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North America, United States, Arizona, Toothrock

Toothrock. On October 23, Jason Keith and I completed the third ascent of 2000-foot Toothrock by a new route on the north face, which we call “Matter in Motion” (V+, 5.9+, A3+). It is in the Vermillion Cliffs near Lee’s Ferry. It is primarily difficult sandstone aid climbing on soft and often loose rock. It took six days to complete, including the approach and time spent fixing the lower pitches. Four of the first five pitches were A3 or harder with the crux, both technically and psychologically, being the fifth pitch, which took eight hours to lead and required 24 drilled placements. This pitch had thin nailing and some very dangerous loose rock. We took three leader falls there, the longest of which was 20 or 25 feet. These were the only falls on the entire 11-pitch climb. The fifth pitch climbs through a series of four roofs, after which the Chinle and Wingate formations are left behind for the slightly harder Navajo sandstone. Pitches 6 through 11 are of mixed free and aid climbing, with short bolt ladders on Pitches 6 and 9. An excellent bivouac ledge for two persons was used at the top of Pitch 6 and we spent a second night on the wall on a giant ledge a short scramble from the top. We placed 85 bolts, rivets or drilled pitons. Drilled baby angles were about the only drilled anchors that were bombproof. The approach is a three-mile hike up Cathedral Wash to Lowrey Spring. From the spring, a devious approach, which involves 2 or 3 roped pitches and some exposed scrambling leads to the base of the north face.

David Insley, Cimarron Adventures