Type: Trad
FA: Ron Olevsky
Page Views: 27,020 total · 128/month
Shared By: Tradkelly on Aug 30, 2001
Admins: slim, Andrew Gram, Nathan Fisher, Perin Blanchard, grk10vq

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closures Details
Access Issue: 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


The Standard Route, climb up the west ramp to the base of the obvious crack system. Climb the crack using horns, jugs, knobs, some jams and stems, and at least one awkward left-stepping face move to a ledge with 3 bolts 10' below the summit. The majority of the route goes at pretty decent 8, but be prepared for some slightly harder moves - the sandstone has eroded a bit and the climb is getting harder. Belay from here - there's plenty of room for several people on the ledge. Scramble up easy 4th class rock with some foot pockets to the summit (a piton on top and on an intermediate ledge assist in protecting this scramble) for an excellent view of the Garden of Eden. Rap (do not lower) the route from the three-bolt anchor on the ledge.


A standard set of camalots up to #4 and a couple of spare pieces in the 1.5-3 range (cams or hexes), 3' slings for runners and to hook horns will suffice. Carry or trail a second rope for the 2-rope rap off.


This is a great climb for the ham who likes to show-off for the tourists. Seriously though, this is a good mellow 5.8, hands to fist crack, with excelent protection. Mar 21, 2002
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
I agree that this a hands-to-fist crack, It protects like one, and some jamming must be done. As I recall it though (from 1996) it climbs more like a gym-route. Big moves between big holds, and slightly overhanging through the crux. Fun route.

But what prude named this formation?!?!? When you look at it "Owl" is probably not the first thing that comes to mind now, is it? Apr 24, 2002
Great Climb! There are big, easy to grab hand holds and lots of jams. Bring lots of medium to long runners, though, since almost all pro goes pretty deep in the crack. I found myself using the slings from my hexes to lengthen my quick draws. I climed it when it was windy, so I couldn't talk to my belayer. That was a little unnerving. Aug 8, 2002
Charles Dalgleish
Salt Lake City, Utah
Charles Dalgleish   Salt Lake City, Utah
Great climb with a minimal approach. Some of the most fun I've had climbing in the dessert. The route is such a surprise when you're expecting a sandy old crack and find chicken heads, calcite ledges, and a generally straight-forward route to climb. Just make sure you take a 60m rope for the rap, makes it easier. Also a great climb at night (done twice) with headlamps. Takes gear well. Oct 27, 2002
Fun route. Good place to start off in the desert. Very different than any other area. Even though its a crack, it takes little to know crack skills to climb. Bring some slings for rope drag and show up early, because everyone and their dog will be there too. Dec 11, 2002
I agree with everyone else, but this climb had been done so many times, that the rock is getting super polished and people also need to respect the rule of no white chalk in Arches. Although not visible from the road, Owl Rock has been robbed of some of its natural beauty. Mar 18, 2003
Climbed this one last weekend. Fun Route. Great view of Balanced Rock at sunset! Just a point of clarification: this route can be safely toproped with a 50m rope. It's a bit of a stretch, but definitely do-able. Just make sure your belayer ties into the other end of the rope! Apr 1, 2003
William McGehee
Choctaw, OK
William McGehee   Choctaw, OK
Be very careful about your rope's orientation when you set up the rap. Also, FORGET trying to rap from the summit's eye-bolt. Your rope will be stuck due to the ropegrooves in the rock. I had to prusik my ass back to the summit because of this. Set up the rap on the lower set of pins and have the second rappeller make sure there is NO twisting above the ledges. Sep 26, 2003
Sam Lightner, Jr.
Lander, WY
Sam Lightner, Jr.   Lander, WY
On February 15 we beefed up the newer anchor on Owl Rock, adding a 1/2 SS bolt to the in-place angle and large ring bolt (probably placed by local guides). This was equalized with brown-(camo)-heavy-gauge chain, and the chain one might use for tying up a dog was removed.

Over the years, the older anchor that once existed on the summit had created rope grooves. The newer anchor, which was in place prior to
us beefing it up, is in an improved anchor position and should mitigate those grooves and thus help preserve climbing access.

An angle-piton exists between the summit and the anchor to protect leaders in the 8 feet of 5.3 to the summit. You have to also down-lead this portion. This angle can be clipped and unclipped from the same ledge you clip the anchor from. Feb 19, 2007
Brian in SLC
Sandy, Utah
Brian in SLC   Sandy, Utah
Great work, Sam.

FA for folks interested, I believe, is Ron Olevsky (which might help explain any drilled angles). Feb 19, 2007
Chris O'Connor
boulder, co
Chris O'Connor   boulder, co
Great rock in one of the most beautiful places in the region, with great views of the La Sal mountains. Don't miss it, it's a lot like Lizard Rock in the Fisher Towers: small and easy but for some reason it's fun and memorable. Mar 6, 2007
Kevin Sainio
Durango, CO
Kevin Sainio   Durango, CO
A good climb on mostly solid rock. There are a couple of large, loose rocks on the ledge right before the anchor. Also, I found large wires to be very helpful in protecting this route i.e. the BIG wild country rocks. Good fun. Apr 16, 2007
toddgordon Gordon
Joshua Tree, California
toddgordon Gordon   Joshua Tree, California
Ron scored a coup with this one; probably the most popular climb in Arches! (And a good one too!). I was surprised reading these posts that no one mentioned that the reason that this formation is called owl rock is NOT because it looks like an owl, BUT because , at one time, there was a large boulder on the summit that looked like an owl, but has since fallen (or was trundled;....) off . There are photos of the formation with the "owl" ;.....too bad the owl is gone, as it was WAY cool looking. I first did this climb in 1983 with Lori Graf, but it was yesterday's papers by then, as Ron did the first ascent WAY back in Feb. of 1978. It's close location to the road, (and gawking tourists), excellent protection, and wonderful steep climbing, as well as a very cool summit, make this a must do. I've done the thing many times, and it's worthy of repeat ascents. There can be "mini-traffic jams" so be wary of this; another climb sometimes "over-loved." Apr 27, 2007
M. Morley
Sacramento, CA
M. Morley   Sacramento, CA  
Cool story about the summit "owl", Todd. If you or anyone else has an old photo with the "summit owl", I'd love to see it! Apr 27, 2007
Birmingham, AL
BirminghamBen   Birmingham, AL
My first Tower...descent, easy route. Oct 19, 2008
Laramie, WY
Petsfed   Laramie, WY
I sewed it up with a double set of cams from #1 C4 to #3 C4, plus a #4 C4, an old style #4 (purple) camalot, and a handful of large nuts. I did however use every single sling I had. The good placements are deep enough in the crack that rope drag would be heinous (especially after the crux bulge) if you didn't sling everything long.

Remarkably steep for the grade. Crux is not quite in the same character as the rest of the route, but you have good pro (doubly so if you're tall enough to weasel in a high #3 C4/3.5 friend), after which it turns super relaxed. The summit eye-bolt is completely gone now, so plan accordingly.

Also, I wasn't terribly impressed with the climbing on this route. Its fun to top it out, but aside from the somewhat awkward crux, the moves just felt repetitive and boring, like a climbing gym jug haul.

Finally, I'm not seein' the wang Tony. Apparently you are (not that there's anything wrong with that ;) ) but I don't see it. Mar 16, 2009
Chris Wenker
Santa Fe
Chris Wenker   Santa Fe
What a hoot!

/Can't believe I'm the first to post that.
//sorry Jun 5, 2009
Boulder, CO
T.Ward   Boulder, CO
The route description advises bringing a second rope for the rappel; however, a single 60M is long enough to rappel from the three-bolt anchors. Oct 19, 2009
Josh Cameron
Josh Cameron   California
A great climb to do while in Arches. It's very steep and some of the bulges, especially at the start, make the climb feel overhanging, but whenever you feel stuck reach over your head and you should find a good jug. And please downclimb from the summit instead of lowering. Peoples' ropes have been wearing grooves into the rock. Have fun! Nov 29, 2010

i was pleasantly surprised by the climbing on this thing. pretty unique for the desert. jug hauling, knee barring, steep, different. really fun, and it makes for a great mellow last day. Nov 28, 2011
Hendo Henderson
Denver, CO
Hendo Henderson   Denver, CO
Bulges. I hate bulges! Yet, I did enjoy this climb. Good pro all the way up. Make sure you bring some slings to extend your gear though. I got sketched out 20ft before the top. So I guess I'd consider that the crux. Crazy the amount of good holds there are on this climb though! Oct 23, 2012

Also, #4 camalot is not crucial, but nice. Long slings mandatory. Mostly mid-sized gear (.75-2 camalots) Oct 29, 2012
Mark P Thomas
Mark P Thomas   Draper
Very steep but solid, clean, and juggy with easy gear placements. According to the photo time stamps, it took me about 10 minutes or less to onsight this. Very straightforward. This route has some of the most solid rock in Arches! Nov 22, 2012
Fun route! Apr 22, 2013
Great route! There are 2 drilled pitons between the chains and the summit now. Everything is pretty smooth up in there. I thought this thing felt pretty sporty for a crack, didn't need much jamming. Don't forget to get a photo with the Jesus/Buddha piece up there at the chains! Jul 26, 2013
Peter Blank
Grand Junction, Colorado
Peter Blank   Grand Junction, Colorado
Yo, I've got your rope. Shoot me an email and we'll figure something out. Saturday, 9.28.14.
Peter Sep 28, 2014
eli poss
Durango, Co
eli poss   Durango, Co
Did this today without a #4 and had no problem. I brought 2 #3s up and only used one of em. I used 2x #1s and 2x #2s although I ran out the last 10-20ft before the anchors cause it was easy climbing. Jamming help considerably in a couple places but most of it climbs more like a face than a crack. Nov 8, 2015
Michael Dom
Michael Dom  
I only ended up tossing a handful of pieces in, not because it wasn't available but because you are so secure this entire route. The name doesn't match the image however. Dec 22, 2015
This is a long shot, but yesterday I lost 2x 1s, a .5, a .4, and 5 draws (2 sport, 3 alpine) at the base or top of either Owl Rock or Jah Man. This dirtbag climber would be insurmountably grateful should anyone find them and will offer a $100 for their safe return. I'll admit that isn't much, but it's about all I have right now. Thanks. Nov 16, 2016
DJ Reyes
Northern Nevada
DJ Reyes   Northern Nevada
I led this today (Black Friday) on a cool, but sunny day. I thought it was a bit difficult to arrange protection a time or two due to a couple of awkward stances, but otherwise the climbing was fairly straight forward if not a bit slick from the many boots that went before. I agree with the previous comment about reaching higher for jugs if you get in a bind. A nice tower to summit. You'll probably have to wait in line, but what the heck. Nov 25, 2016
Place the #4 when you first think you need it, otherwise you'll have carried it for nothing like me. May 9, 2017
Truckee, California
Jskierpx   Truckee, California
Great climb for a first desert tower lead. I was a bit curious as to whether this would be 1 or 2 pitches as I have 2 books saying 2 different things. I did not see an intermediate belay (but could have missed it?) and led it as 1 pitch.

Adding to what Sam Lightner stated above, there now appears to be 2 angle irons in the top 15 feet to lead (and down lead) back to the rap anchors safely. Nov 1, 2017
If you want to back up the piton on the summit, there is a horizontal pocket that is perfect for a #2. Apr 3, 2018
Kyle McCrohan
Brier, WA
Kyle McCrohan   Brier, WA
I climbed this when I had only been leading trad for a few days and did not know how to crack climb. Got through just fine with face moves, and thoroughly enjoyed it! Only needed a single #3 cam and doubles #2. Awesome feature to climb if you're in the area! May 4, 2018
Iain Crawford
Carson City, NV
Iain Crawford   Carson City, NV
Most polished and juggy, crack climb I've done. Used a BD #0.75-4 with an extra #3. Placed the #4 since I brought it, but it isn't needed. Sep 8, 2018