Zion - Prodigal Son
Angel's Landing, Prodigal Son climbs the right hand side of the face.
After a day of rest Mike and I started fixing on Prodigal Son (5.6 C2),
the ultimate Zion trade route that climbs the prominent Angel's Landing.
From what we could see, there seemed to be an almost constant stream of
people going up the route. We were feeling lucky then when there appeared
that there wouldn't be anyone on the wall with us. This would be important
for us to succeed with the fix and push strategy. Of course when we show
up at the base of the route, there is a party just starting with
a portaledge and all. Through talking to Jason, the belayer at the base,
we figure out that I know the guy leading, John Miller, from when he used
to go to the UW. They're real friendly, and seeing as we all want to get
to the top of pitch 3 before it gets dark we join forces on pitches 2
We decide to bivi at the base so that we can get up early enough to pass
John and Jason before they start up. Mike solos pitch 1 while I go back
and get a crap load of bivi stuff. After hauling the load up the hill
I clean the first pitch. Pitch 2 was now done, so Mike lead up and fixed
our rope from the top of 3, finding some pretty tricky aid on the third
pitch (pink tricam essential!).
Bivi party, complete with 'imported' beer and spinnin' tunes.
Dave jugging the lines early the next morning. You can see John and J's
ledge on top of pitch 3.
Photo by Mike.
I joined the guys at their bivi just as they were packing away the ledge,
having spent a somewhat rough first night. The 4th pitch is a long and
involved one, so it was quite nice of them to let us pass. I crawled up
over the bag and could juuuuust reach the first rivet with a small nut.
Several fixed pieces followed to a hook move past a "mandatory 5.7"
section (Homey don't free!) and on up into pod-ville. Offset nuts worked
well in the pod/pinscars (#6 HB), then small to medium cams lead up to
an airy pedestal belay. I used a #3 Camalot twice on this pitch.
Mike following Pitch 4.
Pitch 5 goes up a crack off the belay, then pendulums over to another
crack that leads through a small roof. More tricky aid in this 30m section
leads to an intermediate anchor before a bolt ladder to the belay under
pitch 6. Mike short fixed the bolt ladder while I cleaned the gear half
of the lead, and we were soon starting pitch 6, the so called "arched
Dave makes it past a sketchy pod at the roof on Pitch 6. Photo by Mike.
After the roof it's pretty strait in C1 until a bolt ladder over to the
exit grooves. There is one sketchy rivet here that I could just barely
use a small nut to sling, seeing as it pointed downwards!
Mike starts up the first exit groove pitch (7).
The last two aid pitches are mostly bolt ladders. Mike lead pitch 7 and
found the only tricky move to be a hook or something about half way up.
I soon started up pitch 8, which had a few gear placements off the belay
before the bolts. Many, many biners adorned the bolts above me, attesting
to the difficulty the prior party had had while cleaning the pitch. After
clipping through the bolts and fixed gear, there is a short and sandy
free section that's 4th class. I clipped a draw to the last piece after
getting off of it, and then proceeded to climb 6 ft. higher. At this point
I realized that my dangling aiders had unclipped the rope from the piece,
and conveniently clipped them selves in. Biner envy I guess! I carefully
reversed the moves down the sand-slab, and fixed things up. The belay
above is on 3 drilled angles at the base of the chimney.
Mike topping out. Beware of the loose death blocks on the ledge!!!
Dave grunts up the final chimney.
"Hey, hurry it up Dave, I hear thunder."
Hmm, the blue sky had disappeared, and it seemed as though a storm was
a brewin'. By the time I reached the tree atop the route, lightning was
arcing right overhead and it was hailing sideways. Mike dutifully jugged
the chimney, unsticking the ropes at every corner. It was fully pouring
when he reached me.
"Let's get the hell outta here!"
The rain washes the other parties off Angel's Landing.
We hiked down, caught a ride back to the Big Bend stop, and recrossed
the river to retrieve our bivi gear. Dinner was again had at Oscar's with
our new friends John, J, Andrew and Dave.
- HB Offset nuts 3-6
1-2 set of Aliens Black-Red
- 1 - Yellow-Red offset Alien
- Tricams Pink-Brown
- 1 - set of nuts, with extra small and medium sizes
- 2 - #1 Camalots
- 1 - 0.5,0.75, 2, 3 Camalot
The Visitor Center has a great topo in their collection for this route.
The SuperTopo published recently (Feb/Mar 2003?) in Rock and Ice also
looked pretty nice.