Diné and Dash. In 1971, all climbing was banned on the Navajo Nation. Most climbers looked elsewhere, but ever since, the magnificent towers of the reservation have been a very potent attraction to climbers. An examination of the issues involved in climbing on the Navajo Nation, from the early days until the present.
The Mystery Towers are hard to get to, huge, rottener than the Fisher Towers, invisible from just about anywhere. The summits of these formations are seldom visited, tiny and reserved for the true desert-tower aficionado. In 1969, Bill Forrest and George Hurley took on this challenge. This chapter celebrates the first ascents of these towers, and some of the other wild desert summits reached by these visionary climbers.
George Hurley: The Mystery Towers
1970s-1980s. The Fishers—Big Walls of Mud. With, seemingly, all the worthy summits of the Fisher Towers summited, the push was on the develop hard new aid climbs. Harvey Carter was in the forefront of this push. The Sundevil Chimney, Scheherezade, Brer Rabbit all come from this era.
Lou Dawson: Harvey’s Raiders
Moses. In 1972, Eric Bjornstad and Fred Beckey climbed Moses, an epic tale from the Go-Go years, with multiple visits, fixed ropes, extensive aid, pitons by the score. Just a few years later Ed Webster and Steve Hong climbed Moses free in a few hours, producing an enduring classic desert climb, Primrore Dihedrals, and showing a new direction for desert climbers.
Fred Beckey: The First Ascent of Moses (1972)
Ed Webster: The Desert Prophet (The First Free Ascent of Moses, 1979)
What Are Friends For? The late 1970s invention of camming units coincided with a growing awareness that that the desert held myriad excellent free climbs in the form of incredibly parallel cracks. Wingate sandstone, particularly around Castleton Tower and Indian Creek, became a huge draw, at first for a few climbers, like Jimmy Dunn, Earl Wiggins, Ed Webster, Jeff Achey, Chip Chace, then later for ever-increasing numbers.