At 500 (uphill side) to 700 feet (downhill side) tall, Kingfisher is the second tallest tower in the Fishers. The formation is taller than Echo and Cottontail Towers and shorter than the more famous Titan. Many are reminded of a huge gothic cathedral when looking up at this spire. The rock here is Cutler sandstone with a Moenkopi layer providing a summit “crown” – standard fare for the giants of the Fishers. Formation lies along a ridge (northeast to southwest) loosely connected to the famous Ancient Art formation via Minotaur (on the southwest end) and Dragon’s Tail Tower (on the northeast end). The tower was first climbed via Northeast Ridge (a.k.a. Colorado Ridge) in 1962 by Harvey Carter and Cleve McCarty. Presently, this is likely the second easiest summit line (after Ancient Art’s Stolen Chimney route) of any major tower in the Fishers. 24 years would pass before another route (Jagged Edge) was established on the tower by Jim Beyer (solo at V 5.9 A4). It should be noted that Northeast Ridge is likely a kindergarten level Fishers route relative to all of the other lines on the tower (which are likely doctoral theses on thin mud aiding).
Eric Bjornstad’s guidebook (see below) provides a great overview of the area’s climbing history including the most complete listing of established routes (along with very very entertaining gear lists).
Note that the reported summit elevation is very approximate - based largely on Scott's mean elevation listed for the Fishers Area page and subsequent discussion with Scott.
Follow driving directions to the trailhead given on Fisher Towers Trail page.
Kingfisher along with Ancient Art are visible from the trailhead. From the trailhead parking lot, hike the main Fishers trail south then east around the first major formation you see (called Dock Rock).
For the most popular Northeast Ridge (and Death Of American Demoracy :) stay on the main trail as it passes the along the south/southwest toe of Ancient Art formation (the Corkscrew Summit towers directly above) and soon Cobra hoodoo comes to view. Turn off the main trail and follow the well-beaten climbers’ path past The Cobra (on its left) and toward the start of Stolen Chimney. Instead of cutting left toward Ancient Art base and Stolen Chimney continue on a fainter path (some cairns) uphill (some class 3 sections) shadowing the base of the southeast face of Kingfisher. Start of Northeast Ridge is at the uphill edge of this huge face (look for a bolt ladder below an obvious chimney).
Red TapeNone. This is BLM land. Stay on established trails and avoid trampling the crypto soil. If you can't do a route that is an established clean aid line in that style, don't get on it.
CampingEstablished camp sites are available at the Fisher trailhead (BLM administered and with a fee). Additionally, consult the camping sections on these pages for some additional options (many free) in the Moab area:
Ice Cream Parlor
Mountain ConditionsLocal climbing information can be obtained from the friendly folks in the local climb shop, Pagan Mountaineering located in Moab, UT. Their number is 435-259-1117.
Also check: Moab Climate Summary Page.
Moab area web-cam.
External Links(1) Excellent page on Kingfisher is available on mountainproject.com. See here.
(2) Brad put together an entertaining TR with great photos (Northeast Ridge route) on his page here.
(3) Nice TR of an ascent of NE Ridge in wintry conditions.
(4) Death Of American Democracy TR .....nice, so nice!!
Routes And Guidebooks OverviewEric Bjornstad’s guidebook (Desert Rock III: Moab To Colorado National Monument ISBN 1-56044-754-0) provides the most complete listing of established routes on this tower (and very entertaining gear lists and descriptions – not to be missed!). These include:
(1) Northeast Ridge IV 5.8 C2 and one variation
(2) Death Of American Democracy V 5.9-5.10 A4+
(3) Jagged Edge V 5.9 A4
(4) Hazing V 5.8 A3
(5) Dead Again V 5.10 R A4…don’t forget your ice ax for mud hooking!
Note that the other guidebooks describe only the Northeast Ridge line. These include Cameron Burns’ Selected Climbs In The Desert Southwest (ISBN 0-89886-657-X) and Fred Knapp’s Classic Desert Climbs (ISBN 1-892540-17-7).
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