AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

North America, United States, Utah, Canyonlands

Canyonlands. Several new Wingate Spires have been scaled recently in Canyonlands. Leonard Coyne, Ellen Figi and I made the first ascent of Bridger Jack, a500-foot butte, this summer. Our route, Wild Flower (III, 5.10), ascends prominent 5.9 cracks and comers up the east face but unfortunately ends with a notorious 5.10 off-width squeezer. Two more ascents of Bridger Jack also resulted in new routes. Peter Gallagher and Brad Schilling made the second ascent of the tower via the north buttress, Hydrophobic Coyote (III, 5.10). The crux was a 5.10 hand-and-fist crack on the first pitch. Above, Gallagher was injured when loose blocks crushed his hand. On the third ascent of the spire, Patrick Griffin and I found a slightly easier variation to the north buttress, climbing a crack system to the left and a separate chimney higher. A 40-foot rappel was also necessary halfway up. The climb was named the Roundup (III, 5.9 +, A0) after the roundup of cattle occurring at Dugout Ranch below. At times the mooing was so loud that we could hardly communicate. Gallagher and I also teamed up to make the first ascent of another major spire, the King of Pain, next to Bridger Jack. Rights of Passage (III, 5.11+) ascends a five-pitch crack system on the east face and is one of the hardest spire climbs in the Southwest. It took us two full days, mostly for the second and fourth pitches, both 5.11+. The summit was unusual: a short Tyrolean done between the two summit blocks. In Lathrop Canyon, Monster Tower was climbed all free by Richard Harrison and Jay Smith at 5.11 - , by way of a short variation on the summit block. Dreiman and I made the second free ascent a mere three days later by the same route, the north ridge, which originally had been climbed nearly all free by Ken Trout and Kirk Miller in 1981. Although we were disappointed not to have done the first free ascent of the tower, we were more upset by the various doodlings, graffitti and initials that Harrison and Smith had scratched into the soft sandstone. Monster Tower has seen five repeats this year, including a new and spectacular aid line on the northeast side, Los Bandidos (III, 5.9, A3) by Stan Mish and Mimi de Gravelle. In Taylor Canyon, next to Moses and Zeus, Dreiman and I made the first ascent of the last unclimbed spire, a 500-foot, wafer-like tower which we named “Aphrodite.” Ironically, it proved to be the easiest free climb in Taylor Canyon, an aesthetic, four-pitch 5.9 climb up the east ridge. The usual epic ensued when we were benighted on the summit and broke our only drill bit.

Edward Webster