American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Utah, Zion National Park, Gatekeeper Wall, Gatekeeper Crack

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2007

Gatekeeper Wall, Gatekeeper Crack. In October Dave Jones, Chris Owens, and I established this route on the Gatekeeper Wall, which is the first formation lower than and east of the Watchman. We started up the canyon where the NPS has their shuttle bus storage facility. Our route follows a thin crack system that starts 35' right of the Locksmith Dihedral. The first pitch uses a few points of aid past a chockstone to gain a loose section of sandy talus behind a 200' finger-like exfoliated flake. On the second pitch Dave followed a broken crack system on great rock to a small stance. That night we visited the emergency room, because Chris had lacerated his fingers when a 200-pound block rolled over them. He was now resigned to jugging, organizing belays, and heckling the leaders.

The next day, on the third pitch,I followed the cracks, overhanging there, to a sling belay. Dave led the beautiful fourth pitch (C2), which mostly ascended a thin face crack for 165' to a welcome ledge, which was big enough for one person to lie down on. After a short jog right, I led through an improbable and exciting roof, with ledge-fall potential, to an exposed belay beneath the final steep headwall crack. The good rock quality continued on the last pitch, which ended at one of the best top-outs any of us had ever done. We were excited about the quality of the climbing. We rapped the route using 60m ropes. We only placed five pitons on the climb. Otherwise every pitch, all of which had at least some aid, went clean at Cl or C2. I recommend this aid route (V 5.10 A2) because it’s not too hard, has a clean, aesthetic crack system, and is away from the crowds.

Brian Smoot

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