Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ancient Art- Stolen Chimney

With a weekend to spare, and only 2 weeks until my main climbing partner, (other than my father, of course) Cody, moves to Phoenix, we decided it was time to drive down to Moab and climb Ancient Art in the infamous Fisher Towers. My alarm went off at 3:30am on Saturday morning, and I stumbled out to the living room to wake up Cody, who was sound asleep on my living room floor. After a little convincing, we were on the road at about 3:45. I drove through to Price, about 3 hours. It was light by the time we rolled into Price and was time to switch drivers. I dozed off and on in the passenger seat, trying to capture more than the one and a half hours of sleep I'd gotten the night before.
Upon our arrival in town we made a beeline to a gear shop. We needed to pick up a few Yates Screamers, a vital piece of equipment for the sketchy fixed anchors in our destination. After this purchase, we pulled onto River Road and made quick work of the thirty or so miles to the Towers parking lot.
The Fisher Towers from the parking area

We rack up and argue like an old married couple on what gear to bring. We are on the trail by 10:30, and finish the hike to the base of our climb by 11. 

Ancient Art is the corkscrew spire just right of the tallest point, Kingfisher

The first pitch of the Stolen Chimney is some easy class 4/low class 5 scrambling, and up a smooth wash to a bolt ladder. I lead it and quickly aid the bolt ladder to the first four-bolt belay. Cody leads the next pitch, a 120' straight chimney, over a few overhangs. As he climbs, he frequently showers me with sand and dust. The rock here is basically compressed mud, as evidenced by the runnels and caked-on sand produced by the occasional rainstorm.
Looking back at the top of the first pitch

Cody places plenty of protection, knowing full well that most of it is just for confidence. As stated in our guidebook, "Your best protection for climbing in the Fisher Towers is not falling." No falling allowed! Cody clips the old pitch one anchor (a drilled piton and an old star dryvin bolt with a Leeper hanger) and pulls a wild roof crack/stem into the top of the chimney. Here the route passes a few chockstones to get to the pitch 2 belay anchor, a spacious ledge with another three or four bolt belay. I quickly follow. 

The third pitch is only 30' long, but it is necessary to get to the start of the Sidewalk. It passed without event. 

From the start of the Sidewalk, things get interesting. I decide to lead first. I walk the first fifteen feet along the narrow path (maybe 20 inches wide, with 500' of air to both sides!). About 3/4 of the way along the Sidewalk is a step down, the crux of the final pitch for some. After stepping down, you come to the infamous Diving Board. The name aptly describes it. It sits right about at sternum height for me. I lassoed it with a double-length sling, knowing full well it wouldn't do anything if I skated off. I placed both hands on the top of the feature, counted to three, about ten times, and finally worked up the courage to leap. Upward and forward. I landed hard, but didn't feel a thing. Cody and I both breathed a sigh of relief, but the look of the climbing ahead was not reassuring. I clipped the bolt at the base of the Diving Board and moved up and left, stemming and pulling on slopers and soap bars. I moved right this time and stepped onto a ledge, where the next bolt was. 

A few more moves passed in calm terror as I pulled an awkward mantle to the nest of webbing slung around the top. I clipped this, gathered myself, and headed up to the top of the spire. 
On top!

I quickly lowered off, back across the Sidewalk, and to the belay anchor. Cody and I swapped belays, and he made his way out to the Diving Board. He made the leap and landed safely on top. He made quick work of the awkward moves to the summit. 
Cody on top

With both of us now back down to the anchor, we snapped a few pictures and set up the rappel to the top of the second pitch. 
Cody excited after the final pitch

The rappels passed without incident, thankfully. A full 70 meter rappel on two ropes took us all the way back to the ground, where we talked about how little we had eaten as we packed up to hike out. 

We drove into town to wrestle with a few routes on Wall Street just outside of town, but quickly realized neither of us were adept enough at sandstone crack to be worth a damn. We drove back to our campsite in the shadow of the towers and went to sleep with the wind howling. 

Our alarm went off in the morning at 7am, with Castleton Tower our goal. Unfortunately, it was snowing, windy, and freezing cold, so we opted to go to Denny's and head home instead. 

Towers Sunday morning


Taylor said...

Well crap, now I have to go do something cool and write a blog post. Then it really will be the family blog!

Fadgen's Adventures said...

Taylor, you'll have to take some photos when D is up in Bozeman in a couple of weeks and post about all the fun you guys will be having!

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A team of adventurers consisting of John, Tamara, Taylor, Dylan, and Shadow Fadgen