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Trisstin's Tower
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Regular Route 

Regular Route 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b A1

Type:  Aid, 3 pitches, 240', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c C1-2 [details]
FA: Bill Duncan, John Burnham, Steve Anderton
Page Views: 6,714
Submitted By: Steve "Crusher" Bartlett on Mar 1, 2003

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Looking down the first pitch

RAIN AND WET ROCK The sandstone around Moab is fragile and is very easily damaged when it is wet. MORE INFO >>>


The route on Trisstin's Tower ascends the perpetually shady backside. There is a description in Bjornstad's Desert Rock IV. As promised, it is superb, on absolute perfect Wingate. However, it goes mostly clean, and will certainlygo fully clean after just a handful more nailing ascents. I used just four pin placements; two Toucans on pitch one and the same two on pitch two, in both cases where the crack was too damn thin for #1 RPs to fit. I tried hand-placing Toucans, but they did not go in, and Birdbeaks just pulled right through. It's pretty parallel-sided. The four pins I placed, despite being skinny, were totally bomber. The crack must taper just like the Toucans. Or maybe they just seemed bomber compared to the RPs?Start in the chimney, below the obvious beautiful seam. Yes, that one. Despite its anorexic appearance, it eats good wires almost all the way up. The first two pitches are pretty similar, following this seam as it arches up the face. 1. The crux of the first pitch is only about 20 or 25 feet up, promising a potential groundfall if a piece pulls (this is where I wimped out and hammered the first two pins). The first belay is carefully located, next to some bomber wire placements, where it does not affect the climbing. I like that kind of care. 2. After more bomber wires, the crack gets progressively thinner, till it almost dies out altogether (here's the second two pins). Just as it does so, you can reach out left into a splitter easy crack. This eats Green Aliens, then Yellow, before finally widening up to beyond 1". I tried and tried (having brought several), but only managed to fit a single #1 Friend in this crack. The second belay is at a ledge, where you could place a #5 Camalot, or else any number of bomber hand/fist-size cams just above. 3. The crack continues, easy aiding on hand/fist-size cams, to the summit, where an awkward stem maneuver gains the rap anchor. I ran the second and third pitches together. This worked fine, as I was soloing, but otherwise bring a bunch of extra quickdraws/slings to avoid too much ropedrag. I'm guessing this has had about two previous ascents. There's no register. There is just a single faded back-up sling and the bleached, crispy original webbing. I cutoff a chunk of my haul line to back up this stuff. Two ropes are needed for the raps.All in all, a fine desert adventure. Not a single bolt for aid, in three pitches and 250-odd feet. Sweet. Doubtful it can ever go free. It is admittedly not too steep (lots of top-stepping) and there are various edges for holds, but some sections seem pretty featureless. No-one's gonna be squeezing any more than fingernails into most of the crack.


Gear: Lots of wires, several sets of the smaller sizes of RPs are crucial. Offset RPs work nicely. Slider Nuts. Cams: A couple each purple and blue Aliens. Three Green Aliens. Maybe four sets from Yellow Alien up to 1.5". Two or three each 1.5" to 4" or so. One #5 Camalot is optional. Pins: a handful of knifeblades or (better) Toucans (the offset, hooked knifeblades).

Photos of Regular Route Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Jeff Widen leading the first pitch of Trisstin's T...
Jeff Widen leading the first pitch of Trisstin's T...
Rock Climbing Photo: Jeff Widen rappelling diagonally from the summit o...
Jeff Widen rappelling diagonally from the summit o...
Rock Climbing Photo: A fairly high res shot of the tower with Marcus le...
A fairly high res shot of the tower with Marcus le...
Rock Climbing Photo: Durfee leading first pitch. Photo Adam Clark
Durfee leading first pitch. Photo Adam Clark
Rock Climbing Photo: Expect many of these....
Expect many of these....
Rock Climbing Photo: Marcus on the fine Pitch 2.  Small wires are the k...
Marcus on the fine Pitch 2. Small wires are the k...
Rock Climbing Photo: At the crux on Trisstin's Tower.  After cramming a...
At the crux on Trisstin's Tower. After cramming a...
Rock Climbing Photo: Steve working the upper portion of the second pitc...
Steve working the upper portion of the second pitc...
Rock Climbing Photo: Hand placed peckers?....   Oh yeah, that's the goo...
Hand placed peckers?.... Oh yeah, that's the goo...
Rock Climbing Photo: Myself on Pitch 1. This pitch easily goes clean wi...
Myself on Pitch 1. This pitch easily goes clean wi...
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbers at P1 belay and P2 belay. April 2004 asce...
Climbers at P1 belay and P2 belay. April 2004 asce...
Rock Climbing Photo: The first ascent . . . rapped off from the first b...
The first ascent . . . rapped off from the first b...
Rock Climbing Photo: Preparing to get off the summit.  It was worth it ...
Preparing to get off the summit. It was worth it ...
Rock Climbing Photo: View from the basin.
View from the basin.
Rock Climbing Photo: Brian Clark taking the easy way back to the rim.  ...
Brian Clark taking the easy way back to the rim. ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Brian climbing the Shorter Pitch 3 with Marcus bel...
Brian climbing the Shorter Pitch 3 with Marcus bel...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up the first pitch.
BETA PHOTO: Looking up the first pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: Cleaning pitch one.  You can get a good look at th...
Cleaning pitch one. You can get a good look at th...
Rock Climbing Photo: View from the early AM approach.  April 2004 ascen...
View from the early AM approach. April 2004 ascen...

Comments on Regular Route Add Comment
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By Bill Duncan
From: Jamestown, CO
Mar 31, 2005
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a A1

If one begins free climbing at the first good ledge, the climbing might be 5.9 for a bit.

If you're reading this, then you've found one of those obscure, high-quality places that I like to seek. As a connoisseur of the obscure (remote = obscure in many cases) you might also like these: Arch Tower in Mee Canyon in Colorado, Tabeguache Tower in Rough Canyon, CO, and a number of remote pinnacles in Utah. Then there is Angel Arch, Druid Arch, and Castle Arch (better known, of course, but beautiful climbs). If you're into this stuff, drop me a line for some beta.

Thanks go out to Crusher for such a nice review.

Happy climbing . . .
By Bill Bones
Feb 7, 2007

When we climbed it there had not been to many accents I don't think. The first pitch was almost unscared. If I remember right the I used 6 KBs and then the rest were wires. Wonderful climb. A gem you have to work for.
By bay
Apr 9, 2007

solid tower.
climbed it in Oct '02 with A. Burr.
enjoyed p.2 the most.
nailed on it a bit more than we should have. didnt have much beta to begin with.
loitered around the tower till alpin-glow (photo-ops) and ended up lost on our return.
recommend hiking out with daylight, more than one shitty headlamp, and/or remember where you park. navigating the washes can be tricky.

worth the visit.
By -mn
Apr 14, 2009

Goes clean on all the usual thin stuff - super fun. No need to haul anything bigger than a #2camalot up there. I did place a #3 but could get by without. Also the road into the basin is passable for 1 mile with a 2wd - after that you'd need a 4wd to get through a wash and maybe one other spot...damn! Probably just as well the road reclaims itself even though the whole basin has been totally ravaged by livestock. Nice find FA party! About as hard to get clean as Islet but more fiddly, definitely thinner.
By Brad Brandewie
Nov 12, 2009
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c C2+

This route is brilliant! I would call it the Fine Jade of clean desert aid climbs.
Kudos to Bill, John, and Steve for finding this classic.

We climbed it without a hammer but I hand placed three peckers at the crux. I would not have wanted to climb that section on offsets. What did you use there Miles?

We also approached from the rim which is relatively casual. It's an easy but loose 5th class scramble to get down from the rim to where you will want to fix your ropes so be careful. The rappel is over 250 feet so you will need to tie two ropes together. We built a gear anchor that consisted of 6 pieces on two different levels. I think the gear was in the #1 to #4 Camalot size so you will want to bring some extra gear for this. Also, we padded the edges for this rap so plan accordingly.

I also want to thank Bill G. and Amanda K. who saved our trip!!! We hit a deer outside of Cortez going 55mph and totaled my Explorer. (both airbags deployed) Bill and Amanda drove out separately to bring us another vehicle and rode home together. We got to camp at 2am, slept for three hours and proceeded to climb on the best tower routes I've done.
By Ben Kiessel
Nov 12, 2009

First off my wife rules!

Second, Brad you can't compare Trisstin's Tower to a route you haven't done.
By Sam Lightner, Jr.
From: Lander, WY
Nov 13, 2009

Good point Ben... wtf. We need that "stand on the pitons" punk to deflate this guy a bit. Ticks a hundred and suddenly he thinks he's done them all.
By Ryan A. Ray
From: Weatherford, TX
Mar 10, 2012
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c C1-2

Please leave the hammer and pitons in the car for this one now. It has been hammered on enough to go relatively clean. My friend Marcus Garcia, Brian Clark and I only placed one small beak on the second pitch at the highest point trying to get into the second right leaning crack. Just bring lots of small wires.

P1 protects very well with small nuts, cams and lowe balls. Bring lots of the small offset nuts, a set of smaller regular nuts, and a few of the smallest lowe balls if you have them..but you can probably do without the loweballs. I think I only placed 1 on the first pitch anyways.

P2, Micro nuts are the key on the bottom part of this pitch. Marcus used the smallest size micro nuts at the crux and they worked well.... Just small, and you have to work at them a bit to find the sweet spot for them. A small beak was used as the highest point in the lower seam, so bring a few small beaks just in case. Hopefully this thin section will not get hammered out and it will continue to provide the spice for a long time. Once you obtain the second crack, larger cams come in handy (yellow and green alien sized). I think the largest size we used was maybe a #1 camalot.

P3 this is the only place on the route that you would use anything larger than a #1 camalot. We used nothing more than #.75's, 1s and 2s. I suppose a 3 might work, but we did not place any. Dont waste your time with the optional #5 mentioned above as it is not needed. We took it and never even placed it.
By Steven Lucarelli
From: Moab, UT
Oct 30, 2013
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b C2

Just climbed this and almost all my placements were small to micro stoppers on the first pitch. Second pitch was similar up to the crack switch and then its C1 to the top. The small C3's were helpful as were a few offset Aliens. Tried to place a BD Pecker at the crux of the second pitch and it popped out with a light bounce test, ended up using the smallest HB offset instead an it worked great.

My recommended rack would be triple of small stoppers (I used HB brass offsets, DMM Peanuts & BD micro stoppers). A double set of mid range stoppers (I had DMM alloy offsets, and a variety of others such as Wild Country Rocks and various other brands). A single set of large stoppers.

I would also recommend a double set of micro cams (the small C3's worked well as did Aliens) and doubles up to a #2 Camalot. Triples in the .3 to .5 Camalot range would sew up the top of the second pitch and nothing bigger than a #2 is needed.
By Mike McMahon
From: Moab, Utah
May 19, 2014

I've been wanting to hop on this for a few years, and I'm glad I finally made the effort. As far as clean desert aid routes go, it's a crown jewel. It's by far the thinnest seam I have ever climbed. Not a single bolt, pin or piece of fixed gear on the entire route- props to the first ascent team.

I opted for the rim approach, which wasn't too bad (other than having to carry four ropes and a rack on the approach).

The route goes clean, even for a gumby like me. I ended up hand-placing a pecker early on in the first pitch and once again, as the last piece before the #1 TCU crack. I brought a set of DMM peanuts, HB offsets, DMM aluminum offsets, a few BD offsets, and a beefy set of regular nuts; and I used just about everything.

I easily linked the second and third pitch. It's roughly 59 meters from the summit back to the base, so one single-rap rope-stretcher will get you down. Also, definitely wear a helmet on this one. The wind was strong enough to blow stones of the summit on to me multiple times. Here's a trip report from the climb: Trisstin's Tower Trip Report

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