May, 03


The Big Dirty

with Paul, Jason, and Ian



       In early May 2004, Paul, Jason, Ian and I converged on the Fisher Towers with the intention of climbing the tallest sandstone tower in the United States, The Titan.  Rising 900 feet above the surrounding landscape, and flanked by other monstrous, mud caked spires, the Titan is the most impressive feature in a surreal and unique setting. I had wanted to climb this thing since the day I read about the first ascent in a 1962 National Geographic. Unfortunately, finding a partner had proven to be troublesome. Not everyone likes the idea of climbing on the soft Cutler Sandstone of the Fishers and my lack of aid experience didn't help my recruiting. Eventually, I convinced myself that I didn't need a partner and made a solo attempt of the nearby Kingfisher, with dubious success.

     As fate would have it, when I did find a partner for the Titan, I found three. No problem, we would recreate the first ascent by climbing the route as a team of four. Getting into the spirit, we managed also to take three days to climb the thing, just as they had. We did diverge from Kor and the gang in our equipment. Where they had pins and passive pro, we made due with every piece of gear that had ever been introduced to the climbing world. One could also argue a moderate style difference in that they cleared away pounds and pounds of mud to get to the rock and then placed bolts on lead, where as we painstakingly clipped each and every shiny, new bolt that the ASCA had placed only months before. Not that it needs saying, be we were bad ass! 

    Ok, so it's fair to say that we were not the most efficient team of four climbers ever to grace that route.  Hell, Ian was cutting price tags off of his first pair of jumars the night before the climb in the parking lot. None-the-less, we got up it and it was worth the toil. If you don't mind the rock, the Fishers have great secrets!


   Truly, our time was made more enjoyable and safer through the efforts of the American Safe Climbing Association who had recently replaced the anchors at ALL of the belays with solid equipment. Thanks for your hard work!


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The Fisher Towers as seen from the Colorado River. The La Sal mountains are still snow covered in the distance.


Jason pulling a V2 at Big Bend.

Jason working out the hands of a traverse.

Topping out a V1 mantle.


What do you mean it might rain tomorrow?


A local lizard taking a break from the sun.

He was about 4 inches long.

Looking toward Castle Valley from River Road at sunset. The Rectory, Priest, and Sister Superior group are visible on the right.

Rain Delays! We awoke to this the second day.

The rain produced some incredibly beautiful vistas.

The Kingfisher, looking like something out of a Tolkien novel.

Looking toward Castle Valley at the Rectory and the Sister Superior group. Castleton is shrouded in clouds to the left of the the Rectory.

Jason, getting a chance to play with his new digital camera.

Another shot of Castleton and the Priest.

A beautiful shot of the towers that Paul took in inclement weather at sunset.

The Kingfisher as seen from the parking lot.

The south face of the Titan. The obvious chimney system is the Sundevil Chimney. This picture is taken from the approach trail.

Paul racking up at the start of the Finger of Fate route, which climbs the cracks behind him.

Paul negotiates the start of the first pitch. Looking up at this I thought I would try to free this on second. Yeah right! Talk about a sandy, insecure crack climb!

Looking down at Paul at the first belay from the second pitch.

Approaching the tower on our second day of climbing.
Jason jugging up the first three pitches in the morning on the second day.

Ian getting racked up and trying to adjust his daisy/aider lengths for his first time on jugs ever!

We were passed by a fast party out of Boulder who climbed the route in a day. It turned out that I know one of the climbers from rec.climbing.

This shot shows the first 4 pitches. The sunlit tower directly above the climbers is the Finger of Fate.

Looking back at the Oracle from the base of the Titan. There is a compelling chimney line on this thing that is just begging to be climbed.

Paul taking a look at the route from the top of the second pitch.

This is a picture of the new bolts that the ASCA added to the route shortly before we climbed it. Thanks for your hard work guys!

Looking up at the shallow pin scars on the 4th pitch.

Looking between Cottontail and Echo Towers at the tiny corkscrew of Ancient Art.

Alone at the belay.

Ian joins us at the base of the Finger of Fate.

Hanging out with Ian and Jason while Paul prepares to lead the next pitch.

Paul casting off on the aiding crux of the route.

Ian lowering out to start jugging the 5th pitch.

Not bad for his first time on jumars.

Me leading the 6th pitch.

Jason traversing around the Duck at the end of the second day. We fixed lines to the ground from here and finished the route the next day.

Ian traversing around the Duck shortly after Jason. As you can see, we were racing the clock to be back in camp by dark. We didn't quite make it. :) The Titan's Shadow is long in the background.

Jason hanging out before rapping the fixed lines.

Paul back at camp after diner.

A shot of Cottontail Tower in morning light.

Jason hanging out on the bivi ledge used by the first ascent team.

Goofing off while Paul leads the next pitch.

This pictures is taken from the top of the 6th pitch. Paul is above leading the 8th pitch and I am belaying at the bivi ledge on top of the 7th pitch.

Enjoying the moment in my aiders on the overhanging caprock that guards the summit.

Wondering when I am going to have to get out of my aiders and start climbing in my boots.

Ian approaching the very summit of the tallest sandstone tower in the country.

Taking a well deserved rest on the summit.

Jason, Paul and Ian in a panoramic summit picture.

Looking down at the other Fisher Towers, the parking lot, and the Colorado River basin from the top.

A close up shot of the top of the Kingfisher with the Colorado River and River Road in the background.

Jason rappelling from the summit. With two 60 meter ropes, we were able to rap all the way to the top of our fixed lines.

A silhouetted Ian rappelling the north side of the Titan.

Paul bids a farewell from the top of the fixed lines as we head to Moab for beer and food.

A final shot of the group rappelling the descent gully. That thing is a lot of fun to jug, let me tell you.

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