Loose block / flake on Three Penguins, Arches


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Trad climber
On the road again!
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 13, 2008 - 07:18pm PT
My son and I climbed the Right Chimney (the 5.10c route) on the Three Penguins today. There is a very loose, large block at the start of pitch two. It's about 4 feet long, 1 foot tall, and 1 foot thick. Tristan pulled out of the flake (it's the obvious handhold) as he started of the belay ledge at the end of the first pitch and the entire block moved. I shouted to let go and he stepped back down. He then reached up and moved the whole block, which is just sitting on a down-sloping block below it.
We climbed past it using the crack in back of the corner.
If someone inexperienced climbs that route and yards on the block it may come out, so please warn people.
I told the park rangers about the block when we got down and they plan to have someone climb up to look at it.

Big Wall climber
somewhere without avatars.........
Nov 13, 2008 - 07:38pm PT
"Start of pitch 2"

Close to the ground, easy to tell whether or not anyone is under you/in the fall line. I'd have trundled it. It's pretty certain that anyone going to do the route isn't going to get "the word" and might pull it off while on route.

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Nov 13, 2008 - 08:48pm PT
Trouble with trundling is, the main park road looks to be in the fall line.

From a few years back, I don't recall looseness. Is it that flake right below the final chimney?

nick d

Trad climber
Nov 13, 2008 - 08:53pm PT
Loose rock in the desert? STOP THE PRESSES!!!!!!

Sorry, I couldn't resist.
Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
Nov 14, 2008 - 09:14am PT
You did the wrong route;...do the backside route...Petrified Bear's Dick...........(It's actually the same crack system; only on the backside...)


Gym climber
Otto, NC
Nov 14, 2008 - 10:51am PT
Jeez, you can see clear to the ground from there...

'Throw it over your shoulder and move on, what's with all the drama?"- old desert guy

Loose rock in the desert=dog bites man.

Trad climber
On the road again!
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 15, 2008 - 02:53pm PT
I forgot to mention - it's directly above the road. I dropped a biner (which my son had hooked up incorrectly, doubling the sling without clipping the biner into the sling - not clumsines on MY part :-) ] and the biner landed on the road.
I thought about trundling it, and would have, were the road not directly below the climb.
I posted it here, and on rockclimbing.com, and told the rangers. They mentioned closing the road and the trundling it.

If a climber pulls it off, and it hits a car, the park service could close climbing in Arches. That's one reason for my concern about this flake.

It is right on the ledge at the belay at the top of pitch one, before the 1-inch crack that widens fists and offwidth.

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Nov 15, 2008 - 03:07pm PT
My experience; initially they will resist the idea of a deliberate trundle cleaning.

You must then remind them of their liability if they neglect to rectify a potentially catastrophic situation and something goes bad later.

Did it once with a monster block on Fracture Line.
I said I thought I could push it onto the ramp at the start but that a few pieces might go onto the road. After much resistance they closed the road for (what turned out to be all of) about 10 seconds.

Nailed it, right down to the pebbles on the road.
But it is one of those "you don't know how bad it COULD have been" type situations.

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Nov 15, 2008 - 03:17pm PT
Sounds like the block should be obvious to climbers on the route, but in case
other folks want a visual I think we're talking about this one.


Nov 15, 2008 - 03:41pm PT
Interesting question balancing the error of commission versus the error of omission.

If you are going to trundle it you need two people on the road stopping traffic and you have to have the tools needed to get the rock off the road. Can't just leave it there. As that rock probably will also damage the road surface there may be other problems flowing from a decision to drop it.

In addition to telling the Park Service you could write "loose" on the rock with chalk.

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Nov 15, 2008 - 04:19pm PT
jstan, funny.

Want to know why there is so little bouldering in Zion?

When they fall they usually turn to sand.

Yea Chilho, I think that is it (should make a nice stance), but don't understand the "right chimney" reference.

Trad climber
On the road again!
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 15, 2008 - 04:25pm PT
That is exactly the loose flake.
I can't do anything now I am back home in Colorado (got in last night) and will start work next week as a ski instructor, so my days to play are limited.
Jstan it's illegal to use chalk in Arches; and ironically, neither TRistan nor I use it. Neither of us had chalk bags when we were on the route. I don't use it in the desert, since the rock is fairly rough anyway (and it was cold).
I suggested to the ranger that they at least mark the flake as loose.

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Nov 15, 2008 - 04:25pm PT
don't understand the "right chimney" reference.

Right Chimney they call the route, to distinguish it from Center and Left Chimneys.
Actually, it's mostly hand and fist, as you can see. But the last 15' or so get wide.

Note how a falling block would almost surely hit the road.

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Nov 15, 2008 - 04:30pm PT
On the topo for Space Shot there is a feature labeled Reboze Pinnacle.

A free beer to the first who posts the reason for the name.

Big Wall climber
Nov 15, 2008 - 06:50pm PT
free beer to whomever removes that block.
RJ Spurrier

SuperTopo staff member
Nov 15, 2008 - 07:20pm PT
I added a link to this thread in the Three Penguins Route Page


Trad climber
Lee, NH
Nov 16, 2008 - 02:13pm PT
Seems like Sibylle and RJ have done the right things so far.

Nothing to add regarding that loose block, but in the spirit of climbing content,
here's one more view of the route.

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Nov 16, 2008 - 04:41pm PT
Its easy to see why so many climbers call desert rock marginal or choss.
Captain...or Skully

Social climber
Nov 16, 2008 - 05:08pm PT
Yeah, that block will hit the road, but that's knott a problem.
It'll most likely make it past the road to the wash below.
That's just a timing issue.

Desert trundling is fun, no?
Just do it.....It'll be a great trundle.

the Moon and Antarctica
Nov 16, 2008 - 06:02pm PT
Put a couple of crashpads on the pavement. Should be fine.
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