Being a “Doors” fan, I knew eventually I would climb this rather obscure route which has seen a handful of ascents at best. “Mojo Risin” is taken from the Doors song "LA Woman" where Morrison refers to himself as "Mr. Mojo Risin". If you unscramble Mr. Mojo Risin, the letters spell Jim Morrison. The route did not live up to its name, but was still a good Zion adventure climb based on location, etc. Bryan Bird put this one up in 2000 but had an idiot for a partner on this project so it does not surprise me he did not get the FFA and thus labeled it 5.10 C1 even though it is a free 5.10+ route by most Zion standards. The Greer brothers nabbed the FFA in 2001 and they and/or Bird gave it a free rating of 5.11.
The first pitch is pretty junky and involves the only substantial route finding just because you are blind from the upper crack system you will be ascending. The second and third pitches offer some pretty cool climbing. Pitch three starts with what they named the “Gates of Johnson”, a short but stout unprotected off-width section with a cruxy squeeze exit. The fourth and fifth pitches are best combined and offer the stoutest and most sustained climbing of the day up what would normally be considered a beautiful stem/finger corner if not for the mossy delicate rock. The sixth pitch starts off with another good finger corner crack, but the rock does not improve much until you hit easier ground above where you ascend through a chimney. The seventh pitch gets you up to the summit ridge of Johnson Mountain. The last pitch is just a chossy summit block pitch without much pro.
Park at the city river park in Springdale. Walk north from the park and cross the car bridge over the river. On the other side, follow a trail that trends right to a faint road. Follow this road through a red gate and up to a utility station. The road obviously ends here. The trail from here is rather faint but you should meander in and out of a few cairns along the way. Circumvent the hill to your right on its left flank and head east until you can descend the drainage on your left and head up the next hill to your left without much elevation loss and gain. From there kind of stay to the top of the hills/ridges as they merge into a final ridge that aims northeast for the camouflaged repeater station. At times you are on the ridge proper and get a great view of the privately owned fertile valley and reservoir to the south. From the station ascend the hill towards Johnson Mountain and gain a faint sheep trail that turns left and stays above the drainages coming down the west face of Johnson, but also quite below the base of the wall. In other words doing your best to avoid unnecessary elevation loss and regain. Head all the way to the very north end of Johnson Mountain which means staying below all walls no matter how short they are until you are below the north end where you have visual of an obvious huge chimney. Mojo Risin starts about 40’ or so to the right of this chimney. Ascend a drainage up to the base of the wall. Hiking poles would be a huge help on this sandy approach. Expect approximately 1.5 hours.
Route DescriptionMojo Risin, 8 Pitches, 5.11
1st Pitch- 150’- 5.9/ This is the only pitch that does not start and follow the main crack system and thus requires any route finding skills. Once next to the chimney (and not 200’ to the right as Bryan’s notes suggest, more like 40’), simply look for the left facing corner that leads to a tree up and to the left and gully up right. Once at the tree, take the left fork above heading for just below the obvious roof. There is a yucca plant up there on a small ledge as referenced in the topo but you cannot see it from below. This is the worst rock on the route. Follow the twin cracks through a maze of large blocks. Stay in the right crack for a cleaner and safer finish to just below the roof at a small stance with a small gear belay.
2nd Pitch- 80’- 5.10+/ Traverse right below the roof finding pro in the roof and/or in the seams below it. Pull out into a finger/small hands crack and head up to an alcove with a fixed station and an obvious off-width crack chimney above.
3rd Pitch- 110’- 5.10-/ The FAer’s called the start of the this pitch the “Gates of Johnson” and for good reason. It is an interesting off-width squeeze to exit the first chimney. Run up the off-width with no pro (only big bros would protect and not worth carrying for my purposes) and when you get to the top (30’), make a very tight squeeze (one of the cruxes of the route) for your upper body to mount on through and get some small gear in a crack to your left. Traverse up left on easy ground in the base of a much wider chimney. Chimney up it with no pro to the exit (30’) where there is one piece of suspect pro and make a move at the grade to the outside (FAers call this “wild moves out cave” on the topo, but it is a much easier transition than the squeeze below). Continue up a hand crack into yet a third chimney. Belay on gear in the back (C4 #4).
4th -5th Pitches- 170’- 5.11/ These pitches offer the most sustained climbing and make sense to link if you brought enough enough small gear. Once out of the easy chimney, you are following a finger (few hands) crack the whole way. From the belay, chimney up and pull the roof into a stem. Stemming is the primary move up this entire right facing corner. Bring plenty of finger sized gear if linking these two including a few off-set nuts and/or cams. This rock is northwest facing and contains a ton of moss=fragile rock that you are stemming on. You do find a few cool varnished chicken heads to stem off of, but many times you are prepared for a foot hold to give way. You pass a single bolt belay on the right wall. After that it eases up to intermittent small hands, but the climbing is still plenty stout until you exit off right to a small ledge with a fixed nut belay in its floor that we renewed (2014).
6th Pitch- 170’- 5.10/ Move to the right to run up a finger sized right facing shallow corner crack (50’). Again, the moss covered rock is a bit unnerving but a few varnished chicken heads help with the stemming. Move left and back right behind a huge flake. Enter a chimney and climb it unprotected (30’) to the top and exit out into a large shaded gully. The belay here consisted of a single bolt and single piton that needs new webbing for the rap.
7th Pitch- 100’- 5.9/ Run up the easy gully to a clean off-width crack and climb it to the top of Johnson Mountain with a single bolt rap/belay on your left.
8th Pitch- 100’- 5.8/ Walk over to the west side of the summit block in front of you (there are many behind it) and climb up the precariously weak and dirty sandstone crack to the summit. You can place gear in this crack , but don’t expect much from it. Best to be cautious in your jug choices. Belay off of a small tree/decent bush.