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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: On top of Off Balanced Rock: Next stop was the obligatory Owl Rock, Olevsky Route (5.9), definitely a must do tower for anyone visiting Arches. Michelle rapping off: That evening we hiked out to Delicate Arch for the sunset. Next it was time for the Fisher Towers. 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. Later that evening it seemed to dry out enough to give Lizard Rock, Entry Fee (5.9) a go. Leading up: Michelle on top: 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. Following the first bolted crux: The summit has to be one of the top five coolest spots in the world that I have been. 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. Chalking up under the lip: 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: 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: Summit views - The Titan, Echo Tower, and Cottontail Tower: 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: The route follows the central dihedral: 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: 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: 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: We hiked across the Rectory to watch some climbers on the Honeymoon Chimney of The Priest. Climbers on Fine Jade, The Rectory: 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: 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: Up close: Looking down the 3rd pitch: On the summit looking toward Castleton and the Rectory: And for the final hurrah we took the long drive out and climbed Moses, Primrose Dihedrals (IV, 5.11d). Moses is the tallest tower: 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: Pitch 5: Summit success: Gear Notes: SuperTopo: Desert Towers - a great guide for these routes. Approach Notes: High clearance 4x4 recommended - even for parking lots.