The walls on both sides of the Colorado River themselves are quite towering, however, there are two distinctive towers located at the big bend in the river to the southeast: Dolomite and Lighthouse. Dolomite resembles a “mini Castleton” on the left. Lighthouse narrows towards the summit as though the very summit would resemble the rotating light of a lighthouse. Only three routes as of 2010 have been established on Lighthouse: Iron Maiden, 5.12a R, four to five pitches; Poseidon Adventure, 5.10, five pitches and Lonely Vigil, 5.10, four pitches. The position of Lighthouse and Dolomite Towers overlooking the big bend in the Colorado River makes for a fantastic scenic adventure, albeit, not near the remote experience that Canyonlands National Park, Fisher Towers or Castleton Valley objectives offer.
Lonely Vigil was my first climb on Lighthouse Tower and offers a fantastic stem box pitch on the back side (from the road) of the tower. Poseidon Adventure is rated at a softer grade (Webster-1984) in one guide book, but offers a much more challenging crux pitch up a sustained flaring slick wall chimney. Stewart Green’s beta suggest that you “stem up flared off width crack”. Good luck with that. Of the few features the steep walls of the flared chimney give up are the infamous white crystallized quartz nubbins which are extremely slick. I utilized pure chimney technique until the crack narrowed to a fist jam for the upper third of the route. This flared chimney will test the best skilled chimney climbers. Consider this pitch much more difficult than the chimney pitches on Epinephrine in Red Rocks. I brought double gear through 6” and used all the large stuff on this pitch except for one 6” which I did use for the gear belay at top. The first and third pitches involved relaxed 5.8 climbing for the most part. The last two pitches are the same as they are for Lonely Vigil: The easy ledge walk and the tedious summit block finish, which requires down climbing the final 5.9 move to return to rap anchors.
Head out on River Road (Utah 128) from Moab and park at a turn off on the left side right at the big bend in the Colorado River (7.5 miles). Lighthouse is the smaller of the two towers up and to the right overlooking the bend. Locate a decent marked trail that makes switchbacks up to the base of the tower (west of where you parked; to the right of the drainage). In the morning you get good shade on this approach and therefore the sun hits the same area in the afternoon. Start directly below the obvious flared chimney which is your second pitch.
Route Description370’+/-, 5 Pitches, 5.10
1st Pitch- 100’- 5.8/A very relaxed pitch up the obvious corner. It has few if any moves at the grade. Continue to the base of the flaring chimney passing the slung blocks so as to avoid rope drag on the second pitch.
2nd Pitch- 120’- 5.10/This is a burly pitch. My partner on this climb was a solid 5.11 Indian Creek climber and backed off the pitch. The best approach in climbing this flared chimney in my opinion is not to stem or try and jam the off width, but rather chimney up the slick walls, fighting for every inch. Don’t trust the crystallized quartz features as they are extremely slick. Good friction opportunities will be few and far between. I placed one 6”, two 5” and could have easily placed three 4” pieces before I could start fist jamming into the crack. The finish involves solid jamming, 3” to 2”, before you pull up and out of the chimney. Climb up and left onto a significant ledge with a slung block. Set up a gear belay (6”) below the obvious 5.8 crack above.
3rd Pitch- 80’- 5.8/This is another relatively relaxed pitch. Run up the wide crack with a small squeeze chimney near the top. Belay at the fixed station in the notch which joins into Lonely Vigil.
4th Pitch- 40’- 5.8R/ This pitch is more of a run out 5th class walk and scramble to position yourself in a better position to tackle the delicate summit block. Walk out on a foot ledge to the left to a bolt (2010). This bolt does not really protect you from busting an ankle, but rather gives a directional to the belay. It could have been better placed. Optionally you could go to the rap station out left and belay from there, but I prefer the upper belay. Climb up easy, but weak, sandstone at a right angle mantling up on a flake (5.8) to the next ledge above with a fixed belay to the right base of the summit block.
5th Pitch- 30’- 5.9RX/ This pitch has quite a bit of notoriety on the internet. There is no summit anchor on Lighthouse Tower; therefore, each climber will have to down climb this precarious summit block to return to the top of pitch 4. The summit block is somewhat like Ancient Art’s summit minus the rappel. From the upper belay, angle up and left on the run out face of the summit block. There is a rotten horizontal crack you can get gear in, but trust is at a minimum (a tri-cam would be your best bet). The last move from your feet in that horizontal crack is a bold, but positive, mantle and/or heel hook. If you fall on this last pitch, you will deck and break something as well as potentially cause a high factor fall on the belay.
Rap back from the top of the 4th pitch to the foot ledge. Walk left to rap anchors. Take one double rope rap (60m) down to the col. Take a single rope rap back to the base of the route.