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Routes in Islet In The Sky

Regular Route T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a C3+

Description

This Wingate tower has one of the better height-to-width ratios of any tower of its size. The skinny Wingate part is about 300 feet tall. It is located on the prow of the next buttress after (south) of the Monster Tower buttress. There are two towers here; Blocktop is the bigger, topheavy one behind, with the chimney splitting it down the center. Islet In The Sky has just the one route, up a real cool seam on the north side, first climbed by Ken Trout and Bruce Lella back in the mid-70s, with lots of knifeblades. The route (and the tower) has had just a handful of ascents since then. It had about five ascents with pins, and it went clean (thanks partly to the pin scars) in 1996. Since then it has had one more clean ascent that I know of. I'd be psyched to hear of others. There was once a summit register, but when I toppped out in 1996 the plastic tub had been badly damaged by the sun, and had cracked open, and the paper inside was shredded. When you eye up the line from the base, check out the way lightning has created a slew of pale burn marks zigzagging down the face. With no real crack system, thousands of years of strikes have traveled over the outside, scarring it badly.
RAIN, WET ROCK and RAPTOR CLOSURES: The sandstone around Moab is fragile and is very easily damaged when it is wet. Also please ask and be aware of Raptor Closures in areas such as CAT WALL and RESERVOIR WALL in Indian Creek Details

Getting There

This is on on the uphill side of the White Rim Trail. It is easy to spot. I parked on the side of the White Rim trail, in a "nearby" wash (downstream and slightly north), and hiked in from there. It's a long hike! best to keep to the ridge up and left, then hike across the flat plateau (directly under the tower) then angle up and right through the talus to the base on the northeast side of the tower. Not much cryptogamic soil here, so it's not too destructive. Uphill of the White Rim Trail is designated as day-use only, so you will be refused any kind of bivy permit. Best would be to get a spot in one of the nearby campsites (Gooseberry is close by, or else Airport perhaps) or try to do this in one day. (It'd be a long day; good luck). It is a long commute back out of the park in the evening. Climb this during warmer weather, as the route is completely in the shade. May is perhaps best, with the long days, so minimising the hideous commute. There is rumored to be a rappel approach, which I could not find. After hiking, from the main road to Grandview Point, across a ton of cryptogamic soil to find the overlook, there are indeed a bunch of bolts on the cliffs nearby (right abover Blocktop), but three ropes tied together failed to reach the ground, at least for me. I tried this rappel on a windy day, and (it's a mostly free rappel) was getting blown all over. There may be a more reasonable rappel approach from ledges and trees in the easier slopes in the back of the bay to the north of the tower.

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Like you said Steve, there is a easier descent in the gully/bay north of the towers. There are some cairns and two rappels are required (one short and one was a full 50 meter.) Once you know where to hike/rappel it is probably an hour or less from the car to the base of the towers.
Many thanks to Brad for scoping the descent for us.

Ben Mar 30, 2009

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