October, '07


Grand View Spire

 & Terra Tower

Written by Ben Kiessel



    Brad had the weekend off and I could get a ride to and from Grand Junction with a group of mountain bikers for Sunday. The plan was for Brad to solo Remnant's Tower and Grandview on Saturday since I had already climbed them. Then on Sunday… As often happens the plans for a day start off big and then just get bigger as the date nears. By Friday night the plan for Sunday included something like 20 miles of walking and around 15 towers. Easily achievable for a motivated duo.

    Obviously I was a little concerned about achieving this goal when I showed up on Saturday night to hurricane force winds at the campground. I was even more concerned when I learned that Brad had a rope fixed on pitch 1 of the Southwest Defile Route on Grandview Spire. This was not part of the plan. Apparently he was on the route and it got a little windy so he bailed. You might ask why I climb with such a lightweight, and the answer is easy. Look at his freaking photos; the man makes my pudgy ass look like a super hero!  I regress.


Grandview Spire

    So we wake up early and make the 150' rappel to the notch, then jug the fixed first pitch. Brad FREED the second pitch (Yes you heard it here first, Brad was actually out of his aiders for a full pitch! Can we get a round of applause?). After pulling on some gear I join Brad on the ledge below the summit. All that stands between the summit and us is a fifteen foot 5.8 off-width. A few minutes later I'm belaying Brad up and we are looking in the registrar at some super early ascents of the tower. Super cool! Another few minutes and we are back in the car driving to get a start on our 15 planned towers.


Terra Tower

    Before the trip I had been in contact with a Grand Junction local that had recently done a new variation to a climb called Bazaar on Terra Tower (or as Eric calls it in DRIII Liberty Cap Tower ). Thanks to his beta we were able to be our lazy selves and skip the giant 4 pitch face and walk around to the shorter 2 pitch side.

    As Brad was starting pitch one, I was watching some golfers on the course far below and thinking what a different sort of recreation that was. I am jerked from my wandering mind when Brad says, “ Watch Me. ” I look up and see that he has gotten to a sandy section and he is going to step out of his aiders and free climb a little. He climbs up to a nice little stance with a splitter crack and starts riffling through the rack. After double and triple checking the rack and both packs on the ground it is apparent that we forgot the 3.5 camalots in the car. The only cam that would have fit the crack is a #4 that is 20' below Brad. There is no way that he can safely down climb the loose free section and there is no way that he is going to run it out any more then he already is, so it is up to me to get that cam. I tie off Brad to a juniper and start rope-soloing with the 8mil. tagline. I give the #4 to Brad, lower back to the ground, put him back on belay, and proceed to watch the golfers below. The line is soon pulling tight and I clean the rest of the cams, managing to cut my hand and bleed quite a bit in the process.

    Pitch two starts out as a chimney with little gear, but as you ascend you gain sight of a splitter begging for a cam. Easy climbing above leads to a big ledge and a crazy looking free move to the summit. This move is supposed to go free at 5.11 but goes much easier at French free. Brad is soon up and I realize that to catch my ride back to Gunnison this had to be the last summit we stood on for the day. Even though we didn't get our 15 towers in, it was a beautiful day and great fun with a great friend.

Grand View Spire Pictures

Grand View Spire as seen from the rim.
Bell Tower, Crack of Noon Tower, Dirty Old Man Tower, and Airport Tower.
 A closer view.
A hi-res shot of Bell Tower.
A hi-res shot of Dirty Old Man Tower.
Independence Monument.
A closer view.
Pipe Organ Spire and Organ Pipe Spire.
The next three shots of me soloing were taking by a visitor who left a note on my car.
I couldn't hear anything because of the wind but it was nice surprise at the end of the day.
A hi-res version.
Looking down pitch one from the anchor.
A climber rappelling off of Otto's route on Independence Monument.
A wider view.
Back at Grandview in the morning with Ben after being blown off the tower the day before.
John Otto knew a good thing when he saw it.
Looking up at pitch two.
Looking back at Ben.
Ben on pitch two.
It's cool to be this close to a summit this early in the day.
Below the final 15 foot offwidth.
I was thinking...'throw a leg and an armbar in the crack... worm your way up using face holds to keep it reasonable...'
Ben was thinking... 'grab that edge and walk to the top in running shoes with teflon soles.
Getting ready to leave a beautiful perch.


A sunrise panoramic shot from the top of Grand View Spire.


Good stuff!
Ben rappelling the first pitch.
Jugging out.
I don't think I've ever finished a tower this early in the day.


Terra Tower Pictures

Ben on the approach trail. At this point we were still planning to climb Jolly and Oompah towers but we didn't know where they were. We decided to walk to that big tower in the distance and if we hadn't seen any other towers by then, to climb it.
A closer view of Terra Tower from the approach.
Looking up as we near the base.
A series of Ben on a nice boulder next to the trail.
We did several problems here.
Looking out over Grand Junction.
Looking up the route.
The first pitch has fun climbing.
NOTE - At this point in the climb it is important that you still have a #4 Camalot on your harness!
Looking down at Ben on the offwidth crux of the fist pitch.
He did manage to cut his hand and to bleed quite a bit but I think he just did it to make me feel better. 
Looking up at the gaping second pitch.
Paring down the rack for pitch two.
Looking south from the belay. Our approach took us across the obvious plateau.
Some joker...
Ben looking for the easiest point to climb upward.

Don't worry, he assured me he had been working on this type of problem at the gym in Gunnison.

Stopping to place some pro in a manky crack.
Looking down the chimney.
A larger version.
Quality protection.
It felt kind of airy stepping out of the chimney on to the shoulder.
The final hard moves.


Ben on the summit of Terra Tower with Grand Junction in the background.

Another beautiful summit!
Beginning the raps back to real life.
The route climbs the rightmost crack system on the upper part of the tower. Approach up the slope to the right of the tower.
The end of another fun day of tower bagging.

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