Viefinder Towers are found a few miles north of Hanksville, right off of Highway 24. This is a nice area to hang out; very relaxing, the few cars just drive right through. The rock hereabouts is some kind of ornery Entrada. It is fine-grained, has no real varnish, and has distinctive rounded horizontals of alternating hard and soft rock, rather like Cutler Sandstone. The less-than-vertical surfaces are often deeply rotted, but the steeper faces can be pretty sound. Free climbing seems pretty problematic on this stuff, so aid climbing seems a fun option. Eric Bjornstad told me that Henry Barber (free?) climbed a cleanish crack system somewhere on the cliffs on the east side of the road in the area.
The main Viewfinder Towers, on the west of the road are described in Bjornstad's Desert Rock II book. They are small but skinny, and are composed of slightly better-looking rock than that found on the east side of the road.
The area is located a few miles north of Hanksville, adjacent to the Highway 24 road. The Viewfinder Towers pullout has a few sighting tubes to locate the named towers on the west side of the road. The largest of these, called Brigham's Butte according to the sighting tube (though it is way skinny for a "butte") and apparently referred to as Prairie Dog in Eric's book is rumored to have been free climbed by Alan Stevenson. I can see this, the rock is covered in bubbles, giving good (if fragile) holds. The smaller spires nearby go free. All three View Finder Towers in the book have different names to the ones on the sighting tubes. Confusing.
Start on the bubbly south face. Route works up and leftwards, ending in a southwest-facing chimney slot at the top. First pitch is great, other pitches not so much. Exploring the summit area labyrinth is much fun. If this cleans up it might go free.P1: Climb steep pockets for 20 feet to ledge. Gain a ledge and move left into a right-facing dihedral with roof at top. Up this, mantel onto big ledge on left and build a belay (5.8+R, 50’). A fun pitch on surprisingly good rock!P2: Angle left (5.8) i...[more]Browse More Classics in UT
I've been meaning to comment on the route names in Bjornstadt's guidebook for some time now to help clarify what is what. In our defense, when we did the FAs of the 3 spires in the guide, almost all of the viewfinder tubes were missing the names and most were bent. Given the era, I'm sure we were half baked to boot (by the sun of course), which probably didn't help. When I did what I realize now is Brigham's Butte, I thought it was called the Prairie Dog, so I just kept that name. I visited not too long ago and the tube that now says Prairie Dog is pointed at what we called the Space Baby. I kind of liked the name Space Baby, as it looks like an obelisk (think 2001, A Space Odyssey) that just fell out of the sky and lodged in the sand, but I'm not one to go changing names, especially historic ones. Sandy Duncan is one of the first spires to the NW of these two and has an obvious 5.8ish crack on it's NW face. I don't believe it has a viewfinder tube associated with it, so that name should stick, but please feel free to change the other names back to the originals in any future guidebooks. So to clarify the mistakes in Bjornstadt's book (my fault, not Eric's): Prairie Dog should be Brigham's Butte and Space Baby should be Prairie Dog. Sorry for the confusion! Oh, and for beta purposes, we didn't put any anchors on top of any of these 3 spires, they are all (or were) simul rappels and Sandy Duncan and Prairie Dog (fka Space Baby) were both done free. Apparently, Alan Stevenson has freed Brigham's, which is pretty remarkable given that thing has the consistency of brown sugar.
I was wondering if anyone knew who is putting up the bolted face climbs on these towers? It seems like it is all pretty new. Brigham Butte, Prairie Dog, and a couple others all have new bolted routes on them.