April 12 , '07


Cenotaph Spire


Written by Ben Kiessel



Ben- “Brad what are you doing?”

Brad- “What do you mean? There is off-width on the first pitch.”

Ben- “Come on you pansy, It's a ten foot section of 5.8 we're not going to need a #6 that thing is so heavy. We won't be able to climb anything after hauling that to the base of the climb.”

Brad- “Better safe then sorry.”

Ben- “We'll be fine.”


    And so began Cenotaph Spire.


    After climbing Family plot on the Tombstone we headed over to Cenotaph Spire to give it a crack. The first pitch was supposed to go at 5.10 or C1, and after looking at it I decided that I could probably climb it. Climbing out of the cave was not that bad but while trying to pull over the lip onto the slab above I broke off a foothold and nearly fell. Luckily I was doing a reverse arm-lock (yeah…I'm that cool) and didn't fall. Pulling over the lip I thought the pitches difficulties were over, but I was sadly mistaken. Unfortunately I didn't know that Paul Ross is a off-width eating machine because what he rated 5.8 ow was more like 5.12 R. After hours (probably more like 2-3 minutes) of trying this heinous ow I asked Brad to walk the 50 feet (more like a half mile) to the car and grab the #6. Once I received the #6 I promptly put it in the crack and stood on it. Ah yes, this must have been the 5.8 that Paul was talking about.

    Brad led the pitch 2 traverse, which was super cruiser. At one point he was standing on something like 5 equalized pieces all of which were placed in a sand box. Following the traverse was also interesting but luckily I could batman up the rope to avoid the sand box. If I remember correctly Lisa cleanly climbed through this section.

    Pitch 3 was mostly a bolt ladder; I use the term ‘bolts' here loosely. With a thundercloud moving towards us we decided to save time and link pitch 3 with 4. This saves time but causes some issues when trying to mantel onto the summit. As weird as it sounds we were able to have Lisa jug a rope on the East side of the spire while Brad cleaned the route on the west side of the spire. Be warned! While Brad was cleaning the last pitch the bolt that protects the summit mantel, fell out. This will make the pitch much harder. In case you were wondering, the bolt that fell out was 3/8” X 1½”. Makes you wish you knew how much bolt is behind that rock.

Ben slapping a dyno on the road side boulder.
The view of Cenotaph as you hike around the Tombstone.
Cenotaph from the approach.  All but the very beginning of the route is visible in this photo.
A closer view... [Large Image]
Lisa and Ben at the start of the route.
The opening moves...
At least there is good gear on the first pitch since the rock quality leaves a little to be desired.
Working out to the lip of the roof.
A panoramic view of Lisa belaying Ben on the first pitch.
The next four are a series.
Ahhh.... a rest.
'this could work....'
Right after I took this shot, his left foothold broke and he caught himself on some weird jam.
Cruising err... I mean aiding the "5.8" offwidth. [Large Image]
Hanging out at the second belay.

Getting started on pitch two...

"the beach pitch"

Getting the best pro on the pitch.
Lisa on pitch two.
Pitch two. [Large Image]
The climbing certainly isn't hard, but you wouldn't want to fall.
Ben takes his turn.
This is a beautiful place to climb.
I'm pretty sure that this picture is oriented correctly but it looks "off" somehow.
The easiest approach follows the ledge at the base of the wall in this picture.
Ben and Lisa at the base of pitch three.
Ben getting started on what would be our last pitch.
It's a good one too with odd fixed gear that bends under body weight and popping pitons. [Large Image]
Looking down at the belay from the top.
Lisa starting up the fixed line to the summit.
Looking over at the Tombstone from the top of Cenotaph Spire. [Large Image]
Lisa nearing the top.
Hoping that the storms remain kind and give us the half hour we need to get down.
Lisa rapping off.

More Pictures from Lisa...

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img_6881.jpg img_6882.jpg img_6884.jpg
img_6894.jpg img_6896.jpg img_6897.jpg
img_6899.jpg img_6901.jpg img_6905.jpg
img_6913.jpg img_6914.jpg


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