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The Cirque of the Climbables (aka The Tombstone)
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Playing Hooky 

Playing Hooky 

YDS: 5.10d French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 21 British: E3 5b C2

Type:  Aid, 4 pitches, 375', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.10d French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 21 British: E3 5b C2 [details]
FA: Charlie Fowler, Kevin Chase, Jimmy Dunn, Pete Verchick
Season: good in winter
Page Views: 6,987
Submitted By: Brejcha on Jan 10, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (14)
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Pitch 3.

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 MORE INFO >>>


This route goes up the middle of the center tombstone. It is a super aesthetic climb (esp. P3) and has some great exposure. It can be a little noisy when all the jeeps and dirt bikes are crusin' around. This route has gone free, and there is a lot of chalk up there.

Pitch 1 (5.7 or 5.10d): Two ways to go. A goofy 5.7 chimney pitch starts far to the climbers left of the P1 anchor. Begin up a sandy slot, a couple very easy stem moves puts you on a ledge, traverse a few feet right and climb up the 5.7 crack/slot to a ledge, passing a drilled angle. Once on the ledge, walk/scramble to your right for a long way, it's kinda funky. Watch for loose rocks, I almost killed my dog on this pitch. Rope drag can suck. All of this can be avoided by a 5.10d direct start, which begins directly below the pitch one anchors.
Pitch 2 (C2): Easy traverse up and right to the crack. Begin with C1,pass some bolt holes for an old anchor after about 60 feet and continue up steep C2 to a three bolt sling belay below a tiny roof. Airy belay spot.
Pitch 3(C2): Begin up the beautiful,airy,thin right facing diherdral. At the top of the corner,the crack goes from really thin to wide. Continue up the wide crack to a bolted belay.
Pitch 4 (C2):Follow and open book to the top, steep.


Route climbs the center tombstone. Park and hike as you would for corner route. It should be obvious where 1st pitches start.


Standard clean aid rack w/ extra small gear, and a #4 camalot or two.

Photos of Playing Hooky Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down... nice!
Looking down... nice!
Rock Climbing Photo: Clean/Solo back in '99.
Clean/Solo back in '99.
Rock Climbing Photo: The view from the second belay
The view from the second belay
Rock Climbing Photo: A soloist on the direct start to Playing Hooky.
A soloist on the direct start to Playing Hooky.
Rock Climbing Photo: pitch three dihedral
BETA PHOTO: pitch three dihedral
Rock Climbing Photo: The climb from the base.
BETA PHOTO: The climb from the base.

Comments on Playing Hooky Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated May 16, 2017
By Joe Forrester
From: Palo Alto
Jan 20, 2007

I found a talon hook to be usefull to hook past old drilled angle holes on the last pitch. Also, the first rap from the top was super sticky on the ropes, it is easier to do just a single rope rap first, then you can double it up and fly down that thing. A killer climb though, whether you free it or aid it.
By Chris O'Connor
From: boulder, co
Mar 1, 2007

There is an article about this route in the March 2007 Rock and Ice
By Luke Malatesta
From: Moab Utah
Oct 23, 2007

Pitch 4 is .12- i think.... rock turns to sugar in some places. The route is normially done in 4 long pitches.
By Hank Caylor
From: Glenwood Springs, CO
Apr 15, 2009

Watch for falling BASE jumpers. This is the most jumped cliff in America!
By Bob Dobalina
Jun 7, 2009

Nice "mini-wall" climb. I recommend doing the direct 5.10 first pitch. The 5.7 gully is rather awful. Hiking down is tricky until you get on the right path. Trend right at the top to find the way down the descent gully. It comes out by the large dirt parking area.
By PatrickJames
Jul 31, 2010

watch out, the guide book says P1 is 75ft... We found this to not be true in the morning when we came up 20ft short on rapp. the pitch is actually about 120ft

as far as timing, don't attempt it in the middle of july, the death ray takes its toll.
By aSteel
Mar 22, 2011

Rack suggestions for styled-out aid rack:
- master cams (grey: 1, purple: 2, blue: 2, yellow: 4, orange: 4, red: 4, offset blue/yellow: 1(not required, but nice))
- double set of aluminum offset nuts
- single set of brassie offset nuts
- triple set of .75-3 camalots, (double set okay, triple set is faster), 2 #4s, 1 #5 and 1 #6 (5 and 6 are not required, but could be good if you're learning)
- red tri-cam. More colors if you want, but this was my option instead of hooking at the crux
- Other gear thoughts: Bring your longest arms, no ball nuts, no other tricams, no hooks, no pins and don't forget those offset nuts (you can leave the BD nuts at home)

Grade suggestions with this rack:
P1 5.7 - This is a fun pitch, what's everyone complaining about? The 10d is also very nice.
P2 C1 - I'll give you C1+ if you feel strongly that I'm wrong.
P3 C1 - I didn't lead this pitch, but it's pretty straightforward. Again, maybe C1+. Maybe.
P4 C2 - Definitely the crux, placing gear behind a crumbly, suspicious looking block that is probably not very attached

Rappel Suggestions:
Pitch four overhangs and traverses a bit, so it could be tricky to get back to the anchor (in the wind for us it would have been impossible.) So here's a trick: Leave one of your ropes attached to the anchor at the top of pitch three. From the anchors at the top of pitch four, have the first person single-rope rappel on the second rope, using a transom on the fixed line to get to the anchor.

From the top of pitch 3 to the top of pitch 1 is about 60m. Pitch 1 to the ground is, like PatrickJames said, about 120'. 3 raps total brings you to the ground.
By Riegner
Apr 29, 2013

Great route up an incredible formation. I'll add a few additional thoughts based on our ascent:

1 - cams: we brought a triple set of .3 through #3 camalots, two #4's and one #5, plus a double set of small offset cams. We rarely used the offset cams (one set would be plenty, nuts worked better) and while we placed the #5 a few times, it didn't seem necessary. The wide section on P3 is about 25 feet long and constricts in a few places to take some smaller gear. Two #4's would work, 3 would have made it a little easier.

2 - nuts: we brought one set of offset brassies and 2 sets of aluminum offsets. We used these a lot

3 - we brought a few tri-cams and hooks but never used them

4 - in late April the sun didn't hit the wall until around noon. From then on it sits baking in the sun until 8pm.

5 - there were 7 separate BASE jumpers while we were on the climb. Very cool to see from that perspective, but I peed my pants each time thinking we were hearing rockfall. P.S. those guys are insane.

6 - P1: we climbed the direct start as it seemed a more aesthetic line directly up the formation. The way we did it I'd call it 5.7 C1+. The rock is not as solid on P1 and I was able to rip out a few cams by just pulling on them in the softer rock. The 5.7 chimney variation would certainly be a faster way to get to the meat of the climbing on the upper pitches.

7 - descent: There is a mid-way anchor on P4 just before the crack trends to climbers right about half-way up the pitch. We used this to get back to the P3 anchor. From the P3 anchor, 60m ropes just BARELY reach the P1 anchor with full rope-stretch. In addition, the route overhangs slightly which leaves you rappelling into space. Be VERY careful on this rappel and make sure to knot the ends of your rope. Getting off the ends of the rope and back onto the wall was a little tricky.
By Stiles
From: the Mountains
Oct 17, 2013

BASE jumpers walk up the back side in 30 minutes from the parking lot. Hiking down the back and around is way faster and safer than rapping. The final rappel can stick your rope pretty good, too. Beware
By John McNamee
From: Littleton, CO
Feb 18, 2014

At the large parking lot a couple hundred yards just past the climb, (where people park for the Amasa Back trail), on the downhill side of the road you will find a small hiking only sign. This is the walk up/off trail. About 40 minutes up and 30 minutes down. There is one spot on the way down where you have to be a careful (traverse above a bad run out) but other than that it is pretty casual.
By ben jammin
From: Moab, UT
Mar 7, 2014

Anyone know who's fixed line is on this right now? Would love to work it with someone (free, of course) and I just may go trax your line next week after work. So don't take it down! Kidding... kind of.
By 801maxwell
From: SLC
May 13, 2014

2 more cents from a solo perspective.

At the 3rd anchor, there is a bolt w/o hanger or nut sticking out of the rock 2.5 inches. It is 3 feet directly below the anchor and made me pucker to watch my line moving on both sides of it while cleaning the pitch and jugging back up. It is serving no purpose other than maybe providing an option for a ledge to secure to? Leave a directional at top of the dihedral for cleaning to avoid.

P4 was definitely the crux for me. After the chockstone placements were super suspect even to holding body weight with bits of rock popping out. After unsuccessfully trying to free the moves to the upper crack, attempted a hook move to reach a solid placement. Big surprise the hook blew in the weak rock along with exploding out next 3 pieces. With the sun setting, body bonking, and the best gear placement options potentially gone, I bailed 30 feet from the top.

2 ropes mandatory to rap from P3 to top of P1, unless clipping directionals to make it to P2 anchors. The wall is deceivingly overhung and impossible if windy to reach anchors. 2 60's will just reach the ledge.

Didnt use any brass but could have, a tricam could have prevented the need to hook, and an medium offset cam would have made P4 pro slightly more secure. Many small cams, #2 x3, #3 x2, #4 x2, #5 x1

Whole boat load of type 2 fun. Great climb.
By Rodion
May 15, 2017

Just got on this climb for the first time in many years. There is black dust on the rock (especially the 2nd pitch) that seems like char. It got all over us and looked like we had rolled in a fire pit. I don't remember this being there before and can't recall seeing it on any other rocks in the Moab area. The only thing I can imagine is if someone was projecting it when it was damp and they used a torch to dry the rock, but that seems pretty unethical for this area. Anyone know what it is?
By justino
May 16, 2017

I've noticed this same film on both playing hooky and the corner route over several years. I doubt it has anything to do with trying to dry the route out.

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