Peak Climbed: "The Pharaoh"

Peak Height: 5,100'

Route: Akhenaten

Difficulty: 5.10+ A1

Location: San Rafael Swell, Utah

Trailhead: Mexican Mountain Road

Mileage & Gain: 10.5 mi & 1,700 ft RT

Date Climbed: November 9, 2019

Derek and Ryan had made the first ascent of this massive wingate tower and ranked summit this past spring, establishing a burly three pitch line on its impressive south face. Lucky for me, Ryan was interested in making a second ascent to suss out whether it would go free while he, Derek, David and I were in the area scoping out some other stuff.

On the hike in we made a pit stop to try to conquer a small formation in Spring Canyon that Derek had been calling Hueco Tower, so named because of a huge hueco at the top that is visible on the approach. Unfortunately, after a good 5.10 pitch of #4 crack we found the aesthetic splitter above to be much wider than expected. Only having a few #6 cams along and no Valley Giants we installed a bolted anchor to get down and tucked tail. Having grossly misjudged the size of the crack, we coined the pitch "Wide Shame".

Afterwards, Ryan and I climbed the Pharaoh while Derek and David bagged another small tower nearby that they called Pharaoh's Kitten. Ryan led the whole thing, hanging a bit at the first pitch crux but managing to free climb through the silty, overhung #4 section this time around. The second pitch requires a few dirty aid placements, and I got some more experience removing pitons and lost arrows. There's something very satisfying about beating a hammer on bits of iron! Ryan thinks this pitch could also go free with the placement of a pair of bolts to protect a short stretch of tough face climbing. The third and final short pitch consists of easy 5.9 climbing up a wide crack system.

After a very full day the four of us slogged back to camp, passing through quite the party on the remote airstrip located on the old, no longer drivable portion of the Mexican Mountain Road. There the occupants of at least a half dozen small airplanes were partying it up on this strangely happening Saturday night in the northern Swell. Oh, to be rich...

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