(TR) Desert Towers Rule!


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Leavenworth, WA and Talkeetna, AK
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 5, 2009 - 02:41pm PT
I just got back from another fun-filled tower climbing adventure. This trip was a bit shorter than the last, at only 3 weeks, but I still managed to squeeze in 24 towers.

Here are the links to the last two SuperTopo trip reports I did on tower climbing:

Utah Desert Tower Tour
I love the Desert

My wife Michelle and I drove down to Moab in early October and decided to warm up with a couple towers in Arches National Park.
First off was Dark Angel, West Face (5.10+), a very prominent tower in the north of Arches, with a pleasant and scenic 3-mile approach.

The next day we met up with our friends Steph and Drew and hopped on the Three Penguins, Right Chimney (5.10c) a cool 2 pitch tower right over the road.

An enjoyable hand crack led to a fun off-width.

The next day we headed down to Valley of the Gods, a remote and desolate canyon just north of Mexican Hat.
The first day we all climbed Petard Tower, Hurley-Rearic Route (II 5.10-). It's a fun little route on a truly freestanding tower.

The next day Michelle and I climbed Putterman on the Throne, Supercalifragilisticexpialiputterman (III 5.9 C1) and Putterman in a Bathtub, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Putterworld (II 5.9 C1), while Steph and Drew climbed Eagle Plume Tower across the way. Both routes were super-cool and had awesome summits.

Here's another shot with Eagle Plume Tower for perspective.

The next day we climbed the ultra-classic Eagle Plume Tower, South Face (III 5.10), the Castle Tower of Valley of the Gods.

While not as solid as its northerly neighbor, it offers thoughtful, sustained and varied climbing right to the summit.

No trip to this part of the desert would be complete without a run up Mexican Hat, Bandito Route (C1)

On our way back north we decided to have a look at Magic Man, Prayer Stick (III, 5.10+) on Comb Ridge, a cool propped-up tower in the middle of nowhere.

The 2nd pitch is the crux, a brutal wide crack that goes from 100' of fists and larger to a crux 10" section up high. Overall a super high-quality pitch though and a fun route overall.

Michelle had one more day to climb before flying back home from GJ, so we revisited Colorado National Monument for a quick climb of Sentinel Spire, Fast Draw (II, 5.10).

The first pitch is a splitter 100' hand crack, then two fun chimney pitches lead to the summit.

After Michelle left I took a rest day before meeting up with my best tower-climbing buddy Stoney and the infamous Tom Payne.

We warmed up with a blustery morning climb of Dolomite Spire, Kor Route (III 5.9 C2) and Lighthouse Tower, Lonely Vigil (II 5.10-).

Dolomite was a nice mix of free and aid climbing.

Lighthouse started with a nice long 5.10 pitch, followed by a steep chimney.

The summit of Lighthouse is pretty small, just big enough for the three of us. The fun part was downclimbing back down off the summit, since there are no anchors on top.

The next day we headed out to "scout" the route for the Doric Column out in the Mystery Towers. That afternoon we came back and climbed The Hindu, Maverick (II 5.9 C2), an excellent 2 pitch route on one of the best looking towers.

Later that evening we headed on over to the Fisher Towers and took a few laps on Lizard Rock, Entry Fee (5.8) and the other variation to the left.

The next day we climbed Echo Tower, Phantom Spirit (IV 5.9 C2). This was one of the best aid route's I've done in the Fishers. It's pretty much all natural gear (no bolt ladders) and goes clean easily.

That afternoon we took some laps on some of the towers beneath Ancient Art. We climbed Boxtop (5.10), The Cobra (5.11), and the two shorter towers just west of the Cobra, one of which was just a boulder problem, the other actually had some hard, loose climbing. (Edit: Anyone know the names of these two?)

A warning to all about the Cobra: the Cobra shuttered and swayed twice, while we were on it. I've never heard of or had that do that before. Fun times...

The next mission was River Tower, North Face (III 5.8 C2), a really cool tower just north of the Fishers, made of the same Cutler sandstone. The route is a good introductory to this type of climbing with no real difficulties, but a nice location and great views.

That afternoon we drove down the road and climbed Crooked Arrow Spire, Longbow Chimney (III 5.8 C1). This has got to have one of the funnest (and easiest) chimneys in the desert.

Next it was another quick visit to Arches. Both Stoney and Tom had already climbed Tower of Babel, Zenyatta Entrada (IV 5.8 C3), but agreed to let me short-fix them up it. It was a great 3 hour session of excellent straight-forward clean aid climbing.

Another rest day, then our final destination was to be Canyonlands. First order of business was Charlie Horse Needle, North Face (5.10 C1). Wingate climbing is nice too.

Next we ghost rode the whip around the White Rim to do Tiki Tower, Brave Little Toaster (III 5.9 C1). Tiki is a little known tower that sits on the western end of a ridge of forming towers behind the larger Airport Tower.

One of the main objectives of this trip for me was Islet in the Sky, Original Route (IV 5.10 C3), one of the best looking towers out there and with a real big-wall feel.

After a wandering and sustained 5.10 hand/fist crack on the first pitch, the climb does a horizontal traverse left out onto the north wall of the tower, giving it a real airy feel. It then climbs a 2 pitch splitter seam, then a short free pitch to the summit.

Another huge objective for me was the Pixie Stick (III C3). My friend Dougald (who made the first ascent with Paul Gagner), turned me on to this slender little spire in a remote section of Monument Basin.

I got to lead both pitches, Tom belayed, and Stoney took the photos.

What a really cool climb - and still awaiting a free ascent...

While we were out there we found a splitter 200' hand crack on the White Rim that we each took a turn soloing...

Finally it was time for some free climbing on The Mock Turtle, Mud Wrestling (IV 5.10+). The Mock Turtle is the highest free-standing tower in Monument Basin, and is uniquely capped by five feet of the white rim sandstone.

A got sandbagged into linking the first two crux pitches together into one mega 190' mud fest. "Yeah Joe, just keep climbing, you can make it to those next anchors..."

Stoney led the next pitch, a super-squeeze chimney. He ended up having to remove every last piece of gear from his harness, helmet off, and retie his rope below his waste to fit through.

We were treated to some cool wildlife while down there.

And for a parting shot, I went around and took some photos after climbing and took a shot of Six Shooter Lake in Indian Creek:

Desert Towers rule!

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Nov 5, 2009 - 02:59pm PT
Damn, dude, that's like a year's worth of climbing!!!

Badass indeed. Nice shots.

Toyota Tacoma
Nov 5, 2009 - 03:02pm PT
DOOOOOOOOOD! You get it done. I love the pics of these obscurities. Thanks for sharing.

Trad climber
Nov 5, 2009 - 03:14pm PT
VERY nice!

Great pics of some cool out of the way ones too...

Thanks for posting up!

Social climber
Flatland, Ca
Nov 5, 2009 - 03:28pm PT

Bravo to all who sent here!!!

Love that aiders shots looking into the sunlight... that's a keeper...

I think this is the shot

other notable shots (the ones I really like)

Super siloette!

uhm... was this thing really meant to be climbed... I mean... It's almost tipped over already! yikes!

This guy is a machine!!!
Right On!

Ok.. now you're just being funny!!!

Excellent TR, I will be back to



Post Shite Edit: I can't get the pics to show here.. pulled from above, you've already seen them.. don't need to see them again... but you can click the link to see what I was commenting on.

Davis, CA
Nov 5, 2009 - 03:49pm PT
Man, utah is great.

Nov 5, 2009 - 03:55pm PT
Deserves some kind of climbing/photography biathlon prize.

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Nov 5, 2009 - 04:10pm PT

thx much!!!

Pixie Stick looks amazing! WHat a prize!

Social climber
davis, ca
Nov 5, 2009 - 04:26pm PT

and i thought 7 towers in two weeks was a pretty good road trip...nice slice of humble pie....

awesome stuff
great photos
i love the desert
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Nov 5, 2009 - 05:05pm PT
Dang, that's a lot of towers for one trip! How many days?

Social climber
Hercules, CA
Nov 5, 2009 - 05:14pm PT

That's a lot of climbing in that 3 weeks. Thanks for sharing.

Capitola, California
Nov 5, 2009 - 05:27pm PT
RAD!!! I wanna go

Trad climber
Nov 5, 2009 - 06:00pm PT
What an adventure! Thanks for posting up!!!!!

Social climber
Nov 5, 2009 - 06:01pm PT
Beautiful pics. Love that ancient art in profile.

Trad climber
Behind the Zion Curtain
Nov 5, 2009 - 06:18pm PT
Proper! Thanks for sharing! Islet in the Sky is proud!
goatboy smellz

Nov 5, 2009 - 06:21pm PT
What a TRIP!

Social climber
San Luis Obispo, Ca.
Nov 5, 2009 - 06:39pm PT
Awsome trek!
thanks much for sharin.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Nov 5, 2009 - 06:46pm PT
Since when is Charliehorse Needle an obscurity Hoots?
Easy to get to, reasonable.
The desert holds stuff far more obscure.

Nice job, Joe.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Nov 5, 2009 - 10:13pm PT
Hoh man!. I'm out the door to eat, but i will be back to comment. Short story; nice work!

Oakland: what's not to love?
Nov 5, 2009 - 10:40pm PT
Islet looks phenomenal, and the pic of the traversing pitch is a wild one. Thanks so much for sharing.
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