Fossil Eyes, 5.14a
For those adventurous types, Dutchman’s Draw and more specifically the Phalanx of Will, a limestone tower full of fossils
, just north of the Grand Canyon
and south of St. George, Utah
in the remote confines of the Arizona strip
, offers up a great Sunday ticket. The only drawback? You need to be a stout sport climber to participate in many of the routes. Needless to say, once I got through the several fantastic 120’ 5.10b’s, most of my time was spent picnicing with wife and friends and enjoying the show put on by a couple of local young climbers going after Fossil Eyes, a 5.14 overhung classic sport route
, if there ever was such a thing as a classic 5.14. Fossil Eyes runs through undeterred overhanging fossilized limestone for 110’ across 14 bolts.
This barren desert land is comprised of sand dunes and surprisingly a few wonderful draws of vegetation, home to deer, raptors and other animals seeking out a living in the hostile confines of the Arizona desert. One such chasm was named Dutchman’s Draw
. Unfortunately, this section of the Arizona strip also attracts ATV’s and dirt bikes. So any road a climber can access will also be subject to the roar of engines on the weekends. But, this is not southern California by any stretch and for the most part, we had the draw to ourselves on our first Sunday visit.
Glen Burke accidently found Phalanx of Will via trail running. He promptly introduced the Perkins brothers
and Jorge Visser
to the area and now Phalanx of Will has over 30 bolted routes and/or variations on its three main limestone faces, most over 100’ tall
. Even though Dutchman’s Draw is at an elevation of approximatly 3500’, higher than St. George, it would be more inhospitable during the summer months than other local crags offering little in the way of shade or relief from the summer heat.
Getting there, now that is a challenge in and of itself. I suggest you use a high clearance vehicle
and four wheel drive capability would be advisable as well. The trip starts, strangely enough, on the very southwestern edge of St. George in an area we call Washingon Fields
, an irrigated small farm community. Exit River Road off of I-15 and drive south for 1.7 miles to road 1450. Turn left (east) and drive for 2.1 miles. Turn left again on road 1580. Drive 1.6 miles to horse corrals. Turn right at the corrals. Drive for 2.4 miles at which time you cross a cattle guard. Continue down this graded road for another 2.7 miles heading southeast towards Arizona. Bear left at an intersection of sorts. Pass a dry pond and cattle loading area at 3.6 miles and turn right and cross another cattle guard and pass a solar pottie on your left. Drive 3.7 miles from this last cattle guard following any signs for Hurricane Valley (there is access from Hurricane as well). 3.7 miles should put you under some large power lines at an intersection. Continue straight through for .8 miles and turn left on another road that finally! leads into the wash that is Dutchman’s Draw. Here is where you will appreciate a high clearance vehicle. Drive an additional 1 mile or so bearing left when needed to reach Phalanx of Will which of course is quite obvious on the left of the canyon/draw.
The Routes are Listed Left to Right as you Face Each of the Three Walls
- Ingrown Thumb Crack- 100’- 5.6/
- Coral Pores- 2 Pitches- 5.11c/ The first pitch is only 5.10a.
- Nickel Bag of Funk- 130’- 5.11c/ To the mid station is only 5.9 if you want to add another moderate to the group below. It was a decent pitch.
- Smelling the Rose- 120’- 5.10b/ 15 bolts to chains near the top that it shares with the Anti Mullet. From here you can continue to the summit of the tower which has a station that allows you to use for one of you to down climb and then bring the other one back down to the chains for one 70m rap. I would not rappel from the summit on this face, too much loose rock. Smelling the Rose was the consensus best of these two side by side moderates (Anti Mullet). Both have a mid station you can use for rappel, but a 70m rope gets you to a small jump off to the boulder below the wall without having to use the mid station. I would not clip the mid station on the way up with a draw as that would result in rope drag for the upper portion of this route. If you stick to the bolts, the line is fairly straight. Just fantastic chert edges, albeit sharp on the fingers, up a vertical wall. Up to the mid station is only 5.7. (photo)
- Anti-Mullet- 120’- 5.10b/ 15 bolts to chains near the top that it shares with Smelling the Rose. Another good line, only 5.9 to the mid station. We thought the upper portion was more 5.9-5.10a versus Smelling the Rose. Same chert type edges except up right. (photo)
- Broncos Baby- 160’- 5.13a/ (looks chossy)
- Fossil Eyes- 110’- 5.14a/ (photos!)
- Vaginia’s Destination- 110’- 5.13b-c/
- Smoothin It- 110’- 5.13b/
- Of Men and Mice- 115’- 5.13c-d/
- Fossil of Mouse- 110’- 5.13a-b/
(there are multiple named variations in addition to the routes below on this southeast face)
- Fossil of Man- 110’- 5.13c-d/
- Overcomer- 100’- 5.14a/
- Pompetus Vision- 120’- 5.12d/
- Fool’s Gold Rush- 100’- 5.13d/
- Frozen Snake Dance- 120’- 5.13b/
- Windblown Groan- 95’- 5.12d/
- Cumulus Locos- 90’- 5.12c/
- Crystal Balls- 100’- 5.12a/
- Humboldt Haze- 85’- 5.12c/
- One Bulge Wonder- 130’- 5.12b/ You need a 70m rope to rappel most of the routes and therefore skipping mid stations. At least 15 draws as these are long sport climbs. There is a trade route, but it is hardly worth doing. This objective would be damn hot in the summer, I don’t recommend a visit during hot days. There is no shade in site. Take plenty of water and a spare tire when venturing this far out in the desert.
Red TapeRaptors were screeching in March, but their nests appear to be in the opposing cliffs to the tower. The BLM manages nearly 22.9 million acres of public lands in Utah, representing about 42 percent of the state. The regulations regarding most BLM land are fairly wide open compared to State and Federal parks. You are actually in the Arizona Strip when climbing at Dutchman’s Draw.