|Lower Mill Creek
From the moment I laid eyes on this line I dreamed of climbing it. I love this route and spent many days over the course of three years looking down over the Moab valley, taking afternoon naps on the Porch, and of course, climbing, flailing, and eventually succeeding.
Several years ago, when a friend of mine took me to this unspoiled part of Mill Creek, I was blown away by both the established lines and the potential for new ones, but one thing stood out to me above and beyond the rest: a singular line of well-spaced bolts up a beautiful, gently overhanging, tiger-striped wall that extended almost 150' up from the depths of the canyon to a perfect belay ledge just below the rim. That afternoon I climbed the first half of the wall via the third pitch of "Axis of Evil," 5.12b/c, a previously established route. The climbing was brilliant, but halfway up the headwall, the route escaped off to the left to a corner system, avoiding the obvious direct finish up the stunning prow. This other line, dubbed "The Right Hand of Evil," had been meticulously cleaned and bolted by Mark Howe in 2004, but had seen little action. Supposedly it had been top-roped cleanly by Zach Smith, but it had yet to see a clean lead. I myself toproped it several times over the years, but until recently, usually felt like it was way out of my league. Then, feeling stronger, I called Mark and asked him about it, and he graciously encouraged me to get out there and climb on it. I promptly resumed work on the route, on lead, primarily belayed by my friends Ben and Amanda. After many heartbreaking falls at the high, redpoint crux, the route went down on a sunny autumn afternoon in what I consider perhaps my finest moment of climbing. I'll never be a truly brilliant rock climber, but on that particular day I felt like one. Can you tell I love this climb? When it comes down to it though, that's all it is: a rock climb!
From the edge of the Porch look back at the wall behind you, just up canyon, and you can't miss it. The amazing, steep black streak that begins on a varnished slab far below and tops out by a tiny tree on a foot ledge just below the rim. Fix a line and rap in from the next set of anchors down-canyon, atop Axis Of Evil. Climb 20' up off the belay ledge to the first clip (long sling recommended) which protects an initial boulder problem reaching around an arete and into a corner. From here, follow the corner upwards to a layback flake that leads to a good stance below a small roof and a seam above. Figure out how to use this feature to stretch left -- perhaps the true crux of the route -- to the edge of a sharp flake. After this move, continue bear-hugging and liebacking up the edge of the flake and the arete to the right, performing either big, dynamic moves between good holds, or technical moves off of smaller ones. From here the climbing momentarily eases and you climb up and into a V-shaped inset that provides a comfortable no-hands rest. At this point Axis Of Evil breaks left out of the inset, and The Paper Crane traverses right. Take a deep breath and execute some devilishly technical moves traversing right, and slightly down, from the inset to an exposed, pumpy stance below a 10' vertical crack. Some long moves off of decent edges lead up to the crack, and then a technical double gaston gains the right end of a sloping rail and a chance to get a shake and perhaps make the next clip. The final crux comes as a sequential, pumpy fingertip traverse back left over a steep wall with little for feet, followed by a wonderful stand-up move to a stance that would afford a rest if you weren't feeling like you were going to barn-door at any moment. A deep breath, one more clip, and some powerful liebacking and jamming leads up the final 15' section to a bolted anchor by the tree. This last stretch is protectable with a #3 Camalot, but if you made it this far you have nothing to worry about.
This truly is one of the best climbs I've ever been on: multiple cruxes, amazing, technical movement and all played out upon a beautiful feature in a breathtaking canyon. If you choose to climb this route, please take care of this beautiful area and treat it with respect - it is a magical place.
15 draws, a long sling. A rap line, a lead line.
|By Albert Newman|
Jun 24, 2009
Wow dude, great send! Impressive, verbose, awesome! Rad!
|By Evan Stevens|
Jan 14, 2010
I guess we still rename routes when they are first freed? ;)
I like right hand of evil, but paper crane is okay too.