Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Little Medicine Tower

"Little Medicine Tower"

I headed to the desert of Wyoming to try and climb some towers located on in the Bighorn Mountains (the highway 14 towers).  I started up the steep switchbacks just out of the the town of Lovell in the 100 degree temps. This is where the trip took an unexpected turn.  My truck (Truck Norris) overheated, then started sputtering and stalling.  I somehow made it to the top of the pass, but I didn't want to press further into the mountains with a broken truck.  I let it cool down for a long time then got it back down to the valley floor without it dieing (when my truck dies I loose my power steering and my brakes).  I decided to stick around a little closer to the town of Lovell.

The dirt road I headed up

Just before the bridge leading over the Bighorn River (on the east side) I took a dirt road that lead to a canyon and a steep rocky road.  I headed up the road (my truck appeared to be functioning again) for a few miles to higher country.  The road took a right into a gully and suddenly I was on a serious 4-wheel drive road.  Not to worry, my truck has 4-wheel drive - unfortionaly it decided not to work.  I was forced to do a low percentage reverse where there was no room for error (i.e. big dropoffs on one side).  I some how turned the truck around and got it in a safe location; exasperated I got out of the truck for some air.  This is when I noticed a small tower of rock. 

Since I was planning on aid soloing the highway 14 towers I was well equiped to climb this thing.  I packed my bag and set off through the thick juniper trees to the base of the tower.

The tower was about 30 feet tall and composed of limestone.  The North side of the tower had the best rock so I decided to try to aid this face.  I slung a portion of the tower its self with my rope for a belay then stepped off a rock right into A2 country.  The crux came low.  I had to sling a cert knob, then hang on it, if it would have broken I would have taken a 15 foot ground fall into the talus and trees below.  I slowly aided up the face on poor brass nuts and C3 cams.  It got to the point where I was not psyched anymore.  I was trying to climb as clean as possible but the gear was total junk.  I thought I would be forced to place a bolt on the face (something I really didn't want to do).  It was then that I found a wierd pecker placement and finally felt solid.  This type of climbing continued up the short face until the very top.  I was close enough to spit on the summit, yet there were no aid climbing possibilities for me to do, except place a bolt (something I really, really, didn't want to do).  I felt around and found some okay hand holds, stepped out of the aiders, gave myself a bunch of slack in my grigri, then ventured off on some free climbing moves to the top.  The free climbing turned out to be mellow and soon I was on the summit.

The first "piece" and my anchor below

Summit mug

bolting an anchor the hard way

The tower and route with my rope still hanging on it

I looked around for signs of ascent (an anchor or anything human derived) but there was only choss rock and bird crap on top.  I cleaned some loose rock then hand bolted a single bolt on the summit in order to rappell off the top.

A new friend I met near the tower

The tower was just what I needed, it was a little dose of good medicine. 
It goes at 5.7, A2.  Bring a few pins along with a rack of small cams and nuts.

Cheers, Loren

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