November , '07


Aeolian Tower

Written by Ben Kiessel 



    It was becoming tradition for Brad and his wife Koren to spend a few days over Thanksgiving in Moab, climbing, biking, and hiking with friends. This year was no different, except that they were bringing a very cute new member of the family out with them. We were told that the reason the B-Team Moab gathering happens year after year is that a few years earlier someone had discovered a Thanksgiving buffet near Castle Valley . This buffet was nearly legendary, I had heard of the amazing food more times then I can count. When Brad asked if we could make it this year, my fiancé Amanda and I thought, what could be better; we would get to meet some of Brad and Koren's other friends, climb, bike and see Owen again. We'll be there man.

    We arrived in Moab on Thursday afternoon after cold temperatures and winds encouraged us to bail on our plan of mountain biking in Fruita on the way out. The buffet that night as promised, was great. However we were a little worried about a lack of food for the later seating when we overheard some staff talking. In any case, we got our moneys worth . The next mornings plans of climbing quickly changed to walking around downtown when we woke up to 2 inches of snow. That day we discovered that Moab can keep you entertained on a snowy day for around 6 hours. You can only spend so many hours in Pagan before you get bored. I'm sure if you have a lot of money you were willing to spend you could be entertained for longer but for us after 6 hours we started to wish it was drying out faster then it was.

    By Saturday it had dried out enough that Amanda, Koren and I were able to go for a bike ride. Getting to be outside and do something active was great! It's not that inactivity isn't nice at times. It's just that when you plan an active weekend and then are forced into inactivity by weather or whatever, it's a little hard to take. Koren had had foot surgery too recently to do any big rides so after we finished a loop with her north of town Amanda and I did another short ride closer to town. That evening Brad and I poured over guidebooks trying to decide what route would be the driest and the most fun. We settled on Etesian Hookup on Aeolian Tower . Separately we both had been in Tusher Canyon before while climbing Echo Pinnacle, and both of us had walked around the base of Aeolian hoping to climb it someday.

    We woke up early and drove Babe out to Tusher Canyon . The road that we thought might be in rough shape from the snow was in good driving condition and offered no problems for the big blue ox. The approach was very short and we were at the base of the climb about two minutes after leaving the car. Brad started up pitch 1 and after it was too late realized he should have been either carrying about a dozen 48 runners, or rope soloing because the rope drag was horrendous. So horrendous in fact that he had to lower back down and clean gear from earlier in the pitch just to allow him to mantel onto the shoulder of the tower. By the time I got to the big ledge, Brad had fixed a line on the 5.6R traverse pitch 2 and we were two thirds done. As Brad belayed from a small stance on a loose block I struggled up the first 20' of the third pitch. Besides a loose angle 5 feet above the anchor that I hammered back in, the pitch went clean with minimal sketchiness and was a really enjoyable lead. After seeing the old drilled pin anchor on top of the tower we were glad that Sam had been there before us to put in some bomber bolts. The two rappels went smoothly and we were able to remove one of the two giant pieces tat that sadly litter the tower.


Putterman's Outhouse and it's shadow.

There is something magical about dawn light on a desert tower that you're about to climb.

The road into Tusher Canyon had deteriorated since my last visit. On that trip, my wife and I had made it in our Subaru. I wouldn't try it now.

Aeolian Tower and Echo Pinnacle.

What a great time of the day!

Ari and Ben on the 2 minute approach.

Getting to climb... $50.


Getting to climb a desert tower with a good friend... $500.

Starting your first lead in months with a dirty squeeze chimney... priceless.

Use double ropes on this pitch! I didn't and despite liberal use of runners, I had to rap mid pitch to backclean.

The climbing on this pitch is surprisingly fun and engaging. I was expecting more of a muddy scarefest.

Ben at the saddle.

Ben cleaning the anchor I built to lower and backclean.


This edge is very sharp!

What a beautiful, crisp, November day.

This pano that gives a better feel for what the ledge is like.


This short pitch is sketchy, but the climbing isn't very difficult.

We were really happy to clip Sam's fatty anchor bolts, especially since you stand on that big loose block to my left while belaying.

Just your average, everyday traverse really.



A close up of the start to pitch three.

It's funny how life always improves when you get a few pieces between you and the anchor.

The single piton anchor from Howling Rage (I think) is visible in this photo.


Some joker.


Looking down the third pitch.

I definitely got the easier jugging on this route.

Good stuff.

Ben rapping off his 104th tower.   Bastard!

What a wonderful place to spend a day!

Looking up at pitches two and three from the ground.


Back to Top