Trip Report
Zion - Swiss Climbers Discover the Wild West - Part II
Sunday July 31, 2016 8:11am
After our first experience and lessons learned in Red Rocks (http://www.supertopo.com/tr/Red-Rocks-Swiss-climbers-discover-the-wild-west/t13007n.html) we decide that there must be even bigger challenges waiting for us somewhere out there. Steeper walls, more cracks, larger squirrels, weíre ready to take them all on, and to walk away beaten and humbled. So weíre off to Zion, only a short drive from Red Rocks. The guidebook says something about ďÖPrepare to get a little scaredÖ.Ē. If itís just a little, weíre willing to take it.
Credit: monti
Zion is more crowded than Red Rocks. Since improvisation is our organization we have no plan on where to sleep and finally find a spot to pitch our tent in the campsite on the other side of the park (east exit I assume?) after trying out another 5 or 6 other full campsites.
Credit: monti

Next day we head to the Kung Fu Theatre, this seems to be a place with good choice of medium routes, and itís in the shade. A good place to start.
We climb Miagi first, the guide says itís a bit dirty towards the top. Yes it is! When we get down weíre dirty too. A decent start, our inexistent crack climbing skills are tested and we realize that we donít really have a clue. Optimism is high, so is the fun factor. And we have a cool box in the car with ice and beer. Can anything go wrong now?
Credit: stefano607518
Next route is Hong Kong Phooey, probably not a typical Zion climb, itís a face climb with crimps and flakes, no crack technique needed and we both fly up this climb. Feels like home, except that the rock here tends to be a bit more crumbly; and itís not what we came here for. We want to stick our hands in cracks!
Now we start getting bold, move one route to the right and get going on Inner Chi. The line is beautiful. A crack in a dihedral, follow it til it ends and figure out how to get over the last overhanging bit to the bolts. Now we start realizing that climbing here requires other skills. I could do well with thinner fingers for instance; my sausages just wonít fit into the crack, which sends me flying several times. This helps to increase trust in self-placed protection. But trust alone doesnít get me up, so I back off and leave the next try for Stefano. He makes it on the second attempt, great job! I try again and finally get up there as well. We made a video of one of my attempts and after seeing it I am ever so grateful to whoever belays me: A video of about 12 minutes with around 1 minute of climbing and 11 minutes of complaining, shaking, hanging there, BORING. A belayerís job mainly requires patience, lots of patience.
Before: a nice crack that takes gear
Before: a nice crack that takes gear
Credit: monti
After: a nice crack that has taken PLENTY of gear; you just need to fe...
After: a nice crack that has taken PLENTY of gear; you just need to feel safe while climbing....
Credit: monti

Having done Inner Chi we look around, whatís next? Thereís still one big climb here, Mortal Combat. Never mind the name, letís do it! After two pitches weíre hanging in the belay just wondering, wasnít there something strange about the name of this climb?? There must be a reason to it, and now we know it. Not quite mortal, but definitively a combat. We wedge all we have into the cracks: hands, feet, knees, elbows, shoulders, heads, butts, this is not a lesson in technically accomplished OW climbing, but what the hell, it gets us to the top. The fun factor is temporarily diminished, but by the time weíre back down we know thereís a beer waiting for us and all is well again.
Source of stoke and good mood.
Source of stoke and good mood.
Credit: monti

Word must have spread among the squirrels that some climbers are coming from Switzerland and they have food in their packs, maybe even CHOCOLATE?!?!?!? But we donít let them fool us again, our food is safe!
Attack!
Attack!
Credit: monti
Retreat, defeated! Photos out of focus due to the intensity of the bat...
Retreat, defeated! Photos out of focus due to the intensity of the battle, sorry.
Credit: monti

Zion is a beautiful place, regardless of the climbing itís stunning. We walk up to Angelís Landing and to the narrows, we just canít get enough of the sights, the colours and the rock formations. And here are some pictures to make you all want to go there.
Credit: monti
Credit: monti
Credit: monti
Credit: monti
Credit: monti
Credit: monti
Credit: monti


And being in a touristy place has some advantages as well, such as plenty of choice for food and drink.
Credit: monti

Next day is for the Headache, a classic Zion climb in its grade. We have to try it. Rock paper scissors and I get to lead the first pitch. This is what we consider being our first real splitter crack.
So this is what they look like!
So this is what they look like!
Credit: monti

So out come my home-made crack climbing gloves and into the crack go my hands and feet.
Credit: monti
Credit: stefano607518
Credit: stefano607518

After the first couple of moves I find it pumpy, very pumpy. And painful, it feels like putting my feet under a truck and asking the driver to go back and forth a few times.

Now here is my big question to all of you crack climbers out there: why does nobody ever mention the word PAIN in one of his or her trip reports?? Is my (inexistent) crack climbing technique so lousy, am I a sissy, or are you all real badass climbers who donít mind pain, blood and scars?

Anyway, I swear that I will climb the next big enough crack wearing my moon boots, Iím sure I can wedge my feet into the crack and still be comfortable.
Crack climbing shoes of the next century - limited edition
Crack climbing shoes of the next century - limited edition
Credit: monti

Back to the Headache: I manage to reach the first belay, my arms feel like lead, but the pitch is great. Sorry I canít say much more about it, thatís how good my climbing memory is, it was great, period. And if I redo a climb after 15 minutes itís basically another onsight.
Credit: monti

I seem to remember a bit more about the third pitch, which is my lead again. I set off from the belay looking like a Christmas tree, with the gear nearly pulling off my harness and pants.
Christmas tree on the rocks
Christmas tree on the rocks
Credit: stefano607518

I place an exaggerated amount of gear in the first part of the pitch to get some weight off my harness, but the higher I get the more the pump grows, again. And not far from the belay the inevitable happens: fiddle around to place a cam, looks crappy, better than nothing, climb on, pump, HOLD ON, DONíT LET GO, IíM GONNA FALL!! And I fall, the cam holds my fall, stress is relieved. To all the people looking up from the parking lot: that would have deserved at least some applause, you donít get those shows every day.
Credit: monti

I climb on and the rest of the pitch goes fine, I finally get to place my no. 3 cam and the very last move gets me talking again. ďDonít hesitate, youíre getting pumped, but I donít know how to hold on to this, but you need to get going, I canít, do something, why the hell do you go to the gym in winter??Ē After some more inner debate of this kind I finally decide that my gym training should not be wasted and that I certainly CAN hold on to small holds. Grab, hold, move your feet, done, belay, happy end.
We rappel over a climb called Never Again. Well, after yesterdayís Mortal Combat we sure know that names here have a meaning. We donít even think about Never Again. It takes a while but we learnÖ
We plan our days in Zion so as to always have enough time to spend down by the river, enjoying a beer and we find more than enough places to eat.
Credit: monti

Our last climbing day is probably not the typical Zion climb. We head up to the east rim and climb Led by Sheep on Aries Butte. Thatís a very enjoyable, easy, fun climb in a totally different landscape. We have a good time, fry our brains in the sun and find this a great way to end this part of our trip. And we even get to see a few Bighorn Sheep!
Credit: monti
Credit: stefano607518
Credit: monti
Credit: monti
Credit: stefano607518
No wishes left. Well, thatís actually not quite true. When we got to Zion I had this picture of Shuneís Buttress from the guidebook in my head and that was my goal.
We'll be back...
We'll be back...
Credit: monti
But we didnít have the guts to go up there. After getting beaten up on presumably easier climbs we figured out we shouldnít go looking for trouble up there. That climb is now on my wish list and itís going to take a lot of work and training to get it off that list. On our next trip to Zion?

  Trip Report Views: 2,444
monti
About the Author
monti is a mountain climber from Basel, Switzerland, and likes having a beer after the climb.

Comments
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
  Jul 31, 2016 - 08:17am PT
rock on!
ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Social climber
Wilds of New Mexico
  Jul 31, 2016 - 08:17am PT
Awesome! Thanks!

Zion is an incredible place...
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Jul 31, 2016 - 08:30am PT
Sweet! On your next trio schedule Indian Creek and the Black Canyon.
Flip Flop

climber
Earth Planet, Universe
  Jul 31, 2016 - 10:28am PT
Huera Guet
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Jul 31, 2016 - 10:33am PT
Proscht!
Mike.

climber
  Jul 31, 2016 - 10:43am PT
Kick ass report, great job on the pulling. TFPU.
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Aug 1, 2016 - 01:57pm PT
Zion is a beautiful place. A climber's dreamscape.
skcreidc

Social climber
SD, CA
  Aug 1, 2016 - 02:08pm PT
Nice work guys!! You two are really getting around; hat's off to you both!

I keep telling myself that if I'm feeling some pain while crack climbing, I'm doing it wrong. As I get better it does hurt less and less (although maybe it's all in my head).
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Aug 1, 2016 - 03:01pm PT
Berg heil! Back at you! :-)

labrat

Trad climber
Erik O. Auburn, CA
  Aug 1, 2016 - 03:18pm PT
Nice! Thanks for posting Up!
phylp

Trad climber
Upland, CA
  Aug 1, 2016 - 04:16pm PT
This one was was just as much fun to read as the other one.

Thanks and come back soon!
Hardrock

Trad climber
San Bernardino
  Aug 1, 2016 - 06:34pm PT
Good Job! Any of the Subway climbs are awesome.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Aug 1, 2016 - 09:25pm PT
hey there say, monti... wow, very nice share, here!!

thanks so much!
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado & Nepal
  Aug 2, 2016 - 12:28am PT
Thanks for another great Trip Report ! I'm looking forward to the next installment.
mjb

Trad climber
Point Pleasant, NJ
  Aug 3, 2016 - 05:12pm PT
What Donini said but add Moab, Castleton and Ancient Art, for example
Daphne

Trad climber
Northern California
  Aug 3, 2016 - 05:57pm PT
Really Nice trip report! Thanks for sharing your stoke and your humor.
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