Trip Report
Zionism and the Sanctuary of Exposure 4/6 - 4/11/14
Sunday April 13, 2014 6:26pm
Ivan on P6 of Desert Shield
Ivan on P6 of Desert Shield
Credit: Tvash
Trip: Zionism and the Sanctuary of Exposure - Desert Shield, Touchstone Wall

Date: 4/6/2014

Trip Report:

“I slept with a cactus last night.”

I could just wrap this up right now with that little metaphorical synopsis, but why not embullishit with a bit of imagery and a spine or two of fresh wisdom?

For it takes an increasingly not-so-rare breed of seeker to drive over a thousand miles to a place called Zion – “a word interpreted to mean sanctuary or refuge” – in search of precisely the opposite.

We had enough time to piss all over the concept of ‘sanctuary’ more than once, so we opted to leverage our ignorance by attacking the more delicate of our objectives first. Materiel was carefully sorted and solemn oaths dutifully uttered; we would either return with or on our Desert Shield.

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Plan of Attack: Desert Shield (bottom) and Touchstone (top)

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Desert Shield (L) and Touchstone

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Desert Shield

I’ve got a 31” waist and a 46” chest. ‘Why should I care’ you might ask?

Because that is the absolute maximum size of human that can extrude themselves like that last squirt of KY through the pitch 3 flake just below Desert Shield’s bivvy ledge. The more svelte might simply levitate up the outside, sans pro, but I’m more chuckwalla than chickadee, so into the slot I slithered.

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No Fatties, Please. P3 of Desert Shield.

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P5 of Desert Shield

Once at the bivvy, a mixed media installation involving a Russian ice screw and the Coleman Company will challenge your functional art boundaries.

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East Meets West

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Oh...right. Bivvy atop P3, Desert Shield

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A bad case of Comet Leg. Bivvy on Desert Shield.

At P7, the route stiffens like a Protector of Traditional Marriage at a gay bar. The slope can be, indeed, a slippery one – with sugar cookie edges and wafer thin placements that slow things down a bit. As much of a rude awakening as that pitch might be, P8 is much ruder and more wide awakening, although, save a couple of anomalous cam pockets, ‘wide’ is used in the very narrowest sense, here.

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Ivan on P6 of Desert Shield

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Ladybug Love Attempt

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Serrated: P6 of Desert Shield

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Ivan clipping on P7, Desert Shield

I’ve clearly lost control of that last paragraph, so I’ll move on – and so did we upon reaching the midpoint bolt on P8 – a mere pitch from the prize. Outta time and outta here. A wise move in hindsight – we failed to fix the rap between the top of P4 and 6 (recommended) – doing that Swing and Thrash in the dark would have been memorable.

So, it was to be on, rather than with, The Shield this time around.

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The New Face of China

High Pressure slamming into a Front of Low Ego spawned a second gearnado in the Visitor Center Parking Lot, and by the following afternoon we were fixing pitches on Touchstone.

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The New New Coke

Although technically easier than Desert Shield, Touchstone was not without its surprises – mainly in the form of the very last hold just below the very last bolt breaking off – that, combined with a long horizontal pay out and an inexplicably lackadaisical gri, sent Ivan slamming into a nearby tree on his way earthward. Not to be left out, I received some beautiful rope burns in my attempt to motivate the gri to do its only job.

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P1 boltpike of Touchstone (pic by Ivan)

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P3 of Touchstone (Pic by Ivan)

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Top of P3 of Touchstone

When the dust cleared there wasn’t a whole climber between us – Ivan’s back took a hit, and I would soon be in the market for a Dr. Strangelove prosthetic, but we didn’t have far to go. I scooted up to finish the final move. Mercifully, I was able to lasso the final piton, which sticks straight up, with my good hand and French free it, thus avoiding pulling the full Corpus Dei on my thoroughly stigmata’ed fingers.

We managed to ensconce ourselves in the descent gulley before night fell. Out came the headlamps, and with them, millipedes, daddy long legs, ground beetles, bats, Mars, Saturn, and half a moon. After that, it was simply a matter of doing the 7 or so raps on some truly imaginative anchors down through the sandy gulley to the base, where cool water, cold chili, and other comforts awaited us.

Finally, refuge. Inevitably, a string of ‘why’s descends close on the heels of a party that’s just gotten banged up a bit. Pointless, of course. After all, does a swallow ask ‘why’? Oh wait, they can fly – well, how about a ground beetle, then? Does a ground beetle mill around thinking – “well, at least I haven’t been stepped on yet”.

After all, if we knew every cactus we would sleep with beforehand – if we knew what the future held - we might not venture forth to make one at all.

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Climbers on P8 of Desert Shield (Pic by Ivan)

Gear Notes:

Approach Notes:
The wheels on the bus...

  Trip Report Views: 3,911
About the Author
Tvash is a climber from Seattle.


  Apr 13, 2014 - 06:29pm PT
Got me beat this weekend :(

Thank you for telling the time to share..

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
  Apr 13, 2014 - 06:40pm PT
All that work to get in the final pitch and now it is kaput?

I hope it isn't a critical hold.

Author's Reply  Apr 13, 2014 - 06:55pm PT
We destroyed one of Zion's premier C1s for the rest of time.

Damn. Forgot to video.

(Actually, there are plenty of holds left for future parties to break off. Or, skip the rock and just capuchin that sh#t from the tree.)

Trad climber
Punter, Little Rock
  Apr 13, 2014 - 07:01pm PT
Once at the bivvy, a mixed media installation involving a Russian ice screw and the Coleman Company will challenge your functional art boundaries.

That screw should be tied off. Damn n00bs. :)

Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Apr 13, 2014 - 07:36pm PT
Great TR, hope you heal up ok!!!
What the heck was that stove doing on route????

Author's Reply  Apr 13, 2014 - 07:39pm PT
Oh, we take that thing with us on every overnight. A little somethin' familiar from home goes a long way, ya know?
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
  Apr 13, 2014 - 09:14pm PT
Yeah, well, they have such a roomy car for gear,...

Trad climber
  Apr 13, 2014 - 09:23pm PT
Great words and pics man, I can almost feel that icy water on my stinging muppet hands. Way to go!

The Good Places
  Apr 14, 2014 - 10:32am PT
nice images, great work, and WTF WHO BROKE THAT SUGARCUBE CRUX-HOLD ON THE FINAL P!!!???

I would not have, nor have I ever, had a critical lump of brown sugar cut loose on me. Nevar.

mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Apr 13, 2014 - 09:57pm PT
Looks like you found the only good use for a Russian ice screw.

Author's Reply  Apr 13, 2014 - 10:08pm PT
I wish we could claim authorship for "East Meets West", but credit must go to a previous artist.

Social climber
joshua tree
  Apr 13, 2014 - 10:35pm PT
Sweet Men!
Way to hold tufff Tvash! Ur a machine! But not literally..
I don't think a machine would hold his sore hand in cold water for relief?
That shot looks gruesome, but proud!!
When you com'in to JTree for some REAL rock?

Trad climber
Wenatchee, WA
  Apr 13, 2014 - 11:46pm PT
Nice work guys. We fixed Touchstone Friday afternoon and sent the rest on Saturday. I'm guessing it was right after you two and the packs we saw at the base, including a random single climbing shoe, were yours. I found the climbing shoe about 20 feet down hill from your packs in the trees and tossed it back up. Hopefully you found the other one as well if it wasn't already put away.

Touchstone was awesome. We had the whole canyon to ourselves for 4/11. Not another party on any of the trade routes from what I could see.

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Apr 14, 2014 - 10:19am PT
How'd you like pitch 8 of the shield dude? little sting in the tail!

Author's Reply  Apr 14, 2014 - 10:46am PT
@Blu - I'll get down to JT some day. That's a loooong interstellar voyage for us PNWers, tho. I managed to steal the sympathy card from Ivan = he was a lot more banged up than I was.
@Drap - not us. We were long dong by then. Could have been the couple from CO that launched the day after we did.
@Grippa - yeah, P7's the hotel wake up call, P8's the SWAT team visit. That mid pitch bolt is a rare bit o mercy. Like the SWAT commander handing you your morning coffee before staving your skull in with a nightstick.
SC seagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, Moab, Bozeman, the ocean, or ?
  Apr 14, 2014 - 01:20pm PT
Rather Nice!...really really nice.

High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
  Apr 14, 2014 - 03:48pm PT
Ouch, you had to grab the rope with your non-break hand? What the hell happened? or maybe you don't want to re-live it? then don't. On the sunny side, you got out, though, and high up! Cool car, I'd like one.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Apr 14, 2014 - 04:02pm PT
Wow, Tvash! Your week sure had mine beat, but only since it started on the sixth (I acquired a son-in-law on the fifth). Excellent report of a fine adventure. Thanks for the post.


Mountain View, CA
  Apr 14, 2014 - 04:19pm PT
but why not embullishit

excellent new word! solid report, thanks for the stoke!

  Apr 14, 2014 - 04:40pm PT
Nice pictures and some decent turns of phrase.
I don't know about that thread title though. What are you trying to attract the politards away from their me!me!me! Listen to me threads?

Author's Reply  Apr 14, 2014 - 04:50pm PT
As near as I can tell (it all happened pretty fast) I probably had my hand on the gri gri lever briefly to allow Ivan to pull and clip. His hold broke must have broken at that exact moment. The combo of a) slack from a long horizontal run b) slack for clipping, and c) the lever being momentarily depressed for clipping - all resulted in a longer fall. That, in turn, resulted in an instinctual grab n burn. Not a lot of thinking involved there. I never thought I'd grab a rope like that. I did.

We were using a kinky (after a full day of climbing) fatty 10.5 which feeds poorly through a grigri even on a good day. Leaving that lever complete alone and expecting a perfect feed wasn't remotely realistic.

A few post-non-mortem thoughts:

1) fatty ropes are stronger, BUT - they don't feed nearly as well through a gri gri, upping the chance of depressing that lever to get them to feed. Obviously, this practice has a serious downside.

As a secondary consideration - fatty ropes are also typically less dynamic and therefore shock load the pro more during a fall. Not much of a concern in this particular situ. It's a very real issue, however, on the upper pitches of Desert Shield where the pro tends to be on the wafish side.

2) As this incident pretty clearly illustrates, it's much safer if the belayer feeds out some slack before clipping rather than levering down the grigri and allowing the leader to pull his own.

3) We were tired after a long, hot day - and in a hurry. Pretty standard combo. Probably better to accept and compensate for the exhaustion by slowing things down a notch to keep from getting too sloppy. After all, reaction time probably doesn't improve much as a long day drags on. My reaction time wasn't exactly tip top here - and any time you depress that grigri lever, reaction time is critical. 32 feet per second per second and all that.

Author's Reply  Apr 25, 2014 - 12:13am PT

Big Wall climber
Newbury Park
  Apr 25, 2014 - 10:06am PT
Fantastic TR. Thanks!

Where did that map come from? A Star Wars game?

Author's Reply  Apr 25, 2014 - 11:36am PT
The visitor's center provides an excellent mock up for planning your next X Wing assault.

Gym climber
Mount Shasta
  May 14, 2014 - 08:54pm PT
I think we spotted y'all from Moonlight. Jacket colors align!


Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  May 15, 2014 - 12:23am PT
Ra-had trip brah.

Tvash you need to get off the political threads and get back where you belong, behind the keyboard cranking out TR prose for the people. I see you over there on the "We Are Not A Christian Nation" thread........wasting all kinds of keystrokes that could be spent on creative jive for us......your wanton audience.

You have a saucy way with words. Now get out there and epic on something and come back and tell us a story. I'm a fan. Keep em coming.


Author's Reply  May 15, 2014 - 01:51am PT
The zoom lenses these days - killin' yer partner is clearly no longer an option in 2014.

Trips = TRs, but the sun's out now up here in Drearyland so Onward Atheist Soldiers may well have a new stanza or two- with pics - pretty soon.

Just back from the Broasis, in fact. More later...


Sport climber
Made in California, living in The Old Pueblo
  May 16, 2014 - 05:38pm PT
Nice TR, Tvash

Trad climber
The fake McCoy from nevernever land.
  May 18, 2014 - 10:15am PT
very nice, thanks

Trad climber
Portland Oregon
  May 18, 2014 - 12:29pm PT
Great TR, but I keep going back to the Coleman stove pic for some reason...

Author's Reply  May 18, 2014 - 01:17pm PT
It could be an Eighth Wonder kind of thing.

Like the Nazca Plains, one can't help but wonder: who were the beings who built this?

El Presidio San Augustin del Tucson
  May 18, 2014 - 01:19pm PT
You're a classic, TVash.