Alex Honnold on Moab's Concepcion
The only thing I'd ever seen in print about Concepcion was a little sidebar in a climbing magazine that listed it at 5.14 and among the hardest trad climbs in the country. I could find no other real information about it. But I was told to wander up Day Canyon outside of Moab and keep my eyes open for an amazing splitter.
The striking line was not hard to find, particularly because it turned out a Moab local was projecting it at the time—there was a fixed line on it and tick marks all over the route. Still, I was a little intimidated on my first try. It was rumored to have a V9 boulder problem off the deck and another one at 40 feet. I dogged through the route, following the tick marks. The ticks made the whole process a lot easier for me since they marked every constriction, edge, smear—basically everything useful was ticked.
I left after the dogging session on the route and came back a few days later for a second try. This time Cory Richards jugged the fixed line (and removed the fixed gear) and took photos while I tried to redpoint. It started to drizzle while I tied in; I'm squinting in all the photos trying to look up into the rain. (This picture was actually taken on a different day than when I redpointed the route. I came back with a friend who wanted to try it and Cory decided to shoot from across the canyon to capture the impressively blank wall.)
In hindsight I should have tried to onsight the route. Concepcion is your standard desert enduro climbing—one of my favorite styles. But I was too intimidated.
Concepcion is an amazing route. It's the only feature on the wall. It’s a perfect splitter that tops out the canyon (it's an old three-pitch aid line, and the free version climbs the first two pitches in one 70-meter pitch and then lowers, so I didn't top out).
Is Concepcion one of the hardest trad climbs in the country? I don’t think so… but it's certainly one of the prettiest.