Trip Report
More Mud Nailing--Sugar Daddy first ascent--TR
Monday March 9, 2009 6:02pm
The Sugar Daddy

Iíd been driving past this rock, near Hanksville, for years. Itís just begging to be climbed. Iíve even walked around the thing a couple of times, but dismissed it as impossible without drilling huge numbers of large holes for spikes (rebar? footing stakes?) of some kind. The ďrockĒ appeared to be too soft and flaky to nail, too crumbly to bolt. There were a few traces of seams, but crumbly and vague, leading into blank shields of peeling pastry. A untidy frustration, at the back of my mind; that damn thing is right by the highway, flaunting itself.

Last year, yet another token reconnaissance, to laugh at this ridiculous tower, was different. Itís easy to read the hard rocks, like granite, but reading the hieroglyphics of of the more esoteric desert rocks takes more time and practice. Previously, just a few words here and there made vague sense. Last year, words became sentences, then whole paragraphs jumped into a kind of structure. Of course, once you learn to read, you have to work out what itís saying, all the way to the end. So in May last year, Chip and I returned with huge piles of gear, and started up a prominent crack on the south side.

Hereís the formation, back right:

Itís not changed much in 50 years:

This is what we found close up:

I started off the ground, and this is Chip on the second pitch. I elected to belay from the ground, so as to out of the way of any falling debris, so this is taken with a telephoto lens.

A view of Chip from further out from the cliff:

Chip actually hammered in a couple of texas tacks on his pitch.

We left, and came back next weekend to finish. It was hot, 95 degrees in the shade, of which there was none. It was my lead, but up on the climb was actually better than being broiled at the reflector-oven base. The last pitch was a doozy, starting with tipped out #5 Camalots under a temporary-feeling flake roof. After a while, the crack turned to dust, twigs and dead insects, so I started nailing Toucans straight into a calcite seam in the flake, hoping that the whole thing, trembling with the hammer blows, would not fall off, with me under it. Hereís looking down from near the summit.

Hereís a neat calcite seam placement: a stacked Toucan.

At the top, there was nothing to anchor to. With about 2 hours daylight left, I spent about one hour enhancing a natural bollard, and we ended up leaving part of my lead rope as the rap anchor:

The summit pic.

  Trip Report Views: 4,193
About the Author
crunch is a social climber from CO.

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Boulder climber
  Mar 9, 2009 - 06:07pm PT
WOW!!! Sweet TR, and cool historical shot. Was the texas tack made by UP?

Trad climber
  Mar 9, 2009 - 06:14pm PT

Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
  Mar 9, 2009 - 06:14pm PT
It is the End of Days... climbers are now ascending piles of dust.

Impressive in a weird "glad I wasn't there" kind of way.

Boulder, Colorado
  Mar 9, 2009 - 06:18pm PT
Nice TR. Looks a little loose though.

Trad climber
Anchorage, AK
  Mar 9, 2009 - 06:23pm PT
I will no longer complain about our local choss, it appears that what we climb is solid.

Nice TR, I can appreciate climbing stuff that most folks avoid.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
  Mar 9, 2009 - 06:24pm PT
that is some awesome choss! makes all the ocean rock near my house look bomber!

Trad climber
One drink ahead of my past.
  Mar 9, 2009 - 06:25pm PT
Best Bollard EVER!

A long way from where I started
  Mar 9, 2009 - 07:19pm PT
Whew! I'm glad you guys took that one off the unclimbed list. What a nightmare.

Trad climber
  Mar 9, 2009 - 07:25pm PT


Social climber
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  Mar 9, 2009 - 07:31pm PT
Cheers for that. Wow! That is some inspiring choss climbing.

Trad climber
  Mar 9, 2009 - 07:35pm PT
That or you aren't right!

But I'd be proud of that.


Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Mar 9, 2009 - 07:47pm PT
holy craposis

mud meisters are humbled all over the world today.

glad no one died. :)

an entirely different mind set.
don't have one

  Mar 9, 2009 - 09:36pm PT
Crusher = Master of Choss
Well done!

  Mar 9, 2009 - 09:41pm PT
Boy, those Streaked Wall guys are gonna soil when they see that Toucan stack! Gnarly climbing!
The Warbler

the edge of America
  Mar 9, 2009 - 09:42pm PT
Couldn't ya dip that pile in epoxy first and then grovel yer way up it?

That's some impressive mudaneering!

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Mar 9, 2009 - 09:45pm PT
You guys is crazy!!!!!


I'll never go!

Gym climber
Small Town with a Big Back Yard
  Mar 9, 2009 - 09:48pm PT
Awesome chossaneering bump!

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
  Mar 9, 2009 - 10:28pm PT
Yikes. That is some chossy choss. If you can get up that, you must have eyes on all sorts of things in central UT.

Looks like you could well have used ice gear.
Todd Gordon

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, Cal
  Mar 9, 2009 - 11:24pm PT
Fabulous.....(anyone can climb on deflon and guys rock!)

  Mar 9, 2009 - 11:28pm PT
Oh man! You are my heros!

Trad climber
  Mar 9, 2009 - 11:46pm PT
Man, that looks like the closer you got to the summit, the chossier it got. Scary! My hat is off to you guys for your persistence and balls. Were those railroad spikes you were pounding?

Mudcat Spire
  Mar 10, 2009 - 12:06am PT


Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Mar 10, 2009 - 02:07am PT
Prepping for a new route on Factory Butte is my guess as to what's all this is about.

get yer prepartory beer here...


Trad climber
  Mar 10, 2009 - 02:47am PT
Good one and well done guys. Thanks for sharing the experience by posting it up. The pictures indeed tell thousands of words!

What grade did you give it?

Have you done a topo/description of individual pitches?

~> would love to know more details.

climber's near nevada...
  Mar 10, 2009 - 10:59am PT
whoa...stunned...madness, i say ;-)
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Mar 10, 2009 - 11:41am PT
I bet if you stood downwind in a clean white shirt on a windy day, the summit would be yours anyhow!!! Technical grade should replaced with a FLEA (Formation Life Expectancy Adjective). One Kick'll Do'er sits at the top of the scale!

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Mar 10, 2009 - 01:58pm PT
one kick...

ROFLMAO!!!! so tru so tru heh


Gym climber
sawatch choss
  Mar 10, 2009 - 02:07pm PT
That's a FLEA-flicker, I believe. The A5 of the chossiverse.

Trad climber
  Mar 10, 2009 - 02:07pm PT palms are sweating...

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Mar 10, 2009 - 02:13pm PT
Next stop...White Cliffs of Dover?
(I know Crowley 'ice climbed' there already)

Oakland, CA
  Mar 10, 2009 - 03:01pm PT

Did one rope get you to the top, or did you actually have to hang off of some kind of anchor mid way up? If you did, I'd love to see a pic of that anchor.

What about the cliffs down near Torrey and Bicknell, ever had a look at those?
Erik Sloan

Big Wall climber
Yosemite Big Wall
  Mar 10, 2009 - 03:29pm PT
please post this over on the trip report section, so it doesn't get lost forever.



Mountain climber
Eastsound, Wa
  Mar 10, 2009 - 03:38pm PT
Old guys rock!!!

Social climber
Author's Reply  Mar 10, 2009 - 04:46pm PT
Wow, a lot of interest in this little thing.

Okay, a few more pics:

Me getting started, note old Chouinard ice hammer, the perfect tool for this kind of terrain (even with half the pick worn off).

Hereís a bashful Camalot, embarrassed to be involved in such shenanigans...

And a Toucan half buried in the crack:

Higher up was a horizontal, where a #5 Camalot just barely stayed in a shallow horizontal slot with the cams actually working to hold some fossilized Ryvita crackers in place. When the cam came out, the flakes fell off. No pics of this.

About 100 feet up was a perfect 3.5 Friend, way deep in the crack, plus a 6-inch long bolt, in pretty good rock, to provide a belay. Still, I elected to stay on the ground, and Chip had to put up with the extra weight of the rope. He got his revenge for the third pitch, where he too stayed on the ground, while I wrestled with 150 feet of extra rope, before I even got going. his is the view from that belay station:

Hereís another calcite seam placement high on pitch 3.

And a view of the upper part of pitch 3, with Chip cleaning. Scary taking photos, slightest careless movement could set off lots of flakes.

The view from the base, with the nearby Henry Mountains:

The thing was 210 feet tall, we reckoned. The end of pitch 2 has two okay bolts and a rap anchor. Rating about A3... give or take.

Still waiting for the second ascent....

Mountain climber
Eastsound, Wa
  Mar 11, 2009 - 01:47am PT
In high school and college, I used to "stress test " any prospective girlfriends by taking them rock climbing.

One girl, who really did turn out to be a winner and I climbed a sandstone pinnacle at the Peshastin Pinnacles in Eastern Washington called Trigger Finger in 1972.

This was a free climb ,about 5.7 , maybe 50' tall to a tiny summit just big enough to sit on. It was a classic little crag, perched on a high ridge with great views of the Cascades to the west and the desert to the east.

A few years later, I went back and found that the whole pinnacle had toppled over, broken clean off at ground level.

The girl had gone off to follow more sensible pursuits.

Some of my most memorable climbs were on loose, scary choss formations.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Mar 11, 2009 - 10:25am PT
I wish someday to drop a clod from the summit and that is what my route would have been! The ideal of the Dirtississima.

Trad climber
  Mar 11, 2009 - 11:03am PT
Whoa, I haven't been here for a while and I come back to find this.

Nice work Crusher!

You're giving me an identity crisis though. For years I have been motivated to climb desert towers and the loose rock and mud never bothered me. I got excited and wanted to climb every choss pile that I saw written up on the Internet.

After reading your report, I had a great feeling of anxiety and trepidation. It occurred to me that I might not want to climb that thing. I tried to tell myself that I was just being weak and that it's a sweet looking formation that begs to be climbed. Still, the feeling remained. Now I can't decide if I'm nearing the end of my mud days or if you're just pushing farther into that sick realm than my little, Ohio-born noodle can handle.

I miss the good old days when climbing in Dabneyland, the Mystery Towers, or the Valley of the Gods seemed like the chossiest sh#t I would ever have to climb. :)

Again, well done!
Wade Icey

Trad climber
  Mar 19, 2009 - 06:27pm PT
"Bottom line is if people demand more climbing sh#t, they'll bump it."
Wade Icey

Trad climber
  Mar 19, 2009 - 06:32pm PT
"Bottom line is if people demand more climbing sh#t, they'll bump it."


Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  May 3, 2009 - 12:46am PT
this deserves a bump

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
  May 3, 2009 - 01:03am PT

Thanks for the TR and the bumps. I missed this before.

Gym climber
Small Town with a Big Back Yard
  May 17, 2009 - 01:06pm PT
Bump for the Sugar daddies!

Trad climber
Hustle City
  May 17, 2009 - 01:18pm PT

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
  May 17, 2009 - 01:33pm PT
Day-um! Looks like a petrified ash heap. I'm thinking if one piece blows you zipper right into the deck. That bollard looked about as bomber as a sand castle.

That's gotta be the proudest choss heap ever scaled. Outstanding! Way outta my league.

And what about that house made out of those dry-stacked rocks? What the hell was someone doing out there 50 years ago? Who was he? There lies a story . . .


Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  May 17, 2009 - 01:47pm PT
I bow in your general direction.......


Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Oct 13, 2011 - 06:14pm PT
These pics sweated up my palms and had me exclaiming aloud whilst my face made that smiley grimace at the intersection of fun and fear.

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Oct 13, 2011 - 06:18pm PT
definitely one of the better TR adventure routes. dirt masters for sure!

Boulder, CO
  Oct 13, 2011 - 06:23pm PT
When Jeremy is calling it choss.... it's got to be REAL choss!

TFPU crusher!

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
  Oct 13, 2011 - 06:30pm PT
That is one proud pile! Great work!!

Makes me want to nail a sand dune.......

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Oct 13, 2011 - 07:05pm PT
Chip and Crusher, sponsered by Caterpillar?
Toucan tango too!

Yeah, I've seen way better snow bollards.

Social climber
An Oil Field
  Oct 13, 2011 - 07:04pm PT
Just returned from 10 days in between Blanding and Hanksville. One thing about SE Utah. Your ears get filled with sand and you get these marble sized red boogers.

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Oct 13, 2011 - 08:33pm PT
Amazing trip report.

I used to think I relished choss, but that thing is petrified mud.

New Zealand
  Oct 13, 2011 - 10:10pm PT
Here's to the arcane pleasures of others.

And climbing content.

Ice climber
  Oct 13, 2011 - 10:29pm PT
makes the crap choss around austin look BOMBER

Social climber
Author's Reply  Oct 13, 2011 - 11:39pm PT
I wonder if that tower is still there?

Santa Barbara, CA
  Oct 14, 2011 - 12:06am PT
Last ascent is a scary goal!
tom Carter

Social climber
  Oct 14, 2011 - 01:25am PT


Trad climber
Guernsey, British Channel Islands
  Oct 14, 2011 - 06:04am PT
You guys need to watch the 'Hard XS' DVD, you'd love it...white cliffs of Dover with ice gear, 5.10 multipitch on disintegrating shale...

Trad climber
  Oct 14, 2011 - 11:13am PT
Great fun.

Nice work out there Crusher.


Big Wall climber
Typewriters and Ledges
  Aug 27, 2014 - 11:15pm PT
Bump for great climbing

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Aug 27, 2014 - 11:23pm PT
Second the motion.

We were just talking about this place at the Mucci event. Hanksville!

Yep, the Hanksville Sinclair station. Literally a hole in the wall place. Sketchy!!
Todd Eastman

Social climber
Putney, VT
  Aug 27, 2014 - 11:41pm PT
Crusher, did you follow the BMPs for erosion control?

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
  Aug 27, 2014 - 11:44pm PT
F*#king Mancos Shale. Hanksville. Caineville. A purgatory of choss, heat, crazy Dennis at Luna Mesa with his UFO abduction stories, oh man what a unholy mess of a place to climb. This whole thread is just so wrong. Hold me, I'm scared.

Social climber
Truckee, CA
  Aug 28, 2014 - 12:15am PT
Some of these comments might even top the TR. Good thread!

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Aug 28, 2014 - 07:38am PT
Forgot how freeking awesome this was. Even scarier than most of the mud I nailed at Smith back in the day.

Social climber
Author's Reply  Aug 28, 2014 - 10:33am PT
Yep, the Hanksville Sinclair station

This one?

Credit: crunch

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Aug 28, 2014 - 03:07pm PT
Yall ain't right.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Aug 28, 2014 - 03:44pm PT
Glad I have no desire to repeat this line. :)

Thank you for sharing!
The Larry

  Aug 28, 2014 - 06:53pm PT
That gas station is in the movie Rubin and Ed.

I've looked at that tower many a time. Nice job on the chosseneering.

Social climber
  Aug 28, 2014 - 08:26pm PT
Some of the scariest stuff I have seen posted up here. You all have nerves of steel and balls to go with 'em.

Trad climber
Little Rock and Loving It
  Aug 29, 2014 - 06:55am PT
Yall ain't right.

ditto that. Tucan stacks in choss?
Ed H

Trad climber
Santa Rosa, CA
  Aug 29, 2014 - 10:24am PT
The summit shot is the best!

Credit: Crunch

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Aug 29, 2014 - 10:34am PT
I don't think that's the same one I went to Crunch.

Were there rednecks with gun racks and 4 year old dragging a 12 pack back to the truck?
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Apr 16, 2015 - 11:45am PT
Crusher show us some pictures.
Woody the Beaver

Trad climber
Soldier, Idaho
  Apr 16, 2015 - 04:06pm PT
Your bollard is ravishing!

Social climber
An Oil Field
  Apr 18, 2015 - 11:01am PT
In a really old issue of either Climbing or Rock & Ice was about Pete Takeda and Duane Raleigh climbing mudstone towers such as this one. Sometimes the simul-rapped off of the summit using no anchors. Just balanced their weight as they rapped off together.

This stuff if barely even rock. Mudstones are rarely well cemented. So driving stuff straight into subtle weaknesses is a technique.

It was a pretty interesting article. I can't remember if Duane wrote it up while they were all still at Climbing or after they bought Rock & Ice. It was around that period when Michael Kennedy sold Climbing to that mag conglomerate who turned around and cut their budget to the bone. Climbing has still not fully recovered from that.

Anyway, there are people who have done this sort of climbing. You can just email Duane about it and I bet that he will get back to you. The people at Rock & Ice are very receptive. You should write an article about it, because they are always starving for submissions from climbers, especially if you can make the story funny and not too serious.

Send them some pics along with a few paragraphs. You might become famous. They write about absurd rock every now and then because it lends to good stories.
Big Mike

Trad climber
  Apr 18, 2015 - 11:24am PT
Wow Steve. We have "choss" up here that we don't touch with a ten foot pole, but you would probably find it "solid".... Lol
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

Out Of Bed
  Apr 18, 2015 - 02:23pm PT
Thin nails and all ,I think these two should be liked
The Warbler

the edge of America
  Apr 18, 2015 - 02:41pm PT
You freaks should come out to San Diego and climb some vertical dirt sea cliffs.

The naked girls on the beach might be impressed.
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