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