At my job, I have the privilege of working with the largest climbing library in the world. I sure don't dread the job. I get to meet very cool climbers and get access to all the books I want. There is one bad thing about it though; I see books from all around the world. I keep thinking," I want to climb that." Then I add it to be tic list. I'm starting to realize that I can't do everything out there – but I sure can do as much as possible.
When planning this road trip 8 months ago, I wanted to head to Rainier originally. That never changed but I added quite a bit of stuff onto it to make it all the more epic. I wanted to head to some pretty cool rock climbing places in the desert before it. Michael just wanted to do Rainier and was driving separate while me and Jeff drove together a few days earlier. We started off by making the 6 hour drive to the Fisher towers by Moab, Utah at 3 in the morning at the end of June. If you don't know of the Fisher towers, look it up. They are the most famous desert towers out there. Some insane routes are up there. Dangerous A5-A6 aid routes to insane run out 5.11-5.12's. I chose the Stolen Chimney route on the Ancient Art. A five pitched well protected 5.11- route heading to the most exposed and smallest summit on Earth that I've heard about. Yes, this summit is the size of about one or two of my feet with 2,000 ft. it seemed like to the ground – vertical to overhanging that is – on each side.
The Corkscrew Summit
Me and Jeff got there at about 9 and started up. All the tourists were already looking at us funny with all the gear we had. It was just 80 degrees. A mild temperature for June in the desert but as we found out when we were higher on the route, it reached over 110 degrees! We got to the base of the climb and geared up and I started to lead the first pitch. It was only 5.5 but I got my first taste of the desert rock. The rock is very messy with an inch of mud on the surface of the rock. It breaks pretty easily making the crimpers impossible. I combined pitch 1 and 2 into one pitch. The 2nd pitch is freed at 5.10c/d. It's aided by a lot of parties. I brought my aiders just in case. Things went well and I got up it freeing it. It was hard and awkward. Jeff soon followed.
The next pitch was long. It was a 5.8-5.9 chimney and it seemed like it never ended. I finally got up it. The protection was great except for the end. I then belayed Jeff up. He struggled a bit but with a grunt and groan got up.
Jeff coming up the chimney By this time tourists were standing watching us for a while screaming, "Your almost there." I kept thinking to myself, kind of. There were clouds starting to form. I hoped it would not be rain. Rain and this rock would make a lot of mud.
I was now two pitches from the top. This next pitch was the crux of the route. A 5.11- friction pitch.
The crux pitch. It's as blank as it looks. I struggled on it. The exposure didn't help. I didn't want to fall. I ended up pulling one draw and freeing the rest. It was really hard. There I am looking at the most insane summit out there. It looked hard and intimidating. I straddled this small ridge to belay Jeff up. Each side was the most insane exposure I have seen. It was almost nauseating. Jeff was tired and really seemed to lose interest. He ascended up the crux pitch and soon joined me. He was really nervous on that ridge.
Jeff ascending up the crux
I then got the rack together fast and he started belaying me on the most wild pitch out there.
That's the summit pitch! You have to walk about 20 feet on this very thin ridge. It's unprotected so don't fall. You then get to start climbing the summit pinnacle. I wrapped a sling around what's called "The Diving Board." I did a 5.8 mantle onto it and then clipped a bolt. This bolt looked quite old. It was solid but old. I didn't want to fall. The next two moves had to be at the 5.10 level. They were hard, harder with the exposure. I got past them and clipped a couple more bolts. I could now see the summit very closely. I made a 5.9 mantle and sat on top and just yelled in excitement. You have to be on the summit to be able to feel what I felt. The exposure was UNREAL. It was a hard and a hairy summit pitch. I did it though.
Me on the most exposed summit! A route I had been eyeing out for a while. Jeff then started to lower me while I cleaned. This was quite hard. I soon got to the ridge and hurried back across to the anchor and clipped in. We both looked at each other and knew exactly what we were thinking – wow. Jeff had no desire to attempt it. He said it was above his level. So we started heading down.
The first rappel was pretty sketchy. You had to rappel to the side not straight down. After a couple more rappels we made it to the ground. Jeff then told me he dropped his camera on the third pitch. Jeff seems to be good at loosing stuff. We searched around and could not find it. I suggested we post a thread on 14ers asking if anyone finds it, to return it. We rushed back to the Jeep and it was 7 o'clock in the afternoon with a temperature of 99 degrees. It was so HOT. That's why it's only climbed in the fall and spring but hey, I toughed out the heat and went for it. We had more than enough water. We got back and realized this was only the first day of our trip. What a start. Now we planned to head to Smith Rock, Oregon – a very famous area. The climbs we did here proved to be better in just about every area -including exposure.
Stay tuned for the next part of the TR
The Fisher Towers
The Video Links for the Climb: