ON ROCK: Ataxia Tower

By on May 19, 2013

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Ataxia, is a neurological sign consisting of lack of voluntary coordination of muscular movements. I started to get worried when my friend asked me if I knew the meaning, as we geared up to climb “Ashtar Command” (II, 5.9-), a 2-pitch trad climb on Ataxia Tower in Zion National Park, Utah. “Of course I know what it means. You forget I am a ski patroller?” I laughed. Zion NP has more big wall climbs than most climbing areas in the United States. Not a big wall climb luckily. I looked up at the 75’ crack that was the first pitch. My hands started to sweat. I politely offered him the first lead. Turns out it was not as bad as it looked, and we laughed as I reached him at the first anchor. I took lead and had a bit of a scary run-out traverse up to the beginning of the bolts that led up the face of the second pitch. I welcomed clipping bolts on the crimpy holds of the long second pitch, as I finished the climb. The view was spectacular, bright with the colors of red and gold sandstone and the greens and yellows of the Southern Utah foliage. We descended by doing three rappels off anchor stations to the right. To get to the climb: drive up the Mt. Carmel highway, to the last switchback, park before the tunnel, and do a short, steep hike to the base of the tower. For gear: helmets, harnessses, 60 m. rope, full trad rack up to #3 cams, lots of long slings, 15 quickdraws, tape for hands, and calm nerves. There is usually a strict no-tolerance rule raptor closure (falcons) in the springtime in ZNP, so check with the rangers at the visitor center. For beta: “Zion Climbing: Free and Clean” by Bryan Bird

Rock On!


About Kevin J. Pusey, Jr.

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