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Monument Valley
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Totem Pole 

YDS: 5.10 French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b A2

   
Type:  Trad, Aid, 3 pitches, 400', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b A2 [details]
FA: Mark Powell, Jerry Gallwas, Don Wilson, Bill Feuerer, June 11-13, 1957
Page Views: 7,331
Submitted By: toddgordon on May 21, 2007

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Totem Pole. Classic view.

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Description 

The Totem Pole is the tallest , skinniest spire on the planet. Pitch one; goes up a left slanting aid crack. This is followed by the wide section. There was a fixed block of wood part way up, and then you need either VERY large cams or those super large big Bros....or I used large cams and small sections of 2" by 4" blocks of wood side by side to aid off of (2 in a row)....the first one was one cam and one block of wood..the 2nd being one cam and 2 blocks of wood....(It works;..it was dicey..)...
Pitch 2 is the cool 100' splitter....hand size...we aided it, but I bet it would go free at 5.11. ...it's awesome. The last pitch is a bit of aid , and then a long bolt ladder;....The bolt ladder has been dicked with...when we did it, it was missing the last 2 bolts, which we banged in pins, and made it to the top. At one time, most of the bolts were missing , and you had to hook in the holes;..very scary. The summit is the best on the planet. There are lots of bolts on top, from various commercial ventures.

Location 

The Totem Pole is on the Tribal Loop, on the right, at the back of the loop.

Protection 

Triple rack of cams. extra large cams..and something for that wide section. You can take extra hand size pieces, or just keep back-cleaning, which is what we did..... I'd take a few pins and a bolt kit, in case some of the bolts on the bolt ladder are missing or gone. FIX TOP PITCH so you can get back to the anchor;...it's overhanging and you would not make it back to the belay.


Photos of Totem Pole Slideshow Add Photo
Proper preparation for the ascent.  Photo; Todd Gordon
Proper preparation for the ascent. Photo@SEMICOLO...
The Pole.  Photo: Todd Gordon
The Pole. Photo: Todd Gordon
Todd Gordon on the summit.  Photo;  Todd Gordon Collection.
Todd Gordon on the summit. Photo; Todd...
Dave Evans on the Pole. <br />Photo by Todd Gordon.
Dave Evans on the Pole.
Photo by Todd Gordon.
The Pole.  Photo; Todd Gordon
The Pole. Photo; Todd Gordon
The Pole. <br />Photo by Todd Gordon.
The Pole.
Photo by Todd Gordon.
Todd Gordon on the first pitch of the Totem Pole. <br />Photo: Todd Gordon collection.
Todd Gordon on the first pitch of the Totem Pole.
...
Dave Evans in action, on the Pole. <br />Photo by Todd Gordon.
Dave Evans in action, on the Pole.
Photo by Todd G...
Dave Evans on the summit of The Pole. <br />Photo by Todd Gordon.
Dave Evans on the summit of The Pole.
Photo by Tod...
The Pole.  Photo: Todd Gordon
The Pole. Photo: Todd Gordon

Comments on Totem Pole Add Comment
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By toddgordon
From: Joshua Tree, California
May 21, 2007

The Totem Pole is the superlative. It's THE POLE. We did about the 10th ascent. Our ascent was on a very windy day; on the summit rappel, Dave Evans blew about 40' away from the spire at one point. He looked like a kite on the end of a string. We fixed one pitch late in the day, slept at the base, got up early, finished and down by 11:00 on sort of a cold, windy day. We got dropped off, so we didn't leave a car, and we got picked up the next day. The route is on the back side, so climbers are sort of hidden, but you are still visible from the road from the side. No one saw us, and our ascent went undetected. One of our friends did the climb and got caught by Tribal police. I believe they took his climbing gear, and there was some legal action taken too, I believe. I have heard also of climbers leaving a car in the parking lot, and the windows being broken. This climb is illegal to climb, and is tough to poach. It is not a sacred formation to the Navajos like Shiprock or Spider Rock is, and it gets very "not sacred" when Hollywood shows its green. The Original route goes up the front of the rock and was "erased" during the filming of Eiger Sanction. The Banditos put the backside route up (Never Never Land III 5.10, A2), which, I believe, is the only way up presently. Maybe someday the Navajo Tribe will give people permission to climb The Pole;...until then, it's probably best to stay clear, or take your chances and be prepared to suffer the consequences (Whatever they may be....) should you get caught. Laws and punishment on the Reservation seem to always be up for interpretation, and are often not set in stone, so who knows what could happen to climbers who get caught poaching. We were willing to take our chances, do our homework, plan and execute without incident, but we were lucky. I did call my father up on the phone before our ascent, and told him of my intentions, and that I would probably need his legal and financial help should we get nabbed. Climbing The Pole was one of the highlights of my climbing career.
By toddgordon
From: Joshua Tree, California
Jun 9, 2007

For more on the Pole: joshuatreeclimb.com/Stories/pr...