|Desert Shield Buttress
If you've ever looked up at the classic route, Desert Shield, you may have also become enamored with a clean splitter cutting through the headwall to the right, essentially paralleling Desert Shield. This line is Disco Inferno. The original topo for Disco Inferno features an image of John Travolta,
strutting his stuff, adding a further touch of mystique to this intriguing line. Everyone's climbing experience and perspective, particularly in Zion, is different, but it's fair to say that Disco Inferno is a small step up from the traditional trade routes. While the majority of the climbing is easy and straight forward, expect to find some sand and adventure.
A good, updated, hand-drawn topo is available from SuperTopo at this link. Below, is a brief description of the pitches.
P1 Free climb the right facing dihedral and pendulum to the crack system on the right. Continue via good 5.9 free climbing or C1 aid to a ledge with a couple of bolts. It's possible to link this pitch with the next pitch for an approximate 190 foot pitch.
P2 From the ledge, free climb (5.8) up the left-facing dihedral which will open up. At a high point, again pendulum right to a crack system. Easy free climbing (5.7) takes you to a ledge with two bolts at the base of a large chimney.
P3 The "birth canal." Head to the back of the chimney until you can gain purchase and begin your vertical adventure. A flake inside this squeeze chimney provides protection. Although only given a 5.8 free rating, expect it to feel harder unless you are used to this sort of grovel fest. 2/3 of the way up the pitch you have to exit the chimney before reentering the chimney higher. Finish at a large, sloping ledge with a bolted anchor. This ledge connects with the Desert Shield bivy ledge that features a charcoal grill.
P4 Make a 5.9 free move to step right into a crack that turns into an awkward left facing corner that is aided at C1 with small gear. At the top of the corner free climb to the right where you find a bolted anchor at a small ledge below the headwall.
P5 Let the games begin. Free climb through some precarious blocky, sandy terrain to reach the headwall. This initial headwall pitch is ascended via a series of holes and filled holes (a mix of angles and bolts). There is also some mandatory hooking and a short section of crack with C2 aid climbing.
My understanding is that the first ascentionists drilled holes and inserted heads. Subsequent ascents have hooked the holes, resulting in many blown out holes. Other ascents have utilized long cheat sticks to skip these holes. And there has been some discussion about filling these holes. Whatever method you choose, ascend this "pseudo bolt ladder" to a bolted, hanging belay below a large roof.
P6 A final section of holes and filled holes leads to a sandy roof where a large cam is required. The original topo describes this as a "sandy, rotten roof." Above the roof, find quality and enjoyable clean aid climbing (C2). End at another bolted, hanging belay.
P7 Continue up the crack, going through one small roof at 5.10 or C1, ending at a nice ledge with a bolted anchor.
P8 Top out the climb via a short 5.9 or C1 pitch.
To descend, rap the route. I know that some people advocate leaving fixed lines on the steeper sections of routes such as Desert Shield to aid in the descent, but we did not find it necessary on Disco Inferno, although we did leave some biners to help reach anchors on the lower headwall.
Approach as for Desert Shield. At the base of Desert Shield keep skirting the base to the right for another 200 or 300 feet until you come to a small clearing/ledge 10 feet below another ledge where the first pitch starts with a long, right facing dihedral on the left.
Double set of nuts with offsets recommended. Triple set of small to medium cams, double set of hand size and up and one each of big cams, such as new #5 and #6 Camalots. Also, whatever aid trickery you want to use, such as hooks, heads (not for hammering), cheat stick, etc (see route description to understand why).
|By Michael Schneiter|
From: Glenwood Springs, CO
Mar 6, 2008
A google search for "Disco Inferno Zion" will bring up a number of things to add for perspective on this route. Enjoy.
|By steven sadler|
From: SLC, UT
May 15, 2012
I went climbing with Calder, the first ascentionist, and he said he would like bolts put in those holes if anyone feels up to it. He's just too lazy to get back up there and put them in himself.
EDIT: I just got off the phone with Calder and I will be heading up this route in the middle of march to put 1/2" bolts into the blown out holes. Seeing as how I've never done this route and Calder hasn't been on it since he first did it, if anyone has any advice I'd appreciate it.
|By steven sadler|
From: SLC, UT
Mar 17, 2013
This route now has shiny new hardware up the bolt ladder pitch (pitch 5). Me and a buddy (Jordan Schaefer) went up and drilled and put in new 1/2" bolts in all the old blown out holes.
A few notes on the route:
1) Not sure how to run the first two pitches together. with the pendulum/tension traverses you'd have to really run it out after to cut rope drag down enough to make it possible.
2)The chimney pitch is scary but not horrible. If you start in the very back you can get some gear. Then follow the flake inside the chimney and you can find placements. Bring doubles in 1-3 Camalot and singles the smaller stuff and a ton of slings.
3) Hauling through the chimney blows. About a hundred feet up from the anchor the chimney spits you out for about 10 feet then you have to go back in. Place a piece hear with a sling and clip the haul rope to it. This will hold the bag outside the chimney up till that point. When the bag gets there the follower can unclip it and hold it out of the chimney for the rest of the haul.
4) The C1 section on the fourth pitch didn't feel C1 to me. Of course this could be due to my limited aid experience, but if Moonlight Buttress is C1 this pitch definitely wasn't. Don't forget your brass offsets for it. Don't follow this pitch all the way to the top like I did at first. You get to a number 3 camalot placement at the top of the corner then it becomes a super loose, awful ledge. I lowered off the 3 (don't forget the long sling) and tensioned hooked right to a drilled pin (which is hard to see at first). the chains are just above the pin. It would also help rope drag to put long slings on everything in the corner so when you tension out right you won't have so much rope drag.
5) All the holes are filled with new bolts and should now be a fun pitch. There is a short C2+ section in the bolt ladder that stumped me. I couldn't get any of my offset nuts or cams to fit in it. Luckily I had a stick clip and just reached up to the chains. Also, don't forget the hooks for this pitch.
6) I only made to just under the roof right above pitch 5's anchors. There were two blown out holes then a bolt. these holes are now filled with new bolts but because I only made it that high I don't know anything about the rest. According to Calder "You do some trickery over the roof (large cam/s) then it's A1 after that", pretty sure it's C1 now but the cracks looks pretty sweet up there.
This should be a sweet route now so get on it.
|By BJ Sbarra|
From: Carbondale, CO
Mar 17, 2013
Thanks for all your hard work "fixing" this thing. I also found the 4th pitch "C1" to be rather engaging, much more so than Moonlight or Touchstone for sure. I haven't climbed much in Zion, but compared to the trade routes it's way more heads up.