After climbing most of the classic tower routes in Moab these past ten years, I have capitulated to climbing the chossy ones. The right side of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice is no exception. There are two pillars at approximately mile marker one on the south side of River Road along the Colorado River north of Moab. Both spires/towers are hard to distinguish apart from the main wall depending on where you are viewing them from. However both are true pillars with “see through” slots detaching them from the main wall. The larger one is on the right (facing northwest), the Sorcerer. The smaller one is on the left and faces due north making it even harder to differentiate from the wall. This is the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
The right side of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice is listed at 5.11c in Stewart Green’s Utah guidebook and listed as 5.10d as the consensus via four summit logs on Mountain Project. I agree with the Falcon Guide’s grade in comparison to other Moab tower climbs in the region. I consider this climb more difficult than the North Face of Castleton or Fine Jade (both considered 5.11 classics). The rock on all three pitches is not the best which contributes to the sandbag nature of the route, pun fully intended. The first pitch (5.10) offers a variation straight up a tight hands/finger crack in the lower white rock band to access the wide right side corner system of Sorcerer’s Apprentice. This variation is one of the chossier pitches you will climb in Moab, but still looks more attractive than the lay back corner to the right. The second pitch starts out from the deck via off-width (C4#5) and slowly narrows to a roof that you can pull with hands and then goes to fingers as you continue up to the key hole slot for the second gear belay. You can easily use a full rack of cams (double all sizes) on this pitch. The last pitch is the crux of the route. You continue up the right facing corner via crumbly sandstone with finger pockets here and there. Stemming and/or lay backing are the only solutions. It eases slightly towards the top. Although it would seem obvious to continue up yet another pitch from the top of the pillar to the top of the wall, it appears few if anyone has actually done this. Rap with double ropes from the top of the pillar on the opposite side.
Beyond mile marker one (east) on River Road, pull off at a trailhead on the left (restroom as well). Follow a climbers trail back across the road (south) as it trends right up the loose hill to the base of the north facing pillar above (photo).
Route DescriptionSorcerer’s Apprentice Right, 5.11, 300’+/-
1st Pitch- 20m- 5.10-/ This first pitch offers a variation straight up a tight hands/finger crack in the lower white face band to access the wide right side corner system which makes up the majority of the route. This variation is one of the chossier pitches you will climb in Moab, but still looks more attractive than the lay-back corner to the right. The start is a bit tentative on small gear in white rock. Towards the top of the splitter it gets loose and dirty, but the climbing eases off as well. Continue up into a short right facing corner and make a 5.10 move or two up this to the base of the main corner system.
3rd Pitch- 30m- 5.11/ I have led quite a few 5.11 pitches in and around the many Moab towers and consider this pitch the hardest of the group. Pull out of the slot, back out right and up through the bird poop/nest on easy jugs. Climb the thin chossy corner up to the top of the pillar. The idea is to stem as much as possible to avoid the difficult lay-back portion on lead. The corner finger crack is not always open, but does offer for plenty of small gear in the sometimes crunchy sandstone. Few rests exist. I would prefer triples in the small and micro sizes if I led this pitch again. It eases toward the top with a hand crack appearing on the right wall. Although it would seem obvious to continue up yet another pitch from the top of the pillar to the top of the wall, it appears few if anyone has actually done this. A fixed rap station is on top of the pillar.