Climbing at Wall Street: Moab's Most Popular Climbing Area

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Wall Street: Moab's Most Popular Climbing Area

Lee climbing Nervous in Surburbia at Wall Street near Moab.
Wall Street is the ultimate roadside crag. Park your car, walk five steps, and get climbing. Photograph copyright Stewart M. Green

Wall Street Borders the Colorado River

Wall Street, a 500-foot-high cliff bordering the west bank of the Colorado River, is the most popular climbing area in the canyon country surrounding Moab, Utah. Over 120 climbing routes, both bolted sport climbs and crack climbs that require gear, line the east-facing cliff for almost a mile. Most of Wall Street's routes are single-pitch climbs that are less than 100 feet high. The upper part of the cliff tends to be more sandy and loose than the lower section along the river.

The Ultimate Roadside Crag

The Potash Road, Utah Highway 279, is sandwiched between Wall Street's tall cliff and the muddy river, allowing quick access to the climbs. Most approaches from car to cliff are measured in seconds, depending on which pullout you park your vehicle at. This makes Wall Street the ultimate roadside crag. You park your car. Unpack your gear from your trunk at the base of a route. Do the climb. Maybe reach into your ice chest for a cold drink. It's no wonder that Wall Street is so popular!

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Wall Street Offers Both Sport and Crack Climbs

Logan Berndt cranks the great face routes at Wall Street, as well as crack climbs. Photograph copyright Stewart M. Green

Bolt-Protected Face Climbs and Crack Routes

Wall Street, composed of soft Navajo sandstone, offers a different climbing experience from many other Moab climbing areas. While the Street boasts lots of great crack climbs, it has more face climbing routes on both vertical faces and lower-angle slabs than other area cliffs. These routes are generally climbed with both finesse and strength, relying on good footwork to reach the anchors. Footholds often tend to be smears or rounded edges, while handholds include edges, flakes, dimples, huecos, and occasional pockets.

Wide Range of Grades

The majority of Wall Street routes are sport climbs protected by bolts and drilled pitons with beefy bolt anchors for rappelling and lowering. Most routes are from 40 to 60 feet long, with a few measuring as long as 100 feet. Route grades range from 5.4 to 5.12, with the majority falling in the popular 5.9 and 5.10 grades. Many quality easier routes are found, especially at the School Room and Toprope sectors with good climbs for beginning leaders as well as lots of toprope routes with easily accessible anchors for novices and groups.

Wall Street Cracks and Rack

Wall Street's crack climbs require a generous rack, although you can get by with a minimal rack if you pick and choose which cracks you do. A basic Wall Street rack includes two sets of Camalots or Friends to 3-inches; a #4 Camalot; sets of TCUs and Stoppers; 12-16 quickdraws; a few slings; and a single rope. A 165-foot (50-meter) rope works fine on almost all of the routes.

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Wall Street Climbing Season and Access Issues

Ian Perry belays Logan Berndt on Moqui Roof, another roadside classic route at Wall Street. Photograph copyright Stewart M. Green

Climbing Season

Spring and autumn are the best seasons for climbing at Wall Street. Expect high temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees, although it can be cooler in spring and hotter in fall. Summer, while popular for visiting Moab, is not the best climbing season here. The cliff with its sunny eastern exposure bakes in the hot summer sun. Come in the late afternoon and evening when it falls into shadow and temperatures cool from 100 degrees to 90. Expect daily summer highs between 85 and 105 degrees. The average July high temperature is 98 degrees. Bring lots of water and cold drinks to stay hydrated. Winter can be iffy. It can be really pleasant but it can also be really cold. Plan on climbing on sunny mornings to maximize warmth and sunlight. The average January high temp is 41 degrees.

Restrictions and Access Issues

Wall Street lies within the Colorado Riverway Recreation Area and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management's Moab Field Office. There are currently no BLM rules or regulations that apply to climbing at Wall Street. There are, however, a bunch of common sense rules to follow to stay safe and to avoid damaging the rock.

  • Keep off the highway! The Potash Road is a state highway and it's well used, particularly by big trucks carrying potash from the mine to the south. Park your vehicle well off the pavement in the pullouts. Keep your rope, your gear, your friends and children, your dog, and yourself out of the road. Dogs have been run over by cars here. Don't stop on the road to gawk at the climbs. Park, walk, and then look.
     
  • Don't climb after rain or snow. Wall Street's cliffs are composed of Navajo sandstone, a soft sandstone that easily crumbles and erodes into sand by weathering processes. Keep off the cliffs after rain or snow. The fragile sandstone breaks apart after precipitation. Allow it to dry thoroughly before climbing to protect the rock.
     
  • Rappel instead of lowering. Most of the routes are set up for rappelling. Repeated lowering as well as top-roping on many of the routes, particularly where your rope runs across the sandstone surface, damages the rock by creating deep rope grooves. It not only wears out the rock, but it wears out your rope too.
     
  • Don't climb by petroglyphs. It's against federal law to damage archeological resources. At the south end of Wall Street are several routes that climb near or above Anasazi petroglyphs. These are out of bounds.
     
  • Watch for poison sumac. Patches of poison sumac are found at the base of many Wall Street climbs and in gullies during the summer. Keep yourself and your rope out of the bushes and avoiding ruining your climbing trip with itching and scratching. Look for large bushes with shiny leaves.

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Finding Wall Street, Area Guidebooks, and Guide Services

Climbers enjoy sunny slabs below towering sandstone cliffs at Wall Street, Moab's most popular climbing area. Photograph copyright Stewart M. Green

Finding Wall Street

Wall Street is a ten-minute drive from Moab. Drive north from Moab on U.S. Highway 191. Cross the Colorado River Bridge and drive 1.3 miles and turn left on Potash Road/UT 279. Drive south on Potash Road for two miles and enter the Colorado River Canyon. Jaycee Campground, a popular climber's campsite, is at 3.75 miles. Wall Street's cliffs begin at 4.4 miles and end before a panel of Anasazi petroglyphs at 5.4 miles. Lots of parking areas are found below the various cliff sectors.

Guidebooks

The best and most complete guidebook for Wall Street is Best Climbs Moab by Stewart Green, which includes almost all of Wall Street's routes as well as many other great climbs in the Moab area. Another book with lots of Wall Street routes is Rock Climbing Utah, also by Stewart Green. It offers a generous selection of climbing routes with route descriptions and photo topos.

Guide Services and Gear

If you want to hire a guide to climb with your group or yourself at Wall Street or at the other fabulous Moab climbing venues like Owl Rock in Arches National Park, I recommend Front Range Climbing Company from Colorado, which offers both climbing and canyoneering adventures. Moab Desert Adventures on Main Street is one of Moab's better climbing guide service.  Besides rock climbing, Moab Desert Adventures offers canyoneering trips, rappelling, and climbing camps, and has a gear shop in their location at 415 North Main in Moab.

Moab has a couple good outdoor shops that specialize in climbing gear. If you need some extra cams, a new pair of rock shoes, or a block of chalk then check out Pagan Mountaineering at 59 South Main Street and Gearheads Outdoor Store at 471 South Main Street.