April, '05


Partnerless on the Hindu... 





     Shortly after dawn I was loading my pack at the car below The Hindu and feeling more than a little isolated. An interesting approach involving pushing Ari, our 40lb. dog, over my head through some exposed ledges put me at the end of a sidewalk of stone which led to the base of the Hindu. It felt like a mini version of the Titan. It must have taken me an hour to get ready and decide that I was comfortable with the anchor I had excavated at the base. It had been a while since I'd rope soloed anything and I was taking no chances. Especially since the climbing is in your face right away beginning with a short section of unprotected 5.8.  Wheee... 

    A month later I was standing in my aiders and happily clipping into a solid piece. A few more good placements and I started to relax. I stopped and yelled to Ari who had refused to walk across the 'sidewalk' to the base of the tower and was watching me from the shade. I would break no speed records, but I was doing it and it was fun in the way that solo aid climbing is fun.

    Unfortunately, within only 30 feet it was becoming obvious that I hadn't brought enough small gear. Not wanting to back clean so close to the ground, I continued on small brass offsets which seemed like descent C2 placements. I placed a #4 well back in the crack and tested it. Deeming it sound, I climbed up to my third step and fifi hooked into the piece. In an instant, I was falling. It was a short fall but unexpected and enough to shake me up a little. I looked quickly to see a tight clove hitch cinched around my Silent Partner and my backup knot only 4 feet farther down the rope. Then I felt pain in my finger.

    It wasn't terrible but I knew I had jammed my wedding ring finger badly. It had that buzzing/numb feeling that comes from a trauma. After a few minutes of checking and rechecking everything, I started wondering if soloing this thing was a stupid idea?  This of course led to thoughts of bailing which I tried to put out of my mind right away. I didn't want to quit yet, I would go to the anchor and make a decision. 

    With the help of a couple small Aliens that I backcleaned after the fall, I made it to the anchor and decided to continue. My finger was working, albeit with limited function, and I was aid climbing so I figured I could baby it. Combining the first two pitches involved some interesting traversing and a short pendulum from a shifty fixed pin and a tiny Alien. I hadn't had to pendulum with the Silent Partner before and I would like to say that things went smoothly but in the end, I managed an ungraceful swing at the end of my lower out point to reach the easy free climbing.

    A long free hanging rappel barely returned me to the ledge where the climb began and I took a break and buddy taped my finger. Ari still wanted nothing to do with the traverse so I walked over to give him some more water. 

   Cleaning the pitch went smoothly and my lower out seemed almost practiced. Feeling like I was within my element again, I free climbed 20 feet up the next pitch only to look down and see the big cams still clipped to the anchor.  Nice eh..?  It's really great to know that you're just doing everything right on a climb! I retrieved the cams and continued up to one of the cruxes of the route which involved a funky exit mantle from a short overhanging corner. This is an exciting move with good gear.

    Passing an optional belay, I made a few dicey moves over a bulge on Aliens and was soon staring at the final 5.8 mantle that guards the top. Wheee....  No... Wait a minute. It seemed way too hard for 5.8. Just when I was starting to entertain thoughts of using a hook, I found the elusive hold that then seemed impossible to have missed and pulled onto the summit. This was a sweet moment for me. I had never soloed a desert tower before and it was not underwhelming the way some summits feel after the climb.  It's actually quite a small place. I lounged for a while and yelled to Ari who gave an uncharacteristic bark to congratulate me.

   I decided to clean on rappel so I wouldn't have to jug up again and soon I was back on the ledge where I had started. The descent with the dog proved Ari's trust in me as he crept down and over a steep band into my outstretched arms. All went well though and soon I was in Moab wrapping my injured finger around a cold beer. Not a bad experience.

Approaching the Hindu with Ari faintly silhouetted in the foreground.

The Hindu's shadow.

Looking up at the first pitch. Definitely not wide.

I took these shots with a time lapse setting. This is a Large Picture.

"easy does it...eeeeeasy now...........easy..."

Looking down Onion Creek to the Colorado River basin.

I took this during the break. Note the rappel rope which barely allowed me to reach the ledge I'm standing on.

Looking down from the summit.

Looking east to the Mongoose and Sari.

Looking north to the Fisher Towers. The Titan stands guard on the right.

Summit self-portrait.

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