Mike Anderson and Rob Pizem have climbed their third big Zion free route of the year, a 12-pitch 5.12d on the giant Isaac formation. Hoping to free the Lowe Route on Isaac’s Southeast Pillar, the two first climbed the chimney system on that route but decided the difficult, dangerous climbing (5.11+ R) didn’t warrant a return visit. They restarted on the safer Tricks of the Trade, aiming for a huge corner system above Tricks’ midway ledge. They ended up losing the Lowe Route but finding a new line they liked, and on Thanksgiving Day they returned to free the entire route in a one-day push. Anderson redpointed the crux seventh pitch, a lieback and stemming corner, after toprope rehearsal. Freeloader (5.12d) ended atop the Southeast Pillar and required five protection bolts and seven belay/rappel bolts.
“It was great to put up a route free on the first ascent because it hasn’t been affected by previous climbers,” Anderson said. “The free climbing doesn’t rely on pin scars, so it is ‘naturally’ free, a rarity these days.”
Earlier this year, Anderson and Pizem made the first free ascents of the Dunn Route on Angels Landing in Zion as well as the route Golden Years in the Kolob area of Zion. Anderson and his brother Mark also free climbed the classic Spaceshot, with substantial variations, this fall.
I got your message, and your question about Isaac. You are correct in deciphering that we did not go to the true summit. We ended our route on top of the pillar. I think Dave Bloom's route ends on the same pillar. If I had more time, I'd like to go back there and climb the actual Lowe route (which we were shooting for in the first place, but we mis-understood our topo), and finish the wall to the top. I'm pretty sure we did correctly locate the Lowe route from the top of the pillar to the summit, and the first stretch would be pretty hard to free. The rock up there is bad, and it's a flaring aid seam, so you can't to any jamming, and there aren't really any face holds. There were certainly some other possibilities up there, but there's a lot of choss, and that white rock is extra nerve-racking (as I'm sure you know better than I).
> Mike Anderson
Photo: Bryan Bird
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