Tonka Tower is a rather obscure 150’ tower
located to the west of the Double Arch feature in Arches National Park. It makes for a good objective to combine with the Penguins
, Owl Rock
, etc. Although you park at a busy tourist trailhead (Windows and Turret Arch trails), from the parking area, you immediately lose the crowd as you meander almost due west via little to no trails to a small collection of towers southwest of Turret Arch.
Tonka tower is the single middle tower
and the only established (2011) Tonka Tower route goes up the west side of the tower to the summit and raps off of the northeast side with double ropes
. A large group headed by George Hurley
and Earl Wiggins descended on Tonka in 1988
to put in this short tower route.
Drive over nine miles
from the park entrance and turn right on a paved road leading to the Window and Turret Arches
. Follow this road for over two miles to the trail head. From the parking area, you can head due west for Tonka which is clearly visible or follow the Turret Arch trail south first and then leave the trail via a wash on the right. Either way, you will be hiking off of any official trail and mostly follow washes and breaks in the vegetation as you make your way for the middle tower which is Tonka. The route starts on the back (west) side in an obvious chossy wide crack
Route Description (s)150’+, 2 Pitches, 5.8 A0
1st Pitch- 120’- 5.8 A0/
Start in the obvious chimney up the left side of the west face. The crux free move on this route is fairly immediate up a bit of sketchy ground above a small ledge.
A .5 C4 protects a small pocket as you commit to a reachy and sandy hand jam above it or a sandy jug feature up and right.
Either way, a slip here will put you on your ankles and ask a bit of the .5 sandy placement. Once you mantel up this section, follow the crack into the chimney above with plenty of pro until able to make easy chimney moves up to the top of the north pillar attached to the tower. There is a piton here and I advise using it for a belay to avoid rope drag. I used double ropes and slings and ended up with some rope drag when I continued beyond this point. I set up anchor at the second piton up the north face on top of the tower. That is a comfortable belay as well.
If continuing on as I did for that second north face piton, don’t clip the top of the north pillar (to avoid rope drag)
and instead make an A0 move on the first piton across the chasm onto the north face. Mantle up to the next short face and make an exposed move right to reach the ledge below the final section. You can protect in a shallow hollow block as you do this but I would not count it much. Belay off of the single second piton (old ice screw-2011).
2nd Pitch- 30’- 5.8 A0/
Aid up the belay piton to reach some holds and climb through the second piton to make an interesting mantle on a hollow sandy block
up and left to the summit. There was a two piton rap station on the summit in 2011.
Rap the northeast face with double ropes to the ground.
Doubles ropes. Single Set of cams from .5 to #4 C4’s. Eight or so shoulder length runners and a few draws. A bit of decking opportunity on this route, so a helmet is advised.
External LinksTons of Moab Area Tower Climbs from Radek's and my first hand perspective as well as a few others
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