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1971: The Third Ascent of Standing Rock at Canyonlands National Park

Stewart Green at the first belay stance on Standing Rock in Monument Basin, Canyonlands National Park, Utah. I did the third ascent of the tower with Jimmie Dunn and Billy Westbay in November 1971. Photo @ Stewart M. Green Collection

I'm writing a book of climbing stories right now. One of the chapters is called "Tale of Three Towers." It's about a climbing trip I made to the Moab area with Jimmie Dunn and Billy Westbay in late November, 1971. The canyon country was truly the back of beyond in those days. Moab was still a dusty uranium-mining town, and there were few tourists and no climbers, mountain bikers, or other maniacs like you see out there now. Eric Bjornstad was the only climber there, and that was for only part of the year. The three towers we climbed were the 3rd ascent of Standing Rock, the 5th or so ascent of North Sixshooter Peak, and the 8th ascent of Castleton Tower, via the FA of the West Face. Here's a photograph of me at the first belay on Standing Rock taken by Jimmie Dunn with my Instamatic camera, a tiny plastic thing that used 110 film cartridges. It was Thanksgiving Day and we were doing our best to give thanks in our own way. Here's an excerpt about Standing Rock from that chapter: "The next day, a gray, cloudy Thanksgiving Day, we found a step in the rim on the south side of the basin, fixed a short rope over it, and ran down scree slopes to the spire. Layton Kor’s unobvious route began below a muddy dihedral on the north side of the slender spire. I led to a roof, carefully hammered a knifeblade piton in a thin crack behind a two-foot-wide block pasted below the right side of the roof and bounce-tested it. Both the blade and the block promptly pulled, scattering Billy who was belaying and Jim for cover. I stepped back in my one-inch red webbing aiders, overdrove a baby piton into a seam, and lowered to the ground—handing over the reins to Jim, who swarmed up the dihedral, passed the roof, and tapped bongs or wide pitons above into a wide sandy crack that we dubbed The Vertical Sandbox."

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