Climbing the Roadside Crag – Wall Street down in Moab

There are only a handful of climbing crags that it seems like every climber in Utah has checked off, as sort of a right of passage, if you will. There are the classics in the Cottonwood Canyons near salt lake, the conglomerate caves in American Fork, the boulders down in Joe’s Valley, and of course the most easily accessible of them all, Wall Street down in red rock desert of Moab. Sure, people come here for the classic slab and crack climbs that run parallel to the mellow Colorado River that runs through the desert. But the true reason why Wall Street is such an amazing climbing area outside of Moab, is its proximity to the road. When I tell you it’s close, I don’t mean a short hike from a trailhead to the routes, I mean the routes are so close that you can belay from the front seat of your car, and people do!

Wall Street is a climbing area that sits just west of town, by about 3 miles, on Potash Road that runs along the Colorado River. The wall, that runs for about a 1/4 mile, and is littered with over 143 routes ranging from 5.3 to 5.12. Any day of the week, and nearly any time of day, with the exception of mid-day during the sweltering summer heat, you’ll find cars lined up and down Wall Street and climbers draped along the walls held on by their ropes and gear. Home to over 50 sport routes, bolted pretty significantly, but there are plenty of options to plug some gear into cracks if that is more your speed on the 80+ trad routes. 

I’ve only climbed here a handful of times, but holds a special place in my memory because it’s was the first place my wife lead a sport route on a steep slab route named Holey Moley. I can remember it well because I hate slab climbing, since I don’t trust my feet to not slide off, so I didn’t want to lead the route. And that’s when my wife said she had no issue with it and crushed it. But that was just the beginning, because we’ve climbed a handful of routes together, with friends, and with a group that got together down in Moab when my wife worked at Backcountry. Each time, each route, was a different experience, but always emphasized by how convenient this wall is to climb. Especially when we have dogs hanging around that we can leash under the car or the fact that you have unlimited access to your vehicle and the ice in the cooler. And even though I’ve never done it, it’s not uncommon to see people belaying from their truck beds, van roofs, or even the front seat of their Subarus. 

Topping out, you’re treated to a spectacular sight that not many Moab visitors get to see. High up on the wall, you get to see the Colorado river, wedged in between the towering canyon walls, disappear around the river bend near the town of Moab. But to get there, does require a great deal of effort (depending on the route). My hardest climb here, called Brown Banana, only a 5.9, was a blast, but not without its struggles. Off the bat, I really set myself up for failure from the start, being surrounded by a bunch of 5.12 climbers that were using this as their warmup. So with all the overconfidence I could muster, I headed up the route struggling to the first bolt 12feet off the ground. Like most of the routes on Wall Street, it was had small crimps, cracks, and of course slippery sections of slab climbing between the bolts. And even though climbing shoes have incredible grip on rocky holds, on the sandstone, holds are perpetually wearing away with every climb and get more and more difficult. But with a little bit of struggling, and by little, I mean a lot, I was able to link all of the bolts together to reach the anchor. Completely pumped out, I was satisfied to sit back the rest of that afternoon with the dog, and watch the much better climbers all around me send some gnarly crack climbs.

As for staying the night near here, since Moab really isn’t a day trip for anyone besides the locals, you have few options. First, being the obvious, staying in town at one of the many dozen hotels or motels that you pretty much can’t go wrong with. The second, which would be the best option, are one of the walk-in fee campgrounds that sit right near the Wall Street climbing area. Some of these even have beach access to the river which could round out the perfect weekend of climbing sandstone walls and then cooling off in the brisk Colorado.  And last but not least, are the infinite, but ever crowded, BLM campsites that surround the desert landscapes near Moab. The closest options would be to head out to the Bar M area, passed the mountain biking trails and finding a spot there. Otherwise, head up onto the Dead Horse and Canyonlands plateau, take a dirt road, keep driving, and you’ll inevitably find yourself a perfect campsite to basecamp out of for the weekend.

I’d be lying if I said it was the greatest climbing area in Utah, because that frankly isn’t true. But you’d be hard press to find a more easily accessible climbing area in Utah, if not the USA. The best part of having such easy access, you don’t have to plan your entire day around climbing. You can go mountain biking in the morning from camp, head into town for lunch, then go over and climb a few routes until you’re exhausted, then hop in the Colorado River just 50ft behind you! All in all, Wall Street is a must for every climber, even if you’re just passing through. Because, frankly, why not?! You could park, rack up, send a route, and back in the car in like 15 minutes, pretty unique if you ask me. I’m not sure you could do that even in a gym setting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *