April, '06


The Bridger Jack Spires

Part Two - Easter Island & Sparkling Touch

Written by Ian McAlexander 



Easter Island , Thunderbolts, 5.10

    Two weeks after our first trip to the Bridger Jacks, we're back for more tower shenanigans. I really like this place. The rock is solid, the routes are high quality, and you get to stand on a tower. Easter Island is the smallest and easiest of the Bridger Jack towers but it packs a lot of fun into two pitches. Pitch 1 is quite hard at 5.8. Off-width and cupped hands leads to an exciting and delicate move rightward. An easy scree strewn slab deposited us at the notch and the beginning of the second pitch.

    The second pitch is the business. It works its way around three faces of the tower. With each hard move you think “whew, that felt 10” only to find an even harder section in front of you. The clips are in all the right places and if it starts to feel impossible you're probably missing a subtle hidden hold. There was a long pause in the climbing as I tried to solve a delicate sequence. The piton was starting to look like a foothold when Brad sent a well-timed motivator: “Climb like your woman is watching!” Just what I needed! Crimp, trust that foot, and peek around the corner. Bingo, delicious chalky incuts.

    Brad flashed the pitch easily on toprope. From the summit we watched some guys on Sparkling Touch. This allowed us to observe the technical crux of the route, an 11a move straight off the belay ledge. “Hey, we can do that. It's a crimpy boulder problem!” Brad pointed out that they missed a key foothold, the V formed by the belay slings. After the free hanging rappel from Easter Island we moved the ropes to the base of Sparkling Touch.


Sparkling Touch, 5.11-

    The first pitch of Sparkling Touch is a wrestling match. It starts out benign enough with excellent hand jams. The crack then divides into two parallel cracks, offwidth on the right and thin hands on the left. This explained why Brad was trying to decide between a #4 Camalot and #0.75. Normally, parallel cracks are good but in this case a long protruding vertical block keeps you from using both cracks simultaneously. For me, the key to flashing this pitch was, once again, being on TR. Brad was shouting encouragement the whole way and laughing as I gasped for air at the belay.

    From the belay we enjoyed watching a couple from Spain finishing Easter Island . It looked like they were having as much fun as we did on the bolted face pitch.

    The crux of the second pitch is right off the belay. It looks like a lot of people step left but we opted to go straight up. This boulder problem crux is around V2 and is very short, barely a body length. A few steps up and I found I was on a lower tower.

    A protected fall-across to the true tower, followed by a few moves on bad rock, put us on a very cool summit were we signed the original summit register. Brad was happy to tick Sparkling Touch as tower #30. Tower #31 would have to wait until the next day.


Easter Island Pictures


Looking up at the Bridger Jacks from our campsite.

Ian flaking ropes at the base of Easter Island.

Looking up at the first pitch of Thunderbolts.

A shot of me traversing half way up the first pitch.

Ian finishing the traverse on the first pitch of Easter Island.

Looking down from the belay at the rubble-strewn top of pitch one.

Ian approaching the spot where the giant chokstone used to reside until it fell off on, of all days, Easter Sunday.

The first belay with the Six Shooters in the background.

Ian starting the second pitch. This pitch offers a wonderful rarity in the desert, bolted face-climbing.

Although this pitch is well protected and a LOT of fun to climb, it's no give-me.

Looking across the mouth of Lavender Canyon at the Six Shooters.

Relaxing on the summit of Easter Island.

Despite being the smallest and easiest of the Bridger Jack Spires, Easter Island offers one of the more airy rappels.

Ian rappelling.


Sparkling Touch Pictures


A shot of me starting up Sparkling Touch.

Deciding what I can afford to leave and still have enough gear to aid above if need be.

Ian above the crux and still free climbing on the first pitch.

The last few moves to the anchor.

A Spanish couple we met finishing the last pitch of Easter Island.

Ian at the belay. He's happy because the crux is a boulder problem right off the ledge.

A close up of our new Spanish fiends.

Ian just above the crux of the climb.

Looking down on me from the top. I am standing on a detached tower.

A close up of the previous shot.

The final moves.

Ian rappelling down the first pitch of Sparkling Touch.


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