The book, 50 Classic Climbs of North America, came out in the early 1980 and was then, and still is now, a collection of the great climbs from a classic era. Some of the climbs are not so great and there are climbs that are better, but these all have history behind them and are a great tick list for any modern climber.
In the 1980 there were few guidebooks and the descriptions were short, vague and sometimes wrong. But I started using the “50 Classics a guide to the best climbs in the USA” and slowly got to some 35 or so out of 50.
Problem is that the remaining climbs are by and large hard and in Alaska.
But one obvious one closer to home was the Titan in the Fisher Towers out of Moab in Utah.
The Titan though had and still does have a reputation for bad rock. The rock of the Fisher Towers is regarded as some of the worst around. A patina of mud washed down from the walls above coating everything and insecure gear placements on the biggest free standing tower in the desert.
I tried a few partners but all had enough sense to find something else important going on and become unavailable, not answering emails.
The only exception was Braden Downey who was a guide for SMC a number of years ago and now lives in Bellingham, Washington. Braden was in, so I picked him up in Vegas and we made a one day dash to Moab.
The next day was spent getting to the base and fixing ropes on the first three pitches. The rock turned out to be better than we had thought with straight forward aid, pulling on gear and Braden freeing more than I wanted to try. A lot of comfort in just standing in aiders! Next day was a six pitch day on some bad rock and mud, some scary aid over small roofs and then the final pitch. Only 100 feet long but steep and buffeted by the wind. Long reaches between new bolts interspersed with 50 year old junk.The summit is a broad plateau and a welcome respite from the surrounding verticality.
Eight or so rappels took us back to the ground and camp feeling chuffed to have done a great climb that was not as scary as its reputation but which still pushed us.
14 to go!