Climbing Independence Monument – 450 feet of bliss

Independence Monument, Grand Junction Area, CO.

I had the opportunity to climb this historic desert tower recently. We climbed ‘Otto’s Route’, established by John Otto. Otto drilled foot-steps and holes for metal pipe handles throughout the route so that anyone could summit the tower. While Otto spent weeks drilling steps and putting in pipes, his wife was at the base of the tower the entire time. She came up with the idea to etch the Declaration of Independence into a large, flat-top boulder near the base of the iconic tower.

John Otto finally reached the summit of Independence Monument in 1911. On the morning of July 31st, 2015 I set out to do the same.

I led the first pitch, reached the belay ledge and set up my anchor and began belaying my partner. The desert valley was quiet, even with my partner climbing. As I’m belaying, I look down at the base and see a single big-horn sheep walking around – not minding us at all. I could hear his steps so clearly, almost echoing they were so pronounced. They valley felt untouched by man in that moment. Everything was silent. Everything was peaceful.

These are the moments I live for.

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Taken from the belay ledge at the top of the 1st pitch.

The rest of the pitches go by effortlessly, and in our group there were no worries of work or anything outside of what we were doing in that moment.

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In this moment.
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Selfie on the summit!

The summit was the stuff of dreams. 4 pitches and a hop to the summit.

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Independence Monument.
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2 thoughts on “Climbing Independence Monument – 450 feet of bliss

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  1. I did that climb in 2001, and it was a clear indicator that I am a crappy climber! The whole thing is pretty easy as you know – except for the little overhang at the top. I really struggled with that. An overhang 450 feet off the deck? Yikes. But standing at the top with the sun low in the sky was pretty sweet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indie is definitely one of those climbs where it doesn’t matter how you get to the top, as long as you get there! A member in our party almost got stuck in the short chimney section πŸ˜› That overhang spooked me as well! That was my first summer of truly climbing, so towers that tall were quite intimidating at the time. That sounds like an awesome summit!!

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