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Ascent of Looking Glass Rock on 2019-05-04

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Karen Musser <3472>; Guide Sylvan Christensen from Moab Canyon Tours
Date:Saturday, May 4, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Looking Glass Rock
    Location:USA-Utah
    Elevation:6240 ft / 1901 m

Ascent Trip Report

Wanting to try something different and Karen wanting to do another interesting activity for her upcoming 60th birthday, I booked a three pitch climb with Moab Canyon Tours. For an easy class climb this has a lot to offer. First it is three pitches of rope. The formation is really interesting - a hybrid between a tower, and arch, and a a sandstone butte, but it also concludes with a really interesting rappel through an arch with over 100 foot free rap. Neither of us are great at rock climbing and sandstone smears are not my best mode so this was perfect for a half day outing. Some references call this climb a 5.6 others post it as low as 5.4. The guide services spit the difference and call it a 5.5. Frankly, much of the route is exposed class 4 on rope and there are only 3 crux moves that would be in the 5.4 to 5.6 range depending on opinion.

Description:

You park the truck at road end and it is right next to the formation. Then, our guide set the first pitch at the end of the milder pitched rib. Everything is anchored up the route with bolts. The crux of the first pitch is the opening climb to get up to the slab. Not too difficult like a 5.3 or 5.4 with good footholds and hand holds and the only real vertical climb of the day. The rest of the pitch is typical sandstone slab walk/climb probably varying from class 4 to class 5.3.

Each pitch is pretty short with big flat rest areas for the setting the next anchoring belay. Second pitch is the crux of the route. It is all steep slab sandstone probably 5.3 but in the middle is a very slick-rock section where footing is tough and most slide to the right to get some grooves but the anchor is a long arms reach to the left. This section is likely 5.5 because the lack of hand holds and foot holds. Near the very top of the section is the second crux and Karen and I considered it to be the hardest move of the day. If there is a 5.6 crux it is here. It felt more like a 5.5 to me. It is steep with sketchy finger grabs but my LaSportiva approach shoes did fine and smeared up this section easily.

The final pitch has no crux moves at all. It is essentially a class 4 roped in walk up of a moderate slab. At the end of this pitch the butte has a wide area to play off rope. The true peak is easily obtained off rope with typical class 2+ rock.

The rappel that this guide service offered requires a long exciting rappel through a small window arch. You down-climb (or in our case crab walked) down onto a small flat ledge (un-roped class 4) where the anchoring station is. Our guide used a two rope rappel with 70m ropes and a top belay for us. I went first then Karen. It is a very interesting exist in that you have a small crack window you have to back through and suddenly there is nothing. Of the 225 feet of rope and it doubled for the descent lines, there is room for 112 foot of rope each side. The rope just barely touches ground so the rappel is over 100 feet drop. Coming down the line I began to notice that the two lines were tangled and it was twisting more and more as I got closer to the ground. About 20 feet from touch down I had to manually unwind the rope to proceed. About 3 feet from touch down I noticed what looked like a safety knot in the rope but the guide said he did not tie one. I swung back and forth to reach a boulder and took weight off the line and untied the tangle. Then, unwound the ropes before Karen came down. The rope lengths could not have been any more perfect to the ground but at 70m leave little room for tangled ends or knots.

The views of the backside of this feature are beautiful. A big arched window that you rappel past and interesting features. For an introductory level slab/tower/butte type climbs very rewarding and Karen was excited to add it to her 60 cool things to do in her 60th year!
Our guide was very attentive to us at all times, responded to all questions cheerfully and practiced excellent safety along the way. We would recommend him (Sylvan Christensen) and Moab Canyon Tours at 435-260-1822 for those that do not set their own protection and want a fun half day experience.

Side note to self. I asked him if he knew my guide that took me up Gannet Peak in WY a few years ago that guides in this area (Joe Stern of Exum) and he knew him well. I am always amazed in the climbing community, any where I hire someone to guide me they always know the other guides in all the other areas.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:220 ft / 67 m
    Round-Trip Distance:0.2 mi / 0.3 km
    Grade/Class:5.5 rock climb with
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Rock Climb
    Gear Used:
Rope, Guide
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:220 ft / 67 m
    Distance:0.1 mi / 0.2 km
    Route:standard bolted route up fin
    Start Trailhead:Dirt parking near climbing route  6020 ft / 1834 m
Descent Statistics
    Distance:0.1 mi / 0.2 km



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