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Routes in The Nuns

Bad Habit T 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Flying Nun, The T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Holier Than Thou T,S 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Unforgiven, The T,S 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Where have the Wild Things Gone T 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
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Type: Trad, Sport, 350 ft, 2 pitches
FA: Jay Smith & Mark Hesse - 1995
Page Views: 7,448 total · 41/month
Shared By: Josh Janes on May 23, 2003
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

Description [Edit]

Hard sport climbing up a dead vertical face using pinches, underclings, and pulls on delicate stalactites and knobs... exactly what you'd expect from a Castle Valley tower route, right? Holier than Thou climbs the beautiful, calcite-covered east face of the Nuns and is perhaps a welcome departure from the grunt fest of the nearby Honeymoon Chimney.

P1: 11 bolts to a two bolt belay. Jay Smith did a fantastic job bolting this line. The climbing is hard and in-your-face and the placements are spaced such that you are forced to do hard moves with bolts below you (you have to climb the route - you can't yard through it). As you stretch and stretch for holds and clips, marvel at how Smith, at 5'6", did it. Around the third bolt the cruxes start coming - a hard mantle, a long reach to a tiny edge, another long reach to an undercling with terrible feet. Higher up you step left onto a ramping feature and there's one more cruxy move here. The pitch is 120' long and I felt that there was a lot of 5.11 climbing on it - fortunately there are one or two rests as well. Also, be careful clipping the second bolt - definate groundfall potential here.

P2: Identify two lines: The original line goes up and left on black hangers at 5.10-, while a variation called "The Unforgiven" heads up and slightly right on silver hangers at 5.11c. We took the former. Clip four bolts (slightly runout but not as hard as the first pitch), then trend left around the corner, clipping an intermediate belay. Belay here or use a long runner and climb up past a second intermediate belay (again with the option of belaying or continuing up), eventually stepping left into a crack system. Climb up the short, excellent, left-curving crack at 5.10 (several hand-size pieces) to a final anchor on the summit.

Descent: Two or three raps will get you down (a 70m rope or two ropes required). I recommend leaving your second rope clipped to the anchor at the top of the first pitch and then doing a single rope rap from the summit to one of the intermediate anchors, then another single rope rap to the top of the first pitch, and finally a double rope rap to the ground.

A sensible way to climb the Nuns at a more moderate grade would be to link up The Flying Nun (10a) with P2 & 3 of Holier Than Thou (9+ & 10- respectively). At a higher standard, P1 of Holier Than Thou (11c) to The Unforgiven (11c) is the way to go.

Protection [Edit]

A dozen draws and several hand-sized cams for the finish (0.75-#2 Camalots).
Has some excellent climbing, but also has some blemishes.Pros: 1st half of 1st pitch is excellent, 2nd pitch is stellar, sport climbers can escape at whatever point their comfort level has been exceeded. Cons: ledge fall potential from corner on 1st pitch, upper part of 1st pitch is contrived (4th class climbing available just around arete), last pitch is awkward and not fun. Jun 11, 2003
I only climbed the first pitch since we didn't have much sunlight left after Fine Jade. The route was cool. As the description states, some of the clips require you to do some tough moves above pro. Don't forget to bring your cajones. Oct 4, 2004
electric lady land
d-know   electric lady land
Oh man! This route is super cool. The features are unreal the moves are aesthetically ticklish and the setting ... oh the setting. Gets shady real early.
One of my favorites!!!!!!!! Jan 28, 2006
Ken Duncan
Ft Collins, CO
Ken Duncan   Ft Collins, CO
Great route climbing what appears to be a candle wax covered wall. First pitch keeps your attention. Second pitch is somewhat contrived but still excellent climbing. Third pitch OK. Highly recommended. Apr 8, 2007
Ryan Williams
London (sort of)
Ryan Williams   London (sort of)
Really fun route with great movement and very interesting and unique features. The first pitch is long but not sustained, and I felt that it was much easier than 11c. It would certainly be 11a or even 10d in NC or WV but I am 6 feet tall and apparently the FA was done buy a shorter guy. The Unforgiven looks like it could be 11c, but I didn't do it.

Second pitch is fun and easy. Bring a few Aliens and some hand size pieces (mostly red C4) for the short third pitch. The crack has an awkward arch but is very fun, and the last move will get your attention, bomber gear at your knees. Sep 13, 2011
For all you sport climbers, here's the deal. I put the route up on lead, placed the bolts where I could and thought they were needed. I certainly didn't see any 4th class climbing anywhere near the upper part of the first pitch and headed to the anchors I'd placed on The Flying. The Flying was originally climbed in 2 pitches (as was Holier Than Thou) to the summit, up the most natural line. How that is contrived is unknown to me. Anyway, if you came to climb 4th class, you came to the wrong route. BTW the flying was the FA of the spire.

Maybe this should be in the forum, but just thought that readers would like to know how the route was originally climbed, certainly not in 3 or 4 pitches. Mar 7, 2014
Luke Mehall
Durango, Colorado
Luke Mehall   Durango, Colorado
Super impressed in the style of this line. Kudos to the FA party. Five star route. 70 meter works. Definitely bring a small rack of cams for the final pitch. Mar 30, 2014
Bob Rotert
Bob Rotert  
Thought this route was just stellar!! Amazing desert face climbing!! Nov 28, 2016
Nolan Robertson
Nolan Robertson  
This is an amazing rock-climb, especially if you love vertical face climbing!

we did the first pitch into the Unforgiven(Not the easiest 5.11c I've been on), then into the weird topout crack pitch. If i were to do it again, I would deffinately link the first pitch of holier than thou to the unforgiven pitch, making for a clean straight shot up the center of the tower for almost a full 70 meter marathon on AMAZING calcite crimps, followed by a short tight hands to finger crack for the last 10 ft to the anchor.

at the end of the unforgiven, it is sort of hard to see where the crack is, but traversing out right just feels amazing with all that air under you until you are finally rewarded by sinking your hand into the crack!

as for the gear, if you were to link the 2 pitches, you might consider bringing 20-22 long draws/alpine slings(if you're linking the first 2 pitches), to keep rope drag at a minimum, especially long running the gear in the final crack(depending on how much you place) and a single set of cams .5-#3 is plenty for the summit pitch, if you're scared of tight hands cracks, maybe bring an extra #1 bd camalot.

This is now one of my favorite 5.11 climbs anywhere! Feb 23, 2017

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