Big Walls Forum

Big Wall Index => Big Wall Trip Reports => Topic started by: Didder on December 17, 2008, 12:24:13 am

Title: Prodigal Son Zion Solo TR
Post by: Didder on December 17, 2008, 12:24:13 am
So it's Monday evening and I have been itching to get out and solo something. I check the weather report and it looks good for Zion. I turn to my wife, "Honey, I love you".... "Oh God (she replies), here it comes, what are you going to climb?" "OK well don't forget the Christmas Party Thurs night"....Thursday night? Hmm... a few quick calculations, if I leave mid morning and get right on the route and climb straight through I should just make it..."Thanks honey, see you Thursday night". The rest of the evening was spent in the garage sorting gear and getting psyched.

I manage to sneak out of LA just after 10am Tues morning and am through Vegas by 2pm and totally amped. I pick up a couple Subway footlongs in St. George, one for dinner and one for the wall and make it to Big Bend just after dark. As I jump out of the car this nice Canadian guy wanders up. "So you gearing up for something tomorrow". "Actually, no man I'm starting right now". I ask if he wants to join me but he says he prefers climbing during the day and then proceeds to ask me all sorts of questions as I try and pack up my gear by headlamp.

Just as I am about to head out a couple guys come down from the Lowe Route. I make a quick assesment and offer them a beer and ask if they would mind taking my car and parking it at the trailhead to Angel's Landing. Perfect. As I watch the headlights go down the road and am standing totally alone I realize I just gave some guy I had never met the green light to drink and drive in my car...Good move... Only climbers do shit like that and get away with it.

As I cross the river it begins to drizzle ever so slightly. Now I gasp at the thought of having to hike back two miles in the dark and rain with all my gear.... What have I gotten myself into? I think. But I look up and the stars are out and I'm committed. Then I somehow get off the trail and wander back and forth along the base for the better part of an hour trying to find the base. Finally I go back down, find the trail and follow it to the base. I don't have a watch but figure it's about 10pm when I finally start climbing.

The climbing goes by in a blur as sleepiness sets in. I had wanted to get to the top of pitch 4 by daybreak and as I fix my lead line at the 4th belay the Eastern sky is ablaze! I look down and get my first look at where I have put myself. 600 feet up this vertical sandstone wall and I am realize it wasn't all just a dream. (

As the day wears on I only stop once and it's to eat my Subway footlong Chicken sub. It's only for about 15 minutes but its long enough to take in the beauty of Zion and stare out at the awesome sandstone formations. The desert is really an incredible landscape especially when you are totally a part of it. (

A couple more pitches go by in a blur and a party of two come up below me. Probably foggy from not having slept in a couple of days I make the poor decsion to let them pass and end up having to crawl up behind them to the bottom of the last aid pitch.
Getting sleepy... (

By now it's getting late again and I am freezing having to sit at the second to last belay. It's hovering around 30 degrees but the wind makes it feel more like 15 degrees. (

They fix my rope for me on the last pitch which ends way up out and left. I choose to forego lowering out just so I can get moving...afterall the swing doesn't look that bad.... Whooooooooooahhhhhh! I cut loose riding my bag and zip across the perfectly smooth vertical face and instantly realize I am going for a longer ride than I thought. You know its a long way when you have time to think , wow I'm still swinging. Finally I stop and jug up to the belay at the bottom of a very loose ledge/gulley.

"Hey would you mind leading the last 5.5 chimney/loose ledge grovel fest?" they ask. Anything to keep moving. By now someone must have heard my scream on the swing below cause right as I am getting into the squeeze chimney business some guy down below starts yelling that old favorite.... "climber's on Angel's Landing, do you need a rescue"...WTF I'm trying to climb some squeeze chimney with no pro by headlamp and this guy is telling us to turn off our lights if we don't need a rescue. So I keep climbing and he starts going on about how OK we will rescue you.... "GO AWAY we all yell" "OH so you do need a rescue?" he yells up again. "GO AWAY" we yell again. "Oh OK so if you want me to go away turn your headlamps off and then on again in 5 seconds" We comply.... "OK I'm going away" "GOOD and THANK YOU".

We get to the car aroud 1am Thurs after having been on the go since 10am Tues. Luckily my new friends live right outside the park and let me grab a shower and crash on their couch. It would have been COLD bivying out side.... Isn't it great how climbers always take care of other climbers in need...I think as I drift off to a dreamless sleep.

I wake up at 5am and start the 7 hour drive home. I pull into the office at 1pm on Thursday in a blur but no worse for wear. Not sure I really accomplished much at work that day but at least I showed up. Let's just say beers, cocktails, wine, appetizers and a killer dinner at the company xmas party that night were the perfect way to finish up the day. I slept really well that night!
Title: Re: Prodigal Son Zion Solo TR
Post by: Mike. on December 17, 2008, 07:10:07 am
Sweet story, didd. Congratulations on getting on that horse again. Nice work!

I see you've sussed out your vampire tendencies...just climb instead of sleep!

Thanks for the cool post.
Title: Re: Prodigal Son Zion Solo TR
Post by: Sambo on December 17, 2008, 09:49:20 am
Hey Brant great write-up, "almost" makes me want to get back out...

Thanks for your call on the way out and for allowing me live vicariously through your craziness-
Title: Re: Prodigal Son Zion Solo TR
Post by: Didder on December 17, 2008, 10:11:45 am
I think of it more as calculated risk therapy....good to see you on the forum Sambo.
Still looking for a mule to help me ferry gear off the top of the Captain next month
assuming the weather cooperates...
Title: Re: Prodigal Son Zion Solo TR
Post by: mungeclimber on January 27, 2009, 12:15:53 am
whoa, just saw this. good stuff!
Title: Re: Prodigal Son Zion Solo TR
Post by: skully on April 15, 2009, 03:32:54 pm
We must be lame, Munge......I only just noticed it too!
Sweet stuff, there, Didder!
That's a cold, shady wall, man........Props!