March, '08


The Kachina Spires in

Hell Roaring Canyon

Written by Ben Kiessel 



    It had been awhile since either Brad or I had climbed in the Desert. For Brad it had been 96 days since he had climbed Aeolian for me it had been 68 days since I had climbed Mars Hotel. Obviously both of these numbers are far too large. The whole week before we were not sure if we would be able to climb because of weather. The weather in Moab had shut down Brad 4 times in a row since Aeolian and he was starting to twitch. (Think: Fembots) Brad needed a hit of the desert so bad that he was planning on driving 3 hours to sit in the rain if that's what the weather had in store. Luckily the weather for the weekend and the few days before cleared up so we loaded up the cars.

    The Kachina Towers were chosen and on Saturday morning we set off. Brad had been in the area before and had no problems with the unmarked roads. The sun had just come up when we stepped out of the car into a sweet campsite to rack gear. The descent down into the gulley which we thought would be an issue went smoother then expected and we were soon standing at the base of the of the route.

    Unfortunately when I was reading off the gear that we would need to climb the towers I missed the part about needing #00 TCUs, so we were forced to climb the flared offwidth instead of the splitter thin crack. Luckily for me the two cracks met at the same anchor. I gave Brad a boost so he could get to the first placement in the flared crack. Brad lead the pitch to the tune of “I'm a little teapot…” which I think actually slowed him down since every once in a while I would see a clump of hair fall to the ground. Sorry. The next pitch was in my opinion the worst of the day. The rock was horrid and I thought I was going to rip all my gear out nearly the whole time. It was one of those leads where you have 4 pieces of gear within two feet and you don't really want to pull on any of them. I would call it A6 but no one died.

    Brad led the next two pitches to the top of the North Tower . The first pitch off the saddle involved Brad busting out some impressive free moves in his approach shoes fortunately I brought my climbing shoes. The start of the summit pitch forced Brad to make a dyno clip of the first bolt. NICE! Later in the pitch Brad lassoed a loose block/horn thing and batmaned up the line. VERY NICE! The summit of the North Tower is SWEET! Two rappels got us back to the saddle, the second being a rappel from a single bolt. BOMBER! Time for the south tower.

    Sadly someone had removed the pins on the face off the belay so that the next party would be faced with 5.10 moves on loose rock and ledge fall potential. SWEET! The 12' wall had 2 empty holes staring at us. After an hour of going up backing off, going up backing off, and debating hiking back to the car to get some baby angles; I had Brad move his belay under me so I could stand on his shoulder. This belay consisted of a black and blue alien, but it got the job done. The moves really weren't that hard you just have to pony up and send. Brad illustrated how easy the moves were by climbing the section clean on top rope in his approach shoes. Bastard! The next pitch involved chimneying behind a flake. After the long winter Brad couldn't fit behind the flake with his harness on so he took it off and shimmied in. Once he was up a few feet I tied the rope around his ankle with a slip knot. When he got to the top he hauled up the gear and his harness and built and anchor. I got the summit pitch on the South Tower , which was an uneventful bolt ladder and we where on our way down.

    If you are experiencing a desert climbing dry spell as we were, the Kachina Towers are a great day of desert climbing. You won't be disappointed. Just bring 2 baby angles and a hammer.


Standing on the rim next to where we parked and enjoying the view down Hell Roaring Canyon.

The Kachina Spires.

At this point we were trying to decide where to drop into the canyon.

Don't you just love morning light on desert towers?

We fixed a rope on a short section of cliff rather than looking for a scramble down.

Still d descending into the canyon.


A closeup of the Kachina Spires.

Reaching the canyon floor.


Looking up at the seriously topheavy South Tower from the ground.

Ben nearing the base of the route.

Good stuff.

A few shots from pitch one.

Ben getting ready to lead pitch two.

A few shots of Ben passing the "death flake".

Me jugging pitch two.

Leaving the notch heading toward the North Summit.

Looking back at the belay from the end of the difficulties and the 1 bolt anchor.

A few shots of Ben as he leaves the Notch and climbs the short, bolt protected face.

A silhouette of the mallet-like South Tower.

The first bolt on the North Tower. I had to jump clip this one.

A series of Ben reaching the summit.

Looking across the notch at the South Tower.

Looking up Hell Roaring Canyon.

Leaving the North Summit.

Ben rapping a forshortened North Tower.

Looking up at the one bolt anchor that you use to get back to the notch. Adding a bolt here would not be a bad idea.

Ben leading out of the notch toward the South Tower via some 5.10 moves on hollow rock with that crappy blue alien as pro. We eventually resorted to shenanigans.

This is a tight chimney. I had to take off my harness just to get into the thing.

Looking back across the notch to the South Summit.

A few shots of Ben on the final bolt ladder.

Looking up at the first pitch. The book says to climb the left crack but we didn't have enough small gear (ahem... Ben) so we climbed the wide one on the right.

Another one in the bag.

Me and Batman getting out of the canyon.

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