The Climbing Club

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 3:01 pm 
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Cap'n Wingspan
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Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 3:08 pm
Posts: 1045
Location: Wallingford
The day following our climb of Castleton Tower, I convinced Bryan, against his better judgment, to go climb the mudstone Ancient Art tower in the Fisher Towers area. This was a route I first heard of a couple years ago and saw for myself in December of 2010 when hiking in the area with my dad. Although the rock in the area barely deserves the name, the Ancient Art tower was reputed to be a bit more solid with a spectacular, airy finish.

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Ancient Art Tower, Fisher Towers

Easy walking along the excellent trail brought us to the base of the climb, past the improbable looking (and we later found out 5.11R) Cobra Tower. I drew the first lead this time and started up easy 5.7 on some sandy, rounded features.

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Bryan climbs the first 5.10 bolt ladder

Separated from the chains by a short bolt ladder that goes at 5.10, I opted to free climb rather than A0, and was glad for the decision. The climbing was techy, balancy, and fun, moving up small embedded pebbles and questionable mudstone holds.

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The start of the chimney pitch

Bryan followed and swung into the second pitch, a long and well protected sandy chimney with some interesting cracks and bulges. The third pitch was about 30 feet of another 5.10+ bolt ladder, again very freeable but with considerably more exposure. Finally we were in full view of the final pitch, the reason to climb Ancient Art.

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Looking down the second, very short bolt ladder pitch

This final pitch, although not difficult in terms of climbing, represents a significant challenge for the mind. Belaying off the anchor seemed the best option, despite the factor 2 fall potential. The leader starts by walking out 20 feet on a level catwalk about 18 inches wide, which narrows to maybe 10 and drops down a step (we jumped this part). You have the option of walking it or butt scooting, but walking seemed the better choice, despite the straight drop of hundreds of feet on both sides.

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High step!

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Humping! Hump on

At the end of the walk is a 'diving board' formation, a large platform sticking at least 6 feet straight out with nothing beneath it and no holds. Bryan managed to sling it with a cordelette and then the fun begins. Tossing up a leg, you basically start humping the diving board, inching your way along until you can stand up. Some have posited that the name of the tower, Ancient Art comes from the ancient art of humping. Who knows?

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Corkscrew sequence

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Hide and seek

After standing on the diving board, the climber is presented with a weirdly shaped final tower, around which the route corkscrews. Protected with a couple manky old drilled angle pitons and bolts, you work around to the far side of the tower, pulling the crux mantle like move, tugging with all your weight on a very flexible flake.

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Karate Kid summit move

The final step onto the tiny summit is puckering. Roughly the size of a large pizza, the summit drops precipitously in every direction and is just big enough for one person to stand on. Downclimbing a couple moves allows the climber to be lowered off the tat wrapped around the summit. After Bryan lead and returned, we pulled the rope and I relead the pitch, fully enjoying the extreme airiness.

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A good look at the route. Photo by Bryan Hendrick

A very short rap down the 3rd pitch and one double rope rappel to the ground completed the climb, one I think anyone who visits the Moab area should definitely do. It was totally unlike anything I've ever climbed before, and will likely be the smallest summit I'll stand on for a long time, if not ever.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 4:14 pm 
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UW Climber

Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2008 7:34 am
Posts: 324
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Wow! That is beautiful! Way to go!


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 4:43 pm 
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Raging Alpoholic
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Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2007 10:15 pm
Posts: 812
Very cool. Keep 'em coming!


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 7:07 am 
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experienced hiker of the climbing club
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Joined: Wed Dec 04, 2002 6:39 pm
Posts: 1945
Location: Bashing Brush
Very cool looking "rock". Definitely some wild formations on sandstone that you'll never climb on other types of rock, but the climbing on embedded pebbles always weirds me out.


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