American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

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

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1982

Valley of the Gods, Southeast Utah. This long-neglected area, first visited by Ron Wiggle and me in 1974, is reached via Highway 163 a few miles north of the town of Mexican Hat. The rock is composed of Chinle sandstone which is similar in density to the Wingate strata that forms Castleton, Moses and many of the other desert towers of the Moab area. Petard Tower is the first 150-foot pillar one comes to after swinging onto the valley’s dirt road from Highway 163. It is located about 200 yards from the road and can be climbed quickly and serve as a good introduction to the Valley of the Gods rock. The unreported first ascent of Petard Tower was in May, 1977, by George Hurley and Dave Rearick. The first two leads are up a chimney and crack system. The final pitch requires three bolts for aid on a blank face. I, 5.9, Al. The south face of North Tower, (the northernmost pinnacle in the Valley of the Gods area) was climbed by George Hurley and Bill Forrest in 1978 and is previously unreported. To approach the three-lead climb, walk up the slope behind the tower as viewed from the valley’s single dirt road, then traverse onto the south face of North Tower via a large ledge. The first two leads follow 5.9 cracks. The final lead ascends a thin-edged fin on the summit ridge. Two bolts for aid were placed on the fin, however, George Hurley reports that future ascents will probably free this section using the bolts for protection. Descent was made by the original Bjørnstad-Wiggle first ascent line on the north face of the tower. The summit rappel is 70 feet to a two-bolt anchor—second rappel takes one 100 feet to terra firma. South Face route: II, 5.9. North Face route: II, 5.7, A3. Tom-Tom Tower in Valley of the Gods was climbed via its north face by George Hurley and Bill Forrest in November, 1976. The ascent is previously unreported. The tower can be seen from the farthest north point of the dirt road which serpentines through the valley. The first lead is up dangerous, very loose, rotten rock. The balance of the climb is up relatively solid cracks and chimneys. Lead two, the most difficult, requires left arm locks and jams to ascend an off-sized 5.9 crack with one nut being the only protection in the 75-foot lead. The 75-foot third pitch continues up the same line for 125 feet. The final summit block is accomplished third class. (360 feet.) Ill, 5.9. Directly across the dirt road from Tom-Tom Tower is Eagle Plume Tower. It was first climbed in 1976 by Bill Forrest and Frank Luptom. This previously unreported ascent is up the center of the south side of the rock. 350 feet. III, 5.9. Angel’s Fear is a small butte with a balanced column on its southern end. When it is viewed from the road in Valley of the Gods, it resembles the Totem Pole in Monument Valley. Angel’s Fear is located beyond Tom-Tom and Eagle Plume Towers and a little beyond the take-off point for Hidden Pinnacle. The previously unreported first ascent of this 190-foot formation was in September, 1978, by George Hurley and Bill Forrest. The first lead of 120 feet is 5.9 and A3 climbing on the west face in a broken crack system which reaches the top of the butte just north of a large block. The second pitch is 70 feet of 5.8 and A2 climbing up the balanced summit block via obvious cracks in the north face. 190 feet. II, 5.9, A3. Hidden Pinnacle in Valley of the Gods was first climbed and unreported via its north face November, 1977, by George Hurley and Bill Forrest. It is located north of Angel’s Fear, about two miles from the dirt road. The pinnacle is hidden from sight by another tower when looked for from the road. The first lead is a 5.9 crack which widens to a chimney with large chockstones. At the end of this 140-foot lead there is a hand traverse to the left. The two final leads follow the same line of ascent and are of sounder rock. Descent is accomplished by two long rappels, the first of which is from a drilled-in angle piton and the second from a two-nut anchor at the top of the first lead. 300 feet. II, 5.9.

Eric Bjørnstad

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