Until that moment I had never wheeled anywhere so beautiful, so dangerous… and so epic. There are plenty of trails & obstacles on the East Coast to rival the difficulty, but very few that replicate the consequences of failure. Take a wrong line on Escalator or Hell’s Gate and your punishment isn’t just dented sheet metal, it can be a long end-over-end tumble to the bottom of an unforgiving rock face. Not paying attention on Moab Rim? A many-hundred foot fall to the valley below awaits. Miss the line by just a few inches in Mickey’s Hot Tub? You’ll be upside down & Instagram famous in a flash. With all that risk though, comes great reward! Every trail is surrounded by 360-degrees of red rock, an indescribable beauty that seems to go on forever. The sheer amount & length of the trail is staggering! You can spend weeks there, just running a new epic trail every day.
Because of the sandpaper-like grip of the slick rock when it’s dry, many trails are doable in a near stock 4×4 with some creative lines or bypasses, but what do you build when you want tackle nearly every obstacle Moab has to offer (and look cool doing it)? At JcrOffroad – we built Project Ascender.
Ascender started as an ’05 Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited. To that, we added a Rock Krawler Pro Coil-Over long-arm, stretching the rear Teraflex CRD60 axle back about 4in, and the front Tera60 forward 1in. Wheelbase is king on Moab’s steep climbs, and 109″ is plenty of it. JCR Highline flares all around allowed us to run 40″ Nitto Trail Grapplers, wrapped around 17″ Trail Ready beadlocks… and do it with only about 4in of lift (keeping the center of gravity low). 5.38 gears, ARB air lockers, 1350 Adam’s Driveshafts, and an Altas transfer case keep all 4 tires spinning nice & slow when the trail gets sketchy.
For those moments where our inner teenagers come out behind the wheel, we added a RIPP supercharger to the 4.0, breathing through a full custom Magnaflow exhaust. It makes all the right noises, and has enough power to solve the problems that ‘finesse’ won’t. A Warn Zeon winch sits on the JCR Dagger front bumper – for when all hope is lost.
The Jeep started its life silver, and that was just way too boring. So after we built a custom fastback style cage, we painted the whole thing Firecracker Red with plenty of satin black accents for that hotrod flavor. The interior is no-nonsense, with Bartact seat covers, a Max-Bilt center console, and a custom ‘prancing unicorn’ themed gauge cluster from our friends at Azzy’s Design Works… sorry Enzo.
Ascender is one of those Jeeps that looks too pretty to be on the trail, but that’s not really something we believe in here at JCR. Look close enough, and you’ll see evidence of times where the rocks bit back. And each scratch in the armor a small badge of honor… a fond memory of one of our favorite places in the world to play with Jeeps.
Text by Daryl Hutson Photos by JcrOffroad