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Islet In The Sky
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Regular Route 

YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a C3+

Type:  Trad, Aid, 6 pitches, 400', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a C3+ [details]
FA: Ken Trout, Bruce Lella
Page Views: 3,354
Submitted By: Steve "Crusher" Bartlett on May 1, 2003

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Jim and Kurt, pitch 3 in '83

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 is the only line up this formation. Perhaps it should be called the Urethra Route, as the tower is so obviously phallic. Start from down and right on the northeast side, actually under the saddle between Islet and Blocktop. The first two pitches are scrotal scrabbling, sweaty, dirty and chossy.

1. Climb up a steep 5.9+ right-facing flake, into a face crack above. Follow this to a ledge system. Here I traversed left into the loose corner/gully under the tower, and belayed.

2. Easy (5.7) but loose climbing gains the saddle, right next to the tower. Now the fun starts.

3. Traverse left (C1) along the obvious Friend crack, to a hanging belay at the start of the Urethra proper (this is a great spot to fix ropes from).

4. Surge up the urethra. No route-finding doubts here. Lots of wires (I recall leapfrogging some of the smallest), a few pods where small/medium cams fit nicely, and the seam eventually dies out at a trio of very bad aid bolts, leading to a hanging three-bolt anchor. It would be nice to have the tiny wiggly curiosities of this bolt ladder replaced with some more modern hardware, so it might be prudent to bring a hammer and drill and a couple bolts. Please don't use the hammer anywhere else!

5. More of the same. A flared thin section is tricky, but eventually reach easier ground, and a ledge, just below the bulging bell-end.

6. A straightforward 5.8 summit pitch is protected by a strange bolt ladder (maybe Trout finished in the dark?). EDIT: Ken Trout told me they finished in snowy, stormy weather, wearing Sorels or similar...

As a hard clean aid route, this is just, well, orgasmic...On the first clean ascent, I left the hammer in the truck, so ensuring that there was no temptation to use it. It seems really great to me that the Park have forbidden more hammering on this route, so it will remain a real challenge to skill and subtlety, instead of being hammered into an ugly mindless mess. Wingate does not take repeated nailing very well, as it dinner-plates and scars so badly. The four (?) nailing ascents have left scars only just visible from the ground, yet just big enough for clean aiding. Oh, and be assured this will not ever go free.

Ascents are, so far as I'm aware, few and far between. Eric Bjornstad's original book lists the first three ascents:1. Ken Trout and Bruce Lella, 19762. Bill Ellwood, Brian Hansen, et al, 19833. Kurt Langford, Jim Barnes, 1985. Other ascents I know of are: 4. Jim Bodenhamer, Rob Slater, 19935. Steve Bartlett, solo 1996. 6. Dave Light, Boulos Ayad, 199(9?). I expect there are more ascents than this. Maybe half of Moab has done this. The register was trashed by 1996. Bring a new one perhaps.


Bring lots of wires. Several sets of small wires particularly. RPs work well. Offset RPs work better, and the smallest sizes of the original Chouinard Stoppers work best of all. These have a very wide surface area (less chance of busting out the rock) and super-thin cables (so the cable can fit into the crack between the pin scars.Three sets of cams from the very smallest up to about 4". Extras of small to medium would be good. One set of Pika Hooks, with the vertical-oriented hooks.Perhaps also some Slider Nuts, or Ball Nuts, though I don't actually recall using any.

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By Ken Trout
From: Golden, CO
Nov 11, 2003

I'd do it again, without the hammer, just to see the view finally.

About the funky summit bolt ladder: We used aid to summit in a storm because we were climbing in over-sized, insulated, work boots. It was Thanksgiving, 1979. After rappelling in from the rim, we camped, tent-less, on the nearest flat ground to the base of the route, and did the route during three days of snow, mostly in whiteout. Maybe the coldest rock climbing I've ever suffered through.

The bolts we used were given to us by a friend of Bruce's. It was a generous gift then. But if I remember right, the hangers looked like they were cut from galvanized gutter, yikes! They are all very suspect and should be yanked and replaced. We backed up our belays with pins.

By Brian Hansen
From: West of Boulder, CO
Nov 14, 2003

Ken, we added at least one bolt to each belay station at your suggestion. They were "good" bolts for the time (1982; 3/8" Star drives with Leeper hangers).
By Steve "Crusher" Bartlett
Jan 8, 2004

Asa the register was trashed, this seems like a good place to try to keep some track of who has done this. It's interesting to figure out how many niling ascents were needed before it could go clean (or maybe not so interesting...). Two other ascents I've heard about:

1. Jason Keith and Alan Hunt in the early 1990s.

2. Kent Pease and Andy Blaylock did a clean ascent around 2000.

so four nailing ascents, and so far four clean ascents.
By drake taylor
Apr 14, 2005

Does anyone know what the present bolt situation of the anchors and the "wiggly curiosities" is ? And if anything still needs replacing. We went to nail it in the 80's but my partner got hurt on standing rock, and now are not sure if we have the cajones to try it clean or not. We climbed blocktop a few years ago and checked it out pretty good. Just wondering if we should really leave the hammer in the car or not?Thanks, drake taylor
By -mn
May 23, 2008

Finally climbed this after years of lookin'at it.Came in from the rim..wasn't to bad.Third pitch was free at 5.10(the traverse).After this take nuthin' but small wires and singles on cams to a #3cam. for the occasional bomber placement.A #2 ballnut and a handplaced 5/8" sawed angle were handy on pitch 5. Thought the "wiggly curiosities" were bomber. Sweet clean aid on a great of the best. Miles Newby & Parker Newby
By Ben Kiessel
Mar 30, 2009

Brad, Matt and I climbed this last weekend and added a bolt to the anchors of pitch 4 and 5. Some of the aid bolts definitely look like they were cut from gutter but are just fine for aiding on. The pitch 3 anchor can be backed up with cams in a bedding seem.

Also we climbed Block Top on Saturday and instead of rappeling to the ground we stopped at the notch and did an easy traverse pitch to Islet skipping the first two pitches.
By IprojYOURwarmups
Sep 1, 2010

Since this seems to be the summit registry, I soloed this route clean over two days in late september 2010. Amazing two days.
By Mike McMahon
From: Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Jun 3, 2014

I soloed The Islet over the weekend. It's pretty remote and wild. After trying both approaches, I think the White Rim approach is considerably easier. I appreciated the new bolt at the fourth and fifth belays. Also, I added a summit register. Here is a trip report for anyone interested:
Islet in the Sky Trip Report

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