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Primrose Dihedrals

5.11+, Trad, 600 ft (182 m), 7 pitches, Grade IV,  Avg: 3.9 from 188 votes
FA: Ed Webster, solo, 79 FFA: Webster, Hong 79
Utah > Southeast Utah > Island In The Sky > Taylor Canyon > Moses
Warning 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 DetailsDrop down


This is a famous and popular route on the sunny south side of Moses. It is possible to bypass the first pitch (at 5.11+ one of the hardest) by means of a devious 5.8 traverse from the notch to the east.

To get to the normal start walk around the right side of the spire. P1: Climb an inverted V slot (5.11+) to a 2 bolt belay at about the level of the notch to the east.

To do the alternate start walk around the left side of the spire, passing the base of Pale Fire to the notch east of Moses.

P1: Climb down a few feet (but not more) and then up onto an exposed ledge which leads around the corner to the west. Follow this ledge to the belay bolts (5.8).

P2: Work up to the left edge of a roof, and fire up a beautiful finger crack to a roof (5.10). Continue up via liebacks and jamming (5.10). Head left before the crack ends to a belay under a roof.

P3: This pitch is very short and actually starts about 10' below the previous belay. If the second traverses left at the correct spot while following the previous pitch, the leader can simply lower the rack down (otherwise, downclimb from the belay). From here, stem and hand traverse left to a thin crack, and climb this (5.10-) for only about 30' to a huge sloping ledge with 3 bolts. This ledge is only a little bit higher than the previous belay. From here the upper section of the route is visible and awe inspiring.

P4: Follow a straight in crack to a pod, then up a right facing dihedral (5.10 hands and then fist) to a 2 bolt belay. This pitch looks tough from below, but a convenient foothold off to the right at one roof makes it easier than one might think.

P5: Continue up a weird 5.9 crack to the base of the ear (large cam may be useful), optional hanging belay here. Lieback or offwidth the ear (5.11+), or aid up using 6 bolts to the right of the corner. After the last bolt you used to have to free climb 15-20' to the top of the ear. The crack here is over 6", but halfway up this section look for a smaller crack inside that offers some protection. [A new bolt in this section has eliminated this sporting runout]

P6: Chimney behind a large flake and head straight up (5.8) to a 2 bolt belay. Alternatively, you can follow 1 or 2 bolts above the belay (5.10 face).

P7: This is the same as the last pitch on the Dunn Route. Face climb past 2 bolts to the top. You can easily combine P6 & P7.

Descent: We rapped the North Face (Pale Fire route). Do a single rope rap from the top, then 3 long double rope raps to the base, with 2 hanging stances. Supposedly you can also rap the aid route left of Primrose, but we couldn't find these anchors.


Standard desert rack (including a double set of camming units). Bring RP's for the first (standard) pitch. You may want more finger sized pieces for pitch 2, and a #4 Camalot on pitch 5.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Derek Hersey, Primrose, circa 1990
[Hide Photo] Derek Hersey, Primrose, circa 1990
[Hide Photo] Creeeeeaaak!
Gabe Metzger climbs The Ear
[Hide Photo] Gabe Metzger climbs The Ear
Bryan, terrified as usual, under a full moon.
[Hide Photo] Bryan, terrified as usual, under a full moon.
Ed Webster's original topo before he freed the route, showing the original approach.  I've included this for historical interest.
[Hide Photo] Ed Webster's original topo before he freed the route, showing the original approach. I've included this for historical interest.
View from the top
[Hide Photo] View from the top
oh hey there you beautiful tower
[Hide Photo] oh hey there you beautiful tower
Rachel following the Fourth Pitch
[Hide Photo] Rachel following the Fourth Pitch
Even superheroes recommend this classic.
[Hide Photo] Even superheroes recommend this classic.
Ari about to send the first Pitch.  He went left (up the inverted A-frame); I went right out to the chalked up edge...both get you to the same slopey move past your 4-4.5 camalot.
[Hide Photo] Ari about to send the first Pitch. He went left (up the inverted A-frame); I went right out to the chalked up edge...both get you to the same slopey move past your 4-4.5 camalot.
Dave Evans on the Primrose Dihedrals.  Photo; Todd Gordon.
[Hide Photo] Dave Evans on the Primrose Dihedrals. Photo; Todd Gordon.
Last pitch went smoothly.
[Hide Photo] Last pitch went smoothly.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

George Bell
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] I forgot to add, P6 and P7 easily combined even with a 50m rope. Lengthwise, it is conceivable to combine P2 and P3 but this would not be easy due to the descent and going around a corner. Sep 5, 2002
[Hide Comment] The best tower I have done for climbing-Pitch 4 is as good as it gets.

Concerning the start(s), having done both. The 5.11 is butt hard, with difficult moves protected by a #4 camalot in an up-side-down flare (otherwise, leave the #4 on the ground). The moves are not in character with the rest of the climbing (bouldery and facey), other than being right underneith the route. The 5.8 is interesting, airy, and relatively safe but some may say you didn't climb "Primrose Dihedrals".

Bring stoppers for the pitch leading into the ear. You need a bunch-like the top half of a set of stoppers (big ones).

Concerning the descent, you can rap Pale Fire with a single 60M rope. The second rap is a real rope stretcher and you need to be careful not to let the rope snap up (I think you could still reach it) as you get off the belay. Make sure you have the middle mark dead on. Way better than lugging two ropes up.

George, thanks for putting the topo in there. Cool stuff.

Cheers,Frank Sep 9, 2002
Casey Bernal
Wheat Ridge, CO
[Hide Comment] Double ropes are nice for the down-left-up pitch because both climbers are on toprope for the down climb and traverse. A #3 BigBro is nice for the ear after the last bolt (it is also the most solid piece for the pitch). The bolt ladder can easily be aided with slings and the follower can re-aid the pitch so no actual aid gear is necessary. Stellar climb - somewhere near the top of my list.

One more thing, for the first 5.11 pitch you can easily pull on gear to get through the hard move. There was a fixed nut (5/02) and the #4 Camalot in the flare gets you through the moves. Not recommended for the strict ethic-minded folk but if you want to enjoy a lot of great 5.10 crack climbing and get up the tower - pull away. Sep 10, 2002
Joe Collins
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Though this route is undoubtedly a classic and fully deserving of three stars, I must admit that I was a little disappointed by it. It just wasn't as great a route to me as the, "best route in the desert" hype that I'd heard. I actually enjoyed Fine Jade and Castleton N. Face more. In any case, its definitely a top-10 desert route and probably has one of the easier approaches (not including the 4WD approach) of the desert towers. Sep 17, 2002
[Hide Comment]…

awesome free topo Sep 25, 2002
[Hide Comment] Pitch 5 (The Ear): best way to protect it is to offwidth it to clip the drilled peg, then slither down and layback it, at which point the peg is out of easy reach. Wish I'd worked this out before taking a hang. Wish my partner had worked it out too, then he wouldn't have left a quickdraw (BD Hotwire/Quicksilver) on the peg!

Pitch 6 is excellent if face-climbed rightwards; fairly safe 5.10 (very photogenic and very exposed) leads to a couple of runout 5.9 slab moves on good rock.

We rapped back down Primrose Dihedrals using twin 60m ropes. The first rap reaches the twin drilled-peg belay. After that, it's all downhill...

Absolutely brilliant. Aug 5, 2003
Charles Vernon
Colorado megalopolis
[Hide Comment] I would recommend not even considering the hanging belay partway up pitch 5 as an option. It consists of slings around a suspect chockstone, and would be backed up with cams in hollow flakes.

I would highly recommend rapping Pale Fire (N.Face) with double ropes. All the raps are from new bolted anchors wit beefy chains, plus Pale Fire is an amazing route to stare at for many reasons! The anchors on Primrose are variable quality, and the aid route to the left is not equipped for rappel, according to a note from Jim Beyers in the summit register.

WARNING! Shameless (but helpful) beta:

At the top of the bolt ladder, things are a bit scary (I was expecting this to be the mandatory, and therefore scary 5.10 free-climbing on the route, and it looked quite scary from below), but I was able to place a good green camalot jr (.75 size) higher up in a small crack, while still standing on the last drilled angle (I'm 5'11" tall). Since I was still in aid mode, I had no qualms about yarding on the cam, and it held my 180 pounds just fine. Sep 16, 2003
[Hide Comment] I'll echo Charles' remarks and suggest skipping that hanging belay. It doesn't even make sense to use it, as the two resulting pitches would be ridiculously short considering their ease.

In the offwidth, I found it an easier lieback than pure offwidth, at least until the top part. You can still reach the bolts if you strain.

I'm also going to recommend the direct start. I gather that a lot of people skip it, and use the 5.8 traverse to reach the route. The direct may be rated .11d, but the hard section consists of about 3 moves only 5 feet above a decent, if wobbly, cam. The rest of the pitch is only 5.8. The pitch is a fun one, and I've heard the traverse is lame. Besides, the direct adds to a sense of aesthetics.

This was easily one of the best desert routes I've done. Every pitch was classic.

Pale Fire is a beauty to behold, isn't it? I did Primrose with the late Ryan Sayers last fall and we also rapped Pale Fire. I swore I'd someday come back and give it a whirl. Especially for the upper half - so clean looking! Sep 18, 2003
[Hide Comment] Dan said:

"I'm also going to recommend the direct start. I gather that a lot of people skip it, and use the 5.8 traverse to reach the route. The direct may be rated .11d, but the hard section consists of about 3 moves only 5 feet above a decent, if wobbly, cam."

Hmmmmmm... recommended, eh? 3 moves of 11d... *only* 5 feet above a wobbly cam... while an easier 5.8 version exists? Excuse the sarcasm, but this "recommendation" is not very convincing... looks more like a sandbag to me. Looking at a 10 or more foot fall onto a wobbly cam while climbing 11+ sounds like pretty serious business. Perhaps the protection isn't as bad or far below as you remember? In any case, there was a fixed nut in the 11+ slot/roof when we climbed this route (via the 5.8 traverse) a few years ago. Sep 19, 2003
[Hide Comment] I'm not sandbagging it, I'm recommending it. I don't climb any harder than 5.11 in the desert, so it was hard for me, but it felt quite reasonable because it was a short crux. I said the cam was decent, and it was. I hung on it to test and it was fine. It was wobbly because the placement is a bit flared, but not in an "I'm about to pop out" kind of way, more like "I'm shifty but I'll be fine." It was a #4 or #4.5, something like that - they almost always move a bit.

Don't get me wrong, it made me think. But it was reasonable and more importantly, VERY GOOD!

The fixed nut is there (and bomber) but is lower. I'm not sure if it would catch you at the crux, can't remember. I do remember thinking that it would feel to risky without the cam. Sep 20, 2003
George Bell
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] According to a Rock & Ice press release on, this route is slated for bolt replacement. I also read somewhere on the web that the bolts on the Titan were replaced in the past month, but I can't find this site any more. Apr 13, 2004
Mike Munger
Boulder, Colorado
[Hide Comment] Just did Primrose on 10-03-04 and the ear had been rebolted. There are 5 bolts and two drilled pins now. With the last two bolts above where the old ring pin was the run out has been eliminated. No need to bring any big gear, just draws for the ear. It's sport climbing in the desert. Kind of changes the character of the route, takes the adventure out of it. Now the question is, should this have been changed into a sport pitch and if so then why not just bolt all the cracks in Indian creek if they take gear that's not convenient. Oct 4, 2004
[Hide Comment] Mike,I met the guy who did this in Indian Creek this weekend. He made it seem like he just replaced bad gear (that he pulled pins out with his fingers). Sounds like maybe he did a bit more ??? Sorry to miss you guys out there. Oct 5, 2004
Mike Munger
Boulder, Colorado
[Hide Comment] There are also chain anchors with 2 or 3 bolts at most of the belay stations which make it possible to descend the route in three raps from the summit. First rap goes directly to the ledge at the top of The Ear with one rope doubled. Second rap is 155 ft free to the ledge at the end of the traverse pitch. Third rap is 120 ft to the ground. As convienient as this is, it also changes the character of the route by making it a lot less committing.Now it is possible to retreat from anywhere on the route without leaving any gear. Unfortunately, with the addition of more bolts and drilled pins on The Ear, and chain anchors at the belays, almost all of the feeling of adventure and commitment has been eliminated from this route.In my opinion, there was no need for these additions. The old bolts and the ring pin needed to be replaced but adding more fixed gear is not adding to the route, it is taking away from the essence and spirit of the climb. Oct 6, 2004
Casey Bernal
Wheat Ridge, CO
[Hide Comment] I vaguely remember there being a couple empty bolt holes above the last bolt, the one that I said was excessively manky. I don't know if the upper ones were ripped out or where chopped. This route was originally done as an aid climb. I am glad the bolts were replaced, and I have no complaints if someone replaced the ones that had fallen out or were removed after the FA. There was NOT any run out if you had a green big bro as I have mentioned above. The spectacular nature of the climbing should not be dictated by the available protection or you choice not to place it, i.e. no run out with the bolt and no run out without the bolt and either way awesome climbing on a stellar climb. Replacing these bolts is not relative in comparison to bolting Indian Creek cracks. I do not support bolting next to bomber cracks but however also support the ethics used by the FA and their choice of protection. I have not seen any criticism of Mr. Webster on bolting the ear instead of using 2x4s for natural protection. This is only my opinion and my vague memory recollection clouded by trips in the desert. Oct 8, 2004
Carol Kotchek
Louisville, CO
[Hide Comment] I climbed Primrose last Sunday with Mike Munger. We had done the route 2 years ago when the last piece of fixed protection on the Ear was a piton that was sticking out the rock. We had not brought a big bro to protect the last 15 ft of this pitch and Mike spent much time at that piton summoning the nerve to climb that 15 ft.

We returned this year, armed with a #4 big bro to protect the end of the Ear pitch. Mike was very much excited to challenge himself by freeclimbing the ear while placing the big bro. When we got to the Ear and realized there was a new bolt that eliminated the 15ft runout, I personally had a feeling of disappointment. Granted, I was not leading the pitch, and now, with the new bolt, I would be more likely to try it on lead, but the scariest part of the climb had been eliminated, which eliminated much of the sense of adventure and fear that surrounds this climb.

If you read the description of the climb on Climbing Moab, pitch 5, the Ear, is described as _ you must free climb and it is over 15 feet to the top of the ear. This is a spectacular and run out lead , even when aiding._ Those 2 sentences can now be eliminated from the description. Pitch 5, the Ear, can now be described as; Once you leave the 5. 9 crack, you only need 8 draws, (6 for the bolts and 2 for the anchor) and a purple Camalot to sew up the Ear. If aiding, short people may not be able to reach the Camalot placement from standing on the last bolt, so they may have to climb 3 ft before getting more pro in.

The nature of this climb has been drastically changed from two years ago, when the Ear struck fear in our hearts and finding the rap stations down the opposite side of the tower were part of the adventure. There may have been a bolt ladder when the original ascent party freed this route, but hundreds have done the route without the bolt ladder. I applaud the person who replaced the old bolts that were there with new ones, but I don't agree with the added bolt.

Carol Kotchek Oct 8, 2004
[Hide Comment] Just went for a hike around Zeus and Moses this past Sat. 11/6/04. There were three parties on Primrose and two parties waiting on the ground to start climbing! When I climbed this route three (or was it four?!) years ago we were the only people back there. I can't help but think the tamer nature of the last pitch is what drew these crowds. But maybe that's just my elitist nature making projections. Oh well, glad I did it when I did. Nov 8, 2004
[Hide Comment] Wow, just read somebody bolted the belays a couple belays on this thing! That completely changes the route. What a shame. This wasn't he asca was it? I thought they were a little cooler than that. Nov 8, 2004
Mike Anderson
Colorado Springs, CO
[Hide Comment] I was one of those people waiting to climb Primrose that day. I also climbed the route back in 2000. Back then it was possible to rap the primrose route, I know this because that's what I did. So as far as I'm concerned, the new rap anchors aren't really that new. I don't know if another bolt was added to the ear, but I wasn't drawn out of the woodwork because I heard it was all bolted up now, as someone has suggested. Nov 15, 2004
Karsten Duncan
Sacramento, CA
[Hide Comment] I still think this is the best tower route. I did it a few years ago before the rebolting effort.

A few notes on the pics.
-At the A-frame crux I went left instead of right as the climber in the photo.

-The Ear pitch is one my hardest sends but I did it with left side in. The runout at the top wasn't really that bad but the idea of having to climb on runout terrain on a offwidth pitch was stimulating. I guess that's a non-issue now. Jan 27, 2006
[Hide Comment] im not entirely sure why people are so bent out of shape about the new bolt. it kind of amazes me that so many comments have been placed about the bolt, and very few about the actual route. if the bolt bothers you that much (and you are very concerned about the integrity) chop it. if you dont feel that strong, just dont clip it. it makes for the same adventure for you and makes the route safer for others. Feb 27, 2006
[Hide Comment] Incredible Route!

My Ideas:
-If you can, have the second lower or throw down the big cam after the crux start. you wont need it again and it is a pain to lug up there. we used a new #5 Camalot. BTW- the fixed off-set/stopper is no longer there...
-link the first 2 pitches, pretty straight forward, just bring enough runners (12-15), and if you have two ropes, alternate them appropriately.
-link the 3rd and 4th pitches. The third can be easily navigated by shuffling cams as you go up, thus eliminating drag and setting you up to link with next pitch. Again, use two ropes appropriately.
-consider bringing an extra #3 Camalot for 4th pitch
-link the 5th pitch into the Ear pitch (6th). Bring plenty of med-large stoppers for pitch 5 and again, you will need plenty o' draws
-link the last 2 pitches
-Have a damn good time!

My recommended rack:
-blue & yellow TCU
-red and gold Camalalot

-orange Metolius
-purple and green Camalot
-blue camalot (more if you are not comfortable shuffling on this size)

-one large cam (old #4 camalot, new #5)
-Medium/large stoppers
-off-sets (if you would like for first move) Mar 6, 2007
Todd Gordon
Joshua Tree, CA
[Hide Comment] For more info, click:… Jun 9, 2007
[Hide Comment] This route is easily done in 4 pitches. We did the 5.8 pitch 1, linked 2 and 3. Then linked 4, 5, and 6 (the ear), then the last 2 to the summit. Our 3rd pitch was very long and we used a 70m, a 60 would make it with about 3-8 feet over simulclimbing at bad timing. Also, if you led the 5.11 first pitch and would like to return directly to your gear, or for any other reason would like to rappel Primrose, it is VERY easy and quick. I just did it with double 60s (mandatory). You first rappel from the summit to the top of the ear with a single rope. Then to the top of the 3rd, (the traversing pitch), this is a 58 meter hanging rappel but lands you right at the anchors. Then a 45-50 meter rappel past the 5.11 first pitch to the ground. Very quick and from all nice steel anchors. Enjoy. Nov 13, 2007
Manny Rangel
[Hide Comment] This was my second time on top, first was the Dunn route 15 yrs ago. Good news, the torn fixed nut has been replaced with a new small nut on pitch 1. Definitely used all 3 of my #3 camalots on pitch 4 with some leapfrogging. Nov 24, 2007
Ken Trout
Golden, CO
[Hide Comment] Early spring of 1978, Kim Holebrock, Scott Vischer and I made the first attempt of Primrose. We were stopped above the traverse-to-wild-stacked-flakes and did a storm rappel off the first two bably angles I'd ever placed. To hear that the drilled gear is all bomber is like a dream come true. Has Fred Beckey's route been replaced?

A new route on Moses looked both doable and sunny in the picture on page 44 of Ascent Mountaineering Journal, 1973 (article by Fred Beckey). With little confidence in my VW van, we backpacked in during several days of snowy-cold March weather, bagged the Zeus ladder, and struggled on Moses. Bad weather and a failure-guaranteed bolt stash kept us from getting up the Primrose Dihedrals. Ed Webster had the bolt thing much better organized than we. Lesson Learned! He was also a better climber than us, even as a soloist.

I'd done the NA the previous November in storms and thought I was pretty hot stuff. Later Ed did tell me how excessive my use of pins seemed. In case you didn't know, Ed Webster is a bonafide hardman. Jan 11, 2008
Broomfield, CO
[Hide Comment] Climbed it in 5 pitches by linking P2 & P3, P5 & P6, and then went one pitch to the top from the top of the Ear. Make sure you bring some 48" runners for linking 2 & 3. P1 was the 5.8 traverse.

Rack: Triple set of cams, from blue TCU (nothing smaller is needed) to #3 camalot. We brought a #4 camalot, but never placed it; in other words, don't bring any cams larger than a #3 (unless you do the original first pitch). Four #3's would be nice on P4, but not necessary. Definately bring 1 set of medium to large stoppers for P5, they are essential. Two 60m ropes gets you down the North Face rappels.

Amazing climbing! P4 was like a #3 sized version of Incredible Hand Crack. P3 has some scary sounding flakes that are getting ready to peel. P2 seemed quite a bit harder than P4, as it was ring-locks and thin hands (for my hands) with some awkward roof moves.

On a final note: don't scratch your initials into the rock! At nearly every belay, initials were scratched in. We did our best to rub them out. NPS is aware of the problem and will hopefully be removing some of this graffiti soon. Nov 16, 2008
Adam B
[Hide Comment] This route is amazing. We climbed this on 3/11/09 and although we did the 5.8 variation 1st pitch, I had a look at the .11+ first pitch after rapping and found no fixed nut to speak of. Judging from the photos it looked as though it should be right around the beginning to middle of the A-frame. Might want to bring some small nuts to make that placement. Mar 13, 2009
Bill Duncan
Glade Park, CO
[Hide Comment] An alternative, very easy descent:
There is a route to the left of Primrose (Ed Webster route?) that has very good anchors every 50m or so. Three-bolt stations. To find it from above, rap the last pitch of Moses, and look for a large chimney, with a ledge inside leading to the south face. Walk all of the way to where the chimney meets the void, stick your head out and look to the right. You will see your first set of rap anchors within reach. Hidden until you poke your head out. Three 50m raps in a straight line gets you to the base. This was painless. May 24, 2009
[Hide Comment] Has that rte been rebolted? because those anchors were all chopped a few years back. If they are back I concur its a very quick and easy rap. May 25, 2009
[Hide Comment] An amazing route up an big tower in an incredible setting. We did the original (11+) first pitch and the next time will do the traverse instead. The original first pitch IMHO wasn't very fun and is out of character with the rest of the route. The fixed nut was not there as of APR-09.

I had heard that the ASCA had replaced all crappy bolts, but the last bolt on The Ear was very loose and can be easily pulled out by hand.

Moses has one of the coolest summits anywhere. Jun 14, 2009
Fort Collins, CO
[Hide Comment] The first pitch is great, and a great challenge too. There was a fixed wire as of 10-16-09 (somewhat helpful), but with a perfect # 3 Cam. placement just below it. A # 5 Cam. does indeed fit nicely in the “A”. Be ready with something like a .75 Cam. after this crux. As a warm up, I felt this pitch was less of a boulder problem than the Ear pitch.

The last two bolts of the Ear seem a bit loose, but nowhere near removable by hand.

We rappelled the route, great if no one else is climbing below. About 100 feet to the flat ledge; about 180 feet to the sloping ledge; about 180 feet to the ground. All good anchors.

--Steve Oct 21, 2009
Golden, CO
[Hide Comment]
  • ***Single Rope Descent****
From the summit you can make a short rap back down to the shoulder, then rap the North Face (Pale Fire) in 4 raps easily with a 70m rope. Keep in mind if you are only carrying 1 rope you have no option of bailing off the route with out leaving something behind... I think... Oct 26, 2009
Casey McTaggart
boulder, co
[Hide Comment] hey all. we climbed this on friday 4/9/10. the last two bolts on the ear are gone- we didn't bring wide gear anticipating the bolts would be there, and they have been pulled or chopped or something. so heads up!
still a fixed wire on p1. Apr 12, 2010
[Hide Comment] If you want to protect the ear now that the last two bolts are gone, I would recommend a #6 BD and a #4 big bro. If you run it out from the last bolt to the next placement it is about 20 feet. You make the call. Apr 12, 2010
Matt Toensing
Pagosa Springs
[Hide Comment] Just to be clear the 2 top bolts are missing and free moves are required on the ear. I would have wanted 3 #.75 (green) cams and 3 #3 (Blue) cams. There is a drilled pin on the fourth pitch that allows you to run out the first #3 placement for a little bit. Spend time reading the summit register, it is great. Apr 26, 2010
Kurt Prond
Bozeman, MT
[Hide Comment] This is a great route-also the scardest I have been on a climb due to the fact that someone has chopped the top 2 bolts on the crux ear pitch, which forces you to run it out about 15 feet on very difficult offwidth. Whoever did that-shame on you for compromising others safety for the sake of your ego. I took a nice 20 footer there! Managed to muster enough mental strength to try it again and did it. Thank God.
So be prepared! May 6, 2010
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Chopped? A year ago they were sliding out by hand. Are you sure that they were chopped?
Or are you even perhaps referring to the retro-bolt that was added (for the sake of ego?)?
Just trying to make sure I understand which bolts are missing and understand how they actually got that way. May 7, 2010
Matt Toensing
Pagosa Springs
[Hide Comment] Tony, I am not sure which bolt you are talking about when you mentioned the "Retro-bolt" but just to clarify there is the one bolt for the anchor where you can belay for the hanging stance. Past that there are three remaining bolts which get you through the overhang pending you have to aid. May 7, 2010
Kurt Prond
Bozeman, MT
[Hide Comment] Yeah, Maybe they slid, but the sleeves are still there in the rock. Right now there's an old piton at the hanging belay(which we just linked pitch 4 and 5) then, if I remember right 4 bolts(one a piton) beyond that. They stop about 20 feet short of the anchors so it's a pretty good runout...but you can place a .5 about 15 feet above your last bolt. Hope that is helpful. I would hope someone wouldn't actually remove bolts, but who knows? May 10, 2010
Spencer Weiler
Grand Junction
[Hide Comment] Climbed this 4/22/11. Fixed stopper on pitch 1 still present and quite necessary. The final 2 bolts on the ear are still gone, and a number 4 big bro is just barely TOO BIG to fit in above the last bolt. I would estimate the crack size to be 7 inches here. I liebacked from the last bolt to the belay ledge(5.10), about 20 feet, without placing any pro and it was quite exhilarating, easily a 40 footer if you fell pulling onto the ledge. I had 3 #3 camalots for pitch 4 which seemed adequate with some walking, but I could have used 4 .75 camalots for pitch 2. Nuts on the beggining of the ear pitch were very helpful. Linking pitches 2-3 was fine despite rope drag since pitch 3 is like 20 feet long. Rappelled the route with no problems. 2 short raps from the summit to the top of the ear, then 2 full 60 m raps to get down. Apr 25, 2011
Jonathan Mitchell
Durango, CO
[Hide Comment] Climbed on 10/9 - top two bols missing. Still a fixed stopper on pitch 1. Combined pitches 1 and 2 and 4 and 5. Gear for us: TCU's: 1 purple, 2 blue, 3 yellow; Cams: 4 0.75's, 3 1's, 3 2's, 3 3's, 1 4 (for after crux 1). Ran out the last layback past the missing bolts - a bit scary...and an amazing climb. Oct 19, 2011
Naomi Galinski
[Hide Comment] Awesome awesome climb. Did it yesterday (31 Oct). We didn't see a stopper on the first 11d pitch. Very hard start off the ground! We linked p1 and p2. My partner climbed the ear and we brought a 9" cam with us and it protected the offwidth quite well. What an exhilarating summit. Nov 1, 2011
Steven Lucarelli
Grand Junction, CO
[Hide Comment] Just climbed this today and the missing bolts have been replaced on the ear pitch. Mar 10, 2012
Jason Killgore
boulder, co
[Hide Comment] Outstanding climb! Note: both pens in the summit register werent working. Somebody should pack up a new one.

Another note: On P2, I stepped left around the prow after a steep section of .75 camalot. I ended up at the same level as the leftward traverse that starts p3. Bomber crack for anchor (hand size or finger size) and a comfy stance to belay the 2nd up p2 and the leader out p3. No need for double ropes or bumping cams, or sketchy second down climb. This stance was about 20' below a fixed pin and slings. The traversing moves were easy (<5.6) on positive holds and protected well enough. Not sure why one would go higher and deal with the downclimb? Apr 2, 2012
Mike Tsuji
[Hide Comment] Second best climb and desert summit I've been on (still can't beat Lightning Bolt Cracks although this comes super close). I couldn't believe how tall this tower was! Apr 22, 2012
Alexander Nees
Grand Junction, CO
[Hide Comment] This climb is amazing. For the whole experience, it's definitely one of the best towers I've done, maybe the best. Castleton's North Face or Fine Jade still win for actual quality of climbing though, I think.

  • **Single Rope Beta***
Every single guidebook and topo tells you to bring 2 60M ropes, but I don't know why, it's completely unnecessary. To reinforce Monty's comment from 2009, you can easily rap Pale Fire in 4 single-rope rappels starting from the shoulder. This is an awesome descent: the hardwear is all good bolts and chains, the line is straight down, and the wall is so steep that it would be almost impossible to snag the rope. This WON'T WORK with a single 60M rope; at least one of the raps is over 100 feet long.
The disadvantage is that you have to reach the shoulder of Moses (top of pitch 7) to do this descent. What if you have to bail before then? Are you screwed? Not really, check it: you can rap from the top of the Ear to the top of Pitch 4 with one rope, then rap to the top of Pitch 3 with one rope, then rap from there to the ground on a single line rappel, all from good bolt & chain anchors. You'd have to go get a tag line from your pack or car or something and jug your rope, then do a double rope rappel back to ground, but you won't get stranded up on the tower if you set off with one 70M rope, no matter what. Jun 3, 2012
Mark Melvin
San Francisco
[Hide Comment] Great route! No fixed stopper but crux at bottom protects fine with very small cam, like red BD micro. Used #5 in slot above crux, then never again. My recommended rack: 1 micro cam, 1-.3 camelot, 2-.4's, 3-.5&.75, 2-1's, 1-2, 3-3's, #5 only for post-crux at bottom. Pitch 3 start not really much of a downclimb. Pitch 4 wide is fairly easy, more of a lieback than wide, use all your #3's, could bring a #4 for second when easy. Pitch 6 only need draws, not hard to pre-clip two draws offwidth, then downclimb and pull lieback. Nice rests there. We rappelled two ropes top to P6, then P3 (too overhung to get to P4), then ground, not recommended because if P6 rappel doesn't pull, it will be hell to retrieve the rope. Might do Pale Fire rappel if did again. Oct 2, 2012
Spencer Weiler
Grand Junction
[Hide Comment] Disagree with Alex's comments and agree with mark's: the rap from top of the ear(5) to top of pitch 4 is too overhung to get there in a single rope rap. You'll end up in space with nowhere to go. Best to just bring that 2nd rope if you are concerned about not getting up it. Apr 24, 2013
Jonathon Spitzer
North Bend, WA
[Hide Comment] Climbed this uber classic tower on Sept 29th 2013.

Ton's of beta already above so just an update.

Road Condition: was good and easy driving in my Subaru Outback

Route: All the bolts are in place on the Ear. We linked the 5.9 pitch with the Ear (5.11) to the belay above the Ear. Highly recommend doing this.

Enjoy the amazing setting of this awesome tower! Oct 1, 2013
b Light
Salt Lake City, Utah
[Hide Comment] Rack
Single X4 (Red, Yellow, Blue)
(1) #.3
(2) #.4,#.5
(4-5) #.75
(3) #1
(2) #2
(4) #3
(1) #4
Full set of nuts (med - large more important)
11 Runners (3 doubles, 8 shoulder length)
70 M Rope

2nd Belay - Build your own anchor (2- #3)

1st Pitch - Rack of Singles
2nd Pitch - #.75 Madness (4-5 of them)
Ear Pitch - Slings & Exiting the ear (#2,#.75,#.5)
7th Pitch - (1)#4,(2)#3, (2)#2, (1)#1, slings

Rappel from summit to obvious anchors near chimney. 2nd Rap - Looks like you are going over towards the other tower. Short rappel past wild gallery of FRED BECKEY
All two bolt anchors on the way down.

Route Condition
According to the summit register, we were the 2nd party this year. A handful of the bolts could be tightened (by hand) at the belays, ear pitch and rappel stations on Pale Fire (bring a wrench?)

Rappelling from the shoulder after the summit, might want to bring a cord and new biners to replace the existing gear. Mar 10, 2014
Peter Blank
Grand Junction, Colorado
[Hide Comment] Can y'all motherfuckers please stop scratching the date, your initials, or other trashy miscellanea into the route? Looks like someone guided the bottom rung of the jeep safari up this thing. Mar 30, 2015
[Hide Comment] As suggested by another commenter, it is possible to skip the downclimbing portion of pitch 3. We did this, and it worked with no problems. About 20 feet below the standard finish of pitch 2, traverse left onto an obvious ledge. This ledge is at the level of the of the leftward traverse on pitch 3. Build a belay here. The trick to this whole maneuver is that the crack needed to build the belay anchor on that ledge is located around the corner to the left, so you would not see it unless you looked around that corner.

Rapping Pale Fire with a single 70m rope was easy. It takes you right back to your packs if you use the 5.8 start, which begins on the north side of the tower. May 16, 2016
[Hide Comment] Another awesome tower! Do yourself a favor and skip the 5.11+ pitch. I climbed it and thought it was the worst part of the climb. The rest of the route is premium climbing. Dec 11, 2016
Ryan Arnold
[Hide Comment] Good times. More loose blockage than expected, but very enjoyable overall. I'd throw another vote against the 5.11+ start unless you're super solid at that grade. Wasn't a fun 3 move crux for me, although my partner (who actually got the moves free) liked it. Fixed nut was missing and we didn't have a piece that fit (small nut or tiny grey metolius, purple too big), but the #3 camalot a foot below the nut placement was solid. We rapped the route on two ropes (single rope summit to top of ear, double rope top of ear to ledge, ledge to ground) and it was really chill with easy pulls. I was glad to have 4 #3 and a 3 1/2 camalot for the big hands pitch. Linked the 2nd and the 3rd (traverse on the obvious easy ledge, place a piece or two, step over to the stacked blocks, climb 30 feet to the large ledge with chain anchors). Not too bad on the rope drag, just sling some pieces long, especially in the corner above the drilled angle near the top of guidebook pitch 2. Definitely link the 5.9 pitch with the ear. All bolts in good shape. Dec 15, 2017
Kyle Hill
Denver, CO
[Hide Comment] Brief update 05/05/18: at least two of the bolts on "the ear" pitch were loose enough to turn by hand, as were a couple belay bolts (can't remember which pitches). I tightened them as best I could, but I didn't have a wrench so if someone brings one up, that would be helpful. May 7, 2018
Colten Lay
Moab, UT
  5.11+ R
[Hide Comment] Straight forward beta -

I did the direct start, but it seems most people take the easy traverse. The P1 anchor (4 bolts) is also in a more accessible spot for the traversers. The direct start is not worth it, take the traverse.

P2: Head up shallow left facing corner on .75, then transition to right facing corner on #1s. Pull the bulge/roof (.5-2) and continue until you get the first option to traverse left on a pretty good ledge. Build an anchor around the large boulder where the next pitch starts. This option will avoid down climbing the next pitch, and will put you right where you need to be. Gear anchor BD #2 & 3.

P3: Extremely short (aprox 60'). Climb hollow flakes with some places for good gear. Easy .10.

P4: Climb BD 3 crack for the entire pitch. There is a spot for a #4. I used 3 #3 and 1 #4. 3.5 would work better. Solid .10

P5: Climb small broken cracks with good stopper pro to the start of the offwidth section. 4 or 5 bolts protect it well. Burly for 5.11+, but it is what it is.

P6-7: Linking these is a no-brainer as there are extremely short. I took the face variation at easy. 10, but there is a easy Chimney variation.

If you do the traverse pitch, Rap Pale fire (3 double rope), this will put you right at your bags. ****If you did the direct start, you should rap P.D., so you don't have to walk around the whole formation in climbing shoes.***

Gear: couple sets of small gear including nuts. 2 #1, 2 #2, 3 #3 (could have used another #3, but a #4 fit in a pod. 2 ropes. Oct 21, 2019
Skeletor 69
[Hide Comment] Easily one of, if not the best day of rock climbing I've ever had! We did the OG start and I think it definitely would have soured the whole experience if we had taken the reach around variation ;) Mar 28, 2022
[Hide Comment] Awesome route and quite a big day out as the road was washed out so we walked down from the mesa via the Alcove Spring Trail, bivvied before doing the route, and then walked back out that afternoon.
TR here:…
We managed to rap the route on a single 60m (didn't want to carry the 2nd rope in and out!) but you need to place gear on the way down to avoid ending up in space on a couple of the raps, and the final one was off some stuck gear. Nov 20, 2022
Braden Sanders
Durango, CO
[Hide Comment] Thought I'd update everyone on the status of this climb:

GEAR: 2 x .3, 3 x .4, 4 x .5-.75, 2 x 1-2, 4 x 3, 2 x 4. We brought a 5 and never used it, but you probably could find a spot for it.

P1 - We did the traverse pitch, and it was easy. My partner was sort of belaying me downwards for the first 10ft, and a fall here would've really hurt the poor guy. But it was easy enough that it wasn't concerning. Bomber 2 bolt anchor.

P2 - Bring at least 3x in all finger sizes, 4x in BD.5-.75 and 1x BD4 if you're a major wimp like me. Hard pitch, but straightforward. The "anchor" at the top of this climb is currently a fixed pin, a stopper, and some tat. I would rap off of this if I was in a bad spot, but you can easily back up this anchor with a couple of 3 sizes and you should.

P3 - If you're savvy, you could have your follower swing around to the "start" of this pitch and lower your rack down to them, but I wouldn't advise it, as you'd have to downclimb an easy, but unprotected 15ft section to the "start". Instead, bring your follower up to the anchor you built and have them lead the pitch in a U shape, placing gear at the start to protect you, the P3 follower, on your way down. Bomber 3 bolt anchor at the top of this one.

P4 - This glorious pitch ascends a short section of fingers to an overhanging 3s crack up to and through a bulge. This section has a cheater foothold right where you'd want it to keep the grade a little easier. So much fun. Bomber 2 bolt anchor.

P5 - The meat. This pitch starts with maybe 40ft of strange, opposing flakes that take some passive pro craftsmanship to protect. It reminded me of the top section of Flakes of Wrath at Wall St, only scarier. From here, chicken wing up the first 8ft of the ear above an old pin (The first bolt in the ladder was missing) and either squirm up the rest of the wide or, like me and all the other sissies, aid the bolt ladder with some alpine draws. Place one .4 (or maybe .5?) at the top of the ear to a 2 bolt anchor on a wonderful ledge.

P6 (and 7) - I think you could take the chimney option to the left, but we chose to climb directly above the anchor past a very loose jug (seriously, be careful. you could hear the thing creak and groan under weight), a bolt, a yellow totem placement on the left, and the rap station for Pale Fire. If you want to link pitch 7 (you do), continue up an unprotected, but very easy, 10ft chimney on the left and then a short bolt ladder to reach the summit. Incredible views!

RAP: If you have a 70m rope, you don't need to bring doubles on this climb (we didn't). And even if you do have doubles, you should still rap Pale Fire as it is a steep, perfectly straight shot to the ground after your first rap down from the summit. The top anchor for Pale Fire was a rat's nest of varying tat qualities, but there was more than enough of it to feel comfortable. If some brave soul wants to haul some long chains up to the top of this tower to replace the tat, it would make a lot of climbers like you and me very happy. All the other rap stations are perfect 2 bolt stations, though be sure not to skip the second rap station in favor of that colorful looking one right at the end of your rope. it is a couple of bad pins and even worse tat, and you don't want to have to hang there like I did while your buddy resets the rope for you. Yuck.

Hopefully, this was helpful for you all. Enjoy the climb! Apr 28, 2023