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Tonka Tower
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Tonka Tower T 

Tonka Tower 

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

Type:  Trad, Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Earl Wiggins, Katy Cassidy,Chris Begue, Bill Schmausser, Geo
Page Views: 1,970
Submitted By: J. Hickok on Jan 25, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (23)
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Northeast rap.

  • Read about Anchor Replacement and Restrictions in Arches National Park MORE INFO >>>
  • RAIN AND WET ROCK The sandstone around Moab is fragile and is very easily damaged when it is wet. MORE INFO >>>

  • Description 

    This tower requires a fairly short hike and an adventurous climber, or two.

    Climbed at 5.8 A0 or 5.11.

    The second time I ascended this route, I inadvertently knocked a seemingly "OK" piece of rock off the wall - it was huge. Don't know what the current choss factor is like, but be careful.

    This route is fun and often windy. Fresh snow can make topping out the final moves a little scary, so avoid that situation of possible, but I guess that goes for many routes!

    The climbing is fairly easy (at A0) and fairly well protected to a chimney. Climb the chimney and belay here or keep climbing to the summit with extra rope drag.

    Summit moves: Climb a fairly well spaced bolt ladder to top by aid or free climbing at 5.11. Slightly heady above bolts.

    Summary: Go out and have some fun, mostly easy climbing, easy summit, good view.


    One set of friends and stoppers. Long slings, potentially for aiding.

    Photos of Tonka Tower Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Rapping off the Tonka
    Rapping off the Tonka
    Rock Climbing Photo: Rapping off superman-style at dusk, October 2003.
    Rapping off superman-style at dusk, October 2003.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Lucy performs the drop of faith.
    Lucy performs the drop of faith.
    Rock Climbing Photo: That guy was from Kali-For-Nia.
    That guy was from Kali-For-Nia.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Tonka Tower is second from left. Climb begins on o...
    BETA PHOTO: Tonka Tower is second from left. Climb begins on o...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Belaying.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down at the belay ledge from the summit.  ...
    Looking down at the belay ledge from the summit. ...
    Rock Climbing Photo: North side rap on a single 60m...comes up a bit sh...
    BETA PHOTO: North side rap on a single 60m...comes up a bit sh...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Tonka Tower
    Tonka Tower

    Comments on Tonka Tower Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 1, 2014
    By Stan Pitcher
    From: SLC, UT
    Oct 21, 2002

    Didn't see any anchors below the bolt ladder so used the lowest bolt on the 2 bolt ladder for the 1st pitch belay. You could get some large cams in but I didn't have any. I almost pulled a loose hold onto my partner while trying to free some of the moves on the ladder so be careful if you try that.
    By Brian Shelton
    Aug 28, 2003

    The rope grooves on the summit will stick your cord in a heartbeat. Watch out.
    By William McGehee
    From: Choctaw, OK
    Oct 6, 2003

    The generally accepted first belay point is in fact the large eye-bolt on the top of the "sub-summit." The chimney before the s-s is very simple with some odd moves. The second pitch was very difficult, but a BLAST. If you're seconding, free it. After you gain the "middle block" after the s-s, the crux is getting onto the summit block. From there 5.10+ face moves will get you to the summit, a mere 15' away. Emphasis on Joel's remark about climbing above the last bolt... If you're leading this on aid, have fun. It's scary.

    Concerning the rap: DO NOT rap off the south side (or the side you started from). The rope-grooves will kick your butt. Double 60's to the ground on the side of the summit where the rap-anchors actually ARE...Cheers!~Wm
    By Bo Johnston
    Nov 16, 2004

    Just climbed this a couple weeks ago and had fun. We climbed to the top in one pitch with just a little bit of rope drag. We had a 70M rope but a 60M would make it too. We only needed the 70M for the rap too. It's about 110 feet to the ground.
    By toddgordon
    From: Joshua Tree, California
    Apr 27, 2007

    The free moves near the top caused me to "pause and hesitate; if only for a moment." Did this climb with Maryann Loehr in April, 1998; we had fun. An Earl Wiggins and Co. route; had the pleasure of visiting with Earl on a few occasions; another soul missed by the climbing community.
    By UncleBen
    From: The Briar Patch
    Oct 19, 2008

    Nice 2nd tower for me...lead it in one pitch with doubles. Thought we were off route until on top of the left most pinnacle. Great position on top, looking at the arches and the tourists slogging it out. Great approach as well, moderately long, but flat and over agreeable terrain.
    By Darren Knezek
    Nov 28, 2008

    In case you want to approach this tower as a free climb rather than an aid climb, here's what worked for me. Climb the chimney and belay on the sub-pillar. This seems around 5.8. I would break the last pitch into two pitches. For the second pitch climb a very short section past a sandy little block and belay on a ledge below two drilled angles. (You don't have to break this up into two pitches, but if you fell on the last section you would land directly onto this ledge with rope stretch.) Climb up to the left of the drilled angles rather than to the right which looks easier, but turns out to be quite harder. The moves here are fun, big, and the holds are a little on the slopey side at times. Blowing it clipping the second drilled angle would be uber-bad. I thought that this felt like 5.11c on the lead. Toproping it will be a lot easier because A) It's not scary and B) Your buddy could give you a little rope tension and make it easier to weight your feet. I used the same gear as the description.
    By clay meier
    Sep 17, 2009

    The approach info on this is a bit off. As you are hiking up the trail toward the arches make a right (south)BEFORE you even get to any rocks that actually stick up above the desert floor. Then hike around the parking lot side of turret arch. from here head south around all the arches and tourists to the tower (the entire approach stays on the right side of turret arch and any of the rocks/cliffs around it). rap the NORTHEAST side of the tower NOT the south side where the grooves are. We just barely made it down on one 70 meter.
    By Steve Bond
    Oct 12, 2009

    Rapping off the North Side (toward Turret Arch/Windows) on a single 60m rope left us about 10-15 feet short. Still possible...just need to down climb (not a gimme down climb) and rig a way to retrieve the rope i.e. prusik on end of rope). Probably easier to bring two ropes. Fun climb. Short approach. Worth the trip.
    By Eric Odenthal
    Nov 8, 2009

    one of the easier summits in arches, with a sick view. i stopped the first pitch near the top of the tower using the first warthog and random single pin on the pillar behind as an anchor. you could use the single pin and a yellow tcu as an anchor as well. The move above the warthog gave me some pause. the wind was blowing at a constant 40mph which made it exciting. Once around that, there is a warthog and pin, top step and move off the pin for the final moves. What a view! added some anchor material, it was chossified.
    By jakobi
    From: moab, utah
    Dec 15, 2010

    Goes free at mid 5.11.
    By Aaron Ihinger
    From: Ridgway,CO
    Apr 25, 2011

    Jamie lead the first pitch to a single pin on the lowest summit. A quick recon to the North found him a #3, #4, & #5 cam placement to back his belay. There was also a large hex just chillin' there? I lead the upper pitch from the step across and (as a 5.9 leader) french fried the top. I never saw any bolts or pins (aside from the bolt ladder) that S. Green indicates in his pictoral topo...
    Fun climb! no traffic! bring sunscreen!
    By Bill Olszewski
    From: Colorado Springs, CO
    Jul 16, 2011

    Fantastic route. Stepping across the first chasm was epic; standing on the last pin and going for the mantle really made this climb. Great exposure! Great headgame.
    By jason malczyk
    From: General Delivery
    May 10, 2012
    rating: 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c

    just another reminder, do not rap the side with the rope grooves. rap away from the side you climbed. Rap toward the arches.
    By Jennifer L
    Apr 1, 2014
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a PG13

    We climbed Tonka Tower on 3/31/14. The rock quality was chossy at best. Huge chunks of rock and sand came down with each climber. At the top of the first pitch, there is a whopping ONE rusty bolt for protection leading over the first gap to the shorter A0 section. A ladder system of some point is imperative. A plethora of old and weathered (read:questionable) gear has been left on both pitches. The grade of climbing, to us, was much closer to 5.9. The views are indeed tremendous.

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