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Spearhead
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Iron Messiah T 

Iron Messiah 

YDS: 5.10 French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b

   
Type:  Trad, 10 pitches, 1000', Grade IV
Consensus:  YDS: 5.10- French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a [details]
FA: Ron Olevsky 1988
Page Views: 14,814
Submitted By: david goldstein on Oct 15, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (76)
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Finishing the top of the corner system with some n...

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Description 

This route is similar to Epinephrine at Red Rock, but a little wilder and not as good.

The route follows a large, left-facing corner system on the left side of The Spearhead. It is easily scoped from the vicinity of the Zion Lodge.

Start at a right-angling ramp system below the main corner. As of this writing there is a fixed rope midway up the ramp.

P1 (4th class, 200+') Clamber up the ramp to a large ledge. The ledge contains a tree with rap slings. Above the ledge is a Red Rocks-like face with some drilled angles.

P2 (5.9 sandbag, 60') My partner and I thought this was the best and hardest pitch on the climb. Follow the drilled angles to a ledge.

P3 (5.8, 60') Follow a right-facing chimney/corner to a bushy ledge. This pitch is sensibly combined with the previous. Once the entire party is at the ledge, follow a vague trail clockwise about 50' through the bushes and establish a new belay at the base of the main wall.

P4 (5.10, 50-200') Step right a few feet and ascend a groove which eventually reaches the corner. The groove is allegedly the crux of the entire climb.

P5-P8 or P9. Continue up the corner which contains several fixed belay/rap stations and the occasional drilled angle. Belay as appropriate. It is possible to link pitches in this section.

The corner also contains some good ledges but alas, these aren't always where the good anchors are. The lower part of the corner contains a lot of 5.8 and easier chimneying; the upper part mostly 5.9-ish hands/stemming.

Second-to-last pitch (5.10-, 60') From the slings at the top of the corner walk up a bushy ramp for about 30' and climb a crack system to a large tree (this tree is visible from the Zion Lodge parking lot). There is a 5.10-ish layback move in this stretch which takes a wide piece: #3 or #4 Camalot. Belay at the tree.

Last pitch (?, 60') Two options for this pitch:

  • Traverse left and upward on flakes, hopefully finding protection and eventually ending up at some anchors which are more less directly above the anchors at the start of the second-to-last pitch. This alternative is supposed to be 5.10.
  • Head up and right to a shallow, right-facing corner system with scant pro and deteriorating rock, eventually ending up atop a sub-summit of Spearhead. 5.8 R.

Without having done it, I recommend option 1.

Protection 

  • One each 1-7 Rock
  • One each green & yellow Alien
  • Two each #1-#3.5 Friend
  • One each #4 Camalot

Depending on your comfort level in chimneys, you may want more wide gear (e.g. #4.5 and/or #5 Camalots).

Approach 

See the approach directions for Spearhead.

Descent 

Rap the route.

Be careful—there are several dead ropes in the depths of the chimneys. If you don't get greedy on the descent, you can pretty much use only rap stations that keep you out of the rope-eating chimneys.

Our rope got stuck on the last rappel (the 4th class pitch) when the knot got caught at the lip.


Photos of Iron Messiah Slideshow Add Photo
Some cool patina
Some cool patina
good exposure on the outside of the chimney
good exposure on the outside of the chimney
Last Corner Pitch, F-ing classic!!!
Last Corner Pitch, F-ing classic!!!
Pitch 4, which leads to the main upper dihedral system.  Route traverses into crack from the left, Greg is following and nearly at the belay.
Pitch 4, which leads to the main upper dihedral sy...
Photo of upper dihedral after chimney.
BETA PHOTO: Photo of upper dihedral after chimney.
Suitable route for use with two 60m ropes. Lee Jensen
BETA PHOTO: Suitable route for use with two 60m ropes. Lee Jen...
Ugggh, when's this chimney gonna end?
Ugggh, when's this chimney gonna end?
"Black Face" is pitch 2 as described here (or p1 in many guidebood descriptions).  Directly above Black Face, route follows prominent left facing corner.
BETA PHOTO: "Black Face" is pitch 2 as described here (or p1 i...
View of Zion Canyon from the top of Iron Messiah
View of Zion Canyon from the top of Iron Messiah
starting up the p3 groove
starting up the p3 groove
Bill leading the first hard pitch (P2 in the description), the Black Face.
Bill leading the first hard pitch (P2 in the descr...
Linking P-5&6!
Linking P-5&6!
rap from 3rd pitch
rap from 3rd pitch
Looking up the splitter corner system of Iron Messiah!!!
Looking up the splitter corner system of Iron Mess...

Comments on Iron Messiah Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 14, 2014
By George Bell
From: Boulder, CO
Nov 6, 2002

Good description! We got rained off this route at the top of P4 this spring.

I agree P1 felt harder than the supposed "crux" P4. I think some knobs have broken off on P1, or something. I felt P4 was only 5.9 and it is well protected too. The chimney pitches above that are rumored to be harder and more runout.
By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Nov 7, 2002
rating: 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

I really liked the route! Long, varied, etc... The difficulty depends how you do it. The first pitch that everyone gets worked up about is not that bad. It was a later pitch with a rounded groove that was harder for me. I don't do well on slopers though, YMMV. The chimneys are runout, but pretty secure. Not worth hauling too much big stuff up there, in my opinion. The very top pitch will be either nasty hard, or easy, boring and dirty. If you take the nasty hard way (5.10, X) that will be the mental and physical crux.

The description says, regardling the final pitch options:
"Without having done it, I recommend option 1."

Uh, about that last pitch... The left hand option is good for about 40' or so, and you can sling a plate or two, but those are probably better for cutting the rope in a long fall than they would be for stopping a fall. After the flakes, the route becomes a very soft and sandly small slope fest. It is devoid of gear for quite a way as well. Aside of slinging the brittle flakes some 30-40' down from the crux, you might be able to tie off a tiny little bush. This is about 2/3 way up on a sloper ledge. The brittle roots are about 2" deep in a sandy flare, so that isn't "pro" in my book. Just after that there is a crux move, from which a fall from the crux could be fatal. My partner and I agreed that this was a harrowing pitch. Eventually you can move far enough left to reach a solid black corner that is really fun and takes pro; it is probably 5.10 in and of itself.

To reiterate- this last pitch variation that was recommended in the description is hard, insecure, unprotected, and on poor rock. And having taken this one myself, I reccomend the other finish.
By Stan Pitcher
From: SLC, UT
Nov 7, 2002

I thought the last pitch was rated 5.4 :)When I did it I thought the climbing was pretty easy although the rock is very scary (rest of the route has super rock) and the pro pretty much only psychological. My partner wanted out so he rigged some kinda belay off to the left. I gingerly and very slowly worked my way up and right. Right as I slapped the top of the wall, the best foothold I'd found on the way up snapped off! Luckly I was able to hang on and top out - whew! Another friend of mine took a big fall on the right side (above the tree somewhere). It may not be worth topping out, although the views are pretty sweet.
By Jason Nelson
From: SLC, UT
Apr 14, 2003

I did option #2 finish as described in the description. From the tree continue up the corner until is is possible to step left around the arete (medium size stopper protects this move) and scramble to the summit. I guess 5.8R describes it more or less.
By Charles Vernon
From: Tucson, AZ
Mar 28, 2005

The left-hand variation on the last pitch is definitely only 5.4 (not 5.10 as in the above description) if done correctly. There isn't any gear, but I found the climbing to be positive and the route-finding straightforward and would definitely recommend topping out. I'm confused by some of the comments here, especially Tony's.

The route as a whole was really good. Similar to Journey Home in the Black Canyon, but not as good, and with more chimneying.
By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Apr 7, 2005
rating: 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

I guess it all depends how you do it. I went up a seam and then straight up a sandy, seamless face, and it was to the left. Maybe I was too far left. I stayed out of the trough...Years ago there were 2 topos available for this climb that showed distinctly different lines and features in the cliff. Neither of them was quite correct. Since that time, some books have been published that enlighten us as to the actual intended lines and variations. In light of all present evidence, I'm probably one of the few fools, if not the only fool, to do the line Jo and I did at the time, around the winter of Y2K.
By Bill Wright
Jan 30, 2006
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R

A very fun adventure route. I went up four pitches once and then a few years later did the entire route, including leading the last pitch. The last pitch is indeed very heads up, as the rock is questionable and the runout is huge, but if done right I think the climbing is no harder than 5.6. I topped out right at the rappel bolts. I never was in a corner, so I do think Tony went too far to the left.

I concur that the first pitch (the drilled angle face) is the toughest pitch on the route, though there are a couple more 5.10 sections. The last pitch in the dihedral/chimney I think is 10a. And then the move up to the tree is probably 10a/b as well. The supposed crux section might be 10a, as well.

I thought the chimney pitches were great, though a bit exciting because of the runouts. I thought the climbing felt 5.9, probably because I was hanging on harder than normal because of the runout.

One final comment for the peak baggers out there. This route does not finish on the summit of Spearhead, but you scramble to the summit (mostly 2nd/3rd class with some 4th class and maybe a touch of 5th class) in about 10 minutes. I did this and my partner took some incredible photos of me atop the very overhanging headwall. I highly recommend this trip to the very top.

And, yes, make sure to use the rappel anchors out on the face and not the anchors on the route itself on the way down.
By Chris Perkins
From: Avon, Colorado
Apr 16, 2008
rating: 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Great free climb! The anchors could use a little help, but the drilled pins still feel solid. We replaced a few sections of webbing on some anchors, the ones we thought were the worst of course. Use the overlaid photo for the best pitch desciption.
By notmyname
From: Stony Brook, NY
Jun 1, 2008

Did this route a few weeks ago.
I absolutely LOVED it!!!!
We linked the 1st and 2nd "real" pitches. I can't imagine this being cruxy for a 5.9/10 climber. Big solid incut holds, great feet, and nicely spaced fixed pins/bolts.
The groove pitch was pretty spooky. I tried going straight up with a tipped out alien at my feet and realize that traversing in from the left was a lot more sane. One or two insecure moves to a BOMBER .75 camalot placement.

Those chimneys were so much fun I can't even believe it. Very easy.
The 2nd to last pitch was also unbelievable. It was like a hard super long version of Dark Shadows at red rocks.

The top out pitch was stoopid but who cares?

The raps were just awful however. Is there anyway to rap farther to climbers left to avoid the rope eaters? I recommend rapping with the ropes lap coiled instead of tossing them on those chimney raps. We had to chop the end off of my tag line. (also reminds me of redrocks)
By Jim Donini
Mar 24, 2009

Just did the route. Fun climbing. You can link quite a few pitches. Be careful with rope pulls on rappel. First pitch is as hard as anything on the climb. I would grade the climb 5.9+.
By AGough
Feb 2, 2010

dropped a camera (in a red case) from the last pitch, doubt it survived, but the memory card is worth it. Reward if found. Great route nontheless!
cheers
andrew
By Phil Esra
Apr 14, 2010

At 5'3" and 5'6", my partner and I found p4 reachy--the crux of the climb. p2 was maybe ever so slightly harder than p9, hard to say. the climbing was pretty sandy in general.
By Courtney Pace
Oct 16, 2011

The final pitch going left definitely isn't 5.10, more like 5.6. I found no protection but the climbing is rather mellow. The intermediate rap anchor that will save your ropes from being eaten is located in between the first 2 anchors of the chimney pitches out to the left 15 feet under a bulge. Get psyched for the groove, its a little spicy! Easily linked it up in 6 pitches.
By J. Hickok
Mar 20, 2012
rating: 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Face climbing pitch: Fairly mellow if you track the least resistance. 5.9
Crux: Short and over quickly; helps if you are used to climbing funky sandstone. 5.9+/5.10-
Chimney: just go, go go and combine into one long pitch. If you are comfortable in chimneys you hardly need gear.
Upper dihedral: combine into one pitch if desired
Finish: Uhhh, can't remember exactly. I went left and then up and felt runout.

Excellent day out on a pretty dang fun climb.
By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Nov 19, 2012
rating: 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

In retrospect given all of these comments, it sounds like I forced my way too straight directly up on that last pitch, aiming for the short back corner above, and thus through terra incognita. No good. Glad to hear that there are several other/better options.
By Xander! Wyckoff
From: Durango, CO
Oct 4, 2013

Crux pitch is fucking fantastic! and actually protects reasonably well, though it doesn't look very optimistic from the bottom...

Anyhow, the tree that appears to have been somehow serving as rappel anchor at the bottom of the first cruxy pitch (with the face climbing and drilled pins) seemed rather ambivalent regarding its connection with the ledge it currently inhabits... Perhaps more intrepid climbers than us either summit or simply down climb the easy terrain beneath said uncertain tree (pun intended)?... We chose to rig up an anchor off a more trustworthy tree on the other side of the ledge. Brand new webbing as of September 2013. Same with the rap station below, not sure if that one is necessary with two ropes but we were descending in the dark...as usual...

etc.
By Kevin Kent
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Nov 17, 2013

If you opt for the run out face finish to the left on the last pitch, beware that it felt like very insecure 5.8 X to me. If you link the last 2 pitches move your belay (walk) right up the bushy ramp to the base of the short OW pitch or you will have horrible rope drag on the run out slab finish.
By marcin ksok
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Nov 17, 2013

Great route, can be done in 5 pitches with 70m rope. P1/2 scramble(doesn't count). P1 up the face and chimney. P2 up the groove and corner-pass 2 anchors, stop at the third. P3 up the chimneys, pass the anchor at the ledge on right(windy,exposed) to a lot better anchor on a ledge 20 feet higher-obvious. P4 up my favorite pitch all the way to the anchor at the end of the corner, move belay to below the P5 offwidth(soft at 5.10 really a 5.9 on slippery feet super short you can move up a #5 as you go up and always be on toprope)clip the tree, move up and right onto more solid corner(not as bad as some might say at 5.6 with adequate pro). Overall I agree the route has some runout sections but it is not a sport climb and is to be expected(except for the first pitch which is a clip up)as far as a multipitch routes go it is not harder than a 5.9 and the cruxes are depandent on what you are used to.
By nolteboy
Dec 17, 2013

Tony B's comments on the last pitch brought back some spooky memories for me - my experience was very similar. I remember that little creosote bush - its base is/was about as thick as your pinkie. This was about 1996...
By Wally29
From: Salt Lake City, Utah
Mar 4, 2014

can you rap the route with one 70m?
By Sean C
Apr 14, 2014

This route was pretty good. I'm not a huge fan of chimneys but the second to last pitch (from the summit) made it worth it. 160 feet of 5.10 (or easier) crack climbing was pretty sweet. For the summit go up right if you don't want run out hard(er) climbing. At no point on the route did I feel unsafe or unable to place gear for more than 6 feet (other than the chimneys).

As for gear I would recommend singles from green c3 to .4, doubles .5 to 3, one 4, and one 5. The 5 isn't necessary but I did place it on a few pitches.

Descent: From the Second to last pitch (the last pitch on the ST beta) double rope rap to the big ledge below (top of the 5th per ST). This rap requires two ropes as I did not see an intermediate anchor anywhere on this 160 foot pitch. From the big sloping ledge, a single rope rap will get you to the intermediate anchors on a ledge halfway through pitch 5. From here a single rope rap will get you to a set of hidden anchors, with bomber bolts, climbers left of the route. This station isn't really visible while climbing the route but exists about 30 -40 feet (left) from the route and will keep your ropes from getting stuck when pulled. From here, a double rope rap with take you to the big sandy ledges at the top of pitch 2. 2 60's JUST makes it. If your ropes are chopped, rap to the belay for the top of pitch 3 (anchor with a bunch of quick links). Single rope raps will take you to the ground from here.