| The Kingfisher: Core Shot.
April 20, 2012
~2.0 Miles, 1,400 Gain.
Trailhead: Fisher Towers Trailhead.
This tower has been on my short list for quite some time and while bored at work one day, I noticed that on Brian Crim's website one of his goals was to climb the Kingfisher. I exchanged e-mails for probably over a month talking about random climbs and of course, The Kingfisher. I knew it was going to be a challenge to find a partner with that would be willing to do hard aid climbing in the Fishers. I consider myself lucky since my regular rock partner can't stand the idea of “dirty” aid climbing Fishers. He's not too fond of mud to say the least.
I'll admit, I was very envious of Noah and Brian's successful aid on the Titan and felt pretty good about our chances of a successful climb on The Kingfisher. I drove down to the Fisher Towers parking area Thursday night and was able to get to bed at a reasonable time. Brian, Noah, and Joe (climbing south six shooter the following day with them) arrived around 12:30 AM. We woke up around 6:00 AM packed up and started our hike towards the base of The Kingfisher around 7:00 AM. Joe was going to hang around and do some shorter hikes in the area.
We arrived at the base and started gearing up. I was going to take the first lead and combine the first C0 pitch and the second 5.8 chimney pitch into one pitch. The first few bolts were slow as I was getting the motions of aid climbing back. Once back in the motions, the climbing went quicker. When I was about ¾ of the way up the first pitch, another party of 3 arrived. We were all a bit surprised as we thought everyone would be on Ancient Art. At least 2 other parties in the parking lot we encountered were on their way to climb Ancient Art.
L-R: The Kingfisher, Ancient Art, Echo, Cottontail.
Looking up at the first pitch on The Kingfisher.
Got rivet hangers? (Photo by Brian)
Aiding up several hangerless bolts on pitch 1.
At the top of the first aid pitch, I switched into my rock climbing shoes and started slowly up the 5.8 chimney. It was a bitch with a full aid rack, my running shoes shoes bulking up my side and a ton of rope drag from the first pitch. The chimney was awkward to say the least. Once at the top of the chimney, I set up 2 fixed lines for Noah and Brian to start their jug.
Brian jugging pitch 1. (Photo by Noah)
Noah jugging pitch 1. (Photo by Brian)
Noah and Brian jugging pitch 1. The 5.8 chimney.
They quickly arrived and Noah decided to take the lead on the second crux pitch. Unfortunately, the first bolt was missing and Noah had to make some interesting hard free moves to reach the second (now first) piton. Even with a cheater stick, that pin would be hard to clip. Once past the pin, he made his way upward towards the crux. Since Noah had a cheater stick, he decided to clip the bolt above the crux placement as it was a sandy pocket placement. Either a tri-cam or hook placement are the only options. If that piece blew, without a doubt, he would be decking on a ledge. Many people have been hurt with broken bones at this section. I think the cheater stick was a good choice.
Looking down pitch 2 the crux. (Photo by Noah)
Just a few moves after the crux was our second belay station on a small saucer ledge. Once Noah set up the jug lines, we made our way up to the ledge. Being a small ledge, I hung out at the crux ledge below the saucer ledge for Brian to start his lead up pitch 3. He combined the traditional pitches 4 and 5 into one. Once he was 10 feet up, I finished my jug. At this point, a light breeze had started and I beginning to freeze. Somehow my hat didn't make it into the pack. Noah at least had a wind jacket and was courteous enough to be a meat wind blocker as I hunched behind him and the backpack.
Looking up while jugging pitch 2.
Brian jugging pitch 2. The crux headwall.
As Brian continued upward and as I was flaking the jug line, I noticed two pretty serious core shots in the rope which didn't give us warm and fuzzy feelings since our next jug was going to be completely free hanging with 300-400 feet of pure air below us. Noah and I discussed our options and I decided to clean the route as he was going to jug on the core shot rope. Brian made decent time on the long aid pitch and set up jug lines which we followed. I was pretty excited to start jugging since I was freezing my ass off. We also noticed that the party of 3 behind us bailed.
Bomber aid placement ey. (Photo by Brian)
Looking down on the saucer belay. (Photo by Brian)
Brian aiding on pitch 3.
Brian aiding the capstone on pitch 3.
Jugging upward, it was crazy watching Noah jug the free hanging line with Echo and Cottontail Towers behind him. Not to mention the 300-400 feet of pure air. At the top of our third pitch was a much needed large ledge as the ledge made for a great mental break. I was finally starting to warm up as we hung out in the sun without any wind. I decided to take the last free 5.8 pitch. The opening moves were fun which took me up to another ledge and then up a 5.6 chimney. I belayed Noah up as Brian jugged the pitch. He didn't want to change into rock shoes.
Noah about to start his free hanging jug on pitch 3.
Noah jugging pitch 3. The Titan, Echo and Cottontail are visable.
Noah jugging pitch 3.
Exposure on jugging on pitch 3.
Noah's free hanging jug exposure. (Photo by Noah)
Me jugging over the capstone. (Photo by Noah)
Final 5.8 pitch.
We were now only a few feet from the summit block. With a few 5.7 bouldering moves, we were standing on top of The Kingfisher. It took us 7 hours. Not too bad even with a 20-30 minute break on the sunny ledge. The views were some of the best I have ever experienced.
The Titan, Echo and Cottontail.
Ancient Art from the summit.
Looking over the summit register, placed in 2001, we were surprised on how few ascents there were. We stayed over an hour on the summit soaking in the views and enjoying the sunshine. Now for the descent. We did one single rope rappel back to the large ledge, then a double rope rappel to the saucer belay. This double rope rappel was one of the more wild rappels I have ever done. It is almost completely free hanging with tons of air. Once at the saucer belay, we did another 3 single rope rappels. We broke up the last rappel into two since the 5.8 crack has been notorious for eating ropes. The single rope even cammed itself into a crack to where I couldn't even pull it up to attach my ATC. I was lowered on the other line to cam the rope from this horrible crack.
Cottontail and Castleton.
Noah on rappel number 2.
By the time we reached the ground, the core shots were looking extremely bad and it looks like that rope will make for a nice rope rug. Rather scary. As we were hiking back to the car, we saw at least 9 climbers on Ancient Art. Climbers rappelling over leaders and people smashed into several belay station. What a zoo. We arrived back at the car around 6:00 PM and wallowed in our excitement.
CORE SHOTS. It gives you warm and fuzzies. They were not this bad on the jug.
The climbing wasn't hard but it also wasn't easy. We placed no tri-cams, hooks or nuts. If I were to do the climb again, it would consist of 1 rack of cams, 5 rivet hangers (we had 15), 5 hero slings, 20 slings/runners and 10 additional carabiners. We all agreed the route is 95% rock, 5% choss which is quite good for the Fishers. Additionally, a cheater stick was extremely helpful and if we didn't bring one, a set of medium tri-cams would be sufficient. I found offset cams to be quite helpful.
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