OK, round 2 in the desert. This time we brought my little brother along, but the desert still won...
We decided to do Zenyatta Entrada IV, 5.8 A3 on the Tower of Babel in Arches National Park. Peter had never aid climbed before, so he wanted to lead the
first A2 pitch so i could coach him from the ground. The pitch is 115 feet long and widens from fingers at the bottom to offwidth/fist at the top. Peter did very well until the crack widened, and there he figured out we didn't have enough big gear. Bravely/stupidly he started backcleaning like a madman. About 5 feet below the end of the difficulties he moved from a good #4 Camalot(his last one) onto a tipped out #3 Camalot(also his last one). He removed the #4 to place above him as his final piece, and while he was getting ready to make the placement the #3 blew.
Peter was unfortunately leaning back on the piece when it blew, so he arced into a head first swan dive. He blew another friend and sailed past a bunch of backcleaned placements. After 45 feet of falling he slammed his right shoulder into the lip of a small roof. tThe #3 that held him was also a bad tipped out placement, so as soon as he flipped rightside up again Dave lowered him really fast. Peter was surprisingly calm after taking a headfirst 45 footer on a huge desert tower, or at least he was when he quit shaking. I think I would have quit climbing and sold my rack after a screamer like that.
We drove into Moab to get ice for his shoulder and to buy a full rack of bigass cams. Newly acquired big cams in hand, Dave started aiding up Peter's placements. Dave was truly frightened, but I successfully sandbagged him by promising I would lead all the A3 pitches above. As he later remarked, "I felt like Indiana Jones going into a crypt after everybody else who tried had their heads chopped off by mysterious booby traps". Thankfully Dave was able to climb the pitch with the new big cams and some scary free climbing through wide cracks between huge loose blocks.
Sometime after dark, Dave finally arrived back on the ground. To make the day's snafu complete, the rope got stuck on the rappel. I had the joy of jumaring the stuck line in the dark-hoping to god it was stuck in a crack and not hung up on a rope slicing flake.
Many beers were consumed in the Moab brewery for medicial purposes at the end of the day. All in all, a typical day of climbing desert towers. We were way too mentally wasted for more climbing on Sunday, so we went hiking in some really cool slot canyons near the Fisher Towers before we drove back to Denver.
Beta-the rock in Arches isn't quite as bad as the Fisher Towers, but it is still sand pretending to be rock. There are aid routes on cool towers like the Tower of Bable, the Three Gossips, the Organ, etc. There are also lots of nice looking free climbs on Park Avenue-looks like Indian Creek with no crowds and softer rock. The Owl 5.8 is probably the best easy desert tower free climb. Arches is a really cool place, and its only about a 10 minute drive from Moab.
Canyoning-there are lots of cool slot cayons along Onion Creek Road near the Fisher Towers. Lots of class 4, a few 5th class spots, and some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen. Highly recommended.
Its all A1 until you fall.
This isn't an office. It's Hell with fluorescent lighting.