“Look down through the gaping hole and locate three bolts and two pitons.”
And so the guide-book rattled on with its route description for Looking Glass Rock in southern Moab. I was stuck on “gaping hole.” The multi-pitch climbing didn’t faze me. But the way they described the ‘hole’ that you drop through on the rappel made my stomach turn in a nasty way. I had something like a black hole with gravitational pull in my mind’s eye. My friend Kelly and I had just run a half marathon two days before. The “Dad’s day off” consisted in summitting Castleton in Castle Valley, but that seemed more epic than either of us were up for… so we were browsing the guidebooks, looking for something new and exciting.
And so the next morning we embarked south on HWY 191 out of Moab, following our phones on our new adventure. Really, how did we survive without smartphones? Looking Glass Rock is roughly 20 miles south of Moab and 1.8 miles west of HWY 191 on Looking Glass Road. Really it is hard to miss if you are looking for it.
We found it easily. The guide-book calls for two 60m ropes, 6-8 quick draws, and long slings. After loading up, forgetting our extra rope, and retrieving it quickly, we headed for the base. We parked on the western side of the rock, and followed the guide book’s instruction to walk north around the rock. Either direction would work, although through the “looking glass” might be the quickest.
Looking Glass Rock is about as straight forward as it gets when it comes to multi-pitch. You follow the ridge of the rock for 3 pitches of easy 5.4 climbing, with one slab crux on pitch two that really isn’t much to stress over. But the real reason we came was the descent… Usually the rappel is a necessary evil to some awesome climbing. Not today however.
We got to the top, located the three bolts that get you down to the anchor for the rappel. Tossed our stuff aside and scrambled to the summit for a snack break and a few photos. It was breezy up top, but the snow-soaked La Sals were beautiful and provided contrast to our red surroundings. Now to conquer the gaping hole.
In hindsight, and even once I reached the rappel anchors, I realized how silly it was of me to fear this part of the climb. But with a 185 foot free rappel ahead of you, nerves are just a part of it. We used our ropes and the three bolts up top to safely reach the rap anchors (4 bolts) and from there began setting our ropes. I’ll save you the boring details. What you really want to see is the drop, right? It is awesome. In fact, I’ve never seen my introverted friend so chatty. She hit the cavern and road a “climbers high” (to borrow a term from running) all the way to the bottom, hooting and hollering, and echoing away in the cavern. 🙂
It is worth mentioning, that while the climbing is easy…the rappel should not be taken lightly, especially if you have someone in the group new to rappelling or easily afraid of heights.