Monday, October 19, 2009

More Zion action...Tatooween and Plan B

The fun just doesn't stop for Colin and I...we are keeping the 'dream itinerary' alive with our last two days of climbing.

First up was the relatively new route, and probably seldom repeated Tatoween V 5.11. It lies in the massive south facing amphitheater of Mt. Kinesava on the edge of Zion. WOW. There are so many great lines (and new ones to do) that I really shouldn't tell you about them. In fact stop reading here, and don't bother to come to Zion. It is sandy and loose, the climbing is way over rated. Ha. Back to Tatoween.

So new guidebooks, like the one from for Zion, really get you psyched on new spots in an old area, and that is what struck us about this line. By my calculations it is probably about 1700' tall, and almost every pitch is 5.10 or harder, and the way we did pitches, they were all about 160'. Add the 2+ hour approach and the same for the descent, and you have your self a full fledged grade V desert wall that is all free. What more could you ask for?

We woke early and starting walking at first light. After a cool and sandy approach we arrived at the base just as the sun was hitting us. Highs in the 60s were forecasted which was just barely cool enough for climbing in full desert sun. We didn't stop moving the entire day and climbed pitch after pitch of 5.10 and 5.11. A few broken foot holds were a testament to the rarely climbed nature of the route and the full adventure component it involved. We were a long way away from help if some thing went wrong, so both of us tightened up our climbing a bit, slowed it down, and practiced what I call '4x4' climbing, meaning distributing your weight on all 4 appendages as much as you can incase anything does break. As an example, at some point high on the route, I was linking together 2 5.10+ pitches for another monster 175' pitch, when I foothold snapped, but luckily, or unluckily my fingers were locked into a perfect finger lock, and I pretty much scalped my left index finger. The dreaded flapper pulsed blood and throbbed in pain until I could get to the belay and tape it up tight. Now I am struggling with putting this sucker into cracks, but oh well, it's only flesh and will regrow eventually!

We summited at about 5:30pm, and had 10 rappels, and a two hour walk out. With sunset at 7pm, we knew we had some time of walking in the dark, but oh well, that is the price you pay for gong big in the short fall days. Overall, I highly recommend the prepared for long and sometimes scary pitches of 5.10+, some friable holds and lots of walking. Put your adventure cap on tight.

Mt Kinesava...home to Tatoween and many more classics to come!

Pitch 1: 5.11 fingers

Way up there on the route

Still high on the route.


Summit shang ri many people have ever been here? Maybe a dozen.


Walking in the dark.

Ouch, the dreaded flapper!

The day after, we woke up slow, but didn't want to take a rest day, so at the crack of noon we went into the canyon to check out a 5 pitch route called Plan B, 5.12. Yet another 5 star stellar crack climbing classic of Zion. Pitch after pitch of real deal pulling pretty much exhausted what we had left after Tatoween the day before. With a pitch breakdown of 5.11+, 10+ OW, 12 (3o foot roof!), 12- and 11, we were pretty much in rest day mode at the top. Now being pleasantly worked, overfed, and over caffeinated, the plans start to take place for the next cycle of climbing...stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


We just finished our first few days of climbing in Zion, and I must say, soooo inspired. So much rock, so little time. I compiled a vid of the first 2 routes Colin and I have done. First was Freezer Burn, an old Mugs and Wheels free route, that both of us slipped in the sand on so no send, and second was Sheer Lunacy, a 7 pitch 5.12 to the left of Moonlight. I was super psyched to onsight the route, so a great start to climbing in Zion. I will let the vid do the rest of the talking...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

And so the road trip begins...

Well fall usually means a few things for me. Work slows down (or stops). Temperatures drop. The truck gets packed. The southwest beckons. All of these things have fallen in to place with a few modifications. This year we have a camper and the dog is our new co-pilot.

This year the journey started with a stop in Smith Rocks to break up our drive to Utah. Now I must say that Smith Rocks climbing is my kryptonite. It totally defeats me, or at least I let it get to me way too much. I am not, and have never been a good crimper and techy face climber; give me a thuggy crag or steep endurance jug haul any day. When I get to Smith, my ego is crushed and I take my climbing down almost a full number grade. But you know what? It is refreshing to have climbing not be about chasing grades, and to be about the line...a lesson we learn a little latter on in this installment. When I at home in Squamish, I guess I get caught up in the numbers, as its your local crag and you have done so many of the lines that you might as well push yourself harder. Then you leave town and try and chase those grades...but put the brakes on, and get back to my traditional climbing routes, where climbing is about the line and the ever so cliched journey. But you know what? It is!

So I had fun trying to onsight classic Smith 5.12 after classic 5.12 and either falling once or dogging the shiznit out of them. For me I guess the line of the 2 days was onsighting the classic Sunshine Dihedral, which they call 11+ with scary gear, but I guess its all relative to me the crusty old trad climber, as it felt way easier and safer than some run out slab like Dreaming.

Beleive it or not after two days we were so cold, and had no skin left on our tips so we started driving for Utah...being chased through eastern Oregon by a blinding blizzard. That is what is supposed to happen on our way home in late November, NOT on the way south in early October! Oh well.

We rocked down to St. George to check out some of the classic limestone of the Wailing Wall and Cathedral Cave. This place has been raved about for a few years, and well its pretty good fun. I think I have been spoiled miserably by going to Kalymnos last spring, and my ideal desert location will always involve splitters and red sandstone, but we had a great time - I mean who wouldn't love this place, great rock, soft grades and plentiful bolts! We did a few of the classics in the cave and tried our best on the wailing wall, but by the next day, the north winds had kicked in and we couldn't even warm up with out freezing our digits off. At least my new super puffy Outdoor Research Virtuoso Down Coat was a welcome and necessary addition to the pack.

After freezing our butts off we ran down to the truck and heading down to St. George where we pumped out a few laps on the un-inspring but extremely fun Chuckwalla and Turtle Walls. 40 feet of super steep jug hauling with your shirt off, who could complain.

But of course the conversation between Jas and I went back to what inspires us to climb, and these sport routes in St. George were just not cutting it. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE sport climbing, all you have to do to believe me is go check out my scorecard! My first love, and true motivator is always the long traditional free routes of the world, like my last post about the Space Buttress. So we decided it was time to check some places out for the next part of our journey - next stop Zion and the seldom visited Kolob Canyon. We had to be in Salt Lake for this weekend's American Alpine Club Cragging Classic so we only had a day to check the place out. Our decision was to check out the sport climbs (I know, more sport climbs!) Namaste and Huecos Rancheros. UNBELIEVABLE. Kolob is amazing and we got to look at the line of 'Wind, Sand and Stars' a IV 5.12 free route that we are going to do next week for sure. But for now here are some shots from Kolob, that just don't do it justice. Go do these routes, if only for the 2 hour round trip walk in the South Fork Canyon in green meadows and tree stands at the base of 1500 foot sandstone walls. That is what inspires me to climb...

Next stop, cragging classic and then Zion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!