North America, United States, Utah, Climbing in Arches National Park and Zion National Park, Southern Utah

Publication Year: 1980.

Climbing in Arches National Park and Zion National Park, Southern Utah. Climbing activity is picking up in southern Utah where climbers are taking advantage of warm weather and abundant rock. The following is just a sampling. Arches National Park: Despite regulations restricting climbing, Pat Miller and I made the second ascent of Owl Pinnacle, which I had soloed in 1978 (F8). Dead Horse Point: “Dream of Dead Horses” by me solo, February, 1978; second ascent by Miller and me, September, 1979 (IV, F7, A3). St. George Area: “Petroglyph Corner” right side soloed by Dave Jones (F9) and left side by Jones, Rob Schnelker, John ? and me (F9). Zion National Park: “Archangel” was soloed by me in 1978 and had its second ascent in May, 1978 by Brian Becker and me (VI, F8, A3). Becker pushed the free climbing on several of the 17 pitches to F9. We completed the route after six hours on the second day. I made the first ascent of Cerberus Gendarme solo in 1977 via “Touchstone Wall” (V, F9, A2). It now has two more routes. “Coconut Corner” was done by Mike Weiss and David Breashears in 1978 (III, F10) and a nine-pitch F9 route by Randy Aton, Mike Stern and Mike Allison. Wes Krause, Randy Cerf and I climbed “The Central Pillar of Spry” in 1977, an extremely sustained and difficult route, which has repulsed second-ascent attempts (IV, F10, A2). “Monkeyfinger Wall was ascended by Schnelker and me in 1978 and had its second ascent in the early winter of 1979 by Terry Lien, Brian Smoot and me (V, F9, A3). Mount Nemea was first ascended by Kent Stephens and me, involving much scrambling and some F7. The best climb in Zion in 1979 was the first ascent of the Minotaur, a 700-foot tower which had unsuccessfully been attempted five times. In 1977 Scott Fischer and I had tried the climb but were stopped by an overhanging off-width crack. Fischer attempted the crack free but fell from the lip of the overhang. I caught him in my arms after a 15-foot fall without using the rope as the pitch was unprotected. This spectacular failure was outdone this year when we returned. This time I aided the overhang on stacked cam nuts and placed a drilled angle and a sideways bong at the lip, then lowered down, cleaning the nuts. Fischer then led the overhang “free” using the bong and angle as holds. Nearly halfway up the tower we found a ledge for the night. I fixed an aid pitch after a bolt ladder and a pendulum. Fischer led the next pitch but after 65 feet fell onto a good nut. However the runner connecting the rope to the nut broke and he continued to fall past me, jerking me into the air. The spectacular plunge ruined the brand-new rope as well as nearly burning through the ¾" tubular sling connecting the rope to the hex that caught the fall. Nonetheless we continued on and reached the virgin summit that afternoon (IV, F9, A3). Descent was made by Tyrolean traverse to Scott’s Lookout on 100 meters of rope thrown down and across to us by Deacon and Pam Banks.

Ron Olevsky, Southern Utah State College Mountaineering Club