Type: Trad
FA: Jimmy Dunn
Page Views: 24,223 total · 110/month
Shared By: Steve "Crusher" Bartlett on Dec 31, 2000 with updates from Knibbler
Admins: slim, Andrew Gram, Nathan Fisher, Perin Blanchard, grk10vq

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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


Unfortunately, sometime during the first week of August 2014, it is suspected that The Cobra had succumb to severe weather and thunderstorms. The once proud, albeit precarious tower is no longer. There were no injuries and no one was present to witness its sudden demise. This page will be left to preserve its history.

Crusher edit: Someone beat me to the update, thanks. RIP Cobra.

I've seen pics of folks jumping up and down on the summit, and even pics of a with slack line rigged over the top. Amazing that it fell down by itself, with no one to see. I'll leave the rest of the text as it was written, 14 years ago.

This route is a Fisher Tower classic. It should be a mandatory lead for anyone who wants to climb the larger towers. So unlikely, yet so much fun, and semi-terrifying too. Sart on the north side below a crack system. Up this at 5.9 or so, ending up on the obvious ledge on the west. A tricky mantel here (some kind of small camming device) gains another ledge below the major bulge above. Here you can actually throw a long piece of webbing all around the tower for protection. Reaching and clipping the fixed pin above is not easy. When I did this the wind was blowing real hard so every time I teetered up with a view to clipping the rope into the quickdraw, the quickdraw kept swinging out of reach. Scary. However the benefit of the wind was that the sling I slung round the whole tower just flew right round and back into my hands. Once the quickdraw is safely clipped, lurch upwards. Most folks go for a full-on dyno here, but I figured out an awkward but cool sequence to avoid this. The pin is drilled into what looks like pettrified mashed potato (with paprika), so heavy falls are perhaps not such a good idea. Anyway, once you've gained the rail above the "bolt" the final overhang seems pretty easy (if inelegant). I kinda recall that a large (4-inch ?)cam goes in under here, but watch for rope drag. Once I was on top, the wind almost blew me right back off, and, acutely aware that a windy day is just the kind of day which will see this thing fall over, I stayed perhaps a second, before lowering, mildly gibbering, to the ground. Best to keep your eyes shut while lowering, as this Cobra sure looks like it has some nasty eating disorder.


This route needs a small rack of medium/large cams for the first half, a very long sling to tie off the tower halfway up, and a quickdraw for the bolt/fixed pin. Finally there are two bolts on top with fixed webbing and fixed biners, so you can lower/toprope rappel.
George Bell
Boulder, CO
George Bell   Boulder, CO
This sick tower gets my vote as "most likely to fall down in the next 10 years". What is holding it up? Feb 20, 2002
Brad Schildt
Boulder, CO
  5.11b R
Brad Schildt   Boulder, CO
  5.11b R
Why climb the Cobra? Because it shouldn't still be there. May 31, 2002
You need a little over 10 feet of sling to tie off the neck of the Cobra below the fixed pin; I used a long cordelette. This is key protection and makes clipping the fixed pin above just mildly unnerving. Oct 30, 2002
The rack for me consisted of an orange TCU and #2 camalot, but would they hold a fall? I guarantee it wouldn't. Please be considerate of you life saving belayer and don't hit him in the head with those huge stones half way up.....oooops! Clipping the pin is easier on the left of the pin, but surpassing the pin goes to the right, IMO. I love those roof jugs! Mar 18, 2003
The only piece of worthwhile gear on this route is the 10 ft sling around the neck (so bring it!). I brought a couple large cams but didn't bother placing them since the rock in that section is of the horrible kitty litter/coblestone variety. The 'bolt' looks pretty bad, but I'm sure its taken some falls since the crux move is pretty tricky. May 5, 2003
This tower is good spicy fun, despite its short length. Clipping the pin is hard, moving past the pin even harder. You might want a screamer for the pin particularly if you don't girth hitch the tower. The last moves are easy if steep rock is your thing, and comparatively well protected with cams beneath the caprock. This is a very delicate tower with a not-so-relaxing summit! Apr 5, 2006
James Beissel
Boulder, CO
James Beissel   Boulder, CO
A 3.5 Camalot or #4 C4 fits below the caprock for some peace of mind doing the final mantle. Oct 23, 2006
Finally climbed this yesterday after coming off ancient art. Took a #3 up but didn't place it. Clipping the "bolt" was very insecure, especially since I didn't have any gear below it, not sure how folks under 6ft would do it. However, once you're in that finger lock just left of the bolt the holds seem to just get better and better. Very cool moves. Could use some new webbing up top, didn't have any with us, but anchor was pretty manky. Enjoy Sep 16, 2008
Denver, CO
jbarnum   Denver, CO
Worth the time if you are in the Fishers, of course for the quintessential photo. We made the climb much easier, and fun, by stick clipping the piton from the good stance below. Pretty much unprotected until that point. We are not 5.11 R climbers, but were able to enjoy the moves (goes right to nice hands) and spectacular unusual summit. We left the stick in one of the chimneys on the front of the formation, for those Ancient Art climbers wishing to tackle another summit, like us. Oct 20, 2008
Sandy, UT
notmyname   Sandy, UT
you can get a BOMBER .5 camalot just left of the drilled angle in that left hand side-pull. It's a blind placement however, so place it, and really yank on it to make sure it'll hold if you blow it while clipping the angle. The summit moves are very easy so the #3 camalot isn't necessary. I nested a #1 and #2 camalot at the base of the neck to keep me from decking. Dec 7, 2008
Allen Hill
FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Allen Hill   FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
I watched a then 68 year old Czech climbing legend Petr Prachtal free solo and then down climb this route. Just about the most nerve racking I've ever witnessed. It was his first route ever on any type of North American sandstone. Apr 11, 2009
  5.11- R
Mike   Phoenix
  5.11- R
This is a quick & fun climb, and pairs well with Ancient Art. Go ahead, climb it while you still can! Jul 9, 2009
Noah McKelvin
Colorado Springs
  5.11b R
Noah McKelvin   Colorado Springs
  5.11b R
You can get a sling around part of the first ledge. But it should be a long sling. The gear is not very trustworthy on this climb. Do it before it falls! Awesome! Oct 18, 2010
Boulder, Colorado
Dr. VARMENT   Boulder, Colorado
This is an incredibly inflated grade. The climb is certainly run out but 5.11, give me a break, the crux is V0 at best, protected by a bolt and littered with huge jugs. I placed a 10 stopper between two cobbles near the bottom of the neck. The climbing is rather boring, but the photos are great and is a good thing to check off your list if your in the area. Feb 8, 2011
Did this 11/3/12 and found out that a 9 ft sling is not long enough to girth the neck. I had to extend it with a 2 ft runner. A #4 C4 does fit under the capstone, but a #2 would be a better piece.

If you climb the series of ledges that face Ancient Art you are basically doing a free solo with the only gear worth anything I could find being a questionable .75 C4 towards the backside on the first big sub ledge. If you climb the bigger crack that faces Sundial you can actually get some pro. Either way the moves are not too bad.

The crux moves are not littered with jugs; however, just as you pass the crux there are jugs to the summit. Technically .11a/b ranks in at the V0/1 range, so the above comment is true. However, these moves are no gimme. Nov 4, 2012
paul bucher
moab, utah
paul bucher   moab, utah
super fun!!! i figure this thing has been standing for five million years (or five thousand, depending on what you believe), either way it's still probably going to be there next weekend. don't climb it because it's going to fall; climb it because it's fun. 5.9 A0 if ya pull on the draw. Nov 6, 2012
Evan Deis
  5.11b R
Evan Deis  
  5.11b R
This is not a gym climb. Be gentle with the soft desert rocks. I watched a 12-year-old-75-pounder scrape what must have been a pound of rock off of this thing (top rope). If you are unfamiliar with the soft nature of the soft rock in this area, maybe wait a few years for this one.
Maybe don't wait too long. Mar 29, 2013
Todd Felix
  5.11b R
Todd Felix  
  5.11b R
Great route, and incredible Photo opportunities! I agree with Skyler: the #4 camalot isn't necessary, and the #2 is a better piece. Maybe even a #1 fits there. Can't believe someone convinced me to lug the 4 up there. Oh well, not like you're carrying a bunch of gear for this thing: cordolette, screamer, and #2 is all I used. The cordolette around the neck is key; it was the first piece for me (5.8 or 5.9 R to there). And it needs to be pretty long; 10' or so seems about right.

Rap anchor has been upgraded to steel cables with maillons.

Oh, and hey George, you would have lost your bet for "most likely to fall down in the next 10 years"! Haha. ;-). But I'd still vote for "most likely to fall down in the next 10 years" though. I Hope I'm proven wrong. Nov 7, 2013
TS Burton
Ogden, Utah
  5.11a R
TS Burton   Ogden, Utah
  5.11a R
Mantleing onto the second pedestal without gear was nerve-racking.
This is how I would climb The Cobra next time (safely and with minimal gear): Climb the lower West pedestal which is easy and doesn't require protection. Throw the lead rope over the second upper pedestal, traverse onto and climb the North side of the 2nd pedestal while belayed from the South side of the 2nd pedestal (basically protected by top-rope). Use a 11-12 foot piece of webbing to sling the Cobra neck (utmost importance). Clip the fixed pin. Use a #1 or #2 Camalot in the left side of the upper horizontal crack (This cam is not essential, as it is only two moves to the top).

The bottom of the tower is choss. The upper rock, movement, qualiy of holds, and ambience make it well worth climbing. Apr 24, 2014
Thanks Tom! Your beta was perfect. Bring a #1 and a #2 for pro. Nothing else. Jun 18, 2014
The Cobra. She led a great life. May you rest in pieces. Aug 1, 2014
So who got the LAST ascent? Aug 1, 2014
I think this will get the overall grade down a number grade or two! Aug 1, 2014
Dana Hawlish
Salt Lake City, Ut
  5.10+ PG13
Dana Hawlish   Salt Lake City, Ut
  5.10+ PG13
so glad i got an ascent in on this wild tower before its demise, crazy to think i was on it only a couple months ago. RIP Aug 1, 2014
Kegan Minock
colorado springs
Kegan Minock   colorado springs
Jimmy Dunn just came into the climbing gym that I set at telling me that his friend called him to tell him it fell over and he didn't believe him. After some research on the internet to confirm, he seemed sad that it is gone. Aug 1, 2014
Dustin B
Dustin B   Steamboat
George Bell
Feb 20, 2002
This sick tower gets my vote as "most likely to fall down in the next 10 years". What is holding it up?

made it 12, close guess though. i especially like that this is the first comment under the climb. Aug 2, 2014
Yes, this was the original "annual reunion" or "cult" tower. My condolences to Jimmy. Our oceans are swelling, our towers are collapsing. Aug 3, 2014
Well said James! Dec 28, 2014
Eli .
Eli .   GMC3500
Has anyone climbed what is left of The Cobra after it fell? Oct 1, 2015