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North America, United States, Utah, Abraham, Three Patriarchs, Southwest Buttress, Zion National Park

Abraham, Three Patriarchs, Southwest Buttress, Zion National Park. Walt Shipley and I met in Springdale, Utah in May for a major big-wall climb in Zion. We chose unclimbed Abraham by a natural overhanging crack system up the center of its southeast buttress. The total height is greater than Half Dome’s northwest face. We planned for four days and brought the usual large quantity of aid gear, including hooks, pitons and several sets of camming devices, portaledges, two haulbags and a bolt kit consisting of 50 bolts. We climbed the first crack system to the right of a central gully descending from the buttress and followed cracks for three pitches. We traversed left through a dark band to a tree at the base of an off-width crack. We followed the comer system for several pitches and then traversed right to the right-facing comers leading to the top of the buttress. The climbing was consistently difficult for these 15 pitches with some very exposed free-climbing and much overhanging knifeblade-crack nailing. From the top of the buttress, we soloed moderate terrain for several hundred feet to the top of Abraham. On the descent, from the top of the buttress, we traversed right several hundred yards on a ledge system to the edge of a major drainage. Eleven rappels (some with marginal anchors) led to the top of a hanging waterfall and three more to the ground. Five days were required for the ascent and descent. We used only 17 bolts, ten for belays and seven for aid. We named it the “Radiator” because of the radiant nature of Abraham’s flawless sandstone. (VI, 5.10, A4.)

John Middendorf, A5 Adventures