Cathedral Arch, Bats in the Belfry. In June, I got a call from Jeff Lowe asking if I would film and photograph an attempt on a new route in remote Arch Canyon, 25 miles west of Blanding in southeast Utah. I hardly ever turn down a job that pays me to go climbing. The team consisted of Jeff Lowe with his wife Teri Ebel, my assistant Deborah Nbozny and myself.
Jeff Lowe is famous for picking out classic new routes. Here he did not disappoint, taking us past probably a dozen or so unbelievable towers on the way to his prized route on Cathedral Arch. This tower, complete with an arch in the bottom left-hand comer, was reached after four hours of four-wheeling. Our campsite was situated in a beautiful grove of trees. We even had a stream and a pool for cool and frequent dips!
Now followed two days of technical climbing in 100-degree heat and 250 feet of gain in three pitches. We had 350 feet to go, but Jeff and Teri had to return home for a Fourth of July family reunion. On July 11, the team returned. Jeff and I ascended the fixed ropes and after three more days and one bivouac 95 feet below the summit, we emerged to the cheers of our base camp team of Teri and Deborah. We had climbed Bats in the Belfry (V 5.10 A3), but all we could think of was that cool swimming hole 650 feet below!
This region is Hopi Indian land. Ruins from the mid-1800s line the high valley walls. Visiting and exploring the sites is allowed. Signs of graffiti and vandalism were non-existent—a truly wonderful feeling. What an adventure!
Freddie Snalam, unaffiliated