Overview: Moab, Utah
The Moab area encompasses a large basin revolving around the Colorado River that stretches from the La Sal Mountains at the eastern Utah border, to the western edge of Canyonlands National Park. Climbing surrounding Moab is among the most recognizable and distinct places in the world. Granite, limestone, and most sandstone climbing can be found in many different countries at a very high quality. But the ancient dune deposited Wingate Sandstone found in the Colorado Plateau is truly a unique gem, unrivaled in quality and quantity.
Climbers flock from all over the world to try the unique crack climbing found in the area. The area is so incredible that one can easily find groups from 6 continents climbing side by side.
Specific description of climbing style
One can find all sorts of climbing around Moab on various different types of sandstone. Mill Creek offers excellent sport climbing, and boulders can be found essentially anywhere, such as Big Bend, as the area is littered with talus fields.
However, the majority of climbers come to climb the Wingate and Navajo sandstone crack climbs which symbolize the Moab area. Indian Creek offers excellent cragging with about 1000 established rock climbs. Explore the Canyonlands on boat or off-road for guaranteed untouched adventure climbing, or climb desert towers in Castle Valley for arguably the most incredible rock formations and views on the planet.
Summers can get very hot in direct sunlight and low elevation areas. But climbing around Moab is possible anytime of the year. For the more famous areas, fall, winter, and spring offer great conditions.
Climbing grade range
Routes under the 5.10 range are rare; interestingly enough so are climbs over 5.13. However standard grading doesn’t really transfer all that well into crack climbing. Size of hand, fingers, and body are all factors, which make the climbing unique for each and every person.
Best local spot
Outside of town, there is almost no civilization. But Moab is a huge travel destination for adventures of all kinds. Great food, hostels, music, and breweries can easily be found pretty much all over.
Top climbs in area
There are about 2000 listed routes at Moab, but here are just a few of the greats:
- Kor-Ingalls Route (5.9, 4 pitches), Castleton Tower – The very first route established on this Wingate sandstone 6656-foot tower and one of the earliest modern desert routes around.
- Ancient Art (5.10, 4 pitches), Fisher Towers – A funky formation and the most popular tower in the area, this route boasts great protection that will be a delight for moderate trad climbers.
- Supercrack of the Desert (5.10), Indian Creek – A classic climb in the area that is indeed super. Endurance on this route is key!
- Jah Man (5.10, 5 pitches), Sister Superior Towers – A very steep route on the tower that requires thin hands through the cruxes.
- Incredible Hand Crack (5.10+), Indian Creek – The name doesn’t lie; it’s an incredible hand crack. Get there early, as this one’s extremely popular!
- Primrose Dihedrals (5.11+, 7 pitches), Moses Tower – A long, popular route that some even call, “the best in the desert.” Definitely a classic worth exploring for yourself!
- Scarface (5.11), Indian Creek – If you’re seeking a great finger and hand crack, get yourself on this route. Truly a fantastic climb.
- Way Rambo (5.12-), Indian Creek – Follow a crack that steadily narrows and increases in difficulty. You’ll embark on two traverses and put your thin hands to work.
- Coyne Crack (5.12), Indian Creek – A splitter with a challenging finger section that leads to thin hand jamming up to the anchors.
- Flaming Groovy (5.12c), Mill Creek – Super well protected and steep route that climbs up a large overhanging wave. Burly, but a lot of fun!
- Excommunication (5.13, 5 pitches), The Priest – A phenomenal bolted, multi-pitch route with great movement the whole way up.
Best kept secret
Not much of a secret, but the potential for climbing is endless. Adventurers and route developers will find fantastic rock anywhere they choose to look.
How stiff is the grading?
Desert crack climbing isn’t for everyone. It is a unique style that requires practice, patience, and pain tolerance. Mastering various sizes of cracks from fingers to offwidth is different for everyone, but is also very attainable for all who are interested.
Where to stay?
There are number of campsites in town, outside of town, and in most climbing areas. In Moab itself, you can find anything from hostels to hotels to suit your needs.
Moab is not only for climbing, it is also one of the most popular adventure tourism destinations for mountain bikers, hikers, BASE jumpers, highliners, jeep/off road enthusiasts, rafters, geologists, runners, eco-tourism, and many more. If you’re in Moab take advantage of all that this magical place has to offer!
Be wary of the fragile desert ecosystem. Please do not ever wander off trails, and make sure to camp only in designated areas, put out your fires, and clean up after yourself.
Now to you
These destination guides are only made possible through the feedback from climbers like yourself. Are we missing some beta? Have anything extra to share? Leave your feedback in the comments below.
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Photos in this posts have been sourced from Flickr, with usage under Creative Commons.
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