Lightning Bolt Cracks, North Six Shooter 5.11b

 
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Desert Towers, Utah, USA

  • Currently 5.0/5
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Summary of All Ratings

SuperTopo Rating:   
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 75%  (3)
4 star: 25%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
madmax

climber
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   Feb 20, 2004 - 03:26pm
This route can be done in two pitches. The best approach beta is to pass Davis Canyon and take the next dirt road on your left. It will take you very close to the scree slope and then you just hike up to the west face, where the rap ends.
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JC

climber
Feb 26, 2004 - 11:13am
 
A good climb... brutal, double-decker talus cone approach.

A must-do route...once that is, but I likely wouldn't return due to the approach.
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Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
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   Mar 12, 2003 - 06:16pm
The approach is probably the crux of this one-- as ever, we didn't find the cairned trail until the way down.
Drive as far as you can, and look for the trail that heads up through a gap in the white (Cedar Mesa?) layer directly to the middle of the tower.

Funny, nobody was on Liquid Sky.
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Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
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   May 12, 2005 - 11:13pm
Watch 'Parallelojams' [Return2Sender]if you want to see Renan Ozturk's onsight free-solo of this thing... great film, great footage.
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August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
May 14, 2005 - 10:01am
 
I was expecting the approach to be much worse than it was. Since the supertopo description is rather vague for the northern, low-clearance approach, here is a description of one approach that was fairly easy (it took us an hour and fifteen minutes of steady, but moderate hiking).

Take the first dirt road north of the Davis Canyon road. After about a mile, there is an obvious turnout. We continued about a half mile farther and encountered very loose dirt that caused my tires to spin.

Hike up the first broad gulley left of the tower (it is also the first gulley on the left that looks like it might have a break in the white cliff band at the top of the first talus slope). When first entering the gulley, skirt the first cliff band on the right and then meander back left and head up staying mostly in the bottom of the drainage. Halfway up this gulley, there is a large cairn on the left side. Turn left and hike up the left side of the gulley. This is the loosest, most difficult part of the approach (a trekking pole is useful here). Work up and left under the orange cliff band. Keep traversing left (east) until the cliff band disappears and you are on top of the ridge. After traversing east a little bit more, turn back right and head up easy ground toward the white cliff band. Start working back right along the base of the white cliff band. There are a couple of options for a short fourth class scramble up this cliff, or keep going right and eventually there is a second class option.

From this shelf (between the two talus slopes), start hiking toward the tower. Going straight up the final talus slope toward the tower (on the NE side), looked very loose and unconsolidated. The northwest side of the talus slope is vegetated and looked more consolidated and appealing. (The talus slopes on the north sides of towers/cliffs are more shaded and usually more vegetated. The vegetated slopes usually provide much better footing than the sunny, non-vegetated slopes.) So we worked right staying fairly close to the edge of the shelf (the top of the white cliff band). There is a 25 foot cliff next to some funky pinnacles with balanced boulders on top just before the slope turns vegetated. We passed this cliff on the left, and then cut back right onto the vegetated slope. A steep, but good footing hike brought us to the northwest base of the tower. Walk clockwise around the tower to the start of the route.

The climb is great. Supertopo and the new Indian Creek guidebook give the climb (and individual pitches) the same rating. I thought the route was decidedly harder than other Indian Creek climbs of the same grade, but the rating is perhaps consistent with Yosemite Supertopo grades (although the 5.9 squeeze chimney would be pretty soft by Yosemite, wide crack standards).

You can get down with one 70m rope. The anchor on top is good. The anchor in the notch consists of two very old bolts and an old, drilled pin.
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Fingerlocks

Trad climber
where the climbin's good
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   May 21, 2005 - 01:23pm
Bloom's Indian Creek book gives better advise on gear than Supertopo does.

I used only two fairly small nuts--both at the top of the first pitch--but was very glad to have them since it was a thin tricky traverse move. The party after me used a couple of offsets which might be better.

The largest cam I took was a 5 Friend which was a good piece for entering the wide slot near the top of the first pitch. I didn't use it again until exiting the chimney at the very end of the climb (not a hard spot). I didn't have a 4 Friend but might take one next time instead of the new type 4 Camalot which was a bit big. I was glad to have 3 cams in the 3.5 Friend/3 Camalot range for the overhanging cupped hands section. Having three (or even four) thin hands pieces would be nice if you are linking the top two pitches. No need for extras of the small cams.

Link the first two pitches only if you are feeling rather relaxed on the climb or are doing the left crack on the second pitch. Do link the top two. By using a couple of three foot "rabbit" runners and three two foot runners, I avoided all drag from under the big roof. A couple more short runners above the roof got me to the chimney in great shape. I didn't place (or even notice) pro in the chimney which was easy secure climbing.

Using a single 70 meter rope (you will have one for cragging at the Creek, right?) beats bringing a second rope for the raps.

The climb is a good one and very improbable for such a steep sided tower with a big ol' roof on it. Hang out on top and enjoy looking at all the wild pink rock off to the southwest.
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North Six Shooter - Lightning Bolt Cracks 5.11b - Desert Towers, Utah, USA. Click to Enlarge
The climbing route as seen from the base.
Photo: Dougald MacDonald
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