My buddy and I had a couple of days to escape the Front Range, so we went to Utah. We would have liked to repeat one of the many outstanding Wingate routes in the area, but with free climbing skills still be tuned up after a long winter, aid climbing seemed to be a good idea. . . until we got to the base of the Kor Route on Dolomite Spire and saw this nasty little character, and we both knew . . . we're gonna die!
We started early, because it was hot, and reconnoitered the tower.
Dolomite Spire is the left of the two towers in the above picture. The right one is Lighthouse Spire, which I climbed a long time ago, and if memory serves lacks an anchor in the very soft summit rock, requiring down climbing shenanigans.
It felt great being back and hiking in the Utah desert. I used to make frequent trips, mostly spending my time climbing towers, and tip-toeing around the cryptogamic soil felt like a familiar dance.
I had attempted the spire one other time, and got blown off by winds that seemed to be more in character with Rocky Mountain National Park than the desert, and wanted to check out the alternative approach. It was a beautiful, but hot and thrashy hike up the side canyon behind Big Bend Butte.
We did the 20 foot 5.8 pitch, and since we survived that figured the black widow at the base of our chosen route was not necessarily a sign of bad things to come. We stashed our gear, fixed a rope down the river side of the tower, and retreated to the truck and on to camp. It's amazing how difficult it is to find a free place to camp these days.
The next morning was gorgeous. Hiking up in the cool of the shade was magnificent.
The Kor Route consists of funky, clean aid and aid on deteriorating fixed gear, with spooky free moves on soft rock interspersed.
According to the historical record, Mr. Kor apparently did the first ascent of this tower as a family outing. Most of it was pretty easy, but there were parts that were just hairy enough that it's hard to imagine taking the wife and kid up there. As my partner led the fourth pitch, the sun had actually come all the way around the spire, and I hung at the nice belay ledge getting roasted (as opposed to baked).
It was nice to climb this tower. I had wanted to for a long time, and for some reason never did back when a long weekend to the desert to climb a tower or two was commonplace in my life. We did two long rappels to get off, and my buddy was worried the rappel to the ground would somehow pull him into the alcove where that huge black widow lurked. Didn't happen, and we made it back to the truck uneventfully (if one can describe hiking down a spectacular desert hillside at dusk uneventful.)
The offset nuts and tricams that we took were pretty essential. There were a couple of places where the Totem Cams that my buddy brought stuck perfectly in the sandy flairs. Consider bringing a hook.
Gotta get it back into my routine to get down here a few times each year. It's a blessing to have places like this.