April 23, 2009
One day in April I went out and attempted to climb The Sinking Ship.
It was a solo, halfhearted effort, and I did not reach the top. I ended up circumnavigating the formation at the Toroweap level, and came away with numerous photos.
I parked at the Buggeln Hill picnic area and made my way through the woods to the rim of the Canyon. From there I went west, negotiating a large, deep drainage along the way. I continued through the woods after the drainage was passed.
I went too far to the west before going north to the rim, and overshot the best place to depart from the rim. Oops.
The route down to the saddle and up to the base of the formation was straightforward. There was even a decent path that led down to the saddle. From there it was necessary to scramble down and to the east for a short distance before regaining the ridgeline.
I tried climbing The Sinking Ship from a few places at the base of the Kaibab Limestone, but my heart wasn’t in it today. I was solo and not feeling very confident.
I succeeded, however, in circumnavigating the formation. The view at the northern end of the Toroweap was as interesting and scenic as you’d expect. Someone even placed a cairn there at the northernmost point – maybe someone with a failed aspiration of climbing to the top, like me.
I was returning along the base of the west side of the Ship – having nearly closed the loop – when I had a little accident. I was making a final attempt at climbing in a place with brittle rock, and I took a fall. It was only a few feet, but all four limbs were in the air and I landed on my butt and on my back.
I was relatively unscathed, but it shook me up a bit. My DSLR camera was slung around my back, and I hurt the ribs in my lower back where the camera pressed against them on impact. The camera was okay, but my ribs hurt for several weeks afterward.
In hindsight, I think I just neglected to follow the old climber’s rule of maintaining 3 points of contact. I lacked confidence in making progress in that particular location, which led to the fall.
About one year would pass (almost exactly to the day) before I’d successfully get to the top of the Sinking Ship in 2010.