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Climbing Looking Glass Rock, Moab, Utah

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How’s your friction climbing technique?

Looking Glass Rock is a terrific first multi-pitch outing, and a ton of fun for all climbers.

“You could take anyone up there,” said John Brewer of Moab Cliffs and Canyons guide service, 20 miles north in Moab, Utah. Brewers’s been climbing in the region for 20 years, and has established routes in mountains as far away as Patagonia.

“As long as you’re reasonably athletic and not intimidated by exposure, it’s a great first day out in the desert,” he said.

While this three pitch route is less demanding, it’s still a technical ascent up a sandstone dome by way of little more than dusty smearing, all a matter of friction. The only real vertical climbing is found within the first few moves, which is nice because you can quickly get away from the swarms of rattlesnakes that occupy the base area. There is actually a nice belay ledge about 10 feet up.

You can expect about three bolts per pitch, all placed when they are warranted. A fall would be more of a slide, but this route never gets more difficult than a slabby 5.4. There are nice double bolted anchors at the top of each pitch, with ample room to chill out and enjoy things.

“There is a really exciting free hanging rappel,” Brewer said. And that’s where things get spicy.

At the top of the third pitch you can wander left to an odd set of three spinning, unflushed bolts. You could rap the entire thing from here, but it’s best to use them for an awkward short rapp into a key hole notch where the real fun begins. Here you’ll find a five bolt anchor with chains and a much more exciting start to the rappel. It’s a little funky up there. You could also walk down a spine with severe exposure and approach the notch from here, but it’s a long way down, even if you are still on belay. In short, you rapp to the rapp.

The plain truth is you can do this with one 70 meter rope. All those guide books are wrong. That means no lugging up the tag line rope, no tying death knots or burly double fisherman knots, and no extra weight. That also means if you drop your rope, you’re hoping someone nice comes along soon.

The rappel is a long, 120 feet or so. It’s a very wild, free hang into a amphitheater, with another rock opening as a backdrop. It’s majestic, memorable and so fun you consider running up the whole thing again just to get another rapp. That’s where the rope swing comes in.

Once your down you can scramble back up into the amphitheater, taking up rope as you go. It’s weird, but the higher you go, the better the swing. There is a clear ledge that makes the best sense, so aim for that. And yes, watch out for the snakes. It’s worth the extra effort. Swing until your heart’s content, then lower back down.

“Anyone can do it,” Brewer said about the outing.

So go on, take a peak through the Looking Glass. 

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