Monday, March 2, 2020

Classic Desert Tower Routes from 5.10-5.12

Eastern Utah and Western CO is an internationally recognized destination for desert towers. For those of you looking for which towers to get started on- read our other blogpost entitled "Which Desert Tower Should Be My First?". This post goes outside of introductory towers and none of these should be considered "safe" as any tower has inherent risk associated with climbing them. With that being said, here are some incredible options at more challenging grades (keep in mind this is no where close to being exhaustive, there are alot of classics!):

A climber ontop of The Rectory in Castle Valley, UT
Jah Man, Sister Superior (II/III, 5.10c)
This tower is an incredible, though rather short classic that offers a fun variety of techniques. This is climbed in as many as 5 pitches or as little as 2 (using extensions, a 70 meter rope, and running it out). All in ~350 feet enjoy a squeeze chimney, exposed face climbing, traverses (though short), and thin handcracks. (UPDATE: Part of this route fell down, and it is much harder now.)

A climber follows the final pitch of Jah Man.
Fine Jade, The Rectory (III, 5.11)
The must-climb classic of the classics. Virtually every pitch on this climb, if they were each independent pitches, would be heavily repeated at a crag. The common argument on this route is whether the first or the second pitch is actually the crux. The final pitch has a highly recommended sport climbing finish (that goes at 5.11) instead of the moderate corner climber's left.

Infrared, Big Bend Butte (III, 5.11c)
This line was first established by two greats: Jay Smith and Conrad Anker. This is a definite modern day classic, with an incredible final pitch that is partly bolted and weaves through a roof that looks substantially harder than it truly is. The original rating of this climb was 5.12- and has since been downgraded to 5.11+ (which we certainly agreed with).

A climber follows the crux pitch of Infrared. Dolomite Spire is seen below the climber.
Medicine Man, Sentinel Spire (III, 5.12)
A personal favorite, Medicine Man, is actually located in western CO near Independence Monument. The second and third pitches are where the route derives its quality, with the third pitch being truly world-class; imagine a perfect laser-cut splitter crack a few hundred feet off the ground in a beautiful canyon. Even the approach/descent to and from this climb is unique, rappelling over the canyon rim and then jugging back out the same rope to return to the car. Depending on one's handsize, this climb may not feel like 5.12.

Racking up at the base of Medicine Man

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