Monday, April 25, 2011

Lunar X Free 5.13 FFA

Being in school  has forced me to stay more local with my climbing, which I am fine with.  I live 4.5 hours from Zion and have not climbed there much at all.  During spring break I was psyched to start looking for new free routes and the first one I rapped seemed like it would go.  I spent the next few days mini traxioning the line and fell in love with this route.  The meat of the route is in three pitches, the 1st being a boulder problem traverse pitch, 2nd a beautiful splitter that involves tight fingers, fingers, and some powerful face climbing as well,  the 3rd hard pitch is a twin seem that takes small gear and is mostly face climbing with a few finger locks.  

Putting in my first bolt!
The traversing boulder problem pitch that allows access to the amazing crux pitch
Giving'er on the boulder problem
Up high on the crux pitch
Starting off on the final 5.13 pitch

The season in Zion was less than desirable for the reason of VERY sporadic weather for instance one weekend I rapped into the route and was caught in a blizzard.  By the time I jugged out there was 4 inches of snow on the ground.  The following weekend the high was 86 degrees.  
The weather coming in

Last Saturday was great though with a high of 70 and cloudy (this route gets a lot of sun so clouds=good) everything was lined up to send.  After warming up I took one burn and fell then rested and fired it off.  The next pitch went easier than expected but the gear is a bit tricky.  After doing these pitches I was overwhelmed with joy I thought it was just going to be a joy ride to the top.  WRONG, the upper pitches were very sandy and I had not done them before. Even though they were moderate the gear is not great and it is certainly run out!  On the last pitch I thought I would take the overhanging obvious finish that looked super classic but it turned out to be a sandy mess. I broke a large hold off that caused me to fall and I just wanted to be done.  After that I was over it and just wanted to finish this beast off!  I climbed the regular finish (a different variation) and again it was SO sandy.  There was one finger lock that took multiple up and down climbs to commit to.  Once I finally committed my hand popped out and next thing I knew I was hanging upside down and my heal was throbbing like it was hit with a sludge hammer.  It took me some time to realize I had fallen and hit the ledge below me.  At this point I was getting mad and took some time to compose myself and then finished it off.  With a huge relief to just be on top and finished with an amazing route felt incredible. This is the first time I have established a FFA and what a route to do it on.  This has been a huge learning experience for me and I can not wait to keep looking for new lines.  This was not a one day ascent but for the reason that the rock quality on the lower pitches that deviate from the original aid line are very loose I was not psyched on climbing them again.  Climbing is something I do for fun and if I know I will not be having fun I don't see the point.  Please dont let the less than desirable pitches deter you from doing this route because the crux pitches are INCREDIBLE!  I have to thank Sterling for the static lines that made it possible for me to work this route and of course the nano for the sending line, La Sportiva for the best shoes, Black Diamond for incredible equipment, and last but certainly not least all of my friends who helped me out with this route.  Thank you so very much you are all the BEST!!!  

Photos courtesy of Jeremiah Watt


  1. Glad to run into you on the trail on Saturday! All went well for me running the Zion Traverse. Muddy and snowy up high but made it to the Kolob Canyon Entrance in descent time.

    Looks like you were crushing after I saw you!!! Nice work. You are a f-ing bad ass! Made me feel like a wimp!

    Good luck with your climbing and it was cool running into you even if it was for a moment!

  2. Thanks Jason that run is insane you are a bad ass and that must of been amazing up there glade you killed it and the rain did not come down to hard.

  3. Yeah Nik, that's RAD!

    I aid-soloed that route last year, and was dreaming about the possibility of freeing those gorgeous splitters! I didn't think the bolted traverse bit would go, good on ya for making it happen.


  4. Nik, nice work. I had heard you were down there trying it, congratulations on a pround FFA.

    Brian Sadowsky

  5. Nice work Nik! So cool! I never thought that one would go. There are parts where you can't get a pinky in!!!! I don't know what type of trickery you employed to get up the thing but super inspiring. Keep it up.

  6. hi nik,
    I have read about your great adventure, congratulations!I write for one czech climbing page called and I would like to ak you if it is possible to use the photo from your blog
    thanx and good luck jana simkova

  7. Amazing !! Where I live there is no place like that.