March, '06


Zeus  &  Aphrodite

'Sisyphus and the East Ridge'

Written by Ben Kiessel



     The next time Brad and I had a free weekend off after Valley of the Gods we decided to stop messing around on easy towers and step it up. Zeus and Aphrodite, was the logical next step.

     I met Brad at his house on Friday night to load up and drive to Moab . “Babe” the big blue truck got us into Taylor Canyon without to much trouble. The plan was to do Zeus and Aphrodite in one day and then do Charlie Horse Needle the next. Zeus and Aphrodite are right next to each other and are only a handful of pitches a piece so both of them in a day seemed doable.

     The next morning after literally dragging Brad past Primrose Dihedrals (a route which I had already done and he hadn't) we were at the base of Sisyphus, which would be our line and just happens to be the only line up Zeus (Fred Becky and Eric Bjornstad put up a bolt ladder on the back side but the bolts have since been chopped).

     Ten feet up the first pitch I realized that this route was going to be a little more serious then the routes we had done in Valley of the Gods. I was heel hooking on pitch 1 and the first part of pitch 2 which was supposed to go free got aided with black and blue aliens. Things were not going free but they were going, which was all that mattered. I had struggled on the first 2 pitches and was not looking forward to the 3rd. The 3 rd pitch was supposed to have the crux move of the route and if you blew that move you'd hit a ledge. Oh yeah, and you can't aid by it. So up I went and was soon at the crux, the move although not easy was not that hard and the pro although bad was there. On top and belaying Brad up I was already eyeing our next objective.

     With Zeus behind us we assumed that Aphrodite would be a walk in the park. It was technically easier and didn't involve an “R” rating on any of the pitches. Finding the first pitch was difficult, but we guessed the right way and soon I was running it out on easy terrain. The first pitch was a rope stretcher but went fairly smoothly. Pitch 2 on the other hand was lacking solid rock and thus solid pro, but a few sketchy moves latter I was at the belay and bringing Brad up. From this belay I looked up at the .10c move on crumbly rock I was supposed to do and decided to suck it up and traverse right instead. The traverse lead me past a starbolt and to a rotten crack that I aided up to the plank. From this point on, we found the rest of the route to be nothing like what the guide book said. The topo in the guide showed an easy ramp to the top, but it did not look that easy. Brad decided to give the sharp end a go and started walking. After a hundred feet of class 1 and multiple failed attempts to surmount an off width splitting the boulder in our way to the summit, he down climbed (walked) back to the anchor. To give Brad some credit, the off width was much harder then it looked. After the boulder there was still no easy way to the summit, but a crack allowed further progress and soon I was on top.

     Once down and talking about what was next, we decided to drive to Moab and eat a well deserved meal at Eddie McStiff's. Instead of climbing Charlie Horse Needle the next day we thought that Rhino's Horn and Elvis' Hammer would be a good substitute. We did not bring the guidebook and ended up walking around the base of Rhino's horn for a good hour looking for the route. We were tired from the day before but finally decided to just give it a go and after I climbed up a ways up some random crack, we made the prudent call to bail and go home.


Zeus Pictures



Aphrodite, Zeus, an unnamed blob, Moses and the Thracian Mare in the morning.


The same crew casting shadows down Taylor Canyon.


The easy approach trail.


Now that I think about it, this section was pretty loose.


Looking at Zeus and Aphrodite from the base of Moses.



A Hi-res shot looking back at Moses.

It was hard to hike past this tower having not climbed it, but I figure it's a lot easier to find a partner willing to climb Primrose than Sisyphus. And almost no one climbs Aphrodite it seems.

We found the original register left by Ed Webster and we were the 23rd ascent.


The original line on Zeus climbed the right skyline.


Ben getting ready for our first route of the day.


Getting started.


This is a fun pitch!


Surveying the options.


The crux of pitch one.


Ben at the first belay.


Though this was the easiest pitch on Sysiphus, it was still kind of sporty.


Getting some solid gear before the squeeze chimney.


Everyone loves a good squeeze right?


Exiting the chimney.


Looking down at me on pitch two.


Ben leading me up yet another pitch. This one rated 11r.

I learned a lot this day. For instance, Ben wasn't a member of the B-Team™ like most of my climbing crew.


A hi-res shot of Moses from the top of Zeus.


Summit self portrait.


Ben checking out the register which had been placed there by the NPS.


Looking over to Aphrodite from the top of Zeus. This shot is looking at the west ridge. We climbed it from the other side starting on the right.


Rapping down the first ascent line that Bjornstad and Beckey put up in 1970. Too bad some asshole chopped their bolts.


Aphrodite Pictures


Looking back at Moses and Zeus.


Ben on the first pitch of the East Ridge on Aphrodite.


Another team of climbers on the summit of Zeus.  It was an odd day in Taylor canyon with two parties climbing and no one on Moses.


Looking down at me and the top part of the first pitch.


In the chimney.


Past the difficulties on pitch one.


Ben gets started on pitch two with a wide stem.


This is the ledge that we opted for instead of the 10c moves on the ridgeline.


It wouldn't be bad if the rock wasn't so soft and sandy.


Ben cleaning off footholds.


I was a little past where Ben is in the previous shot when I took this picture. The crack our rope follows took us up to The Plank.


Ben flashing the unprotected, V8, boulder problem that shut me down.

OK  OK ... so it's only 9weird..... what can I say, it's hard to pony up if your head's not in it, you're looking at a groundfall, and you have a partner that's chewing up leads like a bowl of Frosted Flakes.

Moses, Zeus and Taylor Canyon.


Summit self portrait.


Our 7th tower after three days of climbing together. Good stuff!


Hmm... perhaps a backup.


Looking down at Ben as he rappels from just below the summit back to The Plank.


A weird exposure of me on top.

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