Peaks Climbed: "Lone Rock" & UN 6,333

Peak Heights: 6,145' / 6,333'

Routes: NW Face / Coriolis Effect

Difficulty: 5.8 / 5.6

Location: San Rafael Swell, Utah

Trailhead: Mexican Mountain Road

Mileage & Gain: 10 mi & 3,000 ft RT

Date Climbed: November 10, 2019

These two stunning sibling summits rise high above the end of the drivable portion of the Mexican Mountain Road. Our agenda for the day was to climb Lone Rock via a 5.8 route described in Bjørnstad's Desert Rock and to scope out UN 6,33 in hopes of finding a weakness that might deliver us to its summit. Although there are several established climbs on UN 6,333, none of them go to the top and this peak had seen no known ascents that we were aware of.

Long story short, we hiked many more miles than we needed to on the approach (~2πR). Bjørnstaded again! The guy apparently had no sense of direction. I won't delve into the details so as not to deprive future parties of the fun we had! Suffice it to say there's a very good reason we named our route on UN 6,333 the Coriolis Effect!

From the saddle between Lone Rock and UN 6,333 the climb up Lone Rock went very quickly. A couple hundred feet of steep scrambling brings one to the base of the northwest face, and from there three short pitches lead to the summit. Derek and David climbed as one team and Ryan and I as another. Derek and David replaced the webbing on two of the three anchors during the descent and we all hit the ground within minutes of each other, making the process as efficient as possible for our group of four.

From what we'd seen on our painfully comprehensive approach none of us were terribly optimistic about finding a way up UN 6,333 but the day was still fairly young so we set off exploring. Derek had studied some photos and thought our best bet was on the northwest side. As we circled around nothing looked too inviting, but agreeing that it was a little too early to return to camp and drink beer all afternoon we half-heartedly scrambled up to the base of the upper cliff band, not exactly an easy task burdened with our heavy loads.

From the base of the tall summit cliffs the choss above still wasn't especially inspiring but it did look slightly more promising than it had from down below. Ryan set off up some exciting, poorly protected slab and made a belay at a small saddle about 70 feet above. Derek followed and continued on, traversing an exposed ledge system and then climbing up a very loose 5.2 chimney into a huge gash. En route they fixed lines for David and I to follow and self belay on. This worked well and was very efficient.

The third pitch was extremely interesting and more like canyoneering than climbing. We traversed inside the seemingly bottomless gash with our backs on one wall and our feet on a horribly dirty ledge on the opposite side, each unleashing a barrage of choss down into the spooky abyss in the process. At the end a crumbly little upclimb led to a big ledge atop the cavern. Rope drag was heinous on this pitch.

A final short fourth pitch had us stepping over the gash and doing some easy 5.4 climbing to breach the summit plateau. From there it was an easy scramble to the top! There were no signs of previous visitation and we built a small cairn up there. The views from the east and west ends were out of this world.

To make the most efficient descent, David and I rapped directly back to the top of the first pitch via a gear anchor on the summit plateau. Derek and Ryan then cleaned the anchor and downclimbed the easy-ish top three pitches while David and I prepared an anchor for us all to rappel the first pitch from (a not that fantastic block). David went first to test it while I acted as a meat anchor backup. The timing was more or less impeccable, with Derek and Ryan arriving just as David and I were doing the final rap. It would be possible to install a bolted anchor on the summit plateau, but we decided it would be quicker to do what we did instead of hand drilling two bolts.

Luckily we had the complicated terrain surrounding the peaks more or less figured out at this point and the descent went much more quickly than the approach. Once we reconnected with the Mexican Mountain Road Derek graciously offered to drop his load and make a run for the car while the rest of us waited for him to pick us up, a proposition none of us could argue with. Thanks dude! Another absolutely unforgettable day in the Swell with some of the best desert mountaineering buddies on the planet.

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