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North America, United States, Utah, Green River Area

Green River Area. In the isolated Green River regions west of Moab, James Garrett and Mike Pennings ventured out on the Horsethief Trail, then down the tightly descending switchbacks 2,000 feet to the bottom land at the edge of the Green. Their adventure led north, upriver to Hell Roaring Canyon (named for the flood during John Westly Powell’s maiden voyage in 1879). The persistent duo floated across the Green and climbed a multi-pitch route on the Virgin Vena Cava Tower via the right side of its east face. Although there are a number of dramatic free standing towers on the difficult-to-reach west side of the Green River, this is only the second to be climbed. The first was Horsethief Tower in the Rims Recreation Area across from the northern border of Canyonlands National Park, climbed in 1984 by Ken Trout, Rusty Kirkpatrick, Kirk Miller, and Ron Olevsky.

On the north wall of the entrance to Hell Roaring Canyon, Garrett and Pennings also established the Combustion Chamber route on Comer Tower at III 5.11c, and then continued approximately three miles up the canyon for a three pitch route (III 5.11 C2), a splitter crack on the southwest face of the Warlock, a tower first climbed by Ron Olevsky, Dave Mondeau, and Dale Kruse in 1985.

In Hell Roaring Canyon, Ken Sims, Mark Hesse, and Maure Henning established the four-pitch Sims-Hesse-Henning route (III 5.11+ R) on The Witch. The route includes an awesome stemming comer on Pitch Two protected by many #0 and #1 TCUs. On Charley Horse Needle above the Green River to the south, the trio free-climbed a three-pitch line at 5.10d with an alternative 5.12a finger crack start. The route includes the “Shangri-La Belay” in a window halfway up the tower.