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Routes in Kissing Couple

Long Dong Wall (aka Bell Tower) T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Type: Trad, 5 pitches
FA: Layton Kor, 1960s. FFA: Andy Petefish, Tom Stubbs, & Jim Pearson did the first free ascent, 1977
Page Views: 9,292 total, 46/month
Shared By: Joe Keyser on May 19, 2001
Admins: Jesse Zacher, Jared LaVacque, Bradley Mark Edwards, Nick Reecy, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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Description

"Far out!" someone lightly etched into the sandstone on the second to last belay on Long Dong Wall. Although disturbing, it hit the nail on the head! This route is on the Kissing Couple formation just uphill from Independence Monument.

Pitch 1: The route's crux, this pitch is in your face, and makes a harsh warm-up! You climb a crack, and some flakes straight up, while fishing small gear into the sandy crack. The crack goes to a finger crack, then a hand crack. After this, you traverse left (crux) on thin holds to the chain anchor.

Pitch 2: Climbs the chimney system directly above the P1 anchors. Go up the chimney, past a couple 5.7 moves, and you access a bigger chimney. Bridge up the big chimney without any gear, and only a little ledge for your feet at one spot, for about 25 feet until you get to a roof. You can plug a 3.5 cam into a little pocket at the roof. Then squeeze between the roof, and the wall to a mantle. Clip the chains.

Pitch 3: More of a scramble, but, no pro. Move right from the anchors, and go up an easy chimney/ramp. You will see a few big slings around a rock pillar. Belay here.

Pitch 4: There appears to be two different ways to start this pitch. Both of the cracks going up from the pillar converge after about 15 feet. We chose the right side which seems more correct. Either way, go up the slightly offwidth crack for about 20 or 30 vertical feet. Then you enter a really cool chimney. Chimney up between the "long dong", and the wall with no pro for about 20 or 30 more feet to a small, exposed ledge where you will see that somebody wrote "Far Out!". Clip a bolt, and belay from it. According to the guide book, after the offwidth part, this is the best 5.8 pitch in the desert! It was really, very cool...

Pitch 5: You are now in "The Belfry". This is an exposed chimney/hole that goes all the way through the middle of the tower. There is overhanging pillars of rock going everywhere, and it is a little intimidating. You climb the face, sometimes stemming to the outside face, until the two sides converge at the very top. Do a little mantle move onto a ledge with chains, and belay. 5.10? for this pitch, mainly for the moves at the start, and the crazy exposure/committing moves. This pitch is really fun despite the fecal material which is located in parts of the belfry. From here, you can unclip, and do an easy, short, chimneying boulder problem to the summit. Down climb to the anchors, and get ready for the next crux...the descent/walk out.

Descent: You need to bring two ropes on this route, and hope to leave with them! You basically rap the route. This is how we did it, the book called for 4 raps. The first rap is done to the outside of the tower instead of down through the Belfry. Throw your ropes out to the wind, and rap down to the anchors at the top of pitch two...you will have to move around to this side during the rap. You will then have to pull like crazy to get the rope down. Best to secure yourself with an anchor, and yank the rope from the ledge about 10 feet right of the anchor. Of course, you still hope that you get the rope back even if you are successful in pulling it! You might be better off going to the belay at top of pitch 3 in-between raps, but, it didn't look like it would help much, and the anchor at pitch 4 is just one bolt. You can rap all the way to the ground (above the boulder problem start) from the top of pitch 2. Make the long, uphill walk out...it isn't as bad as you think it will be.

All in all, this is a great route. I gave it 3 stars because of the variety of moves, nice and unusual setting, and the adventure of the climb. Have fun, and give yourself plenty of time for this route!

Protection

Standard rack, stoppers and cams. Maybe include a couple wide pieces. We had a 4, and a 4.5 cam, and did fine with that.
Jess Lewis
Buena Vista, Colorado
Jess Lewis   Buena Vista, Colorado
The beginning of this route is on the side of the tower that faces towards Independence Tower and is sandwiched in between the two towers in a narrow passageway. Do not be fooled. If you are walking up on the bottom trail, the route starts on the corner closest to the trail.

I think one thing that is largely missing from comments and beta thus far is the fact that the chimney pitches are quite committing. There is no pro on the first chimney pitch until the roof, and it weird semi-squeeze chimney. The second chimney pitch also has no pro, and off the far side is enormous exposure with potential for an ugly fall.

By and large, we wanted more smaller pieces on the first pitch than we had. The rock is poor quality, and you'll want to protect it well with finger-size to smaller gear at the beginning.

This is a good route and true desert dog fighting to make the summit. Dec 2, 2017
Fritz N.
Durango, CO
Fritz N.   Durango, CO
Longwinded TR here: aperfectweakness.com/2017/0… Jul 18, 2017
Layton Kor did do the 1st ascent of this route, but Andy Petefish, Tom Stubbs, and Jim Pearson did the first free ascent of the route before cams in 1977.
Piton Ron Olevsky put the drilled angle in on bat shit traverse pitch at the top, but it was not there when it was first free climbed.

Great Tower, but the only route that finishes on the outside of the Kayenta Capstone top is Tom & Andy's Excellent Adventure, 5.11, A4, III. Magnificent Tower ~ Love the Bat Shit Traverse!!! It is a Mystery to Me how I found the crawl at the top, but you crawl through the only door open to you. "Michael Ruppert ~ Crossing the Rubicon".

Update your site when you get time. Oct 30, 2016
J Thomson
Boulder
J Thomson   Boulder
Good adventure route. The last pitch is wild squeezing through the horizontal hole. Most pitches have some fairly run out chimneying, but those sections are moderate.

For rack we had doubles through #3 and one #4 and #5. Next time I'd take doubles through #2 and a single #3 and #4. Apr 13, 2015
Fritz N.
Durango, CO
Fritz N.   Durango, CO
The route is on the south, narrow side of the tower in a large alcove that separates Kissing Couple from the other, shorter towers closer to the road. The boulder problem to access the alcove involves a chockstone in a bombay chimney slot and features a cairn/stepstool at the base.

One 70m works for the rap. Nov 17, 2013
Evan Deis  
 
I don't know about extra greens. I was thinking I could have used extra grays (0.4?). Pretty fun route. Not terribly dirty except for the first pitch. Sep 19, 2013
notmyname
Sandy, UT
notmyname   Sandy, UT
Thanks for the 70m rope beta!
Also, with a 70m rope, you can link any pitches you choose. I easily linked 2+3 and 4+5, but I backcleaned everything out of the chimney on pitch 2 and placed nothing on P3 except for a sling on the anchor.

The #4.5 (or new #5) is fairly useless, but I enjoyed the #4.
There were a couple places a 0 Mastercam (blue Alien) would have been really nice (like on the 5th pitch just after the drilled angle).

I only saw one drilled angle and no second bolt on the 5th pitch. The crux on the 1st pitch and the crux on the 5th pitch are easily tensioned to skip a really hard move (P1) or a scary ass fall (P5).

I just brought doubles, but you could dump quite a few blue TCU - green Camalots into P1, and P1 takes some nuts. The P2 chimney takes a lovely bomber little blue TCU just before you start to want gear, and a new #4 fits in the hole = totally mellow chimney and safe backcleaning if linking.

God help you if you're fat and want to squeeze through the hole.

The hike from the rim is waaay quicker btw. It's actually easier to scope past Grandview lookout and past the gully. You actually don't go into the gully, but you do start on a trail. It goes down a few feet then cuts hard skier's right. A short downclimb in a corner/crack, and then more down/traversing right until you find breaks in the various levels of rimrock. Go low so you don't go up and down constantly over drainage ridges. Then head back up to the tower. The start is pretty much right when you get to the tower, on the far right hand side. Look back over your shoulder on the hike down so you can remember how to get out.

And thank you for the bolt upgrade!!! Apr 9, 2012
Jesse Zacher
Grand Junction, Co
Jesse Zacher   Grand Junction, Co  
The climb got a bolt update (thanks to ASCA) and a new summit register as of 10/15/2011. Raps should go: two rope rap to the anchor on the ledge at the top of pitch 3. One rope rap to anchors for pitch two. Two rope rap (or 70m rope) to the ground. Oct 25, 2011
Alex Garhart
  5.10+
Alex Garhart  
  5.10+
Great route. The crux traverse on pitch 1 is easier if you traverse high, with the piton maybe at chest level, just a little reachy. The runout chimney on pitch 2 takes a red C3 about 2/3 up. Pitch 5 is not that bad either, easy 10 I thought. Traverse right from the belay for ~6ft and follow the flake and pockets, takes small gear and nuts. Apr 28, 2008
Bill Duncan
Jamestown, CO
Bill Duncan   Jamestown, CO
ACCESS:
The easiest access to this tower is to park on Rim Rock Drive behind the tower about a quarter to a half mile and hike/scramble down the slope to the north. This is a very easy descent. If you park and do some looking/searching off the road to the north, you will easily find the route down. Once in the valley, simply begin traversing towards the tower. I'd say about 20-25 minute approach. Dec 11, 2006
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
  5.11
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
  5.11
The route can be rappelled on a single 70m rope. Considering the cluster F%#$ of rope management problems that can be encountered descending, this is just good sense. No knots to get stuck, no piles of tangles on the sloping traverses, no extra 20m of rope going down around corners and getting stuck.
You can NOT however do this with a 68m rope. If you have trimmed your 70M you better forget about it. Both of my 70's reached, one with 1 meter to spare in all, the other with almost nothing.

The 5.11a rating felt like a sandbag for the increasingly sloper and sandy P1 traverse to the anchors, which might be solid 5.11 these days. The fall is harmless, however.

R1: Rap 35m from the top anchors to the top of P3- do not let go of the ends of your rope as you touch down- or you'll loose them to the wind and can not pull the rope!
R2: Rap 20m down and to climber's left to the top of P2, not as hard as it sounds.
R3: Rap 28m to the top of P1
R4: Rap 30m to the ground.
The route is not that easy to find unless you know where it is.
Continue around the shady side of the rock all the way to the end and boulder up 2 meters over an overhanging chockstone through a slot into a huge chimney/cove of sorts. From there, the route is on your left.

As for the pro on P5: The pro on P5 was not perfect, but it was passable. I thought the top pitch was 5.10c or 10d off of the belay, but I did not stem at all, I climbed the slopers and crack with high steps from side pulls. This made gear a little pumpy to place. Not terribly aidable, if that is the question, but not deadly dangerous... an area I'd not be eager to fall at, or willing to do so on a bet, but the odds of injury are not high enough from any point to consider them 'impending.' Apr 24, 2006
I did this route a few years ago and clearly remember being disappointed by the absence of a summit register. They always make for very interesting reading!! What a cool route. Aug 20, 2004
Michael Schneiter
Glenwood Springs, CO
 
Michael Schneiter   Glenwood Springs, CO
 
Just did this route for the second time this weekend. Does anyone remember if there is a summit log on top? We couldn't find it and I couldn't remember if there was one up there the first time I did it. I was having a hard time believing that there wouldn't be a summit log on such a cool tower. Also, I like to keep routes intact, especially adventurous desert routes, but it seemed to me that the belay station in the belfry could use a retrobolting. Currently, there are two fixed pieces, a really shaky bolt and a drilled angle that also serves as your first protection on the last pitch. I "backed it up" with a blue and black offset alien but there really isn't any other way to back it up. The bolt sticks out 1/4" or so and was so easy to move that I couldn't touch it without shuddering. Finally, to answer AC's question, the main protection on the last pitch is the drilled angle which protects the first face and/or stemming moves above the belay. After those moves the climbing is very easy and you can get some small to medium cams in a nice crack on the face before you tunnel under the caprock. The last pitch is very short and very easy after the face moves. Apr 26, 2004
Could anyone comment on the protectability of the final pitch? I've heard conflicting accounts. Apr 3, 2004
Absolutely Classic!!!! One of the weirdest towers, ever. Just don't expect it to be nice and cuddly (like the name implies)...spots of really bad rock (like the start to pitch four) and a weird approach makes sure it gives you "full value." But one of the coolest experiences you can have. May 20, 2003
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
This is indeed a fun route! Fred Knapp's guide talks about some rappel/scrambling route to the base of this tower, but the trail is so easy and scenic I don't know why one would bother.

First pitch is hard, even before the crux, especially as it's generally cold (however unlike the last pitch, it can be aided or dogged). I led the second pitch which is indeed a runout chimney, but at least is a lot easier than the first pitch. The final pitch is wild, and it's not clear how to do it. Stemming is possible but it's really a wide stem and hard to get out of (and I'm 6' tall too). There are some face holds but the rock here is crumbly and I took a fall here (on TR fortunately) when one broke on me. This pitch is very dicey for 15' or so but the upper part of it is much easier. Wild to emerge from the darkness onto in the middle of the summit! Feb 28, 2003
A cool and unique adventure route! Somewhat reminiscent of the Honeymoon Chimney route on the Priest. The first pitch is a very harsh warm-up indeed, especially in the shade with the temps just a notch above freezing as they were yesterday. The crux traverse might have been 11a on the 1st free ascent with some crisp edges, but is pretty smooth now... its hard to say though as my hands and feet were pretty much unfeeling cold lumps of meat at this point on the pitch. We had a very easy time pulling the rope from the huge ledge at the top of the third pitch. We then did a single rope rap off the slings to the top of pitch 2. Note that this tower can be approached more directly from the gully between Kissing Couple and Grand View spire. View the gully from the Grand View overlook to pick the path of easiest descent. Nov 4, 2002
Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
 
Leo Paik   Westminster, Colorado  
 
Great route. Lots of variety. Those holds on the traverse at the top of the 1st pitch are well rounded. Pitch 2 with the unprotected chimney is a bit intimidating. That cam under the roof is not inspiring. I went on the outside of this with some laybacking that felt more than 5.7. Not the technical crux but perhaps the psychological. A gem. Mar 9, 2002
M. Morley
Sacramento, CA
 
M. Morley   Sacramento, CA  
 
'Far out' is right! This tower is a gem. The 5.11 portion of pitch 1 really amounts to one move, protected by a bolt and easily French-freed (not to infer that WE did that, of course!). Jan 31, 2002
Joe Keyser
Scottsdale, AZ
 
Joe Keyser   Scottsdale, AZ
 
After looking at a video that shows a good picture of the route, it looks like there might be even a different way to do pitch 4?? It looks like you could keep traversing to the right on the P3 scramble, and go up the right side of the pillar. This would certainly lead back to the same place, and looks pretty fun as well. But, I'm not sure if the traverse is doable, if there are anchors, or what. Has anyone climbed this route that way, is that the intended route??? May 22, 2001