Sandy, Wide and Wild: Two New Free Routes in Zion


Mike Brumbaugh about to climb under an enormous tree stump in the chimney of Datura, Zion National Park. Photo by Rob Pizem.

4/2/14 - Mike Brumbaugh, Rob Pizem, and Andy Raether freed two lines in the Temple of Sinawava area of Zion National Park in late March: an old Jim Beyer aid route called Datura, and a new free route just to its right. Both routes ascend the left wall near the start of the Narrows, and both were 900 feet long and went free at 5.12–.

First up was the Beyer route Datura, which follows an enormous chimney most of the way up the wall. Beyer had solo-aided the line at 5.9 A2—a fact Pizem only discovered after rappelling the line to check it out and finding old, hangerless bolts deep in the chimney. The three men climbed the route in a day with no falls, freeing the two aid pitches at 5.10 and 5.12–, with the crux coming on the final, overhanging fingers-to-offwidth pitch.

"The chimney was about four feet wide and was filled with gigantic tree stumps and trees that had been tossed off the top of the wall back in the day when Zion was logged," Pizem said. "It was way cool placing cams behind a tree jammed into the chimney!"


Datura climbs the obvious chimney in left center. Dr. Spaceman follows a line in the center, topping out near the saddle on the rim. Rob Pizem Collection.

Since the first route had gone so smoothly, the trio had extra time in their schedule and decided to check out another line about 150 feet to the right. They installed rappel anchors and a few protection bolts on the full-rope first pitch, and then did a no-falls ascent, with a 5.12– first pitch and a 5.11+/12– final lead. They called the route Dr. Spaceman (after the 30 Rock character).

"The last pitch is amazing and climbs out an overhanging dihedral with pieces from fingers to six inches, nearly 200 feet long, and some of the best stone in the park," Pizem said. "I normally get shut down while new routing in Zion due to impassable terrain, but last week was just one of those times where everything worked out."

Source: Rob Pizem