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Moonlight Buttress in March
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By anant
From salt lake city utah
Feb 13, 2012
city of rocks idaho

Hi,
So My friend and i want to climb moonlight buttress during spring break in march. We both lead upto 11a/b on trad and 12's on sport. I have a little bit of aid climbing experience primarily on single pitch stuff. I am wondering if it is a good idea to climb moonlight buttress or not. I am comfortable on bolt ladders and moving up on cam/ hex placements but i have never done any thing that required me to weight more than 4-5 pieces in a row. I am also not sure if i have a good enough rack for it.
I have 4 #1's 3 #2's 2 #.75's besides other stuff. I also have 2 sets of nuts and a set of hexes.
Any advice / opinion?


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By atrau
Feb 13, 2012

Anant,

you will definitely need more gear, lots of yellow/orange TCU/Mastercams. If you need some help with beta/gear, I live nearby and would love to help you guys out with it. Moonlight is super fun, and march is a great time to do it, doesn't seen boat loads of sun but with a warm layer or two its fine.

Rob


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By blakeherrington
Feb 13, 2012

You could probably get up the route but it would be a slow and tedious learning process that would definitely create a mega traffic jam for everyone else who wanted to climb it. You could probably have a better time learning the basics of straightforward C1 or C2 on another climb.

The descriptions of the route on mountain project are extremely comprehensive - your rack described would be about as useful as a set of ice tools and rack of screws for an ascent of MLB - basically you just want a slew of yellow aliens and purple camalots.

Given your freeclimbing ability, you'd probably be aiding nearly every pitch and given your aid experience and rack, every pitch would be slow and would require much borrowed gear. Go have fun on a route where you could free more of the pitches and get up any aid pitches with the rack you've got - something like Touchstone or something shorter and less popular.


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By kennoyce
From Layton, UT
Feb 13, 2012
Climbing at the Gallery in Red Rocks

anant wrote:
Hi, So My friend and i want to climb moonlight buttress during spring break in march. We both lead upto 11a/b on trad and 12's on sport. I have a little bit of aid climbing experience primarily on single pitch stuff. I am wondering if it is a good idea to climb moonlight buttress or not. I am comfortable on bolt ladders and moving up on cam/ hex placements but i have never done any thing that required me to weight more than 4-5 pieces in a row. I am also not sure if i have a good enough rack for it. I have 4 #1's 3 #2's 2 #.75's besides other stuff. I also have 2 sets of nuts and a set of hexes. Any advice / opinion?


It sounds like you need a whole lot more small gear. The pitch above the rocker block is like 100 ft of .4 to .5 camalot size, with very few options for nuts. Also, crossing the river in march could be very interesting. You might want to try Touchstone first to get a bit more aid experience, or if you can get accross the river you might want to try prodigal sun first.


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By Yarp
Feb 13, 2012

We both lead upto 11a/b on trad and 12's on sport....

...I have 4 #1's 3 #2's 2 #.75's besides other stuff. I also have 2 sets of nuts and a set of hexes. Any advice / opinion?


The two statements seem incongruent with each other. You tell us you are leading steep,thin fingers (11a/b) trad but then claim to not owning any gear aside from nuts that fit that size. Please explain.

Also...if you are leading that level of trad you will find much free climbing on the butt and I'd bet that you'll spend a significant amount of time frenching the shit outta it.

What you haven't told us thus far is your experience and comfort level on longer climbs. If you don't have any experience on a route of this size I think you'll find this particular climb to be a harsh teacher.


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By Thomas G.
From SLC, Utah
Feb 13, 2012
hardcore bouldering

Posting the same question in two different forums is annoying and confusing. You should consolidate it down to one, that way, people aren't repeating each other and you can get more constructive feedback.


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By John McNamee
Administrator
From Littleton, CO
Feb 13, 2012
Artist Tears P3

I've yet to have a problem crossing the river in March, other than cold feet. Also, the actual best place to cross now is not at the big boulder due to last year's flood. Cross diagonal before the boulder, where the river splits a little.

To check water flow this link will help: Virgin River Water Flow

For the pitch off the Rocker block yellow aliens or similar are the key.

Also from the end of March there is a womens climbers meet down there.


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By anant
From salt lake city utah
Feb 13, 2012
city of rocks idaho

Thank you every one for your advice. I have led a few long routes in the desert, colorado and red rock. I do Like the idea of climbing some thing like touch stone first. When i mentioned the gear i had i was mentioning what i thought was relevant after looking at the topo i do have 2 sets of c3's and some smaller pro as well.
Thanks again


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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Feb 13, 2012

Moonlight is a free climb these days. I think we have passed the point that it is acceptable to be having n00b-style, snail-paced, first-wall aid ascents on the route.

Please choose any of the other moderate aid climbs in the canyon that will give you similar experience and remain as predominantly aid routes...Touchstone, Prodigal, Spaceshot, etc.

Of course you are free to do what you want, and spend 4 days wall camping on it if that's what turns your crank. But a little consideration for the free climbers that would make both your experiences more enjoyable, is warranted IMO.


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By atrau
Feb 13, 2012

I have a different mind set:

Moonlight is done with aid mostly. Definitely more aid climbers do it than free climbers. Also more free climbers rap in from the top and tick the route until it looks like a movies stars nose in the 80's.

Also, if you have a good rack (which you might not) and a good methodical mind you can quickly get better while aiding. I have watched parties that are slow off the rocker block, and by the time they get too the party ledge they are screaming up the route.

Past the party ledge you can link the rest of the climb in two pitches if you have a 70m rope.

Go and have fun on this thing. Feel free to contact me if you need any more help I live in Springdale.

Rob


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By DallinH
From Utah
Feb 14, 2012

While i agree that it would be nice if this was done predominately as a free climb because of the nature of the stone, i also think it is unfair to act elitest and tell people not to climb a route just because they can't free it. Enjoy moonlight and try to be nice to the rock.


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By Andrew Gram
Administrator
From Salt Lake City, UT
Feb 14, 2012
Andrew Gram

There is a difference between a n00b-style, snail-paced, first-wall aid ascent and a competent party aiding it in a day or fix and fire style. I don't think it is unreasonable to save moonlight for faster parties treading lighter, whether they are aid or free.


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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Feb 14, 2012

DallinG wrote:
While i agree that it would be nice if this was done predominately as a free climb because of the nature of the stone, i also think it is unfair to act elitest and tell people not to climb a route just because they can't free it. Enjoy moonlight and try to be nice to the rock.



Tell ya what, go jump on Astroman or the Rostrum with a set of aiders and intention to aid the entire route and see what the reaction in the community is.

This has nothing to do with "elitism", it has to do with common courtesy and respect. You can go plop your ass in a set of aiders on literally dozens of C1 or C2 routes in Zion and tinker away to your heart's content without affecting other parties. Aside from the view, your experience will be similar on any of them. But Moonlight is one of the premier free climbs in the country, the highlight of a career kind of climb. And when a free climbing party shows up and the route is occupied by a bunch of aid teams, aside from further alteration of the cracks which is another legitimate issue, it's not like they can just substitute another free route of equal quality.

That's the difference. It makes virtually no difference to the experience for an aid party to simply choose another route. It makes ALL the difference to a free party.

I would also add, that if you absolutely MUST climb the route as an aid route, don't do it in the prime free climbing seasons. Do it in the off season, summer or winter. It's aid climbing for pete's sake, haul an extra gallon of water or take a puffy coat, it's not like either would affect your ability to stand in an aider while hanging off a piece of metal.


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By Thomas G.
From SLC, Utah
Feb 14, 2012
hardcore bouldering

I'm pretty sure that the overwhelming majority of ascents on moonlight are still aid ascents. Furthermore, with careful planning, it's possible to let free partners pass you on it with little hassle. This seems to be more about courtesy and common respect than anything else--Will, your "free-climbing elitism" reflects a lack of that respect. Similarly, one could argue that there are dozens of hard free lines available for some keen crack climbers to rap in on and tick the hell out of. The selection of a route, in both cases, has to do with the aesthetics of the line, positioning, and nature of climbing.

Some parties will aid it, some will free it, and many will end up doing a combination of both. The impact of clean aid on that sandstone is extremely minimal, and essentially irrelevant.


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By DallinH
From Utah
Feb 14, 2012

I understand both perspectives, but i also think it is fair to say that aiding moonlight could be the highlight of many free or aid climbers lives. To compare a climb to anything in the valley and talk about valley climbers attitudes is completely irrelevant. Why must they choose another route? Becuase you want to free it and they are in the way. From my experience in zion the majority of climbers on moonlight are aid climbers. I think there is a thin line between calling for common courtesy and entitlement. Would getting some aid practice on other routes in zion before attempting be nice? Sure. TO say it is required seems pretentious.


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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Feb 14, 2012

Thomas Gappmayer wrote:
Will, your "free-climbing elitism" reflects a lack of that respect.


What part of "free climbers cannot simply substitute another route of equal quality while aid climbers can" is so hard to understand? Do you also leave your cell phone ringer on in the movie theater? Those "vibrate mode elitists" just aren't showing you respect when they get pissed off at you messing up their experience. After all, it is your right to not use the vibrate mode.

Why do you reckon that there aren't aid parties on the Rostrum or Astroman? They are both killer lines. They were both established and climbed as aid routes for the early part of their existence. Yet the only aiding happening on them now is if a free party gets completely shut down.


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By Andrew Gram
Administrator
From Salt Lake City, UT
Feb 14, 2012
Andrew Gram

There aren't aid parties on the Rostrum or Astroman because those things were freed in the 70s, never got canonized as an ultra-classic aid line the way Moonlight was, and go a grade easier. No one aids Shune's Buttress for those reasons. Loads of people still aid the Salathe for those reasons.


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By Shiho
Feb 14, 2012

shuminW wrote:
Name another one in Zion, that's similarly long, difficult, sustained, and of the pure crack climbing style. Hell, name another one in the state, or the country. I bet you couldn't even come up with many in the world that's comparable. Not saying free climbers has the right of way over aid climbers, but let's put it in perspective here.



Lunar X, Hello Mary Lou, Swamp Donkey (left), etc, etc...


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By Fat Dad
From Los Angeles, CA
Feb 14, 2012

I've done the route, though it was prior to it going free. It is a terrific route that probably should be avoided if you're doing your first real aid climb. Nothing wrong with doing in a day and a half so you can hang on the bivy ledge part way up, it if you've never lead a full pitch of aid in your life, cleaned a pitch, swung leads, you'd probably have a better time starting on something smaller.

I do think the "it's a free climb only" crowd are hellva elitist. I generally really dislike that term since it's usually tossed out by people who want to retrobolt established classics they lack the huevos or skill to climb safely. However, here I really think that at least Will S's attitude is pretty smug. Actually, it's worse than smug but I'm trying to adhere to Rule #1.

Astroman and the Rostrum are really poor comparisons to Moonlight Buttress in terms of history, the number of people capable of climbing them, alternative aid routes nearby, etc. Will S's argument is more similar to saying that no one should aid Excaliber on El Cap since Steve Schneider freed it years ago.

Personally, I think you'd have lots more fun doing a neighboring climb first: Prodigal Sun, Touchstone Wall, etc. Do one or both. You'll have fun and be able to approach MB on much better terms.


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By Thomas G.
From SLC, Utah
Feb 14, 2012
hardcore bouldering

Will S wrote:
Why do you reckon that there aren't aid parties on the Rostrum or Astroman? They are both killer lines. They were both established and climbed as aid routes for the early part of their existence. Yet the only aiding happening on them now is if a free party gets completely shut down.



Part of that may come from the fact that both Astroman and the Rostrum are both significantly easier than Moonlight free (11c compared to 12d/13a onsight). While there are admittedly almost no "pure aid" ascents of either of those lines, I'm sure they both see their share of french-freeing, hang-dogging, etc. Should only parties who are capable of onsighting every pitch ever get on any climb, by that standard?

Passing a party in between the rocker block and the party ledge would be difficult, but that's a relatively small section of rock. Also anecdotally, the two times I've been up there, I've seen a mixture of aid and free parties, but with more aid parties. It's been a few years, but I reckon that that has as much to do with season and luck-of-the-draw than anything else. Resorting to anecdotal accounts of parties on Moonlight seems weak at best.

Finally, suggesting that there are no other crack climbs equal to Moonlight seems to be a bit exaggerated. While Moonlight is amazing (and I desperately do want to free it in the next few years, there are other long crack lines of equal quality. Maybe not in Zion, but certainly globally.

To be clear, I'm all for respecting free parties and staying out of their way. However, I do not believe that either aid or free parties are in any way entitled to Moonlight in the slightest. This doesn't have to be a zero-sum game, and making factually incorrect arguments only perpetuates the conflict. Learning how to aid on moonlight or congesting the route would be disrespectful, as would be an attitude of entitlement and a pejorative view towards aid parties.


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By Lurking Queer
Feb 14, 2012
The Crew

The good news is you're free to do as you please. Shoot first, let people bitch on the internet later. You'd do fine on Moonlight, with the proper rack that is...


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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Feb 14, 2012

Fat Dad wrote:
Will S's argument is more similar to saying that no one should aid Excaliber on El Cap since Steve Schneider freed it years ago.



Let's strive for some accuracy here. Excalibur has NOT been freed. Many (most, about 3/4) pitches have been, but the entire route has not been.

The proper comparison here would be, as I said, Astroman, the Rostrum, Naked Edge, Wunch's Dihedral, Freeway, etc. The route is basically one of the top 10 free climbs on the continent. As an aid route? Mediocre and easy, a largely forgettable and inconsequential act. As a free climb, world class quality and an impressive accomplishment.


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By caughtinside
From Oakland CA
Feb 14, 2012

Fat Dad wrote:
similar to saying that no one should aid Excaliber on El Cap since Steve Schneider freed it years ago.


He didn't free the entire route.


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By John McNamee
Administrator
From Littleton, CO
Feb 14, 2012
Artist Tears P3

On my last trip up ML, there was a party that had fixed ropes from the top and where working on the 4th and 5th pitch a couple hours a day. They left their ropes there while we did our two day free/aid ascent.

My friend who works in Europe guiding for 3 months a year, couldn't believe that climbers would be so inconsiderate to other parties...

It's a great line whether you are freeing it or aiding it. If there is a faster party behind you, just let them past. It's that simple. We all have to get along.


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By Fat Dad
From Los Angeles, CA
Feb 14, 2012

caughtinside wrote:
He didn't free the entire route.

Ok, now that I think about it, I stand corrected. There's that thin A4 seam at the top of the Slack, etc.

Anyways, my point (which perhaps I made poorly) was that MB free was more comparable in difficulty to a free El Cap route than it was to the Rostrum. No one is standing around at the base of the Salathe to shoo away aid climbers.


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Feb 14, 2012
El Chorro

I personally don't think it's fair to claim that will is being elitist. I think his point is that if you are going up there in prime free climbing season to learn how to aid, then you will most likely be in someone's way and potentially ruin their "climb of a lifetime." Aiding it fast might be a different story...

But the point is that the route is typically done quite fast these days and you shouldn't go into in planning to be slow. I know that if I had the chance to do it I certainly would not enjoy it if I were in anyone's way. I'd either plan to get it done fast (with a load of Frech freeing) or not at all.


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