How to survive Angel's Landing
I recently hiked Angel’s Landing at Zion National Park with my girlfriend. We are both 26 and in fairly good shape. The hike to Scout Lookout is strenuous, uphill for 2 miles. The last 0.5 miles up to Angel’s Landing is technical and dangerous. The sign says 6 people have died since 2004. We brought about 3.5 liters of water and we ran out at the last mile going down. Here are my tips for making it more likely that you will survive:
- Go early. The first shuttles start as early as 6AM some times of the year. We got going on the hike at about 8 AM in June and the first part of the trail (even before the refrigerator canyon) was shaded. This made the first part of the trail much more enjoyable.
- Use open-finger gloves. Gloves let you hold onto, and run your hand along the chains without hurting your hands. I bought some gloves on sale at REI for $12. Amazon has some nice pairs as well. Avenir Classic Cool Cycling Gloves (Black, Large)
- Use a hydration backpack. A hydration backpack allows you to drink water while keeping your hands free. Some of the spaces along the route are tight enough that you will not have space to put down a bag. I used the [Camelbak Vantage Hydration Pack])http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006ZV58E6/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B006ZV58E6&linkCode=as2&tag=ryanmull-20), which is a lovely versatile pack.
- Use the three-point technique as much as possible. The three-point technique is where you always have three points in contact with the ground or chain at all times. For example, both hands on the chain and one foot on the ground. Or one hand on the chain and two feet on the ground.
- Keep your weight over your feet. It might seem counter intuitive if you are not a rock climber, but you get a lot more traction if you keep your weight above your feet. Sticking your butt out while scrambling upward can help keep your weight over your feet and avoid slipping.
- Avoid sand. Parts of the trail are covered in sand. Avoid stepping in or near these parts of the trail because sand is effectively a lubricant. The one time I slipped on the trail was in a spot with sand. Luckily it was no where near the edge and I did not actually fall over.
- Don’t look down. Some people get sick when they look down from heights. If you do, I don’t recommend going. If you insist, don’t look down. Some parts are scary even for us regular folk.
- If you follow these tips, you should have a much more pleasant hike. Best of luck on your Angel’s Landing hike.