• Stewart M. Green

Eric Bjornstad and the First Ascent of Moses near Moab


I first met Eric Bjørnstad in late March, 1973. It was spring break and I sped over with Kurt Rasmussen to meet up with Jim Dunn and Douglas Snively, two climbing buddies roaming about the canyon country on a month-long expedition. They had already climbed a bunch of towers, including the 1st ascent of Castleton’s North Face and The Hindu. Our sights were set on doing the 2nd ascent of Moses, a proud tower thrust above Taylor Canyon in remote Canyonlands National Park. Eric, along with Fred Beckey and three others, made the 1st ascent of Moses in three days in October 1972. Now Eric was going to drive us back to Moses for our attempt. Jimmie said, “You got to meet Eric. He has this really cool teahouse in Moab.” So, after greeting Jim and Doug on the River Road, we caravanned down to Moab and stopped at Teahouse Tamarisk. The place, on the west side of the street opposite today’s Eddie McStiff’s Brewery, had a 24-page menu, over a hundred varieties of herbal teas, and a big brass espresso machine with an eagle perched on top. It was quite out of place for Moab in 1973, then still a rustic backroads town not far removed from the post-World War II uranium boom. But a teahouse in Moab—amazing! Eric knew how to do things right though. He knew about running a teahouse. At night candlelight glowed on all the tables at the Tamarisk. Fresh flowers adorned every table because, as Eric says, “I gave a phosphate to the local kids if they would bring me a bouquet of wildflowers every day. It cost me a nickel to make a phosphate so I had fresh flowers every day. I also played only classical music, low. It was a neat place.” Here's a classic 1972 photo that Eric gave me to scan a few years ago. He snapped Fred Beckey scoping out the North Face of Moses before their successful ascent. Lin Ottinger in Moab, who had discovered the tower by airplane, lent them a couple dune buggies to haul gear out to Taylor Canyon.

Fred Beckey scopes out the North Face of Moses before its first ascent in 1972. Photograph by Eric Bjornstad

#moab #canyonlandsnationalpark #climbing #deserttowers #ericbjornstad #fredbeckey

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