Jim Koegel Leading the Crux on Otto's Route, Independence Monument, Colorado National Monument (5.9)

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In May 2003 Jim, his wife Carol, and I headed to Grand Junction to try this amazing route that I had known about for years. It is  climbable at a moderate grade only because of the holes John Otto drilled in 1911 when he made his first ascent. Four pitches: I led the first (5.5). Jim led the rest. The second and third pitches were great, both 5.8; the third especially was a beautiful face climb. But the last pitch (see photo) was difficult. The holds had weathered sufficiently that the the 5.8 rating no longer applies; it is 5.9. Jim led, resting briefly on a pin, and I needed help from the rope to get over it. Jim then lowered and did it again cleanly. Carol rested, but did it without the rope. Descent by three rappels. The summit is amazing . . . the whole climb is amazing. The photo above shows Jim at the crux. The photos below show the tower from two spots just off the rim road, with much of the climbing route visible, especially the last two pitches, which are visible in both photos. This route is very popular: five parties were on it on the Sunday we were there.

Geology: The tower is made of Wingate sandstone, topped by Kayenta.

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Here is a view from the top of the Island, May 2, 2011, which shows the pitches below the Time Tunnel (in shadow on right) quite well.

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