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North America, United States, Colorado, The Royal Gorge, Tombstone Wall

The Royal Gorge, Tombstone Wall. At dawn on June 20, Fred Pfahler and I rappelled into the depths of Royal Gorge. After traversing a long, cactus-filled ledge, we arrived at the broken base of the 900-foot wall that plunged down to us from the north end of the world’s highest suspension bridge. The route began with 90 feet of vertical face to a marginal stance below a rounded roof. The second and third pitches vaulted 180 feet up the high-angle wall to a slippery ramp which led ten feet right into the base of a vertical groove. The groove provided a difficult direct-aid pitch on tied-off pitons and ended 80 feet up on a wide ledge. After surveying the upper walls, we traversed right and struggled up two leads into a huge red dihedral. Now and then a train would rumble past, hundreds of feet below our heels. It was a diverting amusement. The dihedral involved two exposed leads over giant flakes and blocks which led to the base of a 100-foot, fourth-class finish. At the setting of the sun, we surmounted the spectacular rim which marked the end of a worthwhile climb. Because of dead birds at the bottom of the wall, we thought the name "Tombstone Wall” appropriate. (NCCS IV, F7, A3.)

Pat Ament, Unattached