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Gagner, Aslaksen Beak Up King Fisher

King Fisher, Fisher Towers, Utah, showing Death of American Democracy (5.10 A4 R, Beyer, 500’) in blue and a new route by Jeremy Aslaksen and Paul Gagner in red. The pair climbed Weird Science (V 5.7 A4 R, 5 pitches, 500’) over four days, October 14-17, placing beaks most of the way. [Photo] Jeremy Aslaksen

A difficult aid line has been added to the south face of King Fisher in the notoriously muddy Fisher Towers outside Moab, Utah. Jeremy Aslaksen and Paul Gagner climbed Weird Science (V 5.7 A4 R, 5 pitches, 500′) over four days, October 14-17, after making the third ascent of The Big Nasty (V 5.8 A4 R, 5 pitches, ca. 500′) October 11-13 on nearby Doric Column in the Mystery Towers.

Weird Science climbs about 50 feet left of Death of American Democracy (5.10 A4 R, Beyer, 500′) and follows a “very thin series of seams/corners and blankety-blank,” Aslaksen said in a trip report on The line is sustained, with one pitch of A4 and three pitches of A3 before a short scramble up loose summit blocks (5.7 A1, 30′).

The pair resorted to numerous delicate and “manky” beak placements in lieu of overdrilling. Aslaksen said the route was “99 percent aid and 95 percent beaks, of all sizes.” They placed 24 bolts, 10 of them at belays.

In his trip report, Aslaksen added that Pitch 1 was the most difficult and dangerous part of the climb: “I’m not really good at all this aid rating mumbo-jumbo…but the possibility of ripping the whole string of jive and taking a 90 foot grounder was very real.”

The pair climbed one pitch each day, fixed lines and returned to camp each afternoon. On October 17 they also led the last pitch to the partially detached summit then rappelled the route.

Aslaksen leads the crux, Pitch 1 (A4). [Photo] Paul Gagner

Last year Aslaksen and Gagner climbed the line to its right, Death of American Democracy, together. Despite its similar grade, Aslaksen believes Weird Science is more committing. “It’s probably harder [than American Democracy] and definitely thinner,” he said.

With such few features and mandatory, sustained beak placements, he was shocked that they climbed the route with relative ease. “Pitch upon pitch upon pitch of beaks,” Aslaksen said, is the next logical step in pushing the boundaries of aid climbing in the desert. “That’ll be the next level after the Beyer, Crusher routes that are out there–it’s going to be seams that you can’t even see until you’re on top of them.”

Sources: Jeremy Aslaksen,,

Gagner (left) and Aslaksen reach the summit of King Fisher via Weird Science on October 17. [Photo] Jeremy Aslaksen