Exit stage left.

The initial pitch began as many Zion routes do. Dirty, sandy, loose and awkward, but somehow it was manageable. The off-angled fist crack of the second pitch looked intimidating, but it too was achieved. Bowe led the flared hand crack of the third pitch that soon cast out onto the wild features Navajo sandstone is known for. During this pitch the sun crested the summit of the Watchman and warmed the November cold from the rock’s face. Going off a vague route description I began the fourth pitch. The first of two dead ends had me climbing a mossy flared crack that I repeatedly greased out of. The second dead end involved traversing a deteriorating section of stacked blocks covered in patches of grass to accessing a tapering finger dihedral. Eventually the seam petered out and I found nothing on the horizon. Character building down climbing followed.

Ten feet above the belay I discovered the unlikely escape from the flared crack. Run out climbing through elephant ears, patina edges and shallow cracks put us back on track. Dirt and moss rained down the cliff as I clambered to the anchors. It was heads up climbing and I liked it. Bowe and Charlie, not so much.

From the ledge we stared at the pitches above. It was just before sunset and in the sharp light the stone appeared immaculate, begging to be climbed. Below the village of Springdale hummed with traffic, the cottonwoods shimmered with their golden leaves and the surrounding sandstone appeared warm and inviting. Five more demanding rope lengths remained to gain the top. Without a speaking a word we looked at each other and chose to rappel.

Rapping the Watchman.
Rapping the Watchman.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *