March, '06


Putterman in a Bathtub


Putterman on the Thrown


    It's funny the way people come into your life. Ben and I had met at the local climbing gym over the previous winter under inauspicious circumstances. My wife was being belayed by one of her friends when Ben walked by and noticed that her belayer was only holding the rope and not feeding it through the belay device. He rushed up and took the rope, giving my wife a proper belay until she reached the ground. Later, after Koren had informed me of the happenings, I went up to thank Ben for making sure my wife was safe. I felt a little embarrassed but he was disarming and polite. I stayed in the bouldering room for a little while and noticed that Ben and his friends bouldered pretty hard. I also noticed that they were talking about desert towers.

    The desert tower talk piqued my interest. Koren and I were new to Durango and I had joined the gym mostly to find a new partner for just that type of climbing. Of course, since one of this group had just saved my wife from real danger at the fricking climbing gym, I felt a little too sheepish to just ask Ben if he was interested in a new partner for some desert towers. That's not the least committing type of climbing after all. I bouldered with them for a little while and then left saying nothing.

    Fortunately, the next time I went to the gym, I found Ben there with his friends bouldering again. I got a friendly but tepid response from the group when I joined the conversation. At the time I figured that Ben had told them all about my wife and that they were all thinking me to be a gaper. The fact that I couldn't do the boulder problems that they were climbing didn't make me stand out either. Eventually though, the conversation moved back to the desert and more specifically to the relatively obscure River Tower.

    I had recently climbed River Tower so in the next few minutes I think I went from being the 'gaper who can't pull very hard' to the 'climber who almost had a bad thing happen to his wife at the gym'. When it came up that I had climbed it solo, I got even more respect and launched into my story of moving here recently and looking for partners. Ben showed some interest and a couple weeks later, we were off in search of desert towers that we had only read about.

    Little did I know that I would be standing on many towers with Ben as we tooled down HW191 on our way to the Valley of the Gods. The next day we climbed three towers. Below are the pictures from the first two. The third one was Eagle Plume.


Putterman in a Bathtub Pictures


Beginning the 4th class scramble along the bedding seam.


It's easy but it requires some attention. Of course Ben's in flip flops.


At the base of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Putterman".


Ben placing a cam before the roof moves.


We wondered if anyone had climbed that chimney on the left?


Some of these shots are taken with time lapse on a coolpix 5400.


Looking down at me on the first pitch.


The anchor at the top of pitch one. The next  pitch is around the corner.


Looking down the short second pitch.


A series of Ben on the pitch.


The was one of the most fun pitches of the weekend. Too bad it's really short.


Of course there is loose rock even on the best pitches in the Valley of the Gods.


Looking across to Tommyknocker and Tom Tom Towers on the left and Eagle Plume Tower on the right. North Tower and Arrowhead Spire are faintly visible behind Eagle Plume.


The first of what would become many desert summits together.


We opted not to stand on the sketchy summit cairn.


Ben reversing the moves from the top to get back to the anchor.


Standing on the bench at the top of pitch one with the other Putterman behind.


Rapping to the ledge from which we started.



Putterman on the Thrown Pictures


Looking over at Putterman on the Thrown. We bouldered up to the saddle between them as shown in the following series.


Looking down at Ben on the boulder problem that accesses the other side of the towers. It's not bad really but that ledge below slopes downward and it's a 100 foot drop just beyond the big boulder.


A closer view of the start.


Every great boulder problem requires at least one chicken wing right?


...and a slopey top out.


Looking across at the thin profile of our objective as Ben arrives at the saddle between the two towers.


Getting started on the first pitch of Supercalifragilisticexpialaputterman.


This was the hardest pitch on these two routes.


I was impressed when Ben freed it. Impressed is not inspired though and I pulled on gear shamelessly.


The first part of this pitch offered the best rock quality we found on this route.



Looking across at the bedding seam.


As if to offset the beginning of this pitch, the latter half has some extremely manky rock.


Ben, hoping for love that will never come from those friable crimpers out right.



Waiting to climb.


Looking down on me on the first pitch.


A large shot of the me on the second pitch.


Vertical pano of Ben and the Mad Putterman's second pitch.


Ben just below the top.


Summit shot with Eagle Plume Tower in the background. We would climb that in the afternoon.


Feeding the ropes for the rappel.


Leaving the summit.


Weathered pebbles on top.



If you go, bring a knife and some new rust colored webbing.


Rapping off our second tower at eleven.


This is definitely"don't blow it" territory on the approach. Ben seemed unfazed in his flip flops though.


Not that there wasn't crawling involved for both of us.


The final bit of scrambling.

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