Monday, July 28, 2014

Tower of Poor Rock- East Buttress

East Buttress

I have been excited about the tower of poor rock this summer.  I have ventured up to the rock 3 or 4 times in the last month and have fallen in love with the marvel wall (do spidey!!).

Austin Hart and I walked up to the base of the Tower of Poor Rock with cragging in mind.  We both looked at the east buttress and impulsively decided to climb it to the summit of the tower.  What we found was splitter cracks, choss of all sizes, steep headwalls, jungle thrashing, adventure rappelling, and a whole bunch of fun.

Austin on P1

Austin P2 - Splitter!!

Austin on the upper headwall

looking across at the Tower of Innocence

Austin on the summit showing off his blade

Adventure rappelling

Cheers, Loren

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"Na Piet Say"

Na Piet Say is the Crow word for the dramatic bear's tooth spire.  This spire had such an impact on the local cartographers that the entire mountain range and the 944,000 acre wilderness area was named in this spire's honor.  The Beartooths.

With little planning I got the invite to climb the spire with Austin Hart and Nick Gaddy.  We left Red Lodge at 2 pm on a Thursday and hiked past a frozen Moon lake and down the spirit-rearguard saddle to the boulder bivy.

We noticed the approach slabs were pouring water and  still had snow fields guarding access to the east ridge.  We decided to approach via the winter route, climbing the direct east ridge from the mini-tooth/beartooth col (Austin and Chad Chadwick did this approach last summer).  What we found was a fun and safer approach to the east ridge, I may never go on those slabs again.  We summited the spire and did some anchor work on the way down.  We replaced webbing on most of the anchors and we completely replaced a really manky anchor with new pitons.  We retraced the winter route with a couple of rappels and lots of downclimbing.

giddy up.

A gentleman's bivy 

we simul-climbed the entire approach ridge


Nick on the last pitch, Psyched!

Summit of the spire

Descending the spire on good/updated anchors

heading down the direct east ridge the tooth raking the sky above

some of the tat we cleaned from the spire

Cheers, Loren

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

RIP Billings Towers...

Death of the leaning tower of pitons
Photo obtained from:  The Missoulian

Well, Billings has done it again.  It started in the early 2000's when Billings allowed the rich to destroy the Carter's boulder so they could build a McMansion directly under the rims.  The homeowners failed to have the insight to see how this boulder arrived where they wanted to build their precious house.  A month ago the rims let loose some natural rockfall (the source of the boulders we love to climb on).

Video of the rockfall

 This act of nature scared the Billings collective conscious to such a level that Billings hired a 3rd party to knock over anything that looks like it could topple over.  Unfortunately this included the Leaning Tower of Pitons (Monkey face), and the Santa Clause tower (which I thankfully got the chance to climb on last month).  The two classic desert tower routes in Billings are no more...  Personally I will miss the Monkey face tower a lot.  But on a happier note I have found two areas that are chock full of sandstone towers within an hours drive of Billings/Red Lodge.  This is my Ode to the Towers.

The great irony is that the local news paper, Billings Gazette, recently ran an article titled (click to read) "Our marker of our place': Rimrocks linked to Billings' identity from the start".  In canyonlands towers like this are respected as a finite resource.  If Billings cared for the safety of its population it would reduce the fast food chains and the petrochemical industry prevalent in the city, but that's a different and long conversation.

Leaning tower of pitons

Olin and Bridget on the Leaning tower or pitons

Santa Rock - also destroyed