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joepuryear

best of cc.com [TR] Utah Desert Tower Tour - 3/20/2007

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Trip: Utah Desert Tower Tour -

 

Date: 3/20/2007

 

Trip Report:

My wife Michelle and I just returned from a two week trip climbing desert towers around Moab, Utah. Overall we had a great trip, climbing 11 routes on 10 towers (actually 9 towers and 1 mesa).

 

Our first stop was Arches National Park. We decided to warm up on Off Balanced Rock, North Chimney (5.7). The 100-foot runout on the second pitch was a little unnerving but luckily the chimney was fairly secure.

Here's a shot of me taking a picture of Michelle coming up the chimney:

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On top of Off Balanced Rock:

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Next stop was the obligatory Owl Rock, Olevsky Route (5.9), definitely a must do tower for anyone visiting Arches.

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Michelle rapping off:

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That evening we hiked out to Delicate Arch for the sunset.

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Next it was time for the Fisher Towers.

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It rained a little the night we got there, so climbing Ancient Art the next day was out, as climbing dry mud is bad enough. Instead we did the really cool hike through the towers and out to a viewpoint.

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Later that evening it seemed to dry out enough to give Lizard Rock, Entry Fee (5.9) a go.

 

Leading up:

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Michelle on top:

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The next day we headed up to do Ancient Art, The Corkscrew Route (III 5.10d)

 

The route climbs up the central chimney then up the highest point on the left.

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Following the first bolted crux:

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The summit has to be one of the top five coolest spots in the world that I have been.

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We came back down and I decided to give a go at The Cobra (5.11 R). I mean, how much longer is this thing going to be there? I had to get it while I still could.

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Chalking up under the lip:

DSCN0711.jpgDSCN0722.jpg

 

One more day in the Fisher Towers and we wanted a little bit more, so we climbed the Kingfisher, Colorado Northeast Ridge (IV 5.8 C2).

 

Kingfisher, the route ascends the left side of the tower:

DSCN0789.jpg

 

This was actually Michelle's favorite route of the whole trip! Not because the climbing was that great - mostly a bolt ladder with a few very C2 mud placements and some good free-mudding. But the overall line, exposure, and summit were fantastic.

 

Looking straight down the Northeast Ridge:

DSCN0765.jpg

 

Summit views - The Titan, Echo Tower, and Cottontail Tower:

DSCN0775.jpg

 

Next stop was Castle Valley. We of course had to do the obligatory route on Castleton Tower- the Kor-Ingalls (III, 5.9).

 

Castleton Tower:

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The route follows the central dihedral:

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The line is good, but the climbing leaves a bit to be desired. The crux offwidth is only cruxy because they tell you to bring so much god-damned gear up the route and you have to squeeze up the thing with all this crap. In reality you only need a number three Camalot and 4 quickdraws to lead the crux pitch. Anyways, cool summit.

 

Michelle coming up the crux OW/Chimney:

DSCN0794.jpg

 

The Rectory came with many recommendations, and although it is a mesa and not a tower, it still has a tower feel and is a really cool desert formation.

 

The Rectory is the Mesa in the foreground, the route climbs directly up the facing wall:

DSCN0875.jpg

 

We climbed Fine Jade on the Rectory (III, 5.11a). The first two pitches are the crux and are both interesting and sustained. The warm up pitch is a steep but short 5.10d hand-OW-hand crux.

 

Michelle following the first pitch:

DSCN0819.jpg

 

We hiked across the Rectory to watch some climbers on the Honeymoon Chimney of The Priest.

DSCN0841.jpgDSCN0843.jpg

 

 

Climbers on Fine Jade, The Rectory:

DSCN0871.jpg

 

Later that afternoon we decided to climb the North Chimney of Castleton Tower (III, 5.9), as many people consider it the better of the two moderate routes. The first pitch was ultimately classic. Two parallel cracks, mostly hand jamming, and interesting moves for an entire 150 feet. The second pitch, however, was mostly junk and I linked all the way to the notch in exactly 200 feet.

 

Michelle following the first pitch:

DSCN0872.jpg

 

The next mission was Sister Superior, Jah Man (III, 5.10c). Another fine desert route, with a stout but short crux on the 3rd pitch. And one of the finer chimneys in the area - the Sister Squeeze chimney on the 2nd pitch.

 

Sister Superior:

IMG_2522.jpg

 

Up close:

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Looking down the 3rd pitch:

DSCN0893.jpg

 

On the summit looking toward Castleton and the Rectory:

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And for the final hurrah we took the long drive out and climbed Moses, Primrose Dihedrals (IV, 5.11d).

 

Moses is the tallest tower:

DSCN0934.jpgIMG_2546.jpg

The route is everything it's cracked up to be - short but sustained pitches, interesting climbing, and an awesome position.

 

Michelle coming up the 4th pitch:

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Pitch 5:

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Summit success:

DSCN0953.jpg

 

 

 

Gear Notes:

SuperTopo: Desert Towers - a great guide for these routes.

 

 

 

Approach Notes:

High clearance 4x4 recommended - even for parking lots.

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Those pictures are great :tup: :tup:

 

I remember a story of Pete Takeda and a buddy doing some mud pounding on Fisher Chimney's in Climbing about 12 years ago. Good on you :)

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Really nice pics! I am headed down to the creek over spring break and we got some towers on the list too. I will try to post when I get back.

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Beautiful pictures, looks like a great trip. I really have to get down there....time to call up my pal in SLC :brew:

 

Thanks much for the TR :tup:

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Damn - what an amazing trip! Truly spectular pics of what sound like some unbelievable lines. I'm inspired!

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I hate you Joe and Michelle Puryear you have made me so jealous!

 

I don't remember a 100 foot runout on Off-Balanced Rock, but perhaps I avoided it by climbing into the chimney right off the belay, only recommended for the tiny and flexible. ;)

 

I will add that route on Kingfisher to my list for next time.

 

Thanks for the TR

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sweet, nice photos, great TR.

 

deser tower power

 

if you haven't climbed it yet, next time your down there, put lightning bolt cracks on the north six shooter on your list.

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I don't remember a 100 foot runout on Off-Balanced Rock, but perhaps I avoided it by climbing into the chimney right off the belay, only recommended for the tiny and flexible. ;)

Fern - yeah I just did it the stupid way. One guide said to climb the outside edge of the chimney, which has no pro whatsoever and is probably harder than the 5.6 they say. After I got down I read another book that said to go all the way back into the chimney and follow the crack up - that definitely sounds like the way to go.

 

if you haven't climbed it yet, next time your down there, put lightning bolt cracks on the north six shooter on your list.

That looks like a great route too and was next on the list for sure - can only climb so much in two weeks - can't wait to go back and do more.

 

Awesome TR Joe! You ever going to get around to writing one for the pencil?

We're still working on editing the video footage :toad:

 

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The shots of climbers on the Priest from Rectory & climbers on Fine Jade from Castleton are some of the best tower shots I've seen. Outstanding.

 

You should add Honeymoon Chimney on the Priest & In Search Of Suds on Washerwoman to your list for next trip down there.

 

 

6705IMG_7691.JPG

Edited by fgw

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Nice TR! ... a real jawdropper. The only chance I'd have on any of those monuments would be to photoshop myself onto your pix...

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Thanks guys. Hey that route on Washerwoman looks great. Some friends of ours headed out to do that the day we left. :cry: Yeah the Priest is definitely a must do next time I'm down there.

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well, since no one else mentioned it...

 

 

...nice freakin' photos!

 

 

with the exception of the spot of rain you mentioned, it looks like the weather was cooperative.

 

windy at all?

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Ah man the weather was beautiful the whole time and hardly any crowds either. That seems like a good time to be there, we had nearly every route to ourselves and sometimes entire campgrounds to ourselves. It definitely started to pick up though as soon as spring break happened. We got lucky with the wind too - I've heard the stories - but it was calm the whole time.

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Ah man the weather was beautiful the whole time and hardly any crowds either.

 

ahh you lucked out i was just down there and there where hoards of people everywhere, and the weather was shitty too!

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