Gypsy’s Curse is my favorite free climb in Zion National Park
(2010). For a climb to yield that kind of praise from someone who normally does not consider four pitches much of a climb, each pitch better bring full value, and Gypsy’s Curse does deliver in that regard. My first attempt at this climb was a bit messy. I was entertaining a friend from the Gunks and it was my third consecutive day of climbing as I recall. I led the first pitch and felt a bit pumped out as I belayed him up to the large comfy ledge. Being from the Gunks, he prefers to sew things up and our double selection of gear, as per Joe French’s call, spooked him before he even got to the crux of the climbing, a one inch crack that stays sustained as it slowly widens to four inches at the top (a full 170’ pitch).
He bailed after thirty feet. Watching him back off got the best of me and I just slaughtered my way up it on lead. Then he told me he was done for the day and did not want to 2nd that pitch, meaning I would not see the last two pitches of the route. Of course that never sets well with me and within a week, I was back to complete the route in fine style. Bryan Bird put in Gypsy's Curse and mentions this route as his favorite at the Tunnel Wall area.
The first pitch has a slopey move right off the deck and then deals with a ledge below twin cracks. Not your typical twin cracks though, the kind you can counter balance off of, but rather the typical Zion cracks, burly, sandy and wide in places. After the initial tough start up the right crack with the deck below, the going gets much easier as you switch to the left crack/corner and finish up the right crack into a tunnel underneath a large belay ledge. The second pitch is the money pitch of the climb, a full 170’ of crack.
It starts out fingers for 30’ to a rest ledge, and then gets steep from 1” to 4” at the finish with one more rest available about midway up in a huge off width pocket on the right wall. Where Joe called for doubles to 4”, I used four each 1” and 3” as well as double 2” and 4” sewing up the line at a comfortable rate.
The third pitch involves a fun chimney squeeze (don’t turn your head!) up spectacular rock to a comfortable belay. The fourth pitch is dirty and low angled, but worth doing. You are forced to rap off of a single bolt, but that bolt looked bomber in 2010 and can be backed up for the first to descend.
Take the Zion Park road up towards the tunnel. Park on the right side at a shaded pullout on the 2nd to last switchback (vehicle facing east).
Walk east up to the switchback retaining wall and pick up a trail on the south end of that wall. Follow the trail across a wash and stay with it as it circumvents east around the tunnel wall above about 50yds below it. Stay with the beaten path until you turn a huge buttress on tunnel wall (Another Road Side Attraction). Then catch some spin off trails that angle up and left to a shaded alcove where there are some fantastic obvious wide routes in dark rock (Picking on the Fat Kid and Cornback Rattler). Gypsy’s Curse is to the right of this dark colored wall.
Route Description500’+/-, 4 Pitches, 5.10+
1st Pitch- 30m- 5.9+/
This is a fun pitch. Start out with a slopey move off of the deck. Best to face east (left) up this short corner. My 2nd fell on this move on my first trip I noticed. Come to an ankle breaking ledge
and start up the right wide crack (twin cracks). Make an athletic stem move
back left and start working the left crack/corner. The moves ease up the higher you go, move back to the right crack and finish into a tunnel underneath the large belay ledge above. Chimney up between the wall and ledge to a fixed belay.
2nd Pitch- 50m- 5.10+/ This is one of the better pitches at the grade in Zion.
Start up the corner with .4” to .75” gear. Easier climbing gets you to a smaller ledge about 30’ up below a sustained long crack. Start with your C4#1's from here and end with C4#4's at top...a very long sustained corner crack that is nothing short of exceptional if you like crack climbing. If this is at your limit grade wise, there is a decent rest stance off into the off-width pod on the separate wall to the right. Continue through the bulge into a long 3” section. Then grovel your way up a short 4” section to a small fixed belay stance.
3rd Pitch- 50m- 5.10-/
This is a fun pitch. Mantle up the corner facing out (left) and into a deep narrow chimney on solid rock and edges.
Squirm up the back of the narrow chimney. Break out right onto a dirty ramp of sorts. Pass the only fixed pro on the route
, a single bolt, and make solid move from right to left on sandy terrain. Up the run out (but relatively easy climbing) face and off-width on the left and back right to locate a fixed station below a tree and corner on the right.
4th Pitch- 30m- 5.9/
Head up the easy crack past a tree. Continue up to a knee jam section. Once you mantel past this short crack/corner, move out left up an easy ramp and climb back right until right underneath the rotten roof above where you will find the fixed station at the top of the route.
Rap the route. Single rope rap, two double rope raps and another single rope rap. Be careful not to lose the end of your ropes in the 2nd pitch crack on the 2nd rap. They can easily get tangled among several deep chock stones.
I have led all the pitches on this route multiple times now and this is a revision. Double 60m ropes. Double rack from C4#.4 to #4. Use both 4's on pitches 2 and 3. Mix of draws and slings. Important to use double rope method on pitch 3 to avoid bad rope drag, it is a long wandering pitch. I prefer to park my helmet at the top of the 2nd pitch before a short squeeze chimney. This is a north facing route and was plenty cool in mid to late May, great in August too. dress appropriately.
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