Friday, August 1, 2014

Eagle Fire Tower - Let er Buck

Eagle fire tower

Luke Johnson and I got out to the desert of Montana to climb some choss towers in a little known area south of Billings.  The area holds great historical significance as an area that was used by indigenous people as a corridor connecting Montana and Wyoming.  This area contains many pictographs and still harbors a wild and mystical aura.  

One of the works of art - red bison and thunder bird


With this in mind Luke bumped his 1982 subaru up the dirt road.  We parked a few miles from the spire and hiked up a draw filled with lizards, slick rock, and cheat grass.  We found the tower and started to get nervous.  The rock looked pretty loose and the tower leaned to one side ominously.  It felt like it was off kilter enough that a climber's weight could cause it to come crashing down, probably just a figment of my imagination, but one I didn't want to test.

There ain't much water out here


I decided to try and climb it.  I did a left to right traverse on overhanging slick rock hand placing one bolt for protection by hand.  I the gained the south arete of the spire and hand placed two more bolts in good rock as I aided up.  The rock then got really hollow sounding and the aid climbing got a bit more real.  I was getting nervous as I sweated in the sun when suddenly a flock of bald eagles started flying around the tower and singing in a way only eagles can, they went on "singing" for quite a long time as they circled, dove, and hung on the up drafts of wind.  I finally gained the summit after some exciting and loose aid climbing and I felt pretty spent and mentally over the experience.

Luke coming up the free climbing section

Luke jugging up the route cleaning

half the aid pieces I placed blew out as Luke Jugged... and I somehow got it on camera

Luke on the top


Luke Rapping off, we placed a good anchor on top.

"Eagle Fire Tower"  5.4, A2.  We equipped the tower to be free climbed and I think it can be (with an R rating in the aid climbing section- not much pro and a sideways swing onto a fixed pin should one fall).  We did strip the hangers from the bolts so you'll need to bring your own.  Be warned though, this is a loose one.

giddy up....

Cheers, Loren

2 comments:

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