American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Utah, Zion National Park

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1987

Zion National Park. The classic route, Space Shot, had its first solo ascent in October by Rich Strang, an inspired performance especially in light of its being his first desert wall! Some climbers fail to note the critical importance of hammerless ascents. For example, Space Shot suffered considerable damage at the hands of two Colorado climbers despite its being a hammerless route. A new generation of Zion locals have made their presence felt with the establishment of Zion’s first significant face-climbing route. In May 19-year-old Leif Bjarnson and Bob Quinn completed Facetastic, a high-quality 5.11 route up the apparently blank slab below the south face of Observation Point. Among the other shorter routes established in the past year is Master Blaster (5.8, A1), a perfect Friend crack that ascends 45 meters through two body-length roofs similar to inverted steps; it is 100 meters to the left of Headache. It was put up in June by Bob McLaughlin and me and repeated shortly afterward by Todd Gordon. Equipment should include at least five 1½ Friends! In September Earl Redfern and I made the first ascent of the main north face of Timbertop Mesa via Thunderbird Wall (VI, 5.9, A3). This had originally been attempted fifteen years earlier by Jeff Lowe and Cactus Bryan before the mesa had been climbed by any route; the wall had seen at least three even less successful attempts subsequently. The climb required 7½ days for the sixteen 165-foot leads. We discovered the Lowe-Bryan highpoint on the 12th pitch. We found absolutely no bolts despite having used eleven for aid ourselves up to that point (the lines differed by at least four pitches) and several more to reach the top, including one right above their final piton. A hundred meters from the top, Earl performed the crux, a 5.9 layback up a series of bushes. Rather than descending the 1975 Mormon route, we made six rappels down the buttress 350 meters east of the finish of our ascent to intercept the final section of the Mormon route. This may have been only the third true ascent of this enormous mesa.

Ron Olevsky

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