After a long season on the tools I took an amazing trip to the Navajo Reservation. David and I’s goal was mainly Chinle Spire. It’s been said to be the Totem Pole’s brother. Very skinny with a very small summit and still pretty big! At about 400 feet tall, it took a lot of effort! It always seems on these towers that always seem to have shitty chossy rock that for every pitch, it seems like about 5 pitches on granite. So by the top, it’s like you climbed El Cap or something. More so then anything, it takes a lot of mental stability, and a lot of creativity.
Chinle Spire was first climbed by Fred Beckey and Eric Bornjstadt at a said grade of 5.9 A4. It’s basically a bolt ladder, kind of, not really. It’s the craziest bolt ladder I’ve ever climbed, way crazier then anything bolt wise in the Fisher Towers. Anyhow, we were joined by our good friends Alex and Quentin who we have to thank for showing us around town and getting us to the base of the tower! We chose the wrong start at first. Really chossy scary 5.11+? climbing made us realize that this couldn’t be the route. Did I mention scary? I was placing cams in sand flakes that would expand as I placed them. So David went up (I had enough) and nailed in two so so angle pins and rappelled back down.
Ended up we were on the wrong side. So I lead up the right start that had the absolutely horrible overhanging OW that must have been sandbagged 5.10 OW….not 5.9. (Maybe they aided it on the FA?) Then it’s more or less bolts to the top separated by some pretty dicy TCU’s with ledge fall potential.
I don’t know if it was A4. Aid grades are all weird. We pretty much did it clean at C2/3 minus one nailing part. It was scary though. We also placed a summit register. I wonder how many times it’s been climbed? I know two parties that have climbed it. One back in the early 80’s.
Check out the vid!