Free Route on Zion's Isaac

By Dougald McDonald ,

Mike Anderson and Rob Pizem have climbed their third big Zion free route of the year, a 12-pitch 5.12d on the giant Isaac formation. Hoping to free the Lowe Route on Isaac’s Southeast Pillar, the two first climbed the chimney system on that route but decided the difficult, dangerous climbing (5.11+ R) didn’t warrant a return visit. They restarted on the safer Tricks of the Trade, aiming for a huge corner system above Tricks’ midway ledge. They ended up losing the Lowe Route but finding a new line they liked, and on Thanksgiving Day they returned to free the entire route in a one-day push. Anderson redpointed the crux seventh pitch, a lieback and stemming corner, after toprope rehearsal. Freeloader (5.12d) ended atop the Southeast Pillar and required five protection bolts and seven belay/rappel bolts.

“It was great to put up a route free on the first ascent because it hasn’t been affected by previous climbers,” Anderson said. “The free climbing doesn’t rely on pin scars, so it is ‘naturally’ free, a rarity these days.”

Earlier this year, Anderson and Pizem made the first free ascents of the Dunn Route on Angels Landing in Zion as well as the route Golden Years in the Kolob area of Zion. Anderson and his brother Mark also free climbed the classic Spaceshot, with substantial variations, this fall.Comment on this story

The yellow line marks Tricks of the Trade/Freeloader; the red marks the general line of the Lowe Route’s chimney system.

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