The Titan - A Fifty Classic Climb Restored


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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 7, 2004 - 10:21pm PT
Last weekend volunteers restored many of the anchor and lead bolts on The Titan’s Finger of Fate route. Located in the Fisher Towers near Moab, Utah, The Titan is one of the largest and oddest rock towers in the United States. Over many years, the belays had accumulated as many 7 bolts, most of which were bad. A team of volunteers from Rock and Ice, the American Safe Climbing Assn and Petzl joined to forces to pull the bad bolts and leave just safe bolts. Over 20 bolts were replaced and an additional 10 excess bolts were removed in order to restore the bolt count closer to the number on the first ascent. Now this “50 Classic Climb” will only be feared for its exciting mud/rock climbing and not it’s bolts. Many thanks to John Evans, Chris McNamara, Duane Raleigh, Mike White, Quent Williams, and Crusher. Also thanks to Sam Lightner Jr. and Forest Dramis who had replaced the upper bolt ladder a few years back.


Trad climber
Yosemite, CA
Apr 7, 2004 - 10:35pm PT
Thank you.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
Apr 8, 2004 - 05:21pm PT
Nice work. Pulled 23 of those quarter-inchers [on the same bolt hangers!] out of Bermuda Dunes on El Cap last spring. Some took the full-on tuning fork work, others came out practically in my fingers.

Is that tower the crumbling heap of choss it looks like?

And yes, Chris, we'll do SOH as well as WSR next month. Please send bolts and tuning forks!



Oklahoma Tony

Big Wall climber
Apr 9, 2004 - 09:37am PT
Thanks for all of your hard work Chris, Iv'e been replacing old bolts at my home crag latley and I know how much work that this stuff is!
Hey Big Wall Pete leave your boom box on the ground the next time your up on a wall it's way annoying man!

Apr 9, 2004 - 10:19am PT
tony- PTPP is not big wall pete. big wall pete is pete takada

and re; boom boxes? ya know.... headphones might be a low impact thing to consider PTPP. We all don't share your taste in music, but thems on the steep side DO have to share a somewhat limited amount of vertical real estate (well, mile wide x 1/2 mile hi....) dunno..... blasting boom boxes has always been part of the experience, tho.
..tough call..

Trad climber
Otto, NC
Apr 12, 2004 - 11:05am PT
Not to poop on the party, but I've always enjoyed seeing the old relics alongside more trustworthy pieces out there in the desert. It makes me feel more connected to the old masters, being able to clip a bolt that Kor or Hurley put in. I'm not convinced that 'cleaning up' these routes will add to my experience. Part of climbing dirty desert towers is a feeling of adventure that old gear enhances, a feeling I look for out there more than I would, say, when lining up to get peed on on the Zodiac. I'm glad there are better bolts to clip, don't get me wrong, but I think it's kind of sad to see the Fishers join the sterile ranks of routes that have had all their evident history removed.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 12, 2004 - 02:55pm PT
there are still a few relics remaining on the route. not all of them have been pulled. in fact, if you look at the photo above, you will only see one or two original kor bolts. most everything we removed was a crappy bolt added after kor.

it's a tough issue. certainly it is cool to see old relics, but if you don't remove the relics then usually what happens is people add more and more bolts next to them. many anchors had 6 or 7 bolts and a mass of webbing. on the bolt ladders, occasionally there are 3 bolts next to each other. its no fun to see more and more holes added to the rock.

like i said, tough balance but if you do the route i think you will be psyched to have bomber anchors, less junk around, and still see some original kor bolts here and there.

Trad climber
Otto, NC
Apr 12, 2004 - 05:14pm PT
That's cool- I'm glad you have some of the same feelings about this stuff. I climbed the Finger last February and it was indeed dismaying to see, for example, three bolts alongside one another on the upper bolt ladder. It's good to hear that you guys had some kind of happy medium in mind.

There's an obscure, classic water-groove route in North Carolina that features big threaded bolts punched in rivet-style, no expansion/contraction etc. The story goes that the old dads in question visited the Highlands hardware store and bought the bolts, but couldn't figure out anything to use for hangers until one suggested that they put big washers on the bolts, and wrap them a bunch of times with baling wire. If you climb this route today, you get to thread stoppers over these same big-ass old bolts. Unless the historical thrill of clipping the old, rusty baling wire appeals more, cuz it's still there. I've never heard of anyone falling...
George Bell

Trad climber
Apr 13, 2004 - 03:23pm PT
What type of bolt works best in that soft Cutler rock? I remember the scary thing about those old bolts was they were sticking out a half inch or more, because the surface had eroded since they were placed. In 10 years are the new bolts also going to show this?
Slabby D

Trad climber
B'ham WA
Apr 13, 2004 - 06:47pm PT
My experience (using not placing fixed anchors) in the Fisher Towers, Zion, Arches and what little other desert climbing I've done is that drilled anchors seemed to stay far more secure in the long run then any type of bolt.

A typical problem with 3/8" expansion bolts seems to be that the hole rapidly erodes at the surface leaving a loose, and not particularly trustworthy bolt. This doesn't seem to take more than a few years either. Consider the bolts on the Jaret finish of Lunar X or some of the bolts on Phantom Sprint, Echo Tower.

However there are lots and lots of bomber drilled angles that have been in place for 20 or more years. Olevski (sp?) routes in Zion and Snow Creek Canyon come to mind. Or check out the anchors on Dark Star in Arches, The ancient drilled angles are still solid the ancient bolts are some of the sketchiest I've seen.

One issue, of course, is that fixed angles have become booty on routes like Sundevil Chimney or been removed by the first ascentionists on routes like Zenyatta Entrada (what was Fowler thinking?). The resulting holes have become ugly scars as climbers place and remove larger and larger sawed angles in the holes. Hopefully the removal of drilled angles is no longer practiced.

If 3/8" bolts rot out as fast as I believe them too the good news might be that the resulting hole with it's now flared start probably makes a pretty good hole for a fixed angle.


Trad climber
Los Angeles/Moab
Apr 13, 2004 - 10:11pm PT
Dang Chris, I wanted to go up and be one of the first to climb on those shiny new bolts last week but got shut down by rain. Fishers were too muddy by midweek.

But thanks for posting the awesome photos. Can't believe I was there just 48 hours ago staring at those gorgeous mudpiles. Wish I was there now :(
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