Road Trip Climbing Desert Towers of the Southwest

Dan Thiele and Tucker Tech 4/27 – 5/5 2017

Hanging out at Tucker’s one afternoon in January, I mentioned that I had reserved a great campsite in Moab coming up in the spring. “You wanna come out with me and climb some more stuff out there?” Tucker quickly said yes and our road trip was on. Pretty soon it was late April and it looked like we were going to have great weather for our trip.

I picked up Tucker in Joshua Tree and we made the long drive out to Moab. The ROWCC had reserved Goose Island as our group site for three nights over the weekend. We spent that weekend climbing with the club in Moab at the Wall Street and Kane Springs Canyon Climbing Areas. Both are excellent places to climb, this was a terrific outing for the ROWCC, especially with two of our members, Eric Odenthal and Jeff Brennan, who lived out there, went climbing with us.

The nighttime spent at the campsite was a lot of fun and of course Tucker talked about his days in Yosemite climbing big walls and spending 13 years on the YOSAR team. He is the master of quick comebacks, so we all had a blast talking and hanging out around the campfire with him, laughing and enjoying being in a beautiful place with great company.

Early morning we drove out to Castle Valley to climb the Stolen Chimney/Ancient Art route on the Fisher Towers. I had been in awe of this spectacular route for years and starred endlessly at the at the photos of a climber standing on top of the famous Corkscrew Summit. Tucker and I both take turns leading this last pitch and took the standard photos of each other on top.

Tuesday was a rest day so we drove in to Arches National Park to hang out and view this amazing landscape that includes the largest proliferation of arches in the world. Later on we climbed Owl Rock, a classic roadside desert spire.

 The plan Wednesday was to drive out ti the east of the Canyonlands, past Indian Creek, to the Bridger Jack Spire area. Our climb for the day was the South Face route on the South Sixshooter Peak. Getting to the toe of the formation were the climbers trail starts took awhile to find, as we seemed to have a little info as our guidebook seemed vague. We had an adventure that day.

 Thursday came around and now that we knew where to start the approach for the South Sixshooter, we drive back again from Moab, and through a lot of 4WD roads and cow pastures, we park and head up the trail to the top of the mesa. From there, up the cone looking talus slope to the base of the south face. This peak has twin summits on top. This is a great moderate route with incredible views from the summit. This was another great day climbing.

Our last day was Friday, and we planned on leaving Moab to drive back to Tucker’s place in Joshua Tree. On the way back we stopped to climb the Bandito Route on the Mexican Hat, one of Utah’s strangest rock formations. This oddity balances a flattened disk on top of a small pedestal above talus cone. This looks like a wide brim sombrero above a narrow head. It’s also a famed landmark for the area. Climbing over the roof to the top, I was hoping this balanced disk wasn’t going to tip over!

One of the more intriguing pitches I’ve lead for sure. Once Tucker was on top we had a great view of the meandering San Juan River and then a drone flying over us. It was time to rappel off and head back to the truck, have a beer and make the long drive back to Joshua Tree. What a great road trip this has been. Climbing with a good friend in a place that is unmatched anywhere else in the world.