Sunflower Tower, Bridger Jack Mesa, Indian Creek
Posted by sibylle in utah (Friday April 30, 2010 at 4:12 pm)

sunflower p2.jpg

Tristan a little above  the  start of Pitch 2

Sunflower Tower sits in the middle of the Bridger Jack Mesa, towering above its nearest neighbors - Easter Island and Sparkling Touch.  We’d climbed the two latter towers, and now was the time to reach for the top of Sunflower tower.
I like the approach hike to the Bridger Jack Towers - a well-trodden trail that I can get to the top of in a little over half an hour.

Our first pitch looked fun - a slightly awkward crack to start, heading into a wide stem to a ledge.

From this ledge, things would get harder, beginning with the very first move.

I was glad Tristan was leading - he stepped out over a chasm between the tower proper, and the  adjacent mini-tower. Our ledge ended about 8 feet short of the crack- which started tantalizingly close, but over to the left.

Tristan chimneyed over to the crack, stuffed his hands into the crack, and levitated up toward the next small pinnacle. From here, the crack progressively narrowed from hands size to finger size - without any convenient footholds making an appearance.

After battling gravity, and struggling up on insecure finger locks and laybacking when possible, it was my turn to follow the pitch.  Happy with my tight toprope, I struggled no less than Tristan. finally, I joined him on a large ledge barely below the top of a sort of ‘intermediate’ summit - the top of one tower section adjacent to the main tower body. I quickly clambered above him, out of the shade, onto the main ledge, now basking in the very welcome sun.


Looking down at the top of pitch two from the summit

We belayed near here for the last pitch.

Carson’s Tower, Fisher Towers, near Moab
Posted by sibylle in utah (Tuesday April 27, 2010 at 6:17 pm)


My handhold just broke off!

Tristan and I hiked in to climb Carson’s Tower during his spring break from college.

It was perhaps not the best timing - on our drive to Castle Valley on Sunday, it snowed when we left Colorado and rained when we arrived at the primitive camping area at the base of Castleton.

However, the excellent new tent platforms kept the tent out of the small creek flowing down what had been the approach trail when we climbed Castleton Tower the year before.

Monday morning dawned clear,  sunny, under blue skies. After scraping the ice off the windshield, we drove to the Fisher Tower area - here, we could choose among one-pitch towers, which seemed preferable in the cold, windy temperatures.

We hiked to Carson’s Tower, crossing a few canyons running with water.

“Why are you taking us through this swamp?” asked Tristan, sceptically.

“I wasn’t planning on it being here,”I told him.

I’d never seen so much water near Moab, after over 20 years of climbing here.

I got to lead the first climb - the supposedly easy 5.7 original route. Only, after weeks of rain and snow, it seemed less than solid, with fist-sized chunks of rock breaking off in m hand and under my feet. Luckily, the bottom of the climb chimneys up between two pinnacles that seemed large and solid enough that they at least would stay upright. Numerous holds broke off in my hands, transforming this year’s 5.7 climb into next year’s 5.8.

Above the chimney, after clipping two fixed pins, the route description said to step across onto the taller of the two towers. Looking at a sandy, sloping, face (not a foothold), and unable to reach above to the next hold, I opted to descend and let Tristan, who at 6′2″ had much more reach than I, lead that final 8 feet to the summit.

Finally, in a joint effort, we reached the top, with beautiful views off the Fisher Towers and the La Sal Mountains.

climbing near Moab - Carson’s tower
Posted by sibylle in utah (Friday April 23, 2010 at 12:25 pm)

CArson T 2.jpg

Hiking in to Carson’s Tower

Carson approach.jpgA soggy hike  in

Andrea Lawrence, winner of 2 Olympic gold medals, RIP
Posted by sibylle in skiing, Eulogies (Thursday April 15, 2010 at 10:22 am)


Andrea Lawrence with poet Gary Snyder

Last summer, as Tristan and I parked by the gate that bars the road to Soda Springs, near Tuolumne Meadows, a car drove up to the gate. A frail-looking older woman with white hair got out, opened the lock, and pulled off the heavy chain that loops over the posts. Using a cane, she walked slowly back to her car to drive through.


Accustomed to helping my mom , was recovering from a total hip replacement, I ran over to close the gate.

“Are you going to hear Gary Snyder?” she asked. “Would you like a ride?”

After grabbing our water, we rode  with Andrea Lawrence to Gary Snyder’s poetry reading.


Tristan chatting with two-time Olympic gold Medalist Andrea Lawrence

After the reading, at the sumptuous feast prepared by the organizers, we chatted more with Andrea Lawrence, who had been a supervisor of nearby Mono county, home to Mammoth ski area.


When we asked Andrea if she was a skier, she said yes, she’d skied all of her life. When we mentioned that we skied, and that Tristan had raced, she said that she too had raced. A little more conversation revealed that she first raced in the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, and later Andrea won two gold medals in Oslo in 1952.


So much for the frail old lady!


She invited us to visit her in Mammoth, which, sadly, we failed to do. I recently read Andrea Lawrence’s obituary in Ski magazine, and realized we’d missed a never-to-be-repeated opportunity to speak at more length with one of the former greats of skiing. Since Tristan plans to pursue ski racing, it may have been a rare opportunity for him


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