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The Devil's Golfball

 The Devil's Golfball

by Dan Russell

July 22, 2002

"Is that thing for real?" I exclaimed, as we rolled through Kane Springs Canyon in search of warm rock. Moab wasn't supposed to be this cold, even in January. We'd spent the last two days changing our plans to accommodate the colder temperatures, and woke today to yet another frosty morning.

"It looks like a nuclear mushroom cloud." Ryan strained to see out the window as Brian raced the truck up the dirt road at a speed that only a true redneck like himself can achieve. At one time, Ryan and I were petrified by Brian's driving, but what we saw in the distance was enough to distract us from his abandonment of physics on the hairpin turns and icy backroads.

"Hold on, Brian, let's check this thing out." The teetering tower of Cutler sandstone off to our left looked improbable, but it was in the sun. And besides, we hadn't bagged a desert tower summit yet this weekend. Brian stopped the truck and we hiked over to the base of the tower to find a route.

It was about six feet wide at the base, and close to twenty feet at the summit. The crumbling edifice rose for forty frightening feet in increasingly overhanging layers, capped by an orb-shaped white capstone. Brian found it in the guidebook. "It's called the Devil's Golfball. There's a bolt ladder on the backside." I liked Nuclear Mushroom Cloud better, it sounded more menacing.

Too lazy too haul our gear the 500 feet over to the climb, we spent twenty minutes maneuvering the truck over to the tower. I geared up for the lead. My rack consisted of six quickdraws and a set of aiders. Still lazy, we pulled Brian's truck directly under the route and I stood on the roof to reach the first bolt. Five bolts later, it became apparent that I would need to free a couple of moves to reach the summit plateau.

"Man! I thought this would be the desert's all-time laziest tower!" I complained.

"Just do it, bro."

"Maybe I can hook that pocket with my fifi...."

"Just stand up."

"Can you turn the music up? I need some motivation here." Bob Dylan's harmonica set the mood as I groveled my way up the last few feet and collapsed on the warm rock. Remembering my mates, I fixed the lead line and laid down again to listen to the music while Brian and then Ryan jugged up to join me. Dylan's dying voice seemed somehow right on beat with the stillness of the desert.

This is climbing. This is the desert. Friends. Dirty towers. Bob Dylan on the breeze. Sun-warmed sandstone massaging my back. Is there anything better? Dylan's timeless response rose up from the truck below us-

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.

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