Seven breezes around the cabin door.
And cold ones, too! It's been a hard, freezing winter around Moab.
As solid as I've seen it. Previous winter was bad enough:
So we wanted to climb, and Chip Wilson and I went south, south, to somewhere a bit warmer and even more deserted:
Well, not quite that far. But to the Valley of the Gods. Stopped in Blanding for gas, like the dinosaurs we are:
And then to Eagle Plum Tower, in Valley of the Gods:
In the middle of the Valley lies this, the biggest, coolest tower for miles. Yeah! Camping was freezing cold, but the place was absolutely silent, deserted. Like going back thirty years.
There was a line on the south-southwest side. Chip had been eyeing it up for a couple years.
At the base was some old, stupid graffiti (Nate?), but never mind. Nate was not far wrong, though it did not really need to to spelled out.
Chip got busy. For hours and hours. All day, really. Poor Art-dog was worried:
Next day the second pitch went down, easy except for the last few feet, a traverse under a roof. I expected to place a couple bolts but a hook on a VERY fragile flake held, then came an A5 birdbeak. Except the beak bent. As did a Tomahawk. Damn. The seam was just 3/4" deep. But the bent ones seemed to catch, anyway. I'd heard that Peckers were tempered harder, so tried one. Useless. Bent, again. Three pins bent, so far. I almost called for the drill. But I'm nothing if not stubborn. I tried one more Tomahawk, this time tapped real gentle, subtle, precise and stopped as it began to bite. YES!
Gently slid onto my weight onto it. Next? Nothing. Except fear, as I was farther and farther away from the dihedral, looking at slamming back into it if things went south. But that's what we were here for. Maybe an upside-down knifeblade under the roof? I picked out a knifeblade, painted blue. Not just any knifeblade this, but one that had arrived in a box from Piton "Santa Claus" Ron, from the Kyle Copeland Collection. Kyle would'a smiled. Ron, maybe, not so much. I hand-placed a baby angle behind a flake, slithered left to a foot-ledge, relaxed. Placed a two-bolt belay.
The next pitch was the crux. That was clear. From the ground we had spied not much, and zi imagined all kinds of slow, scary beaking shenanigans. But in the event, this pitch went really well, with a splitter crack for 70 feet followed by a couple sneaky moves to another crack. The rock was soft, cleaning went embarrassingly fast, Chip had done real well, stacking Leepers and all sorts of trickery....
The final pitch was mine. A perfect Toucan crack in great rock. Cleaning went embarrassingly slowly....
Top pitch, viewed from the side:
On top, we found an original register, with a Bill Forrest bag:
and his business card:
Which was a who's who of desert climbers. Those you've heard of:
and many you've not. Very cool!
There was it turned out, a second register, at the other end of the summit. Placed by Mike Gruber, this had kind of taken over. About 30-40 ascents, so far. For me and Chip, our second, both by new routes, 26 years apart. We hung out on top for a while, enjoying the solitude, the ambience. Nothing better than this.
Time to head home: