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The Priest
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Excommunication 
Honeymoon Chimney 

Honeymoon Chimney 

YDS: 5.11a French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VII+ British: E3 5c

   
Type:  Trad, 4 pitches, Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.10d French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ British: E3 5b [details]
FA: Layton Kor, Fred Beckey, Harvey Carter, Annie Carter 1961.
Page Views: 14,133
Submitted By: Ben F on Apr 1, 2001
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Simon's improvisational gear placement in the Hone...

Description 

If you are as fortunate as I was, this route begins at Lumpy Ridge near Estes Park, Colorado. Here, you can bury a nice granite sample in the rope at the bottom of your partner's pack, which can be hauled up to the base of The Priest the following weekend.

P1: This is the most serious and rewarding pitch on the route. Squirm your way up the fatter-than-fat dihedral. The amount of squeezing you can do is inversely proportional to your size. The crux has a 1/4" bolt nearby, which in even Wingate sandstone, should inspire confidence—right?

Find your own way through the crux, after which you can get a rest on a small ledge and clip drilled angle that will be in the back of your mind for the next thirty or forty feet of 5.9. After this, you will occasionally get pro by slinging chock stones in the crack and/or placing stoppers between them.

As you near the end of this pitch, you will be able to chimney inside the crack. Belay just behind a large boulder wedged in the chimney. You can build an anchor by threading a large stopper in between the boulder and the chimney and sticking a #3 Camalot near your feet.

Don't belay at the rap anchors 20' behind you or you will have hell to pay for rope drag. After grunting up this pitch, I was rewarded with the following high-pitched whines from my second that made it all worthwhile: "I hate this! This sucks! I can't get in the crack! Take!!!" If I could have recorded all this... Maybe add a camcorder to the gear list. 5.9, really...

P2: This is the most fun pitch on the route. You'll see. I think it went around 5.7.

You basically chimney the whole thing. There is a fixed pin on this pitch. Towards the top, you can get a couple of cams. It ends on a nice ledge with two of those nice and fat Metolius rap anchors.

P3: This pitch is either about 5.7 A0 or 5.11-.

Head up and right from the belay. There are some fixed pro and cam placements as you do the first part of this pitch. You get a nice body stem to access the arete/face that takes you upward toward the summit.

The face/arete (11- or A0) is basically a bolt ladder where some bolts are relics and others are decent-looking. This accesses a ledge, which you traverse to the left before gaining the belay. You are totally uncool to your second if you don't put a #2 Camalot in the crack at the back of this ledge after doing the bolt ladder.

P4: This is a relatively short dihedral crack system that goes at 5.8. This nice little pitch puts you on the summit.

Summit - while on the summit, read the summit register notebook COVER to COVER and be sure to view the creative artwork within its bindings. You will thank me.


Descent 

Rappelling. You could do this in two raps with two 60 m ropes if you were as stupid as we were. Do it in three. For the first rap, go to the end of P2 to the ledge with the Metolius rap bolts.

Your next rap is to the anchors behind the first belay.

The last rap takes you to the opposite side of The Priest from where you started, but the amount of time you spend walking is trivial compared to the amount of time and effort you will spend pulling your ropes if you don't do as you're told.

Alternatively, and much easier: Four or five raps with a single 60m down Excommunication on the north face of The Priest. Rap with one 60 or 70m down Excommunication, look for anchors on NW corner of summit near edge - easy raps, vertical, no snags, good anchors.


Protection 

Just as in my description of the Kor-Ingalls Route you can bring an arsenal of 2x4s and Big Bros, but why bother? This stuff will just get in your way, piss you off, and lower your adrenaline levels.

Bring a #5 Camalot/#6 Friend. Use this as the belay anchor for the first pitch as the climb starts on a large ledge, and leave it there.

All you really need is several long runners, cams from around a #2 TCU to a #3 Camalot, and some stoppers.


Location 

To reach Honeymoon Chimney, take the approach to Castleton Tower and head left when you reach the short cliff band near its top. You will next head upwards toward The Rectory, and continue left slightly below its base, thereby traversing its length. The Priest is the lone tower, just at the north end of The Rectory.

Honeymoon Chimney is located on the west side of The Priest on a sizable ledge. It starts in the fat crack that you can't help but admire.



Photos of Honeymoon Chimney Slideshow Add Photo
climber on 03-21-2010
climber on 03-21-2010
bird's eye view
bird's eye view
Emily finishing up the crux pitch.  photo by chelsea morgan from the top of the nuns
Emily finishing up the crux pitch. photo by chels...
Improbable geometry of the 2nd pitch.
Improbable geometry of the 2nd pitch.
Nico leading pitch 3; about to step across onto the arete
Nico leading pitch 3; about to step acro...
Rob tops out on the Priest
Rob tops out on the Priest
About to lunge over onto the face.
About to lunge over onto the face.
Nico has stepped across
Nico has stepped across
Joseffa Meir gets ready to stem out onto the calcite edges on P3 of 'Honeymoon Chimney (5.11a)' on The Priest. Photo by Tony Bubb, 2003.
Joseffa Meir gets ready to stem out onto the calci...
Nico leading pitch 3, photos taken from summit of Nuns
Nico leading pitch 3, photos taken from summit of ...
Matt on the cushy P1 belay ledge
Matt on the cushy P1 belay ledge
I opted for my Valley Giant for P1 b/c I suck at wide.
I opted for my Valley Giant for P1 b/c I suck at w...
Roger Ellsworth on the super-cool third pitch.
Roger Ellsworth on the super-cool third pitch.
Matt about to start the business bit on P4.
Matt about to start the business bit on P4.
Tony Bubb a few meters up Honeymoon Chimney's first pitch, where it is merely awkward, but before it turns to a grovel. Photo by Joseffa Meir, 2003.
Tony Bubb a few meters up Honeymoon Chimney's firs...
last views of the Rectory
last views of the Rectory
Joseffa Meir traverses out to some wild exposure on 'Honeymoon Chimney (5.11a)'. Note the tilt in the background- this section of climbing is actually steeper than it looks at first. Photo by Tony Bubb, 2003.
Joseffa Meir traverses out to some wild exposure o...
rope management for windy raps
rope management for windy raps
Nico leading pitch 3; just before stepping across onto the arete
Nico leading pitch 3; just before steppi...
Legends in the summit register.
Legends in the summit register.
Freeing the aid ladder with top rope courage.
Freeing the aid ladder with top rope courage.
a great read
a great read
looking down the P2 chimney
looking down the P2 chimney
heading back to the car
heading back to the car
Jay Hicks deep in the Priest on the second pitch.
Jay Hicks deep in the Priest on the second pitch.
Leading the first pitch.  I wish I had some big bros!
Leading the first pitch. I wish I had some big br...
Just above the second pin on P1. Photo by John Korfmacher.
Just above the second pin on P1. Photo by John Kor...
Matt starting up P2
Matt starting up P2
Ben Faber on pitch 1 of the Priest, Castle Valley.  Photo: Kevin Cropp.
Ben Faber on pitch 1 of the Priest, Castle Valley....
Matt about to top out on the P2 belay. The chimney created an intense wind tunnel.
Matt about to top out on the P2 belay. The chimney...
Two Germans on top of the Priest as seen from the Nun
Two Germans on top of the Priest as seen from the ...
Summit view looking west to Sister Superior and Colorado River.
Summit view looking west to Sister Superior and Co...
summit!
summit!
Castleton from the approach
Castleton from the approach
looking toward Parriot Mesa
looking toward Parriot Mesa
Matt en route to the Rectory
Matt en route to the Rectory
the Priest
the Priest
Michelle looking down P1
Michelle looking down P1
looking back to the Priest
looking back to the Priest
Matt in the not so squeezy squeeze
Matt in the not so squeezy squeeze
This is where the tunnelling begins.
This is where the tunnelling begins.
Comments on Honeymoon Chimney Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 10, 2014
By Andrew Gram
Administrator
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Sep 27, 2001
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ E3 5c

This is my favorite tower in Castle Valley so far. The first pitch felt awfully hard to me, but it was probably because I was tired from carrying a large rock in my pack up the approach. Very unique climb.

By Anonymous Coward
Oct 30, 2001

Kor did this FA the day after doing the Kor-Ingalls on Castleton. The Carters were newly married.

By Frank Stock
May 1, 2002

Great climb and summit, and the summit register is entertaining reading.

I don't have much to offer in the route description but I can give great rack beta. With one #4 big bro (combined with the bolt, pin and chock stones) this was pretty protected, and if a person could beg, steal or borrow three #4's, you could sew pitch one up up. The rest of the rack would be fine with a set of camalots from #3 down, with doubles in 1, .75, .5 and .4, and a handful of medium stoppers. A couple small cams could ease mental problems, but would they hold?

The third pitch eats up slings, not only for the bolt ladder, but also because the pitch wanders left, up and then back right. You really need a sling per piece, and then a couple extra for aiding the bolt ladder if you can't climb 5.11 face in the desert and are under 6 feet tall. We had 9 slings, and would have been happier with 12.

For rapping, you almost need two ropes (50 or 60M are fine). The first rap would be a scary ordeal with one rope-it may or may not barely reach. Two ropes are mandatory from the top of pitch one to the ground.

Cheers, Frank

By Brian Milhaupt
From: Golden, CO
Sep 23, 2002

In my opinion you can leave the #6 friend in the car. A #4 Big Bro and some nuts are the only gear that will protect the hard climbing. One rack of cams for the second and fourth pitches are plenty. There is a new rappel on the north side. One rope should get you down, but that's untested advice.

By Anonymous Coward
Oct 31, 2002

So there we are, daylight running out, storms rolling in and one pitch left. I come up to the belay, take the rack and head straight up the 5.8 finish. 10 feet later I find myself trying to climb 5.11d thinking it's 5.8 sandbag. To make a long desperate story short, If you chose to do the 5.11d finish directly above the third belay, starting with 10 feet of 5.8, you can no longer expect to see a three bolt ladder, just a two bolt ladder. If you would like to see the third bolt(top bolt_ it now sit in it's twisted state on my fireplace mantel. As bad as I feel about having to report a 40 year old bolt now gone, the entire pitch I thought someone sandbagged the rating, so I kept trying to free it. The bolt held a big fall before it fell out with one tap from my second.

By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
May 5, 2003
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ E3 5c

First and foremost: rapping off. You CAN NOT get off of the summit via the standard raps with a single 60M rope. It would be a very unpleasant downclimb from the ends to the anchors as well. A single 70M barely gets you to the next reasonable belay, at the top of the 2nd pitch. From the top of the first belay, a 70M hits the ground if you are willing to rap off of the end of your rope 5' to the ground. We took the 70M up and tested that and succeeded. I grabbed the rope above the belay device, rapped off of the unknotted ends and swung over a few feet uphill to a 2-foot drop to a flat boulder. When my partner came down, she tied a knot in one end so that we wouldn't "loose" the rope. I grabbed her by the feet and swung her over to a similar drop. A 60M would be no good. 2*50M would work fine too, and you'd have less rope piled at the belays than with 2 60M ropes. Take a 70M or twin 50M.

Second: Pro. I wanted more, but it wasn't going to happen. I took up a set and a half of cams up to a #5 Camalot. Try as I might have, the #5, #4.5, and both #4s were useless at best, and at worst, weighed me down and caught up in the chimney between by butt and the wall. I looked for a place to put them, but really they added nothing to the climb. I was suspicious that the other climbers here dissing the OW pro were just being 'tough guys.' Not so... After having done this I seriously recommend the following rack: a load of slings, 1 full set of nuts, a few small tricams (pink, red) a full set of cams from .3" to a 3.5" (#3-#3.5 Camalot). The #3.5 is only for backing up the shitty 3rd belay if you wanted to load it up, but a 1-1.5" cam, a #3 Camalot and a stopper could work too. Taking a second set of TCUs might help in a few places, but not much. You may consider doing a community service of taking up loads of webbing and a knife to replace the tattered and aging slings on the otherwise good chockstones found in the wide first pitch.

Third: Wind and the raps down. This climb is in a chimney system and then up an arete that funnel wind amazingly well. While the wind on 5/3/03 was a mere 40+ MPH, certain spots on the climb were so windy that our clothes flapped like flags in a storm, our helmets were nearly peeling off and it was at times impossible to open our eyes. Even shouting, we could not hear each other once more than 30' apart. Luckily this was on the way down, but unluckily the wind was so strong that while pulling our ropes from the summit, the wind whipped it dead horizontal and then around a corner and back over the summit. I had to take what rope we had left and start leading "micro-pitches" up the rock to gain rope and make each pitch larger- first to the big step across move (belayed off of the 2 old pins + 2 cam in a horizontal) then to belay #3, then to the top. The wind was nearly peeling me off of the rock and several times literally blew me around the 3rd pitch arete. Rapping again, I clipped both ropes above the climber to a sling on the manky traverse bolt so they didn't get whipped that high again until the rope was mostly pulled. On the bright side, I got on the summit twice...

The first pitch was fun if you like that sort of thing. My partner hated it. I thought it was OK. This is like the admission price, not the goal. The second pitch was more fun- kind of a wild chimney. The 3rd pitch and famous step-across didn't seem like they'd be that hard without gale-force winds. They are not the dreaded sandy sloper holds, but sharp, hard calcite edges and some good flakes.

I was dreading the idea of a 5.11a slope-fest on the arete, but that's not what it is. I didn't free the pitch (I didn't try at first) but did do quite a bit of it and thought is was not so bad. Getting slammed into the rock by wind, I was still able to hold on to most of it.

The webbing on the chocks in the first pitch is on its way to grim, although it is still so-so, I'd wager that most of it is of much-reduced strength. The 3rd belay is atrocious and needs a solid pro backup. Replacing the webbing on this would be a service, but the wind stopped me from reaching it at all on the way down.

By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
May 5, 2003
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ E3 5c

PS- in the "spooky" category is that part of this tower is swaying severely in the wind. It appeared to be the smaller buttress on the belay of the priest. While at belay #3 I looked back down towards the step-across tower and saw that there was about 12" of sway between the two- fixing the edge to a point on the ground with my eyes, it was clear that either the lower half, or the half I was on was swinging like a skyscraper. Yikes!

By Brad Schildt
From: Boulder, CO
Sep 29, 2003

The first pitch is the most physical climbing I have ever done. 3 #4 Bigbros does allow you to sew it up - I did. After that, on the first pitch, something smaller than a .5 Camalot would be perfect, then you just clip ratty old slings. A .75 Camalot protects an awkward move on to the belay ledge. I also agree that a single set of Camalots is all you need for the rest of the climb. I brought doubles and did not use them. Use a #3 to back up the 3rd belay. 2 double 60m raps drop you to the start. Awesome climb.

By Brad Brandewie
Nov 17, 2003

More Pictures and a TR at

www.piquaclimber.com/past/thepriest/priest.htm

One thing that I found interesting is that the first/second ascents didn't climb the wide crack but the thin aid to the left. In Kor's book, Beyond the Vertical, there is a picture that shows them aiding to the left of the offwidth.

By Anonymous Coward
Oct 15, 2004

The summit needs a new register (the one up there is used up).

Agreed that big cams are useless.

By Jackie
Nov 8, 2004
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a

We brought 1 set of aid ladders for P3 and my partner was still stretched out. I really wish we had a stick clip as some of the bolts were missing. I don't see how folks can pull this off using only slings and french free technique, they must be plenty tall.

We didn't bring any bros, and I don't think they would have helped anyway. Progress on P1 is measured in centimeters. Make the chica of the group lead this one as she is likely the only one to fit in the crack and get a good heel/toe. P2 is the most terrifying 5.6 you will ever encounter. You have to sack it up and not think too much about the two ancient pins that are your only pro for 60 feet until you gain the anchor.

All told, do not underestimate the difficulty of this route and start early. Hats off to Layton Kor, Fred Becky, and the Carters.

By Andrew Klein
Apr 28, 2005

Raps: We rapped the summit to top of Pitch 2, and from there to the bottom with 2 60m (we had to pull slightly harder as it runs over a small lip from the top of 2). Probably should have figured out Josh's method with one 60m or rapped off the back, but it wasn't too bad pulling and we didn't want to go back in the chimney to rap (super windy). Cheers!

By Brejcha, Matthew
Nov 8, 2005

Fantastic climb!
p1- offwidthing for a while. Once you can get all the way into the chimney it mellows out but I kept getting stuck. I didn't lead this pitch (thank god) but I cleaned two draws from bolts, a HUGE gold Big Bro and some biners from webbing around chockstones.

p2- This is a really cool pitch. I'd say it's about 5.7. Back against one wall, feet on the other and up you go. I clipped an old pin about 20 feet in, stuffed in a yellow Alien maybe 20 feet above that, and clipped an old star bolt maybe 20 feet above that. Ends at a nice ledge with 2 fatty bolts. Belay commands are great, you can just talk like normal and your belayer can hear you fine.

p3- More stemming to start. I clipped 2 fixed pins before the bolts. I aided the bolt ladder and the first bolt is HILARIOUS. The ladder was five bolts long and being the stubby fellow I am, ended with a face move out right, then a mantle. I put in a cam before the traverse. A goofy traverse leads to a 5.6/7 move and a shitty belay. I Just built an anchor with a #2 and a #3 Camalot (red?? Aliens would work as well) instead of trusting those awesome "bolts".

p4- An easy traverse left leads to a fun 5.8 crack. It was short but a good way to end a great tower. I cleaned a yellow Alien, a red Alien and a #1 Camalot. The summit wasn't as big as I thought it would be but big enough to untie and walk around a bit. That is a funny summit log, good call on that.

We rapped in three raps-- summit to p2 ledge, p2 ledge through the chimney to anchors on the p1 one ledge, then to the ground on the opposite side of the tower from where we started.

I heard rumors to take a light rack and no big cams but didn't believe them. TAKE A LIGHT RACK AND NO BIG CAMS.

What we had: Aliens: blue, green, yellow, red. Camalots: .75, 1, 2(x2), 3, 4.5. Draws and runners and biners a few big stoppers.

What we used: Aliens: yellow, red. Camalots: 1,2,3. Draws, biners and a runner.

Next time: Aliens: yellow, red(x2). Camalots: 1,2. 6 draws, 1 runner, 3 biners.

By Josh Janes
Mar 25, 2007

Last week, sitting on the Unforgiven belay ledge, I watched as the massive detached pillar visibly swayed back and forth in the wind as Tony mentioned. Mesmerizing and terrifying! I suppose if you can't make the stem, just wait for a gust of wind to shrink the gap a bit.

By Ben Kiessel
Mar 27, 2007

Well, if that pillar broke off it sure would make the route harder. Good thing there is already another route up the tower.

By John Korfmacher
From: Fort Collins, CO
Feb 11, 2008

Climbed (most of) this one with J. Blumberg four years ago. I didn't comment on it at the time, probably because it took too long for the fear toxins to dissipate... Anyway. P1 absolutely worked me. P2 absolutely terrified me, even though Blumberg led it (she led P1 too). P3 actually was pretty fun, with the caveat that it cannot be done completely on aid anymore. Several bolts have rusted and fallen off, and the distance between the remaining, manky bolts requires a number of 5.8-5.9 free moves. However, it is very exposed and exciting, and almost makes the pain of P1 worth it. I don't know anything about P4 because it was dark when we finished P3, and we bailed. And yes, the beer tasted pretty damn good that night.

By Ben Kiessel
Feb 12, 2008

Does everyone offwidth the first pitch until you can get into it?

I have lead it two or more times and have always layed it back. There is no grunting and it is surely way faster. There is a big in the rock that is a great transition foothold at the point where you want to enter the chimney. Also combine the first 2 pitches with a 60m so that you don't have to belay in the chimney. Finally a single set of cams to a #3 camalot is perfect. Just my beta.

Ben

By notmyname
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Dec 7, 2008

Between the bolt and drilled angle, you can get a small stopper or HB offset on the key handhold on the left wall. It was pretty damn bomber.

After the drilled angle, a #4 big bro would be extremely helpful.

Burly burly burly 1st pitch!

By Joe Huggins
From: 666 Rue le Jour-Edge City
Jan 27, 2009

I did this with Charlie Fowler in '86; we had every Camalot in existence at the time-all of the prototypes...nice rack! The crux was sheer terror, there were no bolts that were more than protruding, rusty pieces of junk; Charlie led that pitch; I passed the IQ test!

By JoergB
From: Germany
Oct 14, 2009

The first two pitches were fun, but the #6 and #5 camalots were useless. We failed on pitch 3 as we had forgotten the small cams and the 3rd belay was only one crap bolt instead of the two promised by the guidebook.

By claramie
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 23, 2009

Stellar route! That step across and commitment to the crimps on the other side is really fun. Someone probably already mentioned this in the previous comments but a single 70m works great for this route. 3 raps, last one being off the back side then hike back around. If your 70 is trimmed at all you will be cutting it close. CL

By ben jammin
From: Moab, UT
Aug 27, 2010
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ E3 5c

Did this route in Aug.. Bad Idea. Also, We placed a grand total of 4 draws and one cam in the first two pitches.. Talk about scary for my buddy (first desert tower). And, man, that variation on the last pitch is pretty tough (5.11ish) didn't know we were supposed to go around left. Got quite a tan after than one.
One more thing... what your rope on the last rappel in the chimney.. after a long tiring day we had the pleasure of prussicing up. Lots of constrictions to get the knot stuck. I'd suggest douple ropes (one being a 70 which we left after the first pitch) after your buddy goes down rappeling with the knot until you run out of cord

By clay meier
Oct 17, 2010

In my opinion, unless you have big bros and know how to use them, this route should be R rated. This should not dissuade anyone from doing the tower however. While it is very run out most of it is in chimmneys and the problem is not that you will fall out it is that you will get stuck. The second pitch has little pro (couldnt place a big bro). Great tower and not as hard/scary as its made out to be.

By pete cutler
From: Des Moines, IA
Jan 27, 2013

climbed the route in november and agree with the above poster. The first pitch has serious runouts and some real climbing in the 'no fall zone,' be sure to be very solid on 5.9 OW / squeeze.

That said, its a desert tower so maybe that is to be expected anyways. I highly recommended the route if you're comfortable with runouts at the grade. And leave most of the rack behind. a few finger to hand cams cover the few gear placements on the route - don't haul a heavy rack through the chimneys!

By nooky brown
Jan 28, 2013

Layback. Way easier.

By AGFW
From: SLC, UT
Mar 26, 2013

Climbed 3/25/13. Great route. Rap with one 60 or 70m down Excommunication - easy raps, vertical, no snags, good anchors. Look for anchors on NW corner of summit near edge. AW

By fossana
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 14, 2013

I went first on the last standard rap with what I later learned from my partner was a slightly less than 70m rope. To avoid the last 6ft+ drop I scrambled onto a narrow ledge (climber's left), which looked like it might go. From here you can downclimb or swing the rope over and easily rap the remainder as it is uphill from the normal rope fall line.

By Stevie Johnson
Apr 18, 2013

A bit of history. Back around 1976 Mack Johnson and I (CC Tigers)climbed the thirteenth ascent of the Priest (at least according to the register). The original first pitch was a thin aid crack left of the honeymoon chimney led by Kor. We bagged the first (and free)ascent of the chimney pitch. I tried first but palm blisters from arm bars forced me down. Mack completed the chimney, which I was able to follow. We had no friends and one big bro. The bolt near the top of the chimney was added years later by some unknown climber. I came back about ten years ago and was able to lead the chimney. I was happy to clip that bolt.

By BigNobody
From: all over, mostly Utah
Apr 10, 2014

Just did this again. Good route when its warm out. I thought the crux was getting inside the chimney at the start. Love this summit!