World's hardest aid climb?

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 31/08/2009
The Fisher Towers, Utah. Lindsay Griffin

Catalans David Palmada and Ester Ollé recently completed a new route, Look out! Danger, on the famous formation of the Titan in the Fisher Towers. Palmada has proposed a grade of A6+ for the crux pitch.

With Palmada in the lead, the pair first fixed three pitches on the North West Face of the Titan, and then committed to the wall, taking a further seven days to complete the remaining eight pitches to the top of the tower.

A total of 13 days was needed to complete 315m of climbing, some pitches taking as much as 17 hours to overcome.

The new route follows a direct line on notoriously crumbling Fisher sandstone. No bolts were used on belays but one blank section did requiring drilling. The seriousness of the situation is exemplified in one photograph released by the team, which shows Ollé belayed primarily to a number of equalized skyhooks.

Three pitches were A4+, three were A5, one A6+ and the rest A3 or A3+.

Of course, the grade can only be confirmed by future parties but the pair state they have a useful benchmark: last year they made the fourth (and first non-American) ascent of the legendary Jim Beyer route, Intifada, on the East Face of another Fisher formation, Cottontail Tower.

Intifada was put up, solo, in 1988 and rated A6, the only climb in the world to be given that grade. No bolts were used and Beyer reported sections where a fall would result in certain death (sustained marginal placements above equally marginal belay anchors).

Beyer is generally revered. He made the first solo ascent of the Shield on El Capitan in 1977 and has climbed hard big walls, solo, all over the USA, and in Baffin and Pakistan.

However, the second and third ascensionists felt the Intifada grade somewhat overrated; the first quoting a maximum grade of A4+ and the second A5. Both felt that with a bit of effort it was always possible to set bomber belays.

Whilst Look Out! Danger may be harder than Infitada, only time will tell whether it ranks with some of the hardest aid climbs in the world.

In the photo of the Fisher Towers, Utah, the Titan is the largest formation on the right. The North West Face points towards the camera. Cottontail Tower lies to the left.



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1) Anonymous User
28/05/2012
I'm currently working on the second ascent, and I'm past the crux of the route, starting the fourth pitch now. The route is nothing like it was hyped! I have found nothing harder than A3 so far, and the hook anchor is a gimmick and easily bypassed. Basically the route is a line of bashie holes, drilled into blank rock, many a mere 18-inches apart. Why the FA team drilled bolts in one blank section and drilled bashies for most of it instead is beyond me. The route is a botch job and unrepeatable as the FA team left it, as their huge bashie holes are mostly blown out from jerking the "bombproof" bashies out on the clean. I'm blogging as I go: www.conclusivesystems.com/danger. By Richard Jensen (SA of Intifada, and FA of Wings of Steel, for example). The route was manufactured for an ego-pumping rating, but it is all hype instead.
2) Anonymous
21/01/2013
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