|Rock Garden - Grand Canyon Routes|
Clear Creek / Brahma-Deva Saddle Route, 13 Nov 2005
Off-trail from Clear Creek to the North Kaibab Trail at Ribbon Falls. This can be done in a single day but often takes more than that.
From Clear Creek Camp
From the camp area at the end of the Clear Creek Trail start as if on a return trip up through the Hakatai to where the trail is about to leave the slope and level. Go upslope west and choose a target to gain the top of the ridge. Take in a view of the landscape ahead and choose a line of travel not too rugged and the least elevation loss practical to join the bed of the main drainage leading to Brama-Deva saddle. There may be a seep-spring in the bed but probably not a reliable water source in every season. Continue following the bed up to the fork at the next major Redwall ravine from the south.
Redwall Ravine to Brahma-Deva Saddle
This ravine soon narrows, turns to the south, and gains major elevation in a very short distance but with very minor climbs in a few spots and most of these go quickly with a pack. At about the mid-elevation there is a cliff barrier across the ravine with a rock jumble at the west wall (right going up). Next to the wall is a hole through the boulders that makes an easy climb but much too small to get a pack through -- rope up packs here. Continue up this ravine and look for the first opportunity to get out of the ravine and above the Redwall rim on the west side. Follow the rim back toward the Brahma-Deva drainage.
The Supai cliff band that makes the saddle is a significant obstacle directly upslope, but there are various ways to get through and the most obvious is to continue toward Deva Temple where the cliff breaks. There is sufficient level area to camp sheltered away from the saddle which could be a windy place.
Fault Break to the Minor Saddle and Redwall Descent Ravine
The next objective is the minor saddle to the northwest at the next level down. The break to get down is an easy access at the far south end of Brahma-Deva Saddle. The Supai slope between the cliffs is not generous but there is a faint track from use along this narrow bench. The standard descent from the saddle is directly down off the other side of the minor saddle into the head of the very steep descent ravine, but there is an option to traverse north and descend a broken series of ledges and then turn back into the ravine at the Redwall.
Downclimb the headwall of the Redwall rim to enter the descent ravine. Initially, there is very short downclimb with a good grip and secure steps in the crevise of the fault that makes this route. The ravine continues very steep with numerous boulder scrambles and navigation puzzles until reaching the impassable drop over the Muav cliff below. Options from here are going right (very unstable and difficult rubble slope) or left (steep and crumbly with not much to walk on) -- various previous groups have gone successfully either way.
Connection to North Kaibab Trail
From below the Muav the ravine levels out to normal streambed travel until the Tapeats barrier in the bed. Various groups have also recorded different routes from here to rejoin the Corridor trail. Based on my own experience and reading the terrain, my recommendation is to move out onto the south slope on a line toward the Ribbon Falls drainage visible on the other side of Bright Angel Canyon. A sheep track (typical for most Tonto slopes) leads to a Tapeats break immediately above the high point of the notorious bypass ridge on the North Kaibab Tail across from Ribbon Falls where the trail goes up and down to avoid a stream crossing. The slopes here are grassy and gradual and easy travel.
The seep-spring in the eastside bed is the only possibility and should not be relied on in planning this trip. Carry what you need which is probably more than you think you need.
This is a difficult but not extreme off-trail route and works in either direction although the hole-in-the-rocks could be a problem to locate from the top the first time through here. Several groups attempting this as a 1-day crossing have got into trouble or ended struggling in the dark, and there was a rescue required for a group delayed and out of water at the saddle. Less ambitious hikers who enjoy seriously rugged wilderness are suggested to plan for approximately a day-and-a-half travel, which worked for me. It is recommeded to inform the BCO of your intended route when requesting a permit so they can be aware of your party and schedule. Best to avoid this route in winter weather due to elevation at the saddle.
One advantage is that both ends of the route are developed areas with reliable water, so this can be a brief experiment for building experience with rugged off-trail conditions, rock scrambles, exposed slopes, estimating travel time, equipment and water needs. Agressive and experienced canyon hikers with moderate climbing skills in top condition can expect to enjoy the diversity of terrain and thought-provoking navigation. Some groups take time at the saddle to climb Deva as well.