Indian Creek to the Fisher Towers

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Trip Report
Utah, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Apr 21, 2005
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Indian Creek to the Fisher Towers
Created On: Aug 29, 2009
Last Edited On: Aug 29, 2009

Escalante to Indian Creek

Henry Mountains PanoramaThe Henry Mountains

I returned from my first tour in Iraq in March of 2005, and made a bee line for Canyon Country for my leave. After spending about a week in and around Escalante, the Kiaparowitz Plateau, Glenn Canyon, and Boulder, it was time to meet my brother in Indian Creek for some easy tower climbs. The drive from Escalante to Moab and down to Indian Creek was incredible. From the badlands east of Boulder, to the vistas of the Henry Mountains, Capitol Reef National Park, and all things in between.

Caineville MesaCainville Mesa
Caineville MesaCainville Mesa
Henry MountainsHenry Mountains
Mountains Behind the Bluffs PanoramaMountains and Bluffs
Henrys Thru a WindowHenry's Thru a Window
Henry MountainsHenry's Behind Ruins
Down Highway 24Down Highway 24
Canyon Country SunsetSunset on Highway 24

Badlands East of Capitol ReefCapitol Reef Badlands

Indian Creek and the Sixshooters

North Sixshooter PanoramaNorth Sixshooter Peak from South Sixshooter

Our first destination was Indian Creek. Driving through Indian Creek makes you want to be a better climber. Unfortunately, 99% of Indian Creek is beyond my meager climbing ability, so we aimed for South Sixshooter Peak's South Face which checks in at 5.6 and three pitches.

The first views of Indian Creek proper come after an uneventful drive down Highway 211. As the walls to the left and right rise, the first stop is Newspaper Rock, an incredible collection of petroglyphs carved into a soot encrusted rock. Immediately across the road is Newspaper Campground. It fills up quick, and is pleasant during the summer months. During the winter months it's often 5-10 degrees colder than the camping around the Sixshooters. After passing Newspaper Rock, the cliffs come one after the other: Friction Slab (not really a cliff), Battle of the Bulge, Blue Gamma, Supercrack Buttress, Donnelly Canyon, and many more.

The closer you get to the Sixshooters, the more the "canyon" opens up. South and North Sixshooters are unmistakable, dominating the surrounding plains from atop their talus towers. There is also good access to Davis Canyon and Canyonlands National Park.

Indian Creek

Indian Creek CliffsIndian Creek Cliffs
Newspaper RockNewspaper Rock
Newspaper RockNewspaper Rock
View from Friction SlabFriction Slab View
Incredible Hand Crack (5.10)Incredible Hand Crack
Supercrack (5.10)Supercrack
Ruins Below Supercrack ButtressSupercrack Buttress
Donnelly Canyon ClimbsDonnelly Canyon
Looking into Donnelly CanyonDonnelly Canyon
Ansaid Tower in Donnelly CanyonAnsaid Tower

The Sixshooters Area

Camping in the CreekCamping at the Creek
North SixshooterNorth Sixshooter
Bridger Jack SpiresBridger Jack Spires
Indian CreekIndian Creek Views
Ruins Below South SixshooterRuins Below South SS
North Sixshooter in ProfileNorth Sixshooter
La Sal Mountains over Indian CreekLa Sals Over the Creek
Strange Rock Below South SixshooterFormation Below South SS
Indian Creek from South SixshooterViews of the Creek
Indian Creek RocksViews of the Creek
MoonriseMoonrise Over the Creek

South Sixshooter, South Face Route

Approaching South Sixshooter PeakApproaching South Sixshooter

The summit of the South Sixshooter is one of the easiest towers in the desert, and as such is quite popular. It is a three-pitch 5.6. We lucked out and shared the tower with only one other set of climbers who chose another route to the second tower. The views from the summit are first rate - North Sixshooter, Canyonlands, and views back up Indian Creek will make the drive, approach, and climb all worthwhile.

The crux of the South Face route is definitely the approach. We parked under the mesa as you approached from our camp site the night before. Work your way up through the breaks in the cliff bands (the last one on our chosen route required a little scrambling) to the top of the mesa. From here, hike towards the south side of the talus cone and join the steep trail that takes you to the back of the rock. The mesa and cone are each about 500 feet high. The climb starts on the far left side of the face, where the ground starts to slope down and there is an Anasazi petroglyph up on the face.

Pitch 1: Climb over broken cracks on easy rock to a chimney. Climb up through the chimney (easy) to a ledge behind the triangular shaped block (the topo in the book is a little misleading). We belayed here because of rope drag and communications, but you could easily continue a little farther.

Pitch 2: Not really much of a pitch. Continue a long the "ridge" to a point below a shallow dihedral with a fun looking crack. There is a set of slings not far from here to rap off, but disregard these - they require two ropes and the drag looks bad.

Pitch 3: Climb up through the dihedral (felt a little harder than the 5.6 rating) to easier rock and continue around the south side of the first summit. Work up the summit and clip a well placed thank you bolt. Mantle up to the summit and find the anchors.

To desend, rap from the top of the tower and angle right to a set of slings under the right tower. From these slings, it's one fun rap to the ground with a single rope. Long approach, but well worth it.

Below South SixshooterBase of South SS
South Face Direct LinesSouth Face Direct Lines
PetroglyphPetroglyph at the Base
BelayLooking Down P1
South Face P2Climbing P2
Direct South Face on South SixshooterClimbing 2nd Summit
Direct South FaceStanding on Summit 2
Climbers on South Face DirectClimbing 2nd Summit
Rapping South Sixshooter PeakRapping South Sixshooter

Castle Valley and the Fisher Towers

Castle ValleyRichardson Amphitheater from Castleton Tower to the River Wall

After rapping off South Sixshooter peak and making our way back down the talus cone, we drove back out Highway 211 through Indian Creek and back up to Moab for dinner at Eddie McStiff's. This was back when they still brewed their best beer - Jalapano Wheat, served with a small cup of fresh jalapanos to top it off. Unfortunately last time we visited in 2007 they had stopped brewing some of their better beers.

We stocked up at the local grocery store, and then made out way up Castle Canyon towards the Fisher Towers. Camping was scarce - there was no room in the small campground below the Fishers or on the west side of 128 opposite the Fisher Towers Road, so we ended up driving way back up Onion Creek Canyon and opted for a spot along side the road.

First View of the Fisher TowersFirst View of Fishers
Desert TowersDesert Towers
River WallThe River Wall
Lizard RockLizard Rock
Ancient ArtsThe Fishers
Cottontail TowerCottontail
The CobraThe Cobra
The CobraCobra From Above
The CobraCobra Close Up
Kingfisher at SunsetKingfisher Sun

Fisher Towers PanoramaCottontail to Castleton

Stolen Chimney

On Top of Stolen ChimneyOn Top of Stolen Chimney

After a cold and uncomfortable night beside Onion Creek Road (my brother opted to spend the night in his Jeep Wrangler) and a late morning start, we made our way back to Highway 128, and over to the Fisher Towers Road. The views of the Fisher Towers never grow old, and this morning was no different. We descended down the path and made our way to the base of Ancient Arts to take up our place in line for Stolen Chimney.

The Stolen Chimney on Ancient Arts is without a doubt one of the best and definitely the wildest route I have ever climbed. Absolutely incredible exposure and views. The rock is the typical mud-rock (Coulter Sandstone) found in the Fishers, but it really wasn't all that bad. Because this is another easy tower in the desert, and because of it's status as one of North America's top 50 climbs, we ended up being the 6th party on the route that day. At one point there was a party rapping the route, two climbing, one gearing up, another waiting in front of us, and behind us the last party was heading up the trail. Don't let the crowds deter you, though - this is a climb not to be missed.

Pitch 1: The easiest feature to identify on Stolen Chimney is the chimney itself. Start just below and a little to the right of the chimney. Scramble up and over broken and rounded "blocks" to what almost looks like a water groove. Climb/aid past the four bolts in the groove to a shelf with some bolts for a belay. We used the usual aide moves to lower the difficulty to 5.8 A0.

Pitch 2: Fun pitch that climbs up through the chimney to a spacious platform on top. The chimney wasn't bad, and wasn't as dirty as I thought it would be. I placed quite a bit of pro and remember doing quite a few different moves as I climbed. There is an intermediate belay half way up, but a 60 meter lets you take it to the top (recommended because the intermediate belay consists of a couple of 1/4 inch star bolts worthy of any museum). Belay on a large ledge at the top with bolts.

Pitch 3: The third pitch climbs the headwall above and left of the belay ledge. I think there are three bolts. The top of the pitch is even with the Sidewalk, belay at the bolts on top.

Pitch 4: Quite possibly the wildest pitch around. Walk or shimmy across the Sidewalk with absolutely incredible exposure on each side. Clip a bolt on the spire just above the Diving Board. Surmount the Diving Board anyway you can (mantle, jump, hump, or climb to the left and use the spire itself). Once on the Diving Board, continue up the spire past three more bolts to the top. The crux is at the third or fourth bolt. The summit is incredible. Take time to enjoy it and don't forget camera management.

To descend, rap off the summit using slings back to the Sidewalk and traverse to the top of pitch three. Make a short rappel to the top of pitch two. From here, two 60 meter ropes over the side will get you to the base of route. With one sixty meter rope, rap back down the chimney to the first belay, and then a single rap gets you to the ground. Both of these raps are long for the rope. Absolutely fantastic climb!

Ancient Arts at SunsetAncient Arts at Sunset
Ancient ArtsAncient Arts from Below
Stolen ChimneyStolen Chimney
View from Stolen ChimneyView from the Chimney
Stolen Chimney BelayAt the Belay
Stolen ChimneyLooking Down the Route
Stolen Chimney SidewalkAt the Diving Board
Stolen ChimneyOn the Spire
Stolen Chimney SidewalkCrossing the Sidewalk
Stolen ChimneyAt the Diving Board
Stolen ChimneyWorking up the Spire
Stolen ChimneyUnder the Bulge
Stolen ChimneyCastle Valley View
Stolen ChimneyOn the Spire
Stolen ChimneyClimber's Cue

Stolen ChimneyParting Shot



Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-5 of 5

BigRob - Aug 30, 2009 9:15 am - Voted 10/10

Great Report

Nice photos and great report, thanks for sharing. Living about an hour and a half from Indian Creek, it's a shame I'm not a better rock climber.


SteveMarr - Aug 30, 2009 6:54 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Great Report

Thanks - must be nice being that close to everything in canyon country! Looking forward to getting back.


lcarreau - Aug 30, 2009 9:09 pm - Voted 10/10

Outstanding ...

Really like the way you "consolidated" everything into one neat
package. I can't wait (myself) to visit Castle Valley and the
Towers. Thanks for giving us a taste of what to expect !!!


SteveMarr - Aug 31, 2009 5:43 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Outstanding ...

Thanks. Enjoy your visit - the Fisher Towers are an incredible place, you can't help but stare up at them while wandering around. Good times.


SteveMarr - Sep 4, 2009 6:45 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Nice Sequence Shots!

I was actually surprised how good the "rock" on Stolen Chimney was. We got a little dirt in the eyes on the way up, but it took pro pretty well, and nothing big broke off. I'm sure that's a function of the sheer amount of traffic that route sees. It's still a far cry from other types of sandstone, but it was much better than I expected.

Viewing: 1-5 of 5