Type: Trad, Aid, 1000 ft (303 m), 8 pitches, Grade V
FA: Calder Statford, Josh Cannon & John Middendorf
Page Views: 11,102 total · 56/month
Shared By: Michael Schneiter on Mar 6, 2008
Admins: Andrew Gram, Perin Blanchard, GRK, D Crane

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Use onX Backcountry to explore the terrain in 3D, view recent satellite imagery, and more. Now available in onX Backcountry Mobile apps! For more information see this post.
Warning Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closures ***** RAIN AND WET ROCK ***** The sandstone in Zion is fragile and is very easily damaged when it is wet. Holds rip off and climbs have been and will continue to be permanently damaged due to climbers not respecting this phenomenon. After a heavy storm the rock will remain wet, sometimes for several days. PLEASE DO NOT CLIMB IN ZION during or after rain. A good rule of thumb is that if the ground near your climb is at all damp (and not powdery dry sand), then do not climb. There are many alternatives (limestone, granite, basalt, and plastic) nearby. Seasonal Raptor Closures DetailsDrop down

Description Suggest change

If you've ever looked up at the classic route, Desert Shield, you may have also become enamored with a clean splitter cutting through the headwall to the right, essentially paralleling Desert Shield. This line is Disco Inferno. The original topo for Disco Inferno features an image of John Travolta,
strutting his stuff, adding a further touch of mystique to this intriguing line. Everyone's climbing experience and perspective, particularly in Zion, is different, but it's fair to say that Disco Inferno is a small step up from the traditional trade routes. While the majority of the climbing is easy and straight forward, expect to find some sand and adventure.

A good, updated, hand-drawn topo is available from SuperTopo at this link. Below, is a brief description of the pitches.

P1 Free climb the right facing dihedral and pendulum to the crack system on the right. Continue via good 5.9 free climbing or C1 aid to a ledge with a couple of bolts. It's possible to link this pitch with the next pitch for an approximate 190 foot pitch.

P2 From the ledge, free climb (5.8) up the left-facing dihedral which will open up. At a high point, again pendulum right to a crack system. Easy free climbing (5.7) takes you to a ledge with two bolts at the base of a large chimney.

P3 The "birth canal." Head to the back of the chimney until you can gain purchase and begin your vertical adventure. A flake inside this squeeze chimney provides protection. Although only given a 5.8 free rating, expect it to feel harder unless you are used to this sort of grovel fest. 2/3 of the way up the pitch you have to exit the chimney before reentering the chimney higher. Finish at a large, sloping ledge with a bolted anchor. This ledge connects with the Desert Shield bivy ledge that features a charcoal grill.

P4 Make a 5.9 free move to step right into a crack that turns into an awkward left facing corner that is aided at C1 with small gear. At the top of the corner free climb to the right where you find a bolted anchor at a small ledge below the headwall.

P5 Let the games begin. Free climb through some precarious blocky, sandy terrain to reach the headwall. This initial headwall pitch is ascended via a series of holes and filled holes (a mix of angles and bolts). There is also some mandatory hooking and a short section of crack with C2 aid climbing.

My understanding is that the first ascentionists drilled holes and inserted heads. Subsequent ascents have hooked the holes, resulting in many blown out holes. Other ascents have utilized long cheat sticks to skip these holes. And there has been some discussion about filling these holes. Whatever method you choose, ascend this "pseudo bolt ladder" to a bolted, hanging belay below a large roof.

UPDATE FROM STEVEN SADLER: This route now has shiny new hardware up the bolt ladder pitch (pitch 5). Me and a buddy (Jordan Schaefer) went up and drilled and put in new 1/2" bolts in all the old blown out holes.

P6 A final section of holes and filled holes leads to a sandy roof where a large cam is required. The original topo describes this as a "sandy, rotten roof." Above the roof, find quality and enjoyable clean aid climbing (C2). End at another bolted, hanging belay.

P7 Continue up the crack, going through one small roof at 5.10 or C1, ending at a nice ledge with a bolted anchor.

P8 Top out the climb via a short 5.9 or C1 pitch.

To descend, rap the route. I know that some people advocate leaving fixed lines on the steeper sections of routes such as Desert Shield  to aid in the descent, but we did not find it necessary on Disco Inferno, although we did leave some biners to help reach anchors on the lower headwall.

Location Suggest change

Approach as for Desert Shield. At the base of Desert Shield keep skirting the base to the right for another 200 or 300 feet until you come to a small clearing/ledge 10 feet below another ledge where the first pitch starts with a long, right facing dihedral on the left.

Protection Suggest change

Double set of nuts with offsets recommended. Triple set of small to medium cams, double set of hand size and up and one each of big cams, such as new #5 and #6 Camalots. Also, whatever aid trickery you want to use, such as hooks, heads (not for hammering), cheat stick, etc (see route description to understand why).