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West Crack T 

West Crack 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad
Original:  YDS: 5.8+ French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: Ron Olevsky
Page Views: 17,073
Submitted By: Tradkelly on Aug 31, 2001

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Floating on cloud nine after my first desert tower...

  • Raptor Closures 2017: Check status and details at: -Read about Anchor Replacement and Restrictions in Arches National Park
  • 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 >>>

  • Description 

    The Standard Route, climb up the west ramp to the base of the obvious crack system. Climb the crack using horns, jugs, knobs, some jams and stems, and at least one awkward left-stepping face move to a ledge with 3 bolts 10' below the summit. The majority of the route goes at pretty decent 8, but be prepared for some slightly harder moves - the sandstone has eroded a bit and the climb is getting harder. Belay from here - there's plenty of room for several people on the ledge. Scramble up easy 4th class rock with some foot pockets to the summit (a piton on top and on an intermediate ledge assist in protecting this scramble) for an excellent view of the Garden of Eden. Rap (do not lower) the route from the three-bolt anchor on the ledge.


    A standard set of camalots up to #4 and a couple of spare pieces in the 1.5-3 range (cams or hexes), 3' slings for runners and to hook horns will suffice. Carry or trail a second rope for the 2-rope rap off.

    Photos of West Crack Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Lindsey following a bitter cold winter ascent of O...
    Lindsey following a bitter cold winter ascent of O...
    Rock Climbing Photo: One of the more interesting anchors i've seen.
    One of the more interesting anchors i've seen.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Joy!
    Rock Climbing Photo: rapping off owl rock, 3/25/07
    rapping off owl rock, 3/25/07
    Rock Climbing Photo: photo by Patrick Paul Rene Photography
    photo by Patrick Paul Rene Photography
    Rock Climbing Photo: Owl rock
    Owl rock
    Rock Climbing Photo: Belay stance
    Belay stance
    Rock Climbing Photo: Eli getting deep into West Crack. Awkward climbing...
    Eli getting deep into West Crack. Awkward climbing...
    Rock Climbing Photo: i love sunbursts, couple of boys preparing for our...
    i love sunbursts, couple of boys preparing for our...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Green line follows route
    BETA PHOTO: Green line follows route
    Rock Climbing Photo: looking down from the summit, Oct. 2003
    looking down from the summit, Oct. 2003
    Rock Climbing Photo: Robbie coming down from the summit.  Check out the...
    Robbie coming down from the summit. Check out the...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Trev on descent after nailing it
    Trev on descent after nailing it
    Rock Climbing Photo: Owl Rock from the SW (the left pillar)
    BETA PHOTO: Owl Rock from the SW (the left pillar)
    Rock Climbing Photo: On the top of Owl Rock!
    On the top of Owl Rock!
    Rock Climbing Photo: Checking out the sunset from atop Owl Rock, Arches...
    Checking out the sunset from atop Owl Rock, Arches...
    Rock Climbing Photo: bloody buddy
    bloody buddy
    Rock Climbing Photo: Colleen rapping Owl Rock
    Colleen rapping Owl Rock
    Rock Climbing Photo: looking back at the piton from Owl Rock summit
    looking back at the piton from Owl Rock summit
    Rock Climbing Photo: Fun, easy, owl poopy.
    Fun, easy, owl poopy.
    Rock Climbing Photo: A January ascent
    A January ascent
    Rock Climbing Photo: Climber trailing a rope for the rappel on West Cra...
    Climber trailing a rope for the rappel on West Cra...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Derek leading the crack on Owl Rock.  I found this...
    Derek leading the crack on Owl Rock. I found this...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Leon and I on Owl Rock summit, enjoying a Tommykno...
    Leon and I on Owl Rock summit, enjoying a Tommykno...

    Show All 28 Photos

    Only the first 24 are shown above.

    Comments on West Crack Add Comment
    Show which comments
    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated May 9, 2017
    By Stacy Bender
    Mar 21, 2002

    This is a great climb for the ham who likes to show-off for the tourists. Seriously though, this is a good mellow 5.8, hands to fist crack, with excelent protection.
    By Tony B
    From: Around Boulder, CO
    Apr 24, 2002
    rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    I agree that this a hands-to-fist crack, It protects like one, and some jamming must be done. As I recall it though (from 1996) it climbs more like a gym-route. Big moves between big holds, and slightly overhanging through the crux. Fun route.

    But what prude named this formation?!?!? When you look at it "Owl" is probably not the first thing that comes to mind now, is it?
    By Jay Jeffery
    Aug 8, 2002

    Great Climb! There are big, easy to grab hand holds and lots of jams. Bring lots of medium to long runners, though, since almost all pro goes pretty deep in the crack. I found myself using the slings from my hexes to lengthen my quick draws. I climed it when it was windy, so I couldn't talk to my belayer. That was a little unnerving.
    By Charles Dalgleish
    From: Salt Lake City, Utah
    Oct 27, 2002

    Great climb with a minimal approach. Some of the most fun I've had climbing in the dessert. The route is such a surprise when you're expecting a sandy old crack and find chicken heads, calcite ledges, and a generally straight-forward route to climb. Just make sure you take a 60m rope for the rap, makes it easier. Also a great climb at night (done twice) with headlamps. Takes gear well.
    By KPRTX
    Dec 11, 2002

    Fun route. Good place to start off in the desert. Very different than any other area. Even though its a crack, it takes little to know crack skills to climb. Bring some slings for rope drag and show up early, because everyone and their dog will be there too.
    By Anonymous Coward
    Mar 18, 2003

    I agree with everyone else, but this climb had been done so many times, that the rock is getting super polished and people also need to respect the rule of no white chalk in Arches. Although not visible from the road, Owl Rock has been robbed of some of its natural beauty.
    By Jeremy J. Franz
    Apr 1, 2003

    Climbed this one last weekend. Fun Route. Great view of Balanced Rock at sunset! Just a point of clarification: this route can be safely toproped with a 50m rope. It's a bit of a stretch, but definitely do-able. Just make sure your belayer ties into the other end of the rope!
    By William McGehee
    From: Choctaw, OK
    Sep 26, 2003

    Be very careful about your rope's orientation when you set up the rap. Also, FORGET trying to rap from the summit's eye-bolt. Your rope will be stuck due to the ropegrooves in the rock. I had to prusik my ass back to the summit because of this. Set up the rap on the lower set of pins and have the second rappeller make sure there is NO twisting above the ledges.
    By Sam Lightner, Jr.
    From: Lander, WY
    Feb 19, 2007

    On February 15 we beefed up the newer anchor on Owl Rock, adding a 1/2 SS bolt to the in-place angle and large ring bolt (probably placed by local guides). This was equalized with brown-(camo)-heavy-gauge chain, and the chain one might use for tying up a dog was removed.

    Over the years, the older anchor that once existed on the summit had created rope grooves. The newer anchor, which was in place prior to
    us beefing it up, is in an improved anchor position and should mitigate those grooves and thus help preserve climbing access.

    An angle-piton exists between the summit and the anchor to protect leaders in the 8 feet of 5.3 to the summit. You have to also down-lead this portion. This angle can be clipped and unclipped from the same ledge you clip the anchor from.
    By Brian in SLC
    From: Sandy, Utah
    Feb 19, 2007

    Great work, Sam.

    FA for folks interested, I believe, is Ron Olevsky (which might help explain any drilled angles).
    By Chris O'Connor
    From: boulder, co
    Mar 6, 2007
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    Great rock in one of the most beautiful places in the region, with great views of the La Sal mountains. Don't miss it, it's a lot like Lizard Rock in the Fisher Towers: small and easy but for some reason it's fun and memorable.
    By Kevin Sainio
    From: Durango, CO
    Apr 16, 2007

    A good climb on mostly solid rock. There are a couple of large, loose rocks on the ledge right before the anchor. Also, I found large wires to be very helpful in protecting this route i.e. the BIG wild country rocks. Good fun.
    By toddgordon Gordon
    From: Joshua Tree, California
    Apr 27, 2007

    Ron scored a coup with this one; probably the most popular climb in Arches! (And a good one too!). I was surprised reading these posts that no one mentioned that the reason that this formation is called owl rock is NOT because it looks like an owl, BUT because , at one time, there was a large boulder on the summit that looked like an owl, but has since fallen (or was trundled;....) off . There are photos of the formation with the "owl" ;.....too bad the owl is gone, as it was WAY cool looking. I first did this climb in 1983 with Lori Graf, but it was yesterday's papers by then, as Ron did the first ascent WAY back in Feb. of 1978. It's close location to the road, (and gawking tourists), excellent protection, and wonderful steep climbing, as well as a very cool summit, make this a must do. I've done the thing many times, and it's worthy of repeat ascents. There can be "mini-traffic jams" so be wary of this; another climb sometimes "over-loved."
    By M. Morley
    From: Sacramento, CA
    Apr 27, 2007

    Cool story about the summit "owl", Todd. If you or anyone else has an old photo with the "summit owl", I'd love to see it!
    By BirminghamBen
    From: Birmingham, AL
    Oct 19, 2008

    My first Tower...descent, easy route.
    By Petsfed
    From: Laramie, WY
    Mar 16, 2009
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    I sewed it up with a double set of cams from #1 C4 to #3 C4, plus a #4 C4, an old style #4 (purple) camalot, and a handful of large nuts. I did however use every single sling I had. The good placements are deep enough in the crack that rope drag would be heinous (especially after the crux bulge) if you didn't sling everything long.

    Remarkably steep for the grade. Crux is not quite in the same character as the rest of the route, but you have good pro (doubly so if you're tall enough to weasel in a high #3 C4/3.5 friend), after which it turns super relaxed. The summit eye-bolt is completely gone now, so plan accordingly.

    Also, I wasn't terribly impressed with the climbing on this route. Its fun to top it out, but aside from the somewhat awkward crux, the moves just felt repetitive and boring, like a climbing gym jug haul.

    Finally, I'm not seein' the wang Tony. Apparently you are (not that there's anything wrong with that ;) ) but I don't see it.
    By Chris Wenker
    From: Santa Fe
    Jun 5, 2009
    rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

    What a hoot!

    /Can't believe I'm the first to post that.
    By T.Ward
    From: Boulder, CO
    Oct 19, 2009

    The route description advises bringing a second rope for the rappel; however, a single 60M is long enough to rappel from the three-bolt anchors.
    By Josh Cameron
    From: California in my Mind
    Nov 29, 2010
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    A great climb to do while in Arches. It's very steep and some of the bulges, especially at the start, make the climb feel overhanging, but whenever you feel stuck reach over your head and you should find a good jug. And please downclimb from the summit instead of lowering. Peoples' ropes have been wearing grooves into the rock. Have fun!
    By slim
    Nov 28, 2011
    rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    i was pleasantly surprised by the climbing on this thing. pretty unique for the desert. jug hauling, knee barring, steep, different. really fun, and it makes for a great mellow last day.
    By Hendo Henderson
    From: Denver, CO
    Oct 23, 2012

    Bulges. I hate bulges! Yet, I did enjoy this climb. Good pro all the way up. Make sure you bring some slings to extend your gear though. I got sketched out 20ft before the top. So I guess I'd consider that the crux. Crazy the amount of good holds there are on this climb though!
    By Canon
    Oct 29, 2012
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c


    Also, #4 camalot is not crucial, but nice. Long slings mandatory. Mostly mid-sized gear (.75-2 camalots)
    By Mark P Thomas
    From: Draper
    Nov 22, 2012
    rating: 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c

    Very steep but solid, clean, and juggy with easy gear placements. According to the photo time stamps, it took me about 10 minutes or less to onsight this. Very straightforward. This route has some of the most solid rock in Arches!
    By AnthonyM
    Apr 22, 2013

    Fun route!
    By Dingus
    Jul 26, 2013
    rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    Great route! There are 2 drilled pitons between the chains and the summit now. Everything is pretty smooth up in there. I thought this thing felt pretty sporty for a crack, didn't need much jamming. Don't forget to get a photo with the Jesus/Buddha piece up there at the chains!
    By Peter Blank
    From: Grand Junction, Colorado
    Sep 28, 2014

    Yo, I've got your rope. Shoot me an email and we'll figure something out. Saturday, 9.28.14.
    By eli poss
    From: Durango, Co
    Nov 8, 2015
    rating: 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c

    Did this today without a #4 and had no problem. I brought 2 #3s up and only used one of em. I used 2x #1s and 2x #2s although I ran out the last 10-20ft before the anchors cause it was easy climbing. Jamming help considerably in a couple places but most of it climbs more like a face than a crack.
    By Michael Dom
    From: Seattle
    Dec 22, 2015
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    I only ended up tossing a handful of pieces in, not because it wasn't available but because you are so secure this entire route. The name doesn't match the image however.
    By Joshua Rapp
    Nov 16, 2016

    This is a long shot, but yesterday I lost 2x 1s, a .5, a .4, and 5 draws (2 sport, 3 alpine) at the base or top of either Owl Rock or Jah Man. This dirtbag climber would be insurmountably grateful should anyone find them and will offer a $100 for their safe return. I'll admit that isn't much, but it's about all I have right now. Thanks.
    By DJ Reyes
    From: Northern Nevada
    Nov 25, 2016

    I led this today (Black Friday) on a cool, but sunny day. I thought it was a bit difficult to arrange protection a time or two due to a couple of awkward stances, but otherwise the climbing was fairly straight forward if not a bit slick from the many boots that went before. I agree with the previous comment about reaching higher for jugs if you get in a bind. A nice tower to summit. You'll probably have to wait in line, but what the heck.
    By Derek Michael
    May 9, 2017

    Place the #4 when you first think you need it, otherwise you'll have carried it for nothing like me.

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