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[TR] Zion- Desert Shield 5/18/2005

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Climb: Zion-Desert Shield


Date of Climb: 5/18/2005


Trip Report:

This is a trip report my buddy wrote up for desert shield, thought he did a nice job so I'm posting it here for the info it contains...nice route with the aid a little easier than expected and the free a little harder.

Desert Shield

I just climbed this route (sans last pitch) with Jim Anglin over May 18th

and 19th. The only reason I'm writing this report is to add to the only

other one I found on moabclimbing.com by Andy Welman. By his comments, Andy

's a much better climber than hacks like us so I thought some info for

average joe was in order - especially average joe thinking of a solo ascent.

I had toyed with attempting a solo but with Jim's partner for the Shield

(the other one) having life complications I ended up with a partner. We

hadn't shared an aid climb together since a 1981 ascent of the Nose so we

were long overdue for some fun. We used Chris Mac's climbing mag topo and

as usual it was very accurate.


Day 1 -

Pitch 1 - mostly an ugly solo but with a bit of 5.8 OW at the top. All of

the free pitches end in great ledges. All belays are very bomber bolts.


Pitch 2 - Hard face to tricky thin crack eventually widening to #4 Camalot.

I followed it free and would give it 11a/b. The face is not aidable unless

you hook it, which I hope you won't. If you do you'll risk breaking off one

of the key holds on a very nice face climb. Better to do as the soloist we

saw several days later and use a 2 - 3' cheat stick.


I combined pitches 3 and 4. Pitch 3 has a weird chimney/stem section. If I

had indeed attempted a solo ascent this could have been the pitch to shut me

down. You'll have the choice of doing the crux as an OW, chimney, or stem.

All are not overly hard at about 5.9, all are insecure, and all will have

you looking at your pro about 5 to 6' below your feet with an ugly fall

awaiting your mistake. I found it exciting. I guess you could possibly

protect this with the largest Big Bro but I've never even seen that unit.


The 4th pitch is classic desert crack climbing starting at tips and

widening to #4 Camalot. We fixed from here to the ground by tying a 60m and

70m together. We got back to the ground around 2:30. We had been in the

shade the entire time and though the day was hot our temps were actually

pretty cool.


Day 2 -

The shuttles weren't on the early summer schedule yet so we caught the 7 am

ride and commenced jugging.


Pitch 5 - Jim led this one. It's a sandy lieback with less than

unquestionable pro. It felt like 10a to him. Looked scary to me. Can't

say much about the 5.10 variation to the left except it will leave you with

a sizable traverse to the belay.


Pitch 6 - Steep bolt ladder with one hook move and one hybrid alien

placement. No rivets. We didn't find any need for rivet hangers.


Pitch 7 - I had been worried about this pitch due to several reports of "bad

fall" potential. This is due to a low angle ramp below you as you start the

hard moves. Fortunately it's not a flat sidewalk but pretty steep so it

would be a sliding affair versus an all-out splat. It made me feel much

better. The hard moves consist of some very blown out scars that yield

rather reasonably with a #.5 and #1 Tri-cam. After that the pitch is

thoughtful but never really hard. There was no fixed pro on the pitch at



Pitch 8 - Jim led this and didn't feel it was bad, maybe easier than the

preceding one. He did use a hook a couple of times but always had decent

gear below. The pitch does end with some scary freeclimbing through big,

loose blocks. On both the 7th and 8th pitches you will find spots for up to

a #3 Camalot. Otherwise a big cam rack is not required for the aid.


At this time, with my insistence, we rapped off. I didn't really give a

hoot about the last pitch and was more concerned about hanging up a rope on

the rappels and getting stuck in the dark. We did briefly hang up a rope on

the 4th rap but otherwise all went smoothly. We got down just as it got



Though we had shade on the lower part of the route, we were roasting in

the 90-degree sun the entire time on the headwall.


We felt this was a great climb with a lot of variety and a healthy dose of

adventure. For us the freeclimbing was definitely the crux. The aid,

assuming you have at least 3 sets of offsets nuts and a couple of Tri-cams,

was intimidating to look at but not actually hard to climb clean. We never

had a nut to blow during testing or climbing. The placements really aren't

any harder than what you'd find on something like the 6th pitch of Prodigal

Sun, you'll just have many more of them.


Though speed climbers might easily zip up in a day, average joes will be

pressed to do so. Fixing to the 4th pitch made life much more relaxing for

us. The bivy ledge to the right of the 3rd belay looked good (the barbeque

is still hanging from the ice screw) but the hauling didn't look too fun.


Pretty amazing location up on the headwall. Must have been a hell of a

first ascent up there!






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