Peak Climbed: Monitor Butte

Peak Height: 5,461'

Route: The Plunge

Difficulty: 5.7 C1

Location: Courthouse Pasture, Utah

Trailhead: Monitor & Merrimac jeep road

Mileage & Gain: 0.3 mi & 380 ft RT

Date Climbed: October 6, 2019

Monitor Butte and its partner, Merrimac Butte, are two striking summits situated on the southern end of Courthouse Pasture. Apparently they are named after two battleships that duked it out in the most important naval battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Hampton Roads in Virgina. These commanding formations first caught my eye on a non-technical hike up UN 5,090 to the north way back in 2013 and they'd been floating around the back of my mind ever since.

Monitor Butte served as a fantastic finale to a long weekend in the Courthouse Pasture and Tusher Canyon area. Mark and I climbed The Plunge, a quality two pitch route on the south face. It has been freed at 5.12 but we climbed it at 5.7 C1. A short bit of mandatory, chossy free climbing leads to an excellent C1 crack system.

The summit plateau is probably THE coolest and most unique of any I've set foot on in the desert. It is pitted with GIGANTIC potholes that were apparently formed by sand particles swirling around and around in the wind. One even had a tamarisk growing in it! I've been told by a local researcher that there are fairy and tadpole shrimp cysts that lie latent in these potholes and that they comprise a very special, isolated population. Do not disturb! Apparently it is not kosher to get into the potholes.

The summit boulder, poised on the west end of the plateau in a somewhat exposed position, poses an interesting little problem. We took turns mantling onto it with the aid of each other's shoulder while on a loose belay that would prevent us from toppling over the edge of the plateau if something went terribly wrong.

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