The Birthday Bash; Free Lhasa; and The Monkeys Always Send, Dude. In late winter Cedar Wright and I opened three new free climbs in Zion National Park in an “onsight in a day” style. These adventures were preceded by a gut-wrenching journey to Kashmir in which we assisted with earthquake relief in a Himalayan war zone. After flying back to Salt Lake our efforts began with a team-free repeat of the quality route Wind, Sand, and Stars in Kolob Canyon, in which we endured a frigid night atop 8,000' Paria Point. During the shiver-bivy it became clear that our experiences in Kashmir had amplified our threshold for suffering, friendship, and above all our appreciation for the rich climbing lifestyle we lead.
With this in mind we drove into Zion proper and spied an unclimbed line, to the right of Monkey Finger, ending in a dramatic roof. We started up a crack system, clipping old Olevsky- drilled angles, and continued by tip-tapping up poorly protected metallic patina. The last pitch was freed on top-rope by headlamp and is still awaits a lead. It climbs changing corners past a 00 TCU offset, an undercling out the roof, and finishes on a headwall splitter that requires wild moves to link face features above RPs and small cams. The Monkeys Always Send, Dude (900', 5.11+R C2 or 5.12).
Next, lured by a beautiful Eric Draper photo featuring a clean 500' continuous headwall splitter, we embarked to climb Mt. Kinesava roughly via Lhasa (5.11 Al, Anker-Quinn, 1990). We would follow the first few and last few pitches of the original line. After successfully freeing the lower pendi-point and encountering a wild tunnel pitch in the middle of the wall, we were shocked to find that the giant virgin splitter above was a monster offwidth—the dreaded Tatonka Knuk! Cedar began by leading a 200' varied wide crack, pushing single cams for extended sections to a perfect ledge. This set me up for the crux grovel, consisting of four- inch enduro hand stacks, capped by an exposed squeeze through a roof. The ankle gobies and bloodshed from this pitch, coupled with the three rounds of antibiotics I took in Kashmir, won me my very own systemic infection in my right leg. The Free Lhasa (1,300', 5.11+).
“Ahhh, Keflex, the breakfast of champions,” I muttered as I squeezed puss out of my ankle and racked for our third new route in the Zion area. It followed the obvious continuous system just left of the route Free or Burn and the great arch formation to its right. Cedar lead the crux second pitch, on his birthday, after two hours of work and a 40' whipper that scarred his forehead. The Birthday Bash (700', 5.12c).
I don’t think the people of Kashmir could ever image a place like Zion or our dirtbag climbing lifestyle. In the end we are compassionate for those who suffer, and grateful for our experiences on the dreamy sandstone.
Renan Ozturk, AAC