November , '07



Predator Tower


Written by Radek Chalupa





Long time fan, first time contributor.

    So this morning I found an email from Brad wondering if I'd be interested in writing up a TR for on our joint adventure on The Predator last Thanksgiving. “Sure!” was my excited and immediate response, sensing my fame nearing – I've always known it would happen, and here it was. Excitement was short lived however as I mentioned this to Shirley only to hear “So what are you gonna write?” Followed by “The other ones there are all funny, you know…” Well crap – I haven't considered this!


The Stalking.

    Don't know exactly when I first stumbled upon but I'm pretty sure it was years ago and most certainly I was surfing through climbing websites during a meeting at work. The site had become a normal stop on my daily “live-vicariously-through-other climbers” web tour. I daydreamed of “The Big Dirty” and sought beta for The Priest and others. Like a teenager addicted to his stash of nudie magazines, I too was sporting a good-sized habit. I later exchanged a couple emails with Brad regarding some climb in Idaho . However, it would not be until spring of 2006 that I'd finally get to meet the man behind the website if only briefly. Shirley and I were on a marathon weekend drive from Boise to Moab and Brad and his famous climbing crew were camping at the same trailhead in Castle Valley . The run-in was pleasant but quick and my urge to request autographs was suppressed: “For God's sake, get a grip on yourself!!” Shirley whispered in my ear.


The Deed.

    Later that year, Shirley and I returned to Moab for a week during Thanksgiving. Second day of our trip as we were priming up for some small tower with Mondo coffees, I heard a “Radek?!” behind me. Paul and Brad were also in town for some tower adventures. Now compared to these guys, we are tower amateurs so it should not have surprised me that their tick list for the week put ours to shame. The guys started teasing us with slogans such as “ White Rim Road ” and “Standing Rock.” Over coffee and a steady stream of drool from my mouth, a plan started taking shape. Yes, we could do some of these with two teams. We already had a high clearance car. Yes, our dog could also stay at Eric's (Bjornstad) place for two days. A quick trip to Eric's (oh-my-God-it's-really-Mr.-Bjornstad) house put a shadow of a doubt in our minds however. Our normally calm dog was being a pain in the ass: scarfing down other dogs' food and taking a big dump in Eric's front yard. WTF got into her? It would be a shame if Eric had to shoot her. With that in mind, we ended up bailing on our White Rim Road dreams. Next day however, Shirley and I finally did get a chance to climb something with the desert crew. The pick for the day would be Predator tower just outside of Moab .

    A quick packing in McStiff's plaza, and off we went. The hike to the base was quick and soon we were all staring at the start of the route: shitty rock at the start – check; dihedral above – check; a groove thing up higher – check!

    Rope up and 4 feet higher I'm already getting the Elvis leg standing on disintegrating edges plugging cams into mud. WTF? Feels hard for what's supposed to be 5.7. The mantle up into the nice-looking dihedral feels improbable. I no longer recall whose intellect proved superior that day (not mine – that's certain), but I heard a wise man call out: “Oh shit! You guys are on the wrong side of the tower!” And so thankfully my battle with the opening 6 feet of “Rain Of Dust” came to an end having just wasted an hour.

    The newly discovered “Reign Of Terror” proved to be much more enjoyable, esp. with a good dose a FrAid technique on my part. A bit of rope drag (we ran the two short pitches together), a tad of profanity, and a bunch of fear on my part and I was soon on the summit belaying up the rest of the crew (Brad's time ground-to-summit was an eye-opening 17.3 seconds). Summit hugs and kisses (really Brad, Shirley & I felt quite uncomfortable with your & Paul's summit rituals…you could've warned us!) and the satisfying smooth pull of the ropes – another tower was in the bag.

    Like many of our climbing stories, this one did not end with beer drinking on the tailgate of our pickup. Yes there was that part of course but the evening ended in the Moab emergency room with my right foot being stitched. I could talk about my heroic lead falls on shitty pro in Cutler sandstone but that would of course be bs. Like a moron that I am, I slashed my foot on the stream crossing 50 yards from our car following our Predator adventure. The next day, Brad and Paul (and Ian) went off for their historic tower bagging on the White Rim while we went for the Kingfisher. And so a great week in Moab came to an end – hanging out and climbing with these guys was a bonus and a blast! We had a great time & got to bag a tower together. Looking forward to the next opportunity.

On the approach...

Here's a slightly Closer View.

Getting started on what we thought was Reign of Terror but turned out to be Rain of Dust.
Paul belaying.
This part was supposed to be 5.7.
Perhaps we should have known that something was amiss.
There's a nice looking splitter to lure you up though.
This route is aptly named Rain of Dust. The rock here is much dirtier than on the other side of the tower.
After this shot, I walked around the tower to have a look and realized we were on the wrong route.
Beginning the route we intended to climb.
A series of the crux difficulties...



Things moved along nicely once we began climbing the correct route.






This may not be the biggest tower out there but the exposure on this section of the climb is still exciting.


Sitting down on the job...         Slacker!

A vertical pano of Radek leading.

Radek made short work of the tower, leading it in one pitch.
Good Stuff.
Radek wedged in the flared chimney.
Shirley taking her turn.
Me on the summit.


A vertical pano of Radek belaying Shirley.

Paul nearing the top.
Shirley on top.
Looking up Kane Creek.
Radek took it in good style though.
Good as new... well maybe not but they did go climbing in the Fishers after a trip to the ER.


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