Cosmic Trauma, Zion National Park, Trip Report


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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 8, 2005 - 11:57am PT
Cosmic trauma

Day 3 in Zion. At 10:00 we met up in the coffee shop but couldn’t figure out what to climb. Everyone recommended Cosmic Egg but we were done climbing north facing shaded routes. We had our eyes on another celestial route: Cosmic Trauma. By all accounts it was just an OK route. Nobody in the coffee shop was really all that psyched on it… but it was in the SUN!

Driving into the canyon, we didn’t see another wall climber anywhere. I think we had the walls to ourselves!

Here is the route:

When we got to the base, Ammon remarked “Whoa, I don’t know quite what to think about this… It’s warm!”

We were ready to climb at 11:43. We debated waiting 18 minutes to maintain a perfect streak of post noon starts. But decided to start climbing anyway. Two pitches of Spaceshot led to 3 free pitches. I was at the pitch 5 belay 25 minutes after starting and Ammon Took over.

Here i am (a wee bit runnout) nearing the top of the fifth pitch

Here is Ammon toward the top of pitch 6.

I suggested that he leave the hammer behind so he would be lighter on the delicate clean placements (and therefor not take a whipper back onto me). He could always pull up the hammer if he needed it on the tag line. But he insisted. You see, we have two different styles: Ammon Feels that since every speed climbing rack is lighter than a full el cap nailing rack, its no biggy to carry the extras. I need to feel as light as possible. I feel no shame in leaving every single piece of gear with ammon that I don’t think ill need: extra big cams, my camera, candy bar wrappers…

Here is ammon midway up the Awkward pitch 7.

The route was rated A3 but we knew it had gone clean once. He led the first aid pitch clean. On the second aid pitch, he nailed one bugabook (big knifeblade). This would be the only hammered placement on the route. I think you can do that one move clean if you equalize the tinyest slider nuts. Or maybe you can do one sketchy free move around it? Ammon cruised the next aid pitch and then I lead 3 mostly easy free pitches to the top. One recommendation: once the route joins with Equinox, avoid the 5.10ow by climbing the cool 5.9 arete out left. We topped out with a time of 2:54. We think this was the first one day ascent of the route.

Here is the view from the summit:

When we got ready to walk down we realized we forgot the double rope rappel device. We only had two gri gris. Hmm. Guess we are simul rappelling… but does an 8mm accessory cord tagline work in a gri gri? Only one way to find out: 1) determine who has the newest Gri Gri with the least wear (that would be you, ammon) 2) start rappin.

Here ammon in enjoying the thin line. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out why they call him the El Cap Pirate?


For the trip reports for Days 1 and 2 click here:

Big Wall climber
Phoenix, AZ
Dec 8, 2005 - 01:26pm PT
Damn , Chris! Top of P5 in 25 minutes!! My God. So the route shares the first two of Spaceshot -- what do the next three free pitches go at? I assume they bank off left (or straight up?) of the ledge at P2 instead of heading around right for P3 of Spaceshot?

Nice job, guys. Looks like you're having a lot of fun up there despite the temps.


Dec 8, 2005 - 01:32pm PT
Heard anything about the obscure route to the right of cosmic trauma called moon patrol. I don’t think it gets done much but it looks pretty good.

Phoenix, AZ
Dec 8, 2005 - 02:28pm PT
By "two pitches of Spaceshot" do you mean the very first two sort of chossy free pitches at the bottom? Just curious.
jeff benowitz

Dec 8, 2005 - 04:16pm PT
munter hitch
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 8, 2005 - 04:36pm PT
just posted a pic that ammon took of me on the 5th pitch.

you climb the "approach" pitches on spaceshot to the base of the bolt ladder. the topo then shows three pitches up and left but it was really more like 2.

yeah, the munter hitch woulda worked... but then the rope gets are twisted... unless there is a munter secret i dont know about

moon patrol looked ok. but i don't think it gets done much because you are only 20-30 feet left of the classic splitter cracks on spaceshot.

day three was the last one. but we will definitely be back for more... maybe even when there is more than 5 hours a day of comfortable temps!

Trad climber
cayucos california
Dec 8, 2005 - 09:56pm PT
You guys f*#king rock!

Big Wall climber
El Cap
Dec 8, 2005 - 10:00pm PT

Aaaarrrgghhh, maties.... The El Cap Pirate here!!!

Nice trip report Chris, you where "Born to Mac".

Aiiggh, speaking of birth... ya didn't tell me it was yer birthday. Next time you pull a stunt like that I'm gonna have to keelhaul ya.

Anyway, thanks for sailing some sandstone seas, with me.

Cheers to ya!!!

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Dec 9, 2005 - 12:11pm PT

one pirate to another, staying with H are you?
(Just trying to reconcile your observation stated a year since with the comments of several associates. Not sniping on this. Open ground suits me well enough.)

Congrats on short work of CT, but we did the arete when we put up Equinox. Likewise on Moon Patrol although its left of CT and I thought that CT followed IT before the beautiful splitter.


Sin City
Dec 9, 2005 - 06:01pm PT
Hey Ron, I was with Flyn Brian when you left that note on his van about the route that we put up. That was cool, I like the history. What a great line. Have a good one Ron, and Ammon and Chris, sorry Chris if I wondered about your climbing ability! I thought Ammon was climbing with a "lesser man' HA! You know that McNeely, he'll drag anybody up the cliff for a belay (including myself) Good job guys, keep up the cranking!
Kurt "Burt" Arend
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Dec 9, 2005 - 09:20pm PT
Regards Burt,
Yeah twas I near 30 years ago, but first Dink Hink backed off then my other partner the normally dauntless Kevin Kelly had second thoughts and, after some anchor failures and on my first visit to Zion, I gave ground to the better part of valor.
I thought that damn crack would go straight in! Instead it flexed at night and spit out my pitons. No cams back then.
Good on ya for doing it. I want to see the photos taken with the lumber I saw.

still in the hood? The window was small but there was some warmth in the sun today. Still the rock never did seem warm, sucking back the heat it lost last night.
Haven't seen a December this cold since '90.
I was up at the Land of the Krazy Ivans and about 2:30 Ivan showed up, a wind that changes direction so suddenly it can knock you over even on a ledge.
PTPP called me an old bull in a complementary way, but unlike the one Robert Duvall joked of in Colors I didn't tell a young bull to walk down the hill and f*#k ALL the cows. It was more like f*#k the cows I'm OUTTA here.

Fifty something and solo on walls in December. What was I thinking?
Oh yeah, now I remember.
(Must be getting senile, but at least it seems like I meet more new people.....)
Wanna play?


Ice climber
Dec 10, 2005 - 12:55pm PT were not the only crazy ones who thought that December might be a pleasant time to do a wall in Zion! Just that while you were speed climbing, we were off mosey climbing. We, however, ended up bivying using double queen sized beds in the comfort of the Zion Lodge. I think that the free breakfast buffet was the final kicker to entice us indoors. We did not let a little thing like the semi-slushy, frozen in the eddies, Virgin River stop us from getting to our wall and we had to cross two bands which made for a brisk beginning and end of each day. The worst part was one of our later (did I mention we were not speed climbing?) evenings when we got back to our wool socks we had been using to cross the river in, only to find them somewhere close to the consistency of frozen halibut steaks and no amount of manipulation would make them malleable enough to get back on our feet. Definitely a fun time was had...though it was a wee bit nippy out, especially at 8:30 in the morning, though it never really did seem to warm up at any hour of the day. I am going to Canada to ice climb now...should be nice and pleasant up there!

For photos of our creek crossings - please notice that the expressions seem quite similar to Ammon's....

Slow on the wall...but fast in the water!

To see more pictures from our trip, go to
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Dec 10, 2005 - 02:18pm PT
Damn you guys are HARD.

Must actually like the cold would be my guess. Antifreeze in the blood?

No secret that the best seasons for comfortable climbing here are spring and fall, but in the spring much is closed down for the birds.
This actually proves to be a double whammy for climbers because, not only are the fall days much shorter, but spring tends to go back and forth between warm and cold but in the fall its more like one day its hot followed by.....WINTER.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 10, 2005 - 08:32pm PT
does anyone know if ours was the first one day ascent of the wall?

i want to put in a plug for ammon's web site. he keeps track of the zion speed records, FA info, etc.

check it out:
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Dec 11, 2005 - 08:32pm PT
FW and partner are not the only hard core climbers around here.

Got a call from Yo yesterday. If you live in Cedar City the Kolob is MUCH closer than the main canyon, but its also 2000' higher and even colder!
Even so he planned to finish a big new route in a one day blast by starting at six.

Hope he's down and warm by now.

NOT Fresno
Dec 11, 2005 - 09:47pm PT



Fingers and toes...check.

Route completed...negative.

Took almost six hours on one pitch. Two of those dealing with the DEATH BLOCKS OF DOOM!!! Bwa-ha-ha! The jug commute is up to 600 feet.

Soon, my pet, you will be mine...
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Dec 12, 2005 - 12:37am PT
good on ya.
I know the feeling.
If its just less than vertical like most of the wall then fixing a few hundred meters makes sense this time of year. Hell, we did on our routes in September.

But what was that early start like?...brrrrrr


Big Wall climber
El Cap
Dec 14, 2005 - 02:10am PT

"does anyone know if ours was the first one day ascent of the wall?"

I asked the locals and they're pretty sure that this was the FOD, but maybe somebody has some better info.

Ron, you should check out the link Chris posted:

Let me know if I got any of the information wrong, or need to add some. Middendorf helped me out, maybe your buddy, Dave Jones knows more. I think it's important to get the right history info.

Nope, not in the hood anymore... in Chicago visiting my girl... freezing my arse off, haa haa.

Hope to be back in Zion in mid-Jan, after a bit of mining in the Vegas area... yep, mining. Go figure.

Cheers, The El Cap Pirate!

Trad climber
Durango, CO
Dec 20, 2005 - 03:55pm PT
Hey buddy, got yer caLL. Hope you continue to have fun in Zion. Congrats on das capitan season. Psyched to hear yer ankles are doing well and your stylin Zion. Hope to get out there again soon. Cochise called my name last week it was sooooo sweet, nice warm granite domes, like the meadows, but with fun hikes. Later bud...!!!
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 25, 2005 - 01:48am PT
I just made a topo for this route and added it to the obscurities page:
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