The Oracle is a 700-foot pile of mud in the Fisher Towers, Utah. Being around 20 feet thick, the formation defies all laws of physics and gravity.
My good friends, Joe and Keiko, invited me to climb it with them.
“You’ll really dig this place.” They told me.
And I did. Literally.
Joe carefully excavated a passage up the first pitch until a giant mud-curtain halted progress. With no gear to stop a ground-fall, he balanced up on sandy smears and hooked a fairly solid plate of clay.
But he stayed in balance. He poked a beak behind a reasonably well attached mud-block...
... which disintegrated.
He stepped down.
But slipped on some sand and began to toboggan down a mud-ramp.
Somehow, he arrested the fall by getting his foot stuck in a crumbly crack.
I reluctantly took over the vertical mud-swim.
I pushed a beak into a neat constriction.
It didn’t work.
I placed a cam in a bomber part of the mud-curtain.
It didn’t work. Nothing would work.
I whimpered to the ground.
Joe and I made excuses...
... while Keiko zoomed up the pitch.
And so began our journey up a gigantic pile of hardened cake-mix.
We ate some nice food...
... and climbed some classic pitches.
One pitch involved tunnelling through a mud chamber.
Another followed a mud-filled crack, where the mud in the crack was actually harder than the surrounding rock.
On the crux aid pitch, Joe scratched the tip of a tiny beak into a mud-dimple. It was one of the most ridiculous aid-placements I've ever seen.
He attached his aiders and gingerly balanced upwards.
He then placed another beak tip in another mud dimple.
And another. And another. And another. Hours passed.
He ended up climbing the entire pitch only using beaks, exhausting our almost infinite supply.
After a while, we couldn’t tell what was mud...
... and what was poo.
We eventually arrived at the summit...
.... two days late for work.
The Fisher Towers are still standing. They’re waiting for more ascents. Adventure is guaranteed. I highly recommend climbing there, if you like getting dirty too.
Route Information: Beaking in Tongues, The Oracle (V, A4). First Ascent: Steve "Crusher" Bartlett and Dave Levine, April 1997. This is the only route on the main Fisher Towers with no lead bolts, rivets or enhanced placements. It’s awesome. Climb it.
Like this story? Support VDiff by downloading an e-book, or buy me a coffee. Your donation keeps this website running, and means I can have more epics and write more stories.
- Neil Chelton