Angels Landing Free-Climbed
Mike Anderson has freed the classic Lowe Route on Angels Landing in Zion National Park, creating Zion’s most sustained hard free route. The Lowe Route, established in 1970 by Jeff Lowe and Cactus Bryan, takes a direct line up the overhanging North Face of Zion’s most famous feature. Hampered by an extremely wet fall in the sandstone canyon, Anderson made numerous attempts before finishing the climb over three days in mid-December. Belayed by his wife, Janelle, he freed the climb in 15 pitches and rated it 5.13a R.
For the first eight pitches, Anderson followed the original route and added no bolts for protection. At the first 5.13 pitch, he fixed three pitons to protect a roof, followed by run-out face climbing with small nuts in a seam for pro. Above this, Anderson pioneered a three-pitch variation to avoid a bolt ladder, with two pitches of 5.12 and one pitch of 5.13a face climbing, and a total of 15 new protection bolts. In all, the route has six pitches of 5.12 or 5.13.
“I knew any route with the Lowe tag on it would be a dramatic, difficult, and significant line,” said Anderson. “The first four pitches and the last two are a little dumpy, but the middle section makes up for it. Pitches 5 through 7 climb Indian Creek-style cracks, while pitches 8 through 13 climb beautiful patina faces speckled with green and yellow lichen.”