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Utah Travel Headlines Blog

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Climbing Towers Built by Nature

Rock climbers come from around the world to test their skills on sandstone walls and towers around Zion and Canyonlands national parks.

The Wall Street Journal has this new article about climbing, from a climber's perspective. Below are excerpts.

We were scaling North Six Shooter, which rises dramatically from the fringe of Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah. North Six Shooter (along with its shorter sibling, South Six Shooter) is a sheer sandstone tower crowning a huge talus cone that etches an unforgettable silhouette against the desert sky....

Around us spread the massive Colorado Plateau, which stretches across four Southwestern states -- a stunning, crumbling tableau of erosion that opens a geology textbook writ large everywhere you look. Plateau is something of a misnomer, however, since the landscape is constantly relieved: cut by great canyons, hogbacked with buttes and mesas, and pierced with spires -- many of which are catnip to climbers....

Then it was Liz's turn. I grew a bit alarmed when the rope barely budged during the better part of an hour. Eventually she came gasping to the belay and told me what had happened. The crack had proved as difficult as expected, so she decided to aid through the roof, standing in slings attached to gear. But the rope got entangled with the gear, and after much effort she found herself hanging even lower than before. Finally a climbing team on a nearby route offered to drop a line to her, which Liz ascended Batman-style, hand over hand. On the way up she also dropped a carabiner -- something I've never seen her do before....

Even Liz, after the fact, seemed to enjoy the climb. Driving past North Six Shooter another day, she shook a well-bruised fist at the tower and made an oath. "Just wait," she said, "until I get better at crack. I'll be back."

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