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Monday, December 12, 2005

Memory Lane: Drop Zone

Reporting on Chris McNamara's three Zion speed records in three days with Ammon McNeely got me all nostalgic about my first big climb with Chris. He was still a teenager, he had never even done a climb on sandstone, and we had never met in person, yet we had hatched a plan to do a big new route in Zion together. Somehow it all worked out, and over five days in late November we put up Drop Zone (VI 5.8 A4+) on the Angelino Wall, behind the old visitor's center. The climb was an eye-opener for Chris (that's him nailing with beaks on his first-ever sandstone lead). But obviously it didn't scare him off; he went on to do other new routes in Zion and repeat many, many classics. I'd have to say Drop Zone was the hardest and best desert new route I ever did. Neither Chris nor I has ever heard of a repeat—not because it's so hard, but just because it's fairly obscure and 99 percent of visiting Zion climbers repeat the old standards. Drop Zone gets lots of sun, takes a direct line up a prominent feature, and has great variety, and pitches 5 through 8, in particular, are unforgettable. The Sandstone Tsunami on pitch 7 (left) was the wildest aid lead I ever did. I wish some folks would go do the climb and tell us what they think.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Route Repeated.

Funny TR!