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Routes in Viewfinder Towers

Bensass T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Dirty Devil Tower- South Side T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a PG13
Formation: Castle Ardbeg. Route: The Whiskey Tour T 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c A2
Johnny Hanksville of Mars T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Meat Log T 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13
Planet X, via the route Problicom Motion 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a A2+
Power Chords T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a C1-2
Princess Bong T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a A1
South Side T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a PG13
Strummer 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a A3
Type: Trad, 110 ft, Grade II
FA: James Garrett, June 2010 belayed by John Smart and Sheldon Hatch FFA: Darren Knezek, May 2011
Page Views: 1,705 total, 19/month
Shared By: James Garrett on Jun 13, 2010
Admins: Andrew Gram, Perin Blanchard, grk10vq

You & This Route

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This is on the same Viewfinder Tower as Planet X. With so many Viewfinder Towers, it may make sense to categorize them according to Tower names (FA names?) rather than by route names. Climbed during the filming of the movie on a day off.

Start in an alcove on the right side of the North Face. The rock on most of the route seemed to be good quality Moenkopi Sandstone rather than the aforementioned Entrada...but the rotten summit block may very well be Entrada.

Pitch #1: Climb the mangle of disjointed crack systems to a saddle attaining the west arete and follow it to the top and two-bolt belay.

Rappel straight down the face to the ground with one rope.


North side of Viewfinder Tower called Planet X. 2 minute approach time form Highway 24.
Look for a belay bolt at the base of the route, placed there because those belaying do not own harnesses. Movie People...go figure!


Set of Camalots with doubles #3 to #5.
QDs or long slings for a few bolts. Hangers left on all 1/2" x 3.5" Hilti bolts.
A selection of pitons are recommended. I only had a few angles.
Two bolt belay/rappel established right of Planet X original route on the last really good rock on the ridgeline.
Amazing pics of the blown bolt-hole, Cole. Quite the exfoliating plate of rock! Took some pics in 2015.

I'm guessing this is the same bolt, obvious in this photo, with the, ahem, nice crack just left. No sign of bolt-related fractures two years ago. What happened? I've seen bolts with fractures like this on rounded, exposed aretes in Cutler sandstone, presumably from freeze-thaw action, but this is more flat, though equally soft rock. Maybe it was hit by lightning, the violent heating and expansion of what is already a torqued-tight bolt might initiate or worsen a fracture. Who knows. Jan 14, 2017
I agree with Anthony,
Thanks for the excellent condition and status report Cole and Woogie! Impressive how the whole area around the bolt hole is completely blown out! Is that rock around the blown hole loose and unstable or does it now take gear? Which anchor did you lower from? And also, how many bolts in your opinion should be replaced with Glue Ins?
Glad you enjoyed the climb. Mar 11, 2016
Thanks for the investigation... Gives me some inner peace. I thought I had done something seriously wrong since I was the one who pulled the bolt. Happy to walk away with minor injuries! Wondering if you saw the blood splatter on the ledge before the slab. Would love to see some more pictures.

Also, did you guys happen to find a piton and a quickdraw? :) I think I said 'f*** the piton, I want to get out of here'. Thanks again. Mar 8, 2016
  5.11a PG13
  5.11a PG13
I went up this route with Cole on Saturday. There are a few different types of bolt that have been placed on this tower. It looks like 3 or 4 people have left their mark and all used different types of bolts.

The bolt that failed looks like it was placed in a flake of rock that was not bonded to the underlying body of the tower. There was a hollow cavity in between the two layers. The wedge or cone of the bolt looked like it was only embedded in the main body of the tower about an inch, the rest was in the useless flake. Cole has a few more pictures that hopefully he will post. One is a profile after we peeled one of the loose pieces of rock away. You can clearly see the two layers of rock and how deep the bolt was embedded. I don't think that this was due to the rock being wet, I think this failed because the bolt was placed in poor rock.

As Cole said, you can still protect where the bolt was with a purple TCU and still make it to the anchor alright. The bolt that failed was the one that would lead to the biggest and most dangerous fall. If any other bolt on this route failed it would be relatively close and straight down fall, but this bolt was up and left and above a slab. I am glad the climber who ripped the bolt was not hurt worse and I hope he recovers quickly. Mar 7, 2016
Cole Bradburn
Salt Lake City, UT
  5.11a PG13
Cole Bradburn   Salt Lake City, UT
  5.11a PG13
Went up this route on Saturday. Most of the bolts looked to be rawl bolts(2 or 3 were hilt). And about half of the rawl bolts were loose and spinning. The blown bolt was two bolts below the anchor(still looked like the anchor was really solid). I didn't replace the bolt because I didn't have a bolt at the tower with me. I instead had a solid purple TCU just to the left of the blown bolt hole. But someone should probably replace the bolt. The last hardish moves is right at that bolt. Great route! Except the last bit above the anchor. Such bad rock up there. Scared I was going to slip and fall onto the anchor. Excitingly spicy! Added 3 photos of the blown bolt. Mar 7, 2016
Oh right I forgot, you didn't put bolts in this route, just bathook holes. Glad someone went and cleaned up your mess. Mar 2, 2016
Well foof, shows how little you know.... None of the bolts placed by this climber nor the one that pulled was a stud or wedge type bolt. Mar 2, 2016
Maybe the real problem here is placing 3/8 inch stud bolts in super soft sandstone. I know for a fact when I climbed this route last Spring that the majority of the bolts I was clipping were 3/8ths studs. Mar 1, 2016
"Johnny" was recently climbed when the sandstone was probably wet and it resulted in a failure of the last bolt before the anchors. Even the best placements may result in failing when sandstone has had long rains or patches of snow slowly melting and trickling into and supersaturating the sandstone. The entire 1/2" x 3" Hilti HLC sleeve bolt pulled out with body weight. Luckily, the bolt below (in probably drier rock and about 12 feet below) held and arrested this almost 25' fall.

In the meantime, I want to install a glue in bolt in the same hole or/and if someone wants to climb it before I can get to it, consider placing an angle piton in the 1/2" hole.

The climber who fell did break his arm, but was lucky to avoid more serious injuries. He was also wearing a helmet and it was destroyed, but totally protected his head.

I think this should serve as a reminder to all who climb in the desert, that the sandstone DOES absorb more moisture than other rocks and climbs should be allowed to dry well before climbing them. This not only is safer to the climber, but also preserves the rock for future climbers. Feb 25, 2016
Yes, silly perhaps and no doubt a bigger adventure for my belayers who never left the ground...and yes, "Johnny" could have been climbed in the same style as the original obscure not repeated aid climb with its only two bolts in the most rotten summit capstone imaginable...but it wasn't. May 11, 2015
Stopped by to check this out. Man, there's a lot of bolts.

First ascent, aid climb, solo, used no bolts, no drilled holes, except two rappel bolts at top.

Second ascent of tower, belayed by partners, also climbed on aid, with hammer and pitons, added thirteen more bolts to this little tower?

Maybe I'm silly to still hew to the traditional ethic of keeping the hole count low on new routes .... it's more work and time and even risk. But otherwise there's not much uncertainty left. And you gotta have uncertainty to have an adventure.

Props to Darren for freeing the route! Does look like a fine free climb. May 10, 2015
Darren Knezek
Darren Knezek  
Freed this climb at what seemed like 5.10d or 5.11a.
It's all gear up to the 1st bolt and the gear I used to get there was a 4" cam, 1.5" cam and two 2.5" cams. The crux for me came between the 2nd and the 3rd bolt. I placed a blue Metolius Mastercam between these two bolts in a small slot. Strenuous to place, but key for keeping you from hitting the dirt slope below.
After the 3rd bolt, the rest of the climb just uses quickdraws. There's also a strange crux between the 3rd and 4th bolt, and a really cool rock over/mantle higher up that gets you up to the slab.
Once you get to the two hanger belay, it's about 12 feet of kitty litter to the summit. After the summit, climb back down 5 feet, lean over and get lowered off of Crusher's anchors. A 70 meter rope barely reaches the ground.
Nice route James! May 18, 2011
I agree Crusher....nice find by the way...when did you do your ascent? As the locals I have talked with seem to be unaware of a name for that tower....maybe Planet X will become both tower/route that OK with you? Jun 15, 2010
Sounds like a fine route James.

I agree with you about the organization. I was lazy, and kinda screwed up with my initial postings. With the addition of more routes, it might be better to move Viewfinder Towers up a level and include it as a discrete area. I intended Planet X as the tower name, and never did come up with a route name. Yeah, the organization's screwed up for when someone adds another route--sorry. Jun 15, 2010