The Fallen Cobra
On August 1, 2014, The Cobra fell during a storm. A stump remains, but it is not the same. This page is being kept as a memorial of the former Cobra.
You can see the photograph of what remains below:
What Remains of The Cobra
The following sections were written before the formation fell.
As far as I know, this is the smallest named tower in the Fisher Towers. It’s a very small tower, but a nice climbing problem.
The Cobra was first climbed by Jimmy Dunn, Chad Wiggle and Betsi McKittrick in August 1991 and has since become a classic because of its improbable and unusually shaped summit. More than one climber has used the phrases that “it shouldn’t be there” or that “it may not last much longer”, but the rock seems OK for sandstone.
If you did want to stand on the summit, but can’t climb at a 5.11 level, you can still reach the summit using a few "clean aid tricks", but such methods will not be detailed on this page.
Despite its small size, climbing The Cobra is scarier than climbing the much higher Ancient Art. At least I thought it was.
The summit of the Cobra.
To get to the trailhead, drive north from Moab along Highway 128, or south from Cisco on Highway 128 to the Fisher Towers Road, which branches east from Highway 128 between mile markers 21 and 22. Follow the road to its end at the trailhead. This road is good for all cars.
The south side of the Cobra as viewed from near the end of the approach.
Follow the Fisher Towers Trail for 0.5 miles to where a beaten path (after skirting around Ancient Art [tower]), not used as much as the main trail, takes off to the north (left). The beaten path is the standard approach to Ancient Art. The Cobra is the easily recognizable tower on the right.
The route to the top of the tower is on the north, or “uphill” side of the tower. Look carefully for the visible drilled piton just below the summit block, or “head of the cobra”. You will climb to the ledge just below the thinnest part of the column. The route to the ledge is supposed to be rated 5.5-5.9, depending on the source, but it seems easier than 5.9 to me.
If you use the bolt and gain plus stand on the summit, the route is rated 5.11b.
There are some slings and bolts on top for the descent, but please be discreet when replacing them so you don’t mess up the view for those photographing the tower from below.
If you can’t pull the summit pitch, there are other aid methods that you can use to climb the tower.
The Cobra. Route climbs up to the higher ledge on the right. The bolt is upper center of the tower.
There are designated camp sites in Onion Creek. They have a small fee and have no facilities. There is also a small campground at the Fisher Towers Trailhead.
There are also designated campsites along the Colorado River with tables and outhouses. There is a small fee and no reservations are taken.
When to Climb
Spring or Fall is the ideal time to climb. Winters are usually sunny and nice, but can be surprisingly cold (nearby Cisco has recorded temps as low as -36F/-38C in winter). Summers are brutal with temps 100F (38C) or much higher; 110F (44C) is possible, but since this is just a short climb you could just get a very early start.
For current road, camping, and trail conditions, contact:
Bureau of Land Management
Moab Field Office
82 East Dogwood
Moab, UT 84532
Weather and climate data for Cisco/Dewey Bridge is below. *National Weather Service Data 1952-2004.
|MONTH||AVE HIGH||AVE LOW||REC HIGH||REC LOW||AVE PRECIP (in)|
Standard rack, a few quickdraws, and several slings, including one very long one.
Dan Dalton on the Cobra.
A Note on Visual Impact
This is a much photographed formation, so please be careful not to mess up the scene for those non-climbers who photograph the rock very frequently. Leaving highly visible slings hanging off the formation would be a nightmare for photographers and others viewing the formation. Please be as discreet as possible.