A simple photo journal of three great days climbing around Moab with John Modlish and Mila Deych on their way out of town. As a crew of four we climbed two buttes in Canyonlands National Park, Canyon Point and The Sphinx, and enjoyed three days of roadside cragging at Wall Street, where Bobbi Clemmer projected and sent her first 5.10, John jumped back on the trad horse, Mila made slick laybacking look easy and I logged a few on-sights up to 5.9 on gear, and 10b on bolts.
Canyon Point Butte & The Sphinx
Canyon Point Butte (CPB) is a beautiful sandstone buttress in the north end of Canyonlands National Park’s Needles District. Besides one 5.12 on its’ steep northern wall, the summit of the butte is typically climbed as a three pitch adventure route. Two cracks, Windy Crack and Blown Away, climb at 5.7 and 5.7R respectively. We climbed Windy Crack, which seems to be Canyon Point’s standard route. John led pitch one, a twenty foot boulder problem protected by a single bolt that gains the broad ridge separating CPB and The Sphinx. I took pitch two, which turned out to be a little more than I expected for my first traditional rock pitch of 2022. The crack is flared making the gear placements insecure, and despite reportedly high traffic, the slab on climber’s right is still quite crumbly. That said, good rests between short bouts of 5.7 friction make the 100 foot lead fairly standard. Everyone in the crew seemed to have a great time breaking in those summer legs. Above Windy Crack, a few hundred feet of third class slabbing leads to an amazing summit we were all stoked to snack on.
To descend CPB, we down-climbed (3rd class) to the bolted station above Windy Crack, and rappelled back to the ridge comfortably with a single 60M rope. Because the broad ridge above pitch one connects CPB to the North Ridge of The Sphinx, it only made sense to tag the shorter yet far more dramatic tower. “Rock Climbing Utah” (Falcon Guides) listed the North Ridge at 5.7, though in reality the route is comprised of a single short shimmy chimney and a moderate bolted ridge (5.4) leading to the summit – John took the lead. Per our guidebook, we made the mistake of belaying at an intermediate anchor about 80 feet below the summit, and only discovered a new set of upper bolts after sending one team member up for reconnaissance. Though the shark’s fin summit was beautiful, the major reward for climbing The Sphinx was a 180 foot (55M) free hanging rappel back to terra firma. These shots were some of the best of the trip.
Wall Street – Reawakening the Trad Dragon – Bobbi Sends 5.10a
After a gentle morning on the buttes, we swung through Moab for a quick meal and Boston Celtics playoff game before continuing to Moab’s classic Wall Street climbing area. As a southeast facing cliff, Wall Street dips into the shade about 2:00PM this time of year. Despite intentions to climb elsewhere, the spectacular roadside climbing at Wall Street seduced us for the next two days. Instead of boring you with stories about single pitch climbing, we’ll end with some cliff notes. Over the course of three days Bobbi projected and logged her first ever 5.10 red-point on Arc Angel (5.10a), as well as her first 2022 trad lead on Grandma and the Green Suede Shoes (5.7). I got back on the limit trad horse with on-sight leads of Top 40 (5.8+) and Puppy Love (5.9), as well as a mixed on-sight of Lacto Mangulation (5.10b), an awesomely varied face climb ending in a off-width crack that tapers all the way through fists to thin fingers – highly recommended. John recovered his trad head after a “coulda been worse” ground fall at City Of Rocks the week before, joining Bobbi with a lead on Grandma’s, and Mila just all around crushed from slab to crack to chimney. Sure – she was on a top-rope, but Milz made Top 40 look a hell of a lot more graceful than either I or John.
More than any climbing, the gem of this trip was seeing John and Mila off on their journey to a new life on the East Coast. Eight hours is a haul for a three day weekend, but friendship doesn’t recognize gas prices. Yep, we’ll miss these two, but maybe we’ll find a way to swing a New Hampshire granite trip in the next few years. Single pitch cracks are cool – Moab is rad – but next time I end up down here, I’ll be climbing some sort of tower – by hook or by crook.
I hope you enjoyed this article. As always, I would like to give a huge thank you to my supporters, Icelantic Skis and Chasing Paradise. Need some new sticks capable of climbing and skiing anything your wild wicked mind can imagine? Head on over to icelanticskis.com and check out the Natural 101, my tried and true ski mountaineering katana.
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Mountains are dangerous. Rocks are dangerous. Can’t we just admire those beautiful peaks from the parking lot? With binoculars and a tofu stir fry? Hmm… Nevertheless, mountain conditions change regularly, and the information in this article is only accurate as it pertains to the titled date. This article is written strictly for informational purposes only. Should you decide to attempt anything you read about in this article, you are doing so at your own risk!