September 11, 2012

9/8/12 - Corona Arch Hike & Arch Jump

This was supposed to just be a hike to Corona Arch--instead it turned out to be an experience we couldn't have anticipated. 
Weird place for a cairn

We followed the directions--went up the hill and registered, then crossed the railroad tracks to follow an old roadbed up through a gap in the rim.  Then we had to follow rock cairns through a sandy pass and then down to the base of the cliffs. 

Safety cable by the steps in the slickrock

There was a safety cable to help traverse the sidehill.  A second cable gave you something to hang onto as you climbed up the steps cut into rock. 

Then there was a little ladder to get on top of the ledge.  From there it was a walk across slickrock to the arch. 

George contemplating the ladder
Actually there are two arches:  Bow Tie Arch is adjacent to Corona Arch.
Bow Tie Arch (on left) and Corona Arch
Bow Tie Arch

Corona Arch
(Look close--there are two guys up on top.)
We stopped in the shade of a big rock alcove across from Corona Arch before we did the final bit past Bow Tie and on to Corona when we heard yelling.  It was like we were in a big amphitheater, so we could hear really well.  Suddenly we realized that someone had jumped off the top of the arch on big long ropes, and was swinging under it!!!  (Idiots!)
Just getting ready to jump off the top
From where we were, we could hear everything they were yelling (sometimes screaming, sometimes cursing). Apparently some of them had done this before, and some were brand-new at it. (I've heard those words before but not quite in that context.)
There he goes!  NO WAY could I do this!
We stayed and watched for a while before we did the final walk around the cliff to Corona. George talked to one guy who wasn't part of the original group--he and his friend had come up to rappel from the top and were invited to jump.  He said that the first 5 guys got to the parking lot at 2:00 am and started carrying their gear to the arch. They put pitons in the rock, did all kinds of safety checks including throwing a backpack full of rocks off to make sure it would handle the weight.  They wore safety harnesses and an extra rope. They don't go straight down like a bungie jump, but take a run that takes them out from the arch, then they swing back like a pendulum. They're really careful about ropes too. (I still think it's scary!)

Swinging under the arch

...and back the other way, upside-down!

I thought it was pretty cool (stupid, but cool!). George wasn't as impressed as I was.  I could tell because he took at total of 35 pictures. I took about 100 more than that, but edited them down to 94, including the video...Certainly makes for fun memories.
At the bottom they have to get the ropes straightened out
There are more pictures on Flickr. 
    Link to Corona Arch Hike
    Link to Corona Arch Swing

I even took a video. We were too far away when I recorded it but it's still pretty impressive to see what they were doing.