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North America, United States, Utah, Valley of the Gods, Southeast Utah

Valley of the Gods, Southeast Utah. Driving south from Mexican Hat, you get fleeting glimpses of thin sandstone towers to the west before the highway bends its way toward the Arizona border. An arrow on a wooden sign points down a dusty road to the “Valley of the Gods.” Ron Wiggle and I spent a few days in 1974 exploring this isolated valley and reconnoitering its numerous climbing possibilities. We climbed the highest and northernmost free-standing monolith in the area by an obvious direct line on its northeast side. Routine aid took us to a sloping bench near the midpoint. The balance of the route was up and into a dihedral of chunky, decaying white and red rock with only marginal safety. The final few feet were climbed on denser rock, partly free, with sound chocks for protection. Our only difficulty was an increasing wind pummeling hot sand into our eyes. We rappelled our ascent line, carefully dislodging much of the threatening loose rock on our way. NCCS III, F7, A3.

Eric BjØrnstad