Explore Southwest Desert Climbing Sept. 16

The magnificent Titan, greatest of all desert towers. For scale, at two-thirds height on the left skyline is a feature called ‘the Duck’ with an unknown climber visible to the right. Courtesy photo

Join the Los Alamos Mountaineers at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16 at Fuller Lodge in Los Alamos for an exciting presentation by Steve “Crusher” Bartlett, a desert climber extraordinaire!

Social time and reports of recent and upcoming trips take place at 7 p.m. with the program at 7:30 p.m. 

The Southwest features the most colorful landscapes in the world. Famous for natural bridges, ethereal arches and, of course, that mile-deep canyon, this mythic land also hosts hundreds of pinnacles and
towers—vertical, frightening, fragile—that have drawn rock climbers for a hundred years.

Things got started when Berkeley, Calif. native David Brower and friends scaled the 1,800-foot-high Shiprock in 1939—a bold, groundbreaking ascent that paved the way for his later career as an environmentalist.

In the late 1950s and into the 60s things really heated up and climbers from all over the US vied to find and ascend the tallest, skinniest and steepest towers they could find. The desert is vast and mysterious and this quest is ongoing.

Colorado climber Steve “Crusher” Bartlett tells stories and shows images from highlights of this rich history and his own three decades of adventures on the stone towers of the Colorado plateau.

Bartlett learned to climb rocks as a teenager in Britain in 1976. For the last 30 years he has been exploring the desert and has climbed 150 towers, of which more than 30 were previously unclimbed.

In the presentation, he will try to convey, by word and image, something of the wonder and beauty of the Southwest desert and of the special thrill of climbing on the fragile sandstone.

Modern climbing seems increasingly consumed by bolted sport climbs and sheer athletic difficulty, leaving the desert left behind as an anachronistic backwater; to some people this is part of the appeal; a sure way to stay away from the crowds, explore the most beautiful scenery on earth and climb some of the most dramatic rock climbs ever done.


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