March, '06

 

Eagle Plume Tower

Written by Ben Kiessel

 

 

The north face of Eagle Plume Tower at sunrise.

 

    Eagle plume wasn't in the game plan when we started out the day. The plan was to do Putterman on the Throne, Putterman in the Bathtub then climb Petard Tower in the afternoon. But after finishing the Puttermans, and reading the description for Petard Tower , Eagle Plume was looking better and better. It's not that it looked bad in the beginning, but Brad and I had decided that it would be a good reason to return to the Valley in the future.

    After eating some lunch we started hiking. The talus cone flew by and in no time we were looking up at the crumbling first pitch. Brad had already volunteered me for pitches 2 & 3 so he was up. The gear was crap and the rock was even worse. Pitch 2 looked better, and it was. The rock was better but the climbing was harder. The finger crack layback ended up being blue alien size, which is more like fingernails for me. I was glad I was 6' with a plus 4 ape index when I could reach by most of the move. Pitch 3 started out bad with a BIG loose block in the crack. After the loose block the pitch was incredible. I continued passed a belay, climbing beautiful cracks to a band of rock that was so horribly bad I wanted to go down, but the belay was in sight. And lucky there was a pin at the top of the band before the small traverse to the belay. Brad seemed to cruise Pitch 4 which was one of the best looking cracks on the tower, and we were on top in no time.

    Back at the base and on the way down we saw a falcon of some sort, dive bombing a bat that was flying around. It was amazing to watch even though you knew the bat had no chance.

 

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Eagle Plume Tower from the road.

At roughly 400 feet, this is the biggest tower in the Valley of the Gods.

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A high resolution shot of the route. Click Here to see this picture with the route marked.

 

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Taken while descending from the Puttermans. We climbed the Mad and Thrown routes earlier this day.

Close Up of above picture.

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Starting pitch one. Quality rock abounds in the Valley of the Gods.

 

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Trying not to place all my big gear. I'm also hoping that the rock out on the face above me is better than the manky crap I'm wedged into.

 

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This is an exciting pitch for 5.8.

 

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Traversing left in search of a finish that doesn't involve any wide cracks.

 

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Ben starting pitch two which is somewhat disjointed with distinct cruxes.

 

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Standing below the first crux on pitch two.

 

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Ben using some kind of funky drop kneebar to top out of the short dihedral. This thing was sandy as hell. I pulled on gear immediately.

 

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Contemplating the thin crack that guards the belay.

 

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Arriving at the anchor at the top of pitch two.

 

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All of the belays on this route are on comfortable ledges.

 

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Ben starting pitch three.  Looking back on the weekend, this was my favorite pitch.

 

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Ben cranking out another 5.10 pitch.  This pitch typifies the free climbing in the Valley of the Gods.  Some really great sections mixed in with some really spooky sections.

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An awkward maneuver on the third pitch gains the start of a long, beautiful hand/finger crack.

 

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We were happy to find solid drilled angels at the belays. The slings were a little old for comfort though.

 

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Climbing though a very bad rock layer near the top of pitch three. This is where I broke off a sloper.

 

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Nearing the summit on the beautiful fourth pitch.

 

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This pitch had the best rock quality of anything we climbed all weekend.

 

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Fun and easy laybacking is the reward for getting this far.

 

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The final moves.

 

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Ben on the summit of Eagle Plume Tower. Not bad for our first day climbing together.

 

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North Tower and Arrowhead Spire are hard to see in this picture, but their shadows are quite obvious as is the shadow of Eagle Plume in the bottom right.

 

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Tired but happy.

 

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Celebrating our third tower of the day!

 

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Ben getting ready to rap from the summit.

 

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Interesting geology to the southeast. The beginnings of a mesa on the left and then further along in the process on the right.
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Racing the sun to the base of the route.
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Looking east toward Petard Tower, The Anvil and The Sitting Hen.

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