West Temple, Gettin’ Western. On April 30, Andrew Nichols and I made the third ascent of Gettin’ Western on the east face of the West Temple, one of the biggest walls in Zion.
In 1990, Brad Quinn and Darren Cope made the first ascent of this proud line. Several efforts over eight days eventually brought them to the summit. (Darren’s uncle made the first ascent of the West Temple in the 1930s.) In 1993, Doug Hall and Doug Byerly made the second and first free ascent, an outstanding effort that included a crux pitch of 5.11 thin hands crack with minimal protection behind a hollow flake. Doug and Doug spent two days ascending and descending the route.
Andrew and I set off at midnight. Slightly lost, we climbed three pitches through a rock band to gain the lower flanks of the east face. We arrived at the base of the wall at about 4 a.m. and started climbing. The first 1,500 feet offers hard climbing on steep cracks (many 5.10 pitches with the occasional point of aid). By 2 p.m., we were eating lunch under a huge pine tree that sits on a ledge at about mid-height. Climbing the upper half of the route was somewhat like gardening, for the steep walls were covered with various types of plants, grasses and trees. They all offer good handholds. By 8 p.m. we pulled onto the top of the route.
We spent the night on the shoulder of the West Temple. In the morning, we set off for the main summit. The descent proved to be devious and very dangerous. Many loose blocks abound on the upper flanks of this proud sandstone mountain.
Jonny Allen, unaffiliated