Trip Report
Rasta Wall, River Tower, Fisher Towers. November 2017.
Wednesday December 6, 2017 6:53am
Trip Report: Rasta Wall, River Tower, November 2017.

Bad Memory, Good Aid Climber


Less than one month after climbing Beaking in Tongues on the Oracle, one of the wildest climbing adventures of my life, I find myself in the Fisher Towers at the base of another improbable route. Ah I am starting remember now the process of ascending one of these anciently congealed crud towers. All of the less favorable experiences and feelings are flooding back into my head attempting to replace the fonder memories, the only ones that I seemingly hung onto. While belaying the first pitch my mind attempted to explore many different scenarios. I silence the possible outcomes I dread as Keiko navigates her way through the crusted mud shale. Using equalized assortments of body weight beak placements, pin stacks and questionable small cam placements she creeps upward into the unknown abyss. After a very long belay and much reflection, the sun goes down and we have fixed the first crux pitch on the Rasta Wall, our goal for the day establishing ourselves on the route.

The River Tower... <br/>
"Why do they all have to look like penises?"
The River Tower...
"Why do they all have to look like penises?"
Credit: Joe Shultz

Keiko on the first pitch.  Her first direct exposure to A4 terrain.
Keiko on the first pitch. Her first direct exposure to A4 terrain.
Credit: Joe Shultz

My mind struggles to prevent the association of ratings on a pitch with how difficult the climbing will actually be. I have yet to climb a pitch in the fisher towers that wasn’t mentally challenging be it 4th class or be it A4. There are no gimmes here. Leading the second A2 pitch was no different, and of course I assumed it was going to be “cruiser.”

Pin stacking in ways I never knew to be possible.
Pin stacking in ways I never knew to be possible.
Credit: Joe Shultz

Wearing the Tower.
Wearing the Tower.
Credit: Joe Shultz

Scraping, scratching, and excavating I made my way to the anchor. Pin stacking in ways I never knew to be possible. This pitch was a good dose of what I needed to get my head on right for the third pitch, another technical aid crux of the route. I fixed the first half of the third pitch and we retreated to the ground. The sun was setting, and I’m afraid of the dark. Falsely assuring myself that I had already made my way through the trickier parts of the pitch. I should’ve know better not to assume anything out here. The next day I would be tested. Placing horrendously precarious small beaks, equalized bad pitons in terrible rock, and the occasional bomber spectre while being suspended above a rotten hollow mud pillar would be my only passage. “Equalize it yeaha yeaha, and I will advertise it yeaha yeaha.” Peter Tosh is in my head.

Excavating pitch three while Keiko is at the belay on John Middendorf'...
Excavating pitch three while Keiko is at the belay on John Middendorf's Minime belay seat prototype. Great to have a ledge up there on the long hanging aid belays.
Credit: Joe Shultz

Keiko on the Steep fourth pitch.
Keiko on the Steep fourth pitch.
Credit: Joe Shultz

By now the consistent trickle of sand and crusted mud balls raining down to the anchor and my belayer was just one of the variables in a complicated equation we would have to solve to gain another summit on one of these towers. Time was beginning to feel irrelevant. It didn’t matter where I was or what I was doing in the moment because that moment wouldn’t last forever, and soon enough I would be on to something else.

Methodically ascending the major weakness in one of the weakest rocks I have ever climbed we continue upwards. My pockets filled with sand and my once white tee shirt now permanently mud stained as if we were slowly becoming the part of the rock. These towers are very much alive, and they were slowly beginning to devour us. The difficulty of the climbing seems to ease as we get closer to the summit, but even the easiest of climbing grades can be absolutely horrifying in the Fishers.

Summit!  Yes, that tee shirt used to be white.
Summit! Yes, that tee shirt used to be white.
Credit: Joe Shultz

Early in the day, we gratefully arrived at the summit after negotiating some very interesting fourth class climbing. Another great trip to the Fisher Towers. Easily one of the most creatively and mentally challenging places I have ever climbed. As far as the medium of difficult aid climbing goes I am certain that the Fisher Towers is a perfect canvas. I have already forgotten enough about this climb to start planning the next adventure.

Pitch two roof.
Pitch two roof.
Credit: Joe Shultz



  Trip Report Views: 1,309
Joe Shultz
About the Author
Joe Shultz is a van dweller originally from Pennsylvania.

Comments
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ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
  Dec 6, 2017 - 08:23am PT
nice write-up and photos

I haven't seen that formation though I've been to the area a couple times ...
skywalker1

Trad climber
co
  Dec 6, 2017 - 08:58am PT
What a strange and beautiful place. Nice job! Every inch is earned. Thanks for posting!

Cheers!

S...
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
  Dec 6, 2017 - 12:02pm PT
NICE
TUFP< MORE please ?
NICE







Ha! Hey Le_Bruce Theres some serious stone to sharpen your teeth on in Pennsylvania :
From Gunkie, Trad climber, Valles Marineris, Dec 6, 2017 -
Double roof on a Pennsylvania choss pile
Credit: Gunkie
but yeah that soft "stone"(?) is a matter of taste. .;=0




le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Dec 6, 2017 - 10:15am PT
Good writing man, good writing. How many pensylvanians stand on top of desert A4 are you thinking? can't be many

“Equalize it yeaha yeaha, and I will advertise it yeaha yeaha.” Peter Tosh is in my head.

People think that climbers only bring physical tools on scary climbs, but it's the mental tools we bring that count the most haha
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
  Dec 6, 2017 - 10:30am PT
I went to look at Fisher towers a couple of years ago, out of curiosity. Freaky!!!!! I got the willies just stepping out of the car! Well done. Oh, and why do they look like penises? I've got two ideas: 1 - to make you reconsider your virility and 2 - So you can get a woman to swing leads. ;-)

P.S. DON't wash the T shirt. Nail it up in your garage.
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
  Dec 6, 2017 - 11:06am PT
muddy-badass!™
Jeremy Ross

Gym climber
  Dec 6, 2017 - 10:51am PT
Thanks! That was cool
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Dec 6, 2017 - 11:12am PT
if you brew coffee filtered through that dirt stained t-shirt it puts hair on your chest.


well done!
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Dec 6, 2017 - 11:16am PT
May the mud set you free!
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Dec 7, 2017 - 04:07pm PT
hey there say, joe... WOW... say, thank you so much for sharing...

:)
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Dec 8, 2017 - 03:21am PT
Chostacular,
I love your formerly while shirt
Lol
Thank you!
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
  Dec 11, 2017 - 02:19pm PT
This is great, two Fisher stories on the same page, well done lad and lass! The Fisher towers is one place you can watch geology occur at human time scales, as those silly things are visibly eroding away even as you climb up them.
Joe Shultz

Gym climber
Pennsylvania
Author's Reply  Dec 15, 2017 - 01:01pm PT
Thanks so much for all of the positive feedback on my write-up. Very nice I really appreciate it.

ms55401*
The River Tower isn't "technically" in the fisher towers although some consider it one of the major summits. It's the fin you can see looking back towards the road at the fisher towers parking area.

le_bruce*
I would guess more Pennsylvanians than either of us would think. I once met a Pennsylvanian that grew up within an hour of where I am from on an El Cap route of all places.

HighTraverse*
Sorry, I washed the shirt... it still looks exactly the same as in the photo.
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