Rob Pizem has an eye for solid routes, so when he called with an especially wild line in mind, I was intrigued. What might lie in store this time? Meeting in the Zion visitor center parking lot, we plotted. Apparently, this line was deep inside the mother stone, with a wide crack behind the climber and the face of the canyon wall.
Hoping the sun would be high enough to illuminate the dark chasm, I wanted to hold off on departing. A leisurely morning and a long hike found us above a black hole (twice the size of a body), rimmed with shrubs and small aspen, a crack flowing out to the canyon wall.
Roping up, I rappelled into the unknown with zero expectation. After dropping through darkness I slid into a wild chasm, wider at the top, pinching to a few feet at the bottom. A few hundred feet behind, light poured through a crack in the canyon wall illuminating the back wall.
At first, the ray of light was less pronounced on the climbers’ left. While we waited it began to focus and strengthen. Hoping it would become a solid band I could frame Rob in, we waited. As it hit the left side of the back wall it focused into the ray seen in the photo and Rob headed up. A few moments later he and the light crossed paths. I hammered on the shutter working at balancing exposures and hoping for a usable frame. A few minutes later it was gone, the phenomena lasted but a few minutes and we were lucky enough to bathe in it.
Wild light and the finest groveling deep inside the mother stone on another First Free Ascent with Rob Pizem, ‘Datura’, 5.12, Zion National Park, Utah.