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Routes in Tonka Tower

Tonka Tower T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a A0
Type: Trad, Aid, Grade II
FA: Earl Wiggins, Katy Cassidy,Chris Begue, Bill Schmausser, Geo
Page Views: 2,324 total, 12/month
Shared By: J. Hickok on Jan 24, 2002
Admins: slim, Andrew Gram, Perin Blanchard, grk10vq

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27 Opinions

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Raptor Closures 2017: Check status and details at: nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/… -Read about Anchor Replacement and Restrictions mountainproject.com/v/utah/… in Arches National Park Details
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

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.

Protection

One set of friends and stoppers. Long slings, potentially for aiding.
Jennifer L
  5.9 PG13
Jennifer L  
  5.9 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. Apr 1, 2014
jason malczyk
General Delivery
  5.11-
jason malczyk   General Delivery
  5.11-
just another reminder, do not rap the side with the rope grooves. rap away from the side you climbed. Rap toward the arches. May 10, 2012
Bill Olszewski
Colorado Springs, CO
 
Bill Olszewski   Colorado Springs, CO
 
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. Jul 16, 2011
Aaron Ihinger
Ridgway,CO
Aaron Ihinger   Ridgway,CO
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! Apr 25, 2011
jakobi
moab, utah
 
jakobi   moab, utah
 
Goes free at mid 5.11. Dec 15, 2010
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. Nov 8, 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. Oct 12, 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. Sep 17, 2009
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. Nov 28, 2008
BirminghamBen
Birmingham, AL
 
BirminghamBen   Birmingham, AL
 
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. Oct 19, 2008
toddgordon Gordon
Joshua Tree, California
toddgordon Gordon   Joshua Tree, California
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. Apr 27, 2007
Bo Johnston  
 
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. Nov 16, 2004
William McGehee
Choctaw, OK
William McGehee   Choctaw, OK
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 Oct 6, 2003
The rope grooves on the summit will stick your cord in a heartbeat. Watch out. Aug 28, 2003
Stan Pitcher
SLC, UT
Stan Pitcher   SLC, UT
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. Oct 21, 2002