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First Ascent of The Titan


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The Titan First Ascent: National Geographic Sponsors the Ascent
The bivouac ledge is just above the chimney on the northeast ridge of The Titan.

Layton Kor leads the pitch above The Duck, doing a few aid moves and then climbing the chimney above.

Photograph © Huntley Ingalls/Layton Kor Collection

Huntley Ingalls Recons The Titan

Huntley Ingalls put together a reconnaissance team in 1961 that included Boulder climbers Gerry Roach and Jim Disney. Roach became the first climber to actually put hands to stone and pound pitons in cracks at the Fisher Towers. He aided 50 feet up a wall on The Titan before retreating. In January 1962, Ingalls returned with Layton Kor, one of Colorado’s leading young climbers, and George Hurley. They looked at the towers but Layton was hardly enthusiastic.

National Geographic Sponsors the Climb

In December 1961, Huntley Ingalls had visited the Washington DC headquarters of National Geographic Magazine to pick up some caving photographs he had previously submitted. While there, he casually showed an editor a photograph of The Titan and said he was planning to climb it the next year. The editor asked Huntley to leave the image with him. On his return to Boulder, however, Huntley was surprised to find a letter from National Geographic and an offer to financially support his Fisher Towers climb and to publish an article about the ascent.

The Team: Ingalls, Kor, and Hurley

That financial support was enough to sway the 6-foot 4-inch Layton Kor, as bundle of climbing energy who was spending the early spring of 1962 climbing in Yosemite Valley, and George Hurley, a solid climber who doubled as a mild-mannered English professor at the University of Colorado.

Layton Names the Tower

The trio headed out to the desert in early May to attempt The Titan. After reconnoitering the tower, they settled on trying a route up cracks on the vertical northeast face and then following a gargoyled ridge to the final arête that led to the summit. Layton named the tower The Titan, after his girlfriend’s suggestion that it resembled the giant Titan rockets used at the beginning of the Space Age. Layton also dubbed a slender spire poised on The Titan’s north ridge The Finger of Fate, the name they later gave their route.

Want to climb The Titan? Buy a Utah guidebook and iPhone app:
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Best Climbs Moab by Stewart Green from FalconGuides
Rock Climbing Utah by Stewart Green from FalconGuides

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