Trip Report
Aid Climbing in the Fisher Towers – “You’ll Really Dig This Place”
Wednesday December 6, 2017 7:11pm
The Oracle is a 700-foot pile of mud in the Fisher Towers, Utah. Being around 20 feet thick, the formation defies all laws of physics and gravity.

My good friends, Joe and Keiko, invited me to climb it with them.

“You’ll really dig this place.” They told me.

And I did. Literally.

The Oracle, Fisher Towers
The Oracle, Fisher Towers
Credit: Neil Chelton

Joe carefully excavated a passage up the first pitch until a giant mud-curtain halted progress. With no gear to stop a ground-fall, he balanced up on sandy smears and hooked a fairly solid plate of clay.

Credit: Neil Chelton

It broke.

Credit: Neil Chelton

But he stayed in balance. He poked a beak behind a reasonably well attached mud-block...

Credit: Neil Chelton

... which disintegrated.

Credit: Neil Chelton

He stepped down.

But slipped on some sand and began to toboggan down a mud-ramp.

Credit: Neil Chelton

Somehow, he arrested the fall by getting his foot stuck in a crumbly crack.

Credit: Neil Chelton

I reluctantly took over the vertical mud-swim.

Credit: Neil Chelton

I pushed a beak into a neat constriction.

Credit: Neil Chelton

It didn’t work.

Credit: Neil Chelton

I placed a cam in a bomber part of the mud-curtain.

Credit: Neil Chelton

It didn’t work. Nothing would work.

I whimpered to the ground.

Credit: Neil Chelton

Joe and I made excuses...

Credit: Neil Chelton

... while Keiko zoomed up the pitch.

Credit: Neil Chelton

And so began our journey up a gigantic pile of hardened cake-mix.

We ate some nice food...

Credit: Neil Chelton

... and climbed some classic pitches.

Bomber gear in the Fisher Towers.
Bomber gear in the Fisher Towers.
Credit: Neil Chelton

One pitch involved tunnelling through a mud chamber.

Another followed a mud-filled crack, where the mud in the crack was actually harder than the surrounding rock.

Everything turns mud-brown when climbing in the Fishers: ropes, gear, ...
Everything turns mud-brown when climbing in the Fishers: ropes, gear, underwear.. And not only because of the rock-dust.
Credit: Neil Chelton

On the crux aid pitch, Joe scratched the tip of a tiny beak into a mud-dimple. It was one of the most ridiculous aid-placements I've ever seen.

He attached his aiders and gingerly balanced upwards.

He then placed another beak tip in another mud dimple.

Credit: Neil Chelton

And another. And another. And another. Hours passed.

He ended up climbing the entire pitch only using beaks, exhausting our almost infinite supply.

Credit: Neil Chelton

After a while, we couldn’t tell what was mud...

View from The Oracle
View from The Oracle
Credit: Neil Chelton

... and what was poo.

We eventually arrived at the summit...

Final pitch of Beaking in Tongues, The Oracle.
Final pitch of Beaking in Tongues, The Oracle.
Credit: Neil Chelton

.... two days late for work.

The Fisher Towers are still standing. They’re waiting for more ascents. Adventure is guaranteed. I highly recommend climbing there, if you like getting dirty too.

Keiko on Beaking in Tongues, The Oracle
Keiko on Beaking in Tongues, The Oracle
Credit: Neil Chelton

Route Information: Beaking in Tongues, The Oracle (V, A4). First Ascent: Steve "Crusher" Bartlett and Dave Levine, April 1997. This is the only route on the main Fisher Towers with no lead bolts, rivets or enhanced placements. It’s awesome. Climb it.

This trip report was originally published on VDiff Climbing. Read more stuff like this:

  Trip Report Views: 1,357
Neil Chelton
About the Author
Neil Chelton is a mincer from England.

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mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Dec 6, 2017 - 07:22pm PT
I can readily see the fascination that a "mincer" might have for poo.

Very humourous illustrations, lad. Cheers.

Big Wall climber
  Dec 6, 2017 - 07:28pm PT
Fun trip report! I especially like the cartoon graphics, they are a rather nice touch for things that didn't get photographed for obvious reasons. The photo of the buried in sand pair of cams is quite interesting. It sure makes me want to stick to granite for big walling.

Trad climber
  Dec 6, 2017 - 07:28pm PT
That was awesome! Yes I do like the place. Only place I have had sewing machine leg while standing in aiders. Made the most ridiculous placements and they worked! Love seeing photos.
Thanks for posting up!




A long way from where I started
  Dec 6, 2017 - 07:37pm PT
Cool. A place where you can load your trousers and no one will notice because, a) they've done the same, so can't tell where the smell is coming from, and b) You're completely brown all over, so the brown stains don't look any different from the rest of you.

Thanks for this.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Dec 6, 2017 - 09:03pm PT
Fun! Neat graphics and story. Not for everyone, including me. My hat is off to mud jockeys...adventure is where you find it.

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Dec 6, 2017 - 09:59pm PT
I like the graphics, and the views up there look stunning!

Seems pretty darn scary.

  Dec 7, 2017 - 09:18am PT
Hehe, great TR, I need to climb there, someday . .

The Good Places
  Dec 7, 2017 - 01:26pm PT
Thank you Neil. Your adventure had all the requisite elements: real-world work avoidance, avid post-facto story relay, good partners trying themselves by your side....and muddy no-line pure fear rocks.

I like this.

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Dec 7, 2017 - 01:30pm PT
You three are absolute fools for going out there and risking your lives for a useless, unaesthetic pile of detrius few will ever appreciate. I love it!


  Dec 7, 2017 - 03:46pm PT
That sounds horrible, but congratulations for living to make some nice illustrations for us.

Social climber
  Dec 7, 2017 - 04:05pm PT
hey there say, neil... wow, thanks for the trip report...

say, THAT was a different kind of share...

nice, :)
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Dec 7, 2017 - 04:10pm PT
Awesome adventure,
But not my cup of tea
Thanks for the great trip report 👍👍

Trad climber
Little Rock and Loving It
  Dec 7, 2017 - 04:25pm PT
Nice TR, TFPU! Mud makes me skeered.
Inner City

Trad climber
Portland, OR
  Dec 8, 2017 - 08:19am PT
Cool report! Thanks.

That looks like quite a committing pile! Some people have all the nerve!

Even back when I wasn't that good (never was that good) I would never have tried something like that!

Great graphics..

Trad climber
Mancos, CO & Bend, OR
  Dec 8, 2017 - 08:29am PT
So glad you guys like this stuff: another version of modern climbing which has no personal appeal to me at all. Like all versions of aid and "hard" free soloing. Thanks for posting up!

  Dec 8, 2017 - 12:32pm PT
type II fun bump.
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
  Dec 11, 2017 - 08:29am PT
Nice TR and boffo performance, lads. I've climbed in the Fischer Towers three times now, have had outrageous adventures every time, and have yet to summit. I actually think we could have summited the third time but my partner was pretty well freaked half way up and I had long ago given up trying to talk freaked partners into continuing on when they had shot their mental bullet. Rapped off once in a sudden summer downpour and had to throw away a carabiner and a figure eight descender due to sand and silt erosion of the aluminum - that biner was warn 2/3 through by the time we got off. Wild place, to be sure. If I ever get those photos digitized I'll post up a more detailed TR.

Mountain climber
  Dec 11, 2017 - 09:14am PT
Much respect for climbing that. Glad it wasn't me. TFPU!
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