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TR-Prodigal Son, Zion NP
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Sep 23, 2003, 7:45 PM
Post #1 of 4 (2027 views)

Registered: Sep 11, 2002
Posts: 17

TR-Prodigal Son, Zion NP
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Over the weekend of Sept.19-21 my buddy and I drove down to Zion NP to try our one day assault of Prodigal Son. Everything was looking good. Weather was perfect; clear with mild temps (for Zion that is). Only one thing potentially stood in our way. My partner was getting over a pretty nasty cold or something but seemed like he was doing okay.
The night before we spent over an hour oganizing gear and figuring out logistics. So we felt like we were pretty ready for this. So Saturday morning rolls around. We got up at 5:00 am struck camp, ate breakfast and drove to the Visitor's Center to wait for the shuttle to take us into the park. We got to the Big Bend parking lot at around 7:00 am and had our first look at the climb. The first thing that really stood out to me, that through my copious research never prepared me for, was the STEEP approach. Sure, I was expecting to cross the river and hike a ways but everything I saw and read made it look like it was fairly level. Oh, well no big deal. As we were scoping out the climb we saw another party bivying at the top of the first pitch. We thought we would ask them if we could just blast past them, after all it didn't look like they were in to big of a hurry.
We got to the base about the time they were taking down their portaledge. They asked us if we wanted to pass we said that'd be great. So I quickly tied in and proceeded up the bolt ladder. It was about what I was expecting except that some of the bolts were kind of reachy even with my ape-ish arms (I'm 6'1"), I guess that's because I wasn't high stepping. We actually linked the first and second pitches together to make a single 150' pitch. The first half went pretty quickly; I'd say about 40 or so minutes. Then I got to the C2 crack above the first belay. Time for nuts. I felt like I was moving pretty quickly. But by the time I got to the second belay I look at my watch and was shocked! (We started the climb just before 8:00 am.) My watch said 11:00 am! It took me 3 hours to lead this leg. Yikes I thought that shoots our goal of reaching the top of pitch 5 between 1 and 2 pm. Then my partner cleaned and he reached me at around noon. That only gave us about 8 more hours of good light. So as I was hauling our backpack (we thought we'd just let the cleaner wear it but that turned out to be nearly impossible so I hauled it), as I was hauling I thought to myself, "I'm pretty tired, and I don't think were going to make this in one push. And I feel pretty bad for makng these guys wait so long for us." So when my partner got to the belay I told him what I thought and we agreed to rap back down and let these guys pass. We left a line fixed up to the second belay in hopes that we'd at least do pitch 3 for more experience on the route. But it took them about 2.5 hours to lead and clean the second pitch and another 2 or three ours to lead and clean the third so we decided that we were too tired and out of time to keep going so I jugged back up the line and we bailed.
This being our first real 'big wall' this is what we learned/will do different next time:
1-Get in better condition (although we weren't in bad condition and did some aid-specific training more would definately help).
2-Don't plan on a single day push.
3-Get a portaledge and spend at least two days on the wall and enjoy it instead of suffer.
4-Get a proper haul bag.
5-Offset Aliens.

But overall my partner and I feel like we didn't fail we actually feel quite the opposite. We learned a great deal, got to climb, and got to enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery on Earth. Plus this was about the only weekend we'd be able to do this for a while because of schedule problems.
Hope the post wasn't too long and boring but I'd just been planning this climb for so long I felt like I should post something of our trip and experience.



Sep 23, 2003, 7:56 PM
Post #2 of 4 (2027 views)

Registered: Jun 17, 2002
Posts: 4723

Re: TR-Prodigal Son, Zion NP [In reply to]
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Good to see I'm not the only one! :mrgreen:

It'll be there when you're ready to go back. Sure is easy to over estimate your ability to climb quickly, isn't it? P3 is the crux, technically, and you'll be happy to have some Hybrid Aliens next time.

Keep at it! Experience eventually overcomes inefficient systems. Or at least so I'm told...



Sep 24, 2003, 5:37 AM
Post #3 of 4 (2027 views)

Registered: Sep 11, 2003
Posts: 20

Re: TR-Prodigal Son, Zion NP [In reply to]
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Hey scarecrow - great job for trying! Now you're a lot more experienced - you'll get it next time.


Oct 11, 2003, 7:10 PM
Post #4 of 4 (2027 views)

Registered: Jun 30, 2002
Posts: 4692

Re: TR-Prodigal Son, Zion NP [In reply to]
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You can home safe - had a good time and learned a lot. Meantime, sounds like you didn't F* the other dudes up too bad and still got in some good climbing. That doesn't sound too bad from where I sit.

Good job anyway and thanks for sharing:


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