The Desert, various activity. Many new routes were established in the Moab area by Joe Slansky, and in the Castle Valley area by Greg Child and partners.They were wall climbs under 400' in height. Further information is available at www.climbingmoab.com.
A significant new route is Excommunication (IV 5.13), by Greg Child on the Priest in Castle Valley. Says Child: “It is the only complete new route on the tower since the original Honeymoon Chimney ascent.” The route follows the northwest edge of the Priest for two pitches, right on the arête, then breaks onto the overhanging calcite-covered north face for the crux pitch. Two more pitches back on the northwest edge lead to the summit. The route was climbed ground-up, with mainly bolt protection (though a rack is required) and was red-pointed over several days in October.
Steve “Crusher” Bartlett soloed The More You Jeep, The Less Intelligent You Are (2 pitches, III A3-), on the 190' free-standing Repo Man tower. The route begins under an obvious A-shaped chimney on the south side, and was completed on December 20. The tower is just before the Gemini Bridges in the Island in the Sky area southwest of Moab. Four-wheel-drive and high clearance is required for the approach.
Layne Potter and Paul Ross started off 2004 with a new route in March on the Pinnacle/ Weasel formation in the San Rafael Swell. They spent two days climbing an awkward and torturous groove system that ended at a feature they dubbed The Rooster, a prominent block visible from miles away. They also named the route The Rooster (400', 4 pitches, IV 5.8 C2 A1 ). Paul kept Layne on high alert, as he took two leader falls and provided much rock bombardment. It was a wake up call for their desert adventures, and Ross says he has the scars to prove it. The team next turned their attention to the massive slabs of the San Rafael’s Eastern Reef. Layne, his son Sheridan, and Paul climbed The Grand Adventure (1,340', 7 pitches, III 5.8R). “The name says it all, a trip that will not disappoint those that like a wander into the unknown,” said Ross. More routes on the Reef followed Layne and Paul’s aim to complete 50 new climbs in this area before the end of 2004. They climbed several routes up steep sides of slot canyons that divide the various high-angle slab formations, including The Gordian Knot (530', III 5.9 Cl) and, with Paul Gardner, Perhaps Not (560', III 5.9 Cl). In May Paul Ross and his son, Andy, made a trip back to Weasel Spire in the northern part of the Swell and climbed, in a day and a half, a new route up the impressive south face. They named it Ozymandias (440', 6 pitches, IV 5.9 C2). In July, back on the Reef, Layne Potter and Paul continued their quest on the slabs with eight more climbs, including Fear Not (850', 6 pitches, III 5.8+R), Laugh Not (620', 4 pitches, III 5.8R), and Fall Not (970', 5 pitches, III 5.7R). On September 1, on their 45th new route on the Reef, Paul took a 40-foot fall when a small ledge he’d swung onto collapsed, leaving him with a broken ankle and an end to his season, a few routes short of his 50-route goal. He wrote, “To date there are 44 (and a half) routes on the Reef that give a total of 44,828 feet of climbing. Roll on, spring 2005.”
Eric BjØrnstad, AAC