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The Watchman
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Vigil, The T 

The Vigil 

YDS: 5.11 French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E4 5c R

Type:  Trad, 10 pitches, 1300', Grade IV
Consensus:  YDS: 5.11 French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E4 5c [details]
FA: Dave Jones & Conrad Anker, May 1992
Season: Spring & Fall
Page Views: 2,911
Submitted By: bsmoot on Mar 4, 2008

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (5)
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The Vigil, photo - Dave Jones

***** RAIN AND WET ROCK ***** The sandstone in Zion is fragile and is very easily damaged when it is wet. Holds rip off and climbs have been and will continue to be permanently damaged due to climbers not respecting this phenomenon. After a heavy storm the rock will remain wet, sometimes for several days. PLEASE DO NOT CLIMB IN ZION during or after rain. A good rule of thumb is that if the ground near your climb is at all damp (and not powdery dry sand), then do not climb. There are many alternatives (limestone, granite, basalt, and plastic) nearby. Seasonal Raptor Closures MORE INFO >>>


Starts in a 7" crack & follows various sizes of cracks, face & chimney climbing to the top in 10 pitches. There is a good ledge (bivy) at mid height. This is an outstanding route, with some sporty face climbing. Topo available at visitors center.

Probably the best route on The Watchman.

Descent: Hike off or rap route.


Starts at the left third of the West face of The Watchman, in the 2nd major crack system left of a prominent, left-facing corner. See photo.


  • One set of R.P's & nuts to 1"
  • Three to four sets of cams to #4 camalot
  • Two extra #3 & #4 friends

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By roxclamantis
Mar 5, 2008

My advice would be to not even consider hiking off this route. The raps are very straightforward with no rope snag problems and great ledges/stances at each station.
By bsmoot
Mar 7, 2008

But Roxy...

What if climbers want the FULL VALUE Zion experience??? If so, hike off the back.
By Colin Moorhead
May 5, 2010
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c R

Found this to be an excellent, adventurous route. Classic in a different way then say Shunes or Monkeyfinger. Some comments to add to the supertopos rather vague description.

Rack Used. Double set of cams from tiny to #4 BD, one #5 and #6 BD, full set of wires including a couple RP's. I really could have used one extra .75 and 4 BD.

Pitch 1. 5.10a, The only pitch I used the 6" cam (it was nice to have)

Pitch 2. 5.9

Pitch 3. 5.10c

Pitch 4&5. 5.10c R, tricky route finding. Climb crack off belay for 20', step right into face crack, climb until bushes then step right and slightly down to well camoflauged bolt, straight up with some runout but straightforward climbing, protects with large cams. I linked into the base of pitch 6 in 60 meters.

Pitch 6&7. 5.11b, Inadvertantly linked these two in a 59.5 meter rope stretcher, the intermediate belay is inobvious and would be cramped and akward. This link made for one of the best 5.11 crack pitches I've done in the desert. 3 .75 and 3 #4 camalots (save at least one #4 for the end)

Pitch 8&9. 5.9, Easily linked. Less intimidating than it first appears.

Pitch 10. 5.11c R, It ain't over till it's over. Bolted slab, climbing stays hard well above the 2nd bolt, hard to say if you'd clip a ledge falling off the final, tenuous moves.

Rappel descent is relatively straight forward if you make it to the top, rappelling down the climb from anywhere above the 5th pitch would be tricky.
By Rob Duncan
From: Salt Lake City
Nov 1, 2010
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c PG13

It might be good to watch your ropes a bit on the raps, we had a few snags especially up top. chimney pitch is crazy!
By roxclamantis
May 24, 2011

Mark Austin and I got up to two pitches from the top (base of chimney pitch) on a first attempt, ultimately descending and drilling rap anchors by a rapidly dying headlamp -- we were laughing the whole way up and the whole way down. Returning with Conrad, I found the sketchy run-out free variation (Mark and I having partially aided a corner pitch to the left) and, bivying on 'Violation Ledge', we casually pushed the route to the top.
By Trevor
From: Cottonwood Heights, UT
Sep 11, 2011

so roxclamantis...did you or conrad take the "chimney" pitch? after you exit the easy initial part? in hindsight, i started up the right way, but backed down cause i was thinking this cant be the right way?!?!?! instead, i ended up climbing some of the most rotten rock i've encountered in zion to the climber's right against the main wall in the corner. after a couple moves, i was committed and backing down was not an option even though i knew i was off route by this time... i do not recommend this variation...but it's likely only zion 5.9+.
By roxclamantis
Dec 20, 2011

The chimney pitch was Conrad's lead as I had just led the prior pitch.

One of those classic 'much easier than it looks' chimney's that, I agree, looks terrifying from the bottom.
By notmyname
From: Stony Brook, NY
Mar 7, 2014

any advice for getting down without doing the last pitch?
By roxclamantis
Mar 22, 2014

Crux on the last pitch is moving immediately above the bolt. The climbing eases quickly thereafter. I don't recall it being particularly scary, and an attentive belayer should eliminate the danger.
By Travis McClinchey
From: Squamish, BC
Oct 21, 2014

Awesome route!

For those looking to do this climb, but hesitant because of the 'R' rating, I did not find it as bad as the guidebook and other comments suggests. The crux on the final pitch is at the bolt and thereafter it is maybe 5.10 for a while. Although it is runout, it is not 5.11. This is for both tall and short people.

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