Monday, October 6, 2014

Lake Powell & First Ascent (?) Cookie Jar Butte

October 3-5, 2014

I spent this past weekend with my sister and her family on a houseboat at Lake Powell.  We parked the houseboat in Padre Bay on the north side of Cookie Jar Butte.  The Butte stands about 1,000 ft above the water and seems nearly impossible to climb - except for a weakness on the North Face, which John has been eyeing for years.  So when we weren't skiing, hiking, jumping off cliffs, playing with the kids, exploring, or playing cards, John and I were up on the Butte attempting to put up a new route.      

We quickly realized why this hadn't been climbed before - it was hard climbing, chossy and loose! We sieged the first pitch using a number of techniques, including some scary aid climbing (~5.10, C3).  It took us a couple hours to establish the first pitch.  We left the rope and ascended the rope the following day. 

The next day, the climbing continued and improved (but by no means good climbing).  Each ledge had loose sand and rocks, almost every hold broke off and the pro was iffy, but we free-climbed 2 more pitches nonetheless.  We stopped just below a steep, wide chimney.  The climbing would be great, if the rock were solid but alas.  At this point, we decided to find a way down.  With a little investigation, we found some old bolts and webbing on a nearby ledge.  The webbing broke when we pulled on it.  These bolts were at least 15 years old.  I suspect that whoever put those bolts in had a similar experience as we did.  We are not sure if anyone has stood on top of Cookie Jar but we were definitely not the first to try.  We replaced the webbing and rapped to the ground. 

Cookie Jar Butte
Uncle, Nephew, Mother
Rainbow Bridge
Flattering selfie of us at Rainbow Bridge
Narrow canyons at Lake Powell
Exploring slot canyons at Lake Powell
Lie-backing
Deep water soloing
Skiing
Bovi 
John and Bovi
John on lead, aiding the first pitch
John finishing up 3rd pitch
Cookie Jar selfie

Rappel shadow
Flying baby, distressed mother
More skiing
More jumping