Type: Trad, Sport, 350 ft (106 m), 2 pitches
FA: Jay Smith & Mark Hesse - 1995
Page Views: 9,302 total · 42/month
Shared By: Josh Janes on May 23, 2003
Admins: slim, Andrew Gram, Nathan Fisher, Perin Blanchard, GRK, DCrane

You & This Route

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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


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.


A dozen draws and several hand-sized cams for the finish (0.75-#2 Camalots).