hoody
- Nike running shorts
- Merrell Mid Moab Hiking Boots
- Darn Tough wool medium weight socks
- Threadless hoody