Touchstone wall question, Zion's

Original Post
Stanley McKnight · · Paradise Valley, Arizona · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 13

The supertopo guide shows that the 8th pitch has a section of 5.7R slab and then it shows a variation that wanders to the left of the slab at 5.4.

My question is how run out/dangerous/difficult is the slab and what's the deal with the 5.4 variation? is it protectable or does it just not get an R because of the easy grade?

Thanks in advance

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,500

I dont remember any 5.7R slab on Touchstone- i do remember that the free climbing on it is fairly burly and if you can get that high on the route, anything less than 5.9 is trivial.

Danger-Russ Gordon · · Tempe, AZ · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 200

I know exactly what your talking about. After the left leaning "sport" pitch you stop at a huge ledge. From there you can go directly up some very very sandy 5.7 R slab. Its only about 35-40 feet total as I recall. I could be off on some of these details, but I remember the only good gear was down low, like 5-6 feet off the ground. My partner tried it, and got 15 above that one piece and was not able to get anything useful after that. he had another 6-8 feet to what looked like it might be an ok placement, but he decided to down climb, and I did the 5.4 pitch to the left. The left pitch has one section that is intimidating, right off the ledge you take a big airy step, with basically the full routes exposure under you, but its not hard. I don't remember placing any gear on this last "pitch" Im not a particularly bold climber but it was very easy, and my partner and I were thankful for the alternative. Neither option are pretty, or honestly all that much fun.

If you are very comfortable on sandy R rated slab, the standard route is much faster and there is little to no rope drag, and will save you probably 15 minutes if you are climbing in a normally skilled team of 2. For almost every one, I would recommend the left route, after one intimidating, but easy move, where your only protection is the anchor on the ledge, its much easier and I think safer climbing. But then you have to deal with some nasty rope drag and the added time.

Thankfully you can see both options fairly well once you are on the ledge, and can make the final call there, but I would point most folks left and up the 5.4 gully.

Good Luck!

Stanley McKnight · · Paradise Valley, Arizona · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 13

Thanks danger-russ, that pretty much answers my questions

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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