|By John McNamee
From Littleton, CO
Oct 3, 2010
Eric and I had been trying to climb these routes together for some time. We tried in March and the day we were due to leave, a huge boulder crashed down in Glenwood Canyon closing I70. The following weekend it rained. During the rest of the spring, our respective on-call schedules clashed and before long it was summer, when I take time off from climbing to race mountain bikes.
With fall colors starting to appear in Colorado it was time to head back to Moab. We set off after work on Friday afternoon and got to Moab about 10pm. We were hoping to camp along the River Road but ending up at Ken’s Lake as everywhere was crowded with happy campers. At Ken’s Lake, we moved into the slums district, one of the few sites without a large RV, complete with a spotlessly clean Jeep.
First up was Zenyatta Entrada (5.4, C2+) Arches National Park. The last time on this route I was blown off at the top of pitch three. This time no such luck and we enjoyed nice warm temps and afternoon breezes throughout our ascent. An added bonus of this route is watching the tourist rubber necking from down below.
Zenyatta Entrada follows the sunny face up the Tower of Babel
Eric led the first pitch which started as boxed out pin scars, followed by nice nutting and cam placements to the anchors. The route was fixed up a couple years ago by Sam Lightner and friends with the support of the ASCA. Thank you.
It was soon time for me to start the second pitch. I was pretty rusty for the first 30 feet until I dropped an aider (first time ever) and got into cruise control.
Eric then dispatched the third pitch which has a nice tension traverse/pendulum followed by a short corner with great pro. However, cleaning the pitch was the pain.
I started up the fourth pitch but after about 30 feet realized I didn’t have the right gear. This pitch eats medium size brass offsets! We rapped off and headed to town to relax and replace electrolytes. (Beer)
Looking up pitch four
The next morning we were back at base and jugged to the top of three in the cool of the morning. With the right gear the fourth pitch was a real gem, with a hook move and some fine nutting. A nice series of moves (crux) around a roof went with a no 2 camp ball nut, a yellow alien and tricams. Where would be without tricams… The pitch ends in a wild traverse on fixed pins stopping about 4 feet short of the anchors. Fortunately, there is another perfect tricam placement!
Sunrise from the top of pitch three
Cleaning pitch four
Pitch five was the last aid lead of the day and had some ledge fall potential if you screwed up. Fortunately, by now Eric was in the zone and cruised up the pitch. After cleaning the pitch we scrambled across the shoulder and climbed the short bolt ladder to the summit.
View from the summit
One half rope and two full 60m raps brought us to the ground leaving plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the afternoon on the porch of the Moab Brewery and allowed Eric to add to his beer glass collection.
Next up was Artist Tears (C3) the Anasazi Buttress on the River Road cliffs…
Artist Tears follows the black water streak in the shaded part of the face. It is steep!
I tried to solo this route earlier this year but backed off it due to Snail Eye. This time armed with a solid partner I knew we had a good chance if I could get up the first pitch. After a leisurely start I went to work on pitch one, the ”Warm Up Pitch”, consisting of hooks, hand placed angles, rivets, the odd bolt and down sloping totally uninspiring machine studs. Fish Doubloons worked well on the threads as well as small rivet hangers that you could set in the threads… Although not the technical crux, it was the mental crux and had the worst full potential. It was a DNFU pitch.
Looking down pitch one
View from the top of pitch one towards the Colorado River
Looking up at the start of pitch 2
Fortunately, the anchors were fixed up a couple of years ago by Moab local, Luke Malatesta. They were much appreciated.
Eric then lead the short pitch two, the “Business Pitch” and then it was time for Beer! Unfortunately, we were too early for the Porch this time and even though it was only half full, there wasn’t any seating available, so we had to settle for the bar instead.
The next morning came around quickly and it was time move out of the slums and hit the road to Denver. But first we had to finish Artist Tears staring with pitch three, the “Money Pitch”. This was the technical crux of the route and it was a joy to climb with some the weirdest features I’ve ever aided. I only placed three cams on the entire pitch, blue/green and green/yellow aliens and the red master cam. The rest of the placements were offsets and tricams. Aid screamers came in pretty handy as well.
Eric then launched up pitch 4, the “Casual Pitch” consisting of a mixture of studs, rivets, bolts and natural pro. It was a long pitch with long reaches between fixed pro.
With time running out and the drive back to Denver on our minds, we decided to stop at the top of pitch four and not climb pitch five, the “Short Pitch” a 25 feet long 5.8 exit pitch up a water groove. We rapped the route, and headed back to the Moab Brewery so Eric could get a six pack for his “Beer Club”. He was tempted to get a T Shirt as well.
It was a wild ride coming down
Artist Tears is one of those routes that once you spot it you have to climb it. It’s an incredible line with its moves cloaked in mystery, only revealing itself when you’re standing high in your aiders and stretching for the next placement.
The drive back to Denver was uneventful other than running out of rice at Chipotle in Grand Junction and a gas station in Summit County that had no coffee.