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Owl Rock
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West Crack 

West Crack 

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

   
Type: Trad
Consensus:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: Ron Olevsky
Page Views: 7,989
Submitted By: Tradkelly on Aug 31, 2001
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Floating on cloud nine after my first desert tower...

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Read about Anchor Replacement and Restrictions in Arches National Park 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.


Protection 

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
One of the more interesting anchors i've seen. I can just see the person with a 1/2" drill getting that massive, whatever that is, in there.
One of the more interesting anchors i've seen. I c...
rapping off owl rock, 3/25/07
rapping off owl rock, 3/25/07
Lindsey following a bitter cold winter ascent of Owl Rock's West Crack.
Lindsey following a bitter cold winter ascent of O...
photo by Patrick Paul Rene Photography
photo by Patrick Paul Rene Photography
Owl rock
Owl rock
i love sunbursts, couple of boys preparing for our first route of the day
i love sunbursts, couple of boys preparing for our...
looking down from the summit, Oct. 2003
looking down from the summit, Oct. 2003
Robbie coming down from the summit.  Check out the moon in the top right
Robbie coming down from the summit. Check out the...
Leon and I on Owl Rock summit, enjoying a Tommyknocker beer.  Balanced Rock is in the background
Leon and I on Owl Rock summit, enjoying a Tommykno...
Fun, easy, owl poopy.
Fun, easy, owl poopy.
Climbers on a late afternoon ascent of Owl Rock, May 2007.
Climbers on a late afternoon ascent of Owl Rock, M...
Matt Misfeldt climbing Owl Rock just before sundown.  Belayed by Chis Moseman.
Matt Misfeldt climbing Owl Rock just before sundow...
Owl Rock from the SW (the left pillar)
BETA PHOTO: Owl Rock from the SW (the left pillar)
Colleen rapping Owl Rock
Colleen rapping Owl Rock
Evening sun on Entrada Sandstone. Owl Rock, Arches National Park.
Evening sun on Entrada Sandstone. Owl Rock, Arches...
Derek leading the crack on Owl Rock.  I found this climb a little awkward but plenty of place to protect.  Use slings to extend.
Derek leading the crack on Owl Rock. I found this...
Climber trailing a rope for the rappel on <em><a href='/v/west-crack/105717448'>West Crack</a></em>.
Climber trailing a rope for the rappel on [[10...
bloody buddy
bloody buddy
A January ascent
A January ascent
Checking out the sunset from atop Owl Rock, Arches National Park.
Checking out the sunset from atop Owl Rock, Arches...
looking back at the piton from Owl Rock summit
looking back at the piton from Owl Rock summit
Comments on West Crack Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 26, 2013
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- 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
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: bouldertown, co
Mar 6, 2007
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 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
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
Administrator
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 BHMBen
From: The Deeper South
Oct 19, 2008

My first Tower...descent, easy route.

By Brian Scoggins
From: Eugene, OR
Mar 16, 2009
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 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+ MVS 4b

What a hoot!

/Can't believe I'm the first to post that.
//sorry

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
Nov 29, 2010

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
Administrator
Nov 28, 2011
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 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
From: Ogden, UT
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- HVS 4c

YOU ONLY NEED ONE 60M ROPE!

Also, #4 camalot is not crucial, but nice. Long slings mandatory. Mostly mid-sized gear (.75-2 camalots)

By Mark P Thomas
From: Oakland
Nov 22, 2012
rating: 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 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 shaferbm
From: Akron, Ohio
Jul 26, 2013
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 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!