Rob & I set our sights on a novelty climb to warm up our stiff muscles. Montezuma’s tower is an obvious spire nestled in between the taller towers of the Garden of the Gods. It’s only appeal to rock climbers comes from the fact that it is 160 feet tall yet only 3 feet wide. It pierces up through sand like a shark’s dorsal and has been described as thin, lofty, airy, and fragile. The one line description on Mountain Project states blankly “Climb it before it falls over.” Challenge accepted!
I started up first, occasionally placing gear to protect the hardest and most vertical parts of the climb. The sandstone seemed to rub off into sand with the press of my palm. My rubber shoes stuck well to the gritty surface of the rock but I did not trust them and moved slowly up the spine of the tower. On the backside, walking along a thin rail of rock, I slung a loop of nylon webbing through one hole and out the other, clipping my rope into the two ends. I was weary that the small handle of rock holding my sling would stay intact if I should fall: psychological protection.
I mantled my body up onto the ridge, I was halfway up and the sun was starting to heat the Garden. It was a nervous feeling to have no rock to lean against like when climbing a cliff, I straddled the rock and braced myself from winds and the shifting of my body weight as I crawled up. I felt tremendously exposed on the ridge. Would it topple today? Would I be the last one to climb this delicate blade of rock?
I hooked my body over a bulge in the rock and pressed down in front of me like mounting a horse for the first time. I was at the top, in a saddle of rock, with one leg on the east face and one leg on the west face. I setup an anchor to belay Rob to the summit as well. He followed the line and was soon straddling a few feet in front of me. We were lucky to have brought up a second rope, the lengthy rappel requires two to reach the ground.
As we took turns zipping down the two tails of rope, finishing our warm-up and ready to move on to more demanding climbs, we noticed that tourists had set up cameras on tripods – they were pointed at us! We must have drawn an early morning crowd! Rob & I are sure to be in many families’ albums as a daring highlight to the Garden.