This is “extreme hiking” at its finest.
After our epic but successful Muddy Creek adventure, Russ, Spencer, and I wanted to do something else in the same vein. I’d heard about an exciting “hike” up Moab’s Parriott Mesa, so that was our goal. I’ve been to this part of Moab many times before and standing on top of another one of its landmark features (I’ve climbed The Titan, The Priest [TR and pics coming soon], and Castleton Tower) sounded awesome.
We woke up at 4, drove down to Moab, got breakfast at McDonald’s, and then drove along the Colorado River to the trailhead. The hike starts out easily enough and we made good time. Things got more interesting when we put our harnesses on and clipped in to the fixed lines on a narrow ledge above a certain-death fall. At the end of the traverse were some more fixed ropes up a chimney. Climbing up the chimney was pretty easy (low 5th class) and we used 48″ slings with klemheist knots to self belay ourselves.
Then there was an exposed step/jump across a gap, followed by another fixed rope in a 5th class chimney. At the top of this chimney is a tunnel/cave thing that goes back pretty far and is apparently worth checking out (only Spencer went in). Not too far from the top of the chimney is the final fixed rope that goes up a stepped dihedral. I don’t remember our exact time, but it was a bit less than 2 hours. We stayed on top for a while (we were there at 11:11 on 11/11/11, which was neat), explored a bit, and then went back down.
The descent wasn’t bad. Rappelling the top two fixed ropes sucked because they were fat and difficult to stuff into our rappel devices. It also took a bit more time because there were three of us. Our round trip car-to-car time was 3 hours 54 minutes.
Note: Sticky rubber approach shoes are nice to have on this one, though not essential. Also, don’t step on the cryptobiotic soil on top of the mesa. Other plants and animals depend on it and it takes years and years and years to grow back.
Click for a printable 1 page PDF beta and information sheet.
Parriott Mesa in Castle Valley, Moab
Spencer and Russ on the hike up
The 400' cliffs on Parriott Mesa. As far as I know and could tell, all of these crack systems are unclimbed.
Going up one of the 4th class sections
The horizontal fixed lines and the fixed lines up the chimney. Click for larger version.
Russ and me on the fixed line traverse. Photo by Spencer.
On the horizontal fixed lines.
Spencer in some cool rock.
The anchor at the end of the horizontal fixed line: a tricam. The yellow sling is supposed to be for you to grab on to, though its knot is now wedged in the crack too.
Spencer going up the 5th class section with fixed ropes.
Me climbing up the chimney. Photo by Spencer.
The exposed step across part that has a bolt and sling for you to grab on to.
The second chimney with fixed rope.
The tunnel/cave at the top of the second chimney.
The final fixed rope, just before the summit.
Me on top. The La Sal mountains are in the background.
Me on top with Castleton, the Priest, and the Rectory in the background.
To get an idea of the size of the top, click this photo. Look for Spencer. He's the dot on the end of the promontory right in front of the mesa on the left side.
Some of the cryptobiotic soil on top. I've never seen it look so dark and healthy. There's a ton of it on top, so watch where you step.
The Sister Superior group of towers in the foreground. The Fisher Towers are in the background. I climbed The Titan, the tallest of the Fisher Towers, in 2009.
Russ holding some ice found on one of the potholes on top of the mesa.
Spencer and Russ looking over the edge, with hundreds of feet of nothingness below them.
Don't miss this photo op on the way down.
The Priest is the detached tower on the left (I climbed it in 2009). The Rectory is the mesa to its right. Castleton Tower (which I climbed in 2005) is on the right.
11:11:11 on 11/11/11. A great time to be on top of the Mesa. And happy birthday, Kara!