Climbing a Delicate Arch
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With our limited time the team quickly sprung into action and headed up the talus cone in the brutal midday heat to scope the line. Each side had distinct cruxes of chossy unprotected slabs or decomposing cracks. Eventually Mark and James decided on the slab. The rest of the day was spent battling for protection in the decomposing sandstone. At one point Mark tried to place a bolt and it was so loose in the hole he had a double stack pitons around to make it even remotely passable as protection. Jimmy, Kempy and I scrambled around trying to document the madness we could here James cursing after Mark relinquished the lead: “Its like bloody Caster sugar up here, after you break the outer surface the rest just explodes, #(*)&#@#&!!!”.
Feeling a bit antsy at the base Alex took matters into his own hands and went for the kamikaze onsight free-solo first ascent of the crack up the other side. At this point it was a free for all with time running out to find a way to the summit. “Here you go dude, take this wireless mic,” I suggested and he clipped it on. After sending half the formation I could hear his breathing elevate with is knee stuck in a wide crack unable to commit to a loose flake transfer.
To read more about the crew's expedition—from knife bandits, to cobras, to new routes—check out Renan Ozturk's blog. And pay attention to Outside for an upcoming article and video.