Thirteenth Annual Summer Interdisciplinary Conference
The opportunities for outdoor activities in the summer in the Moab area are endless, and include walking, hiking, scrambling, rock climbing, canyoneering, slick rock biking, road biking, kayaking, backcountry safaris, and much more. The area has outstanding scenic beauty of quite unique and unusual character. Adjacent to Moab there are two National Parks (Arches and Canyonlands), one State Park (Deadhorse Point), and the Colorado River.
There are numerous local activity and tour agencies -- when their services are engaged they generally will provide transportation. However, a car will be advisable to access any of the activities and scenic sites arranged or visited on one’s own.HIKING
There are numerous hikes of all lengths and difficulties in the National and State Parks and in the general area of Moab. It is very hard to find one that is not both spectacular and surreal. A few hikes are listed at: http://www.discovermoab.com/hiking.htm.
It is wise to keep in mind the need for sun protection (sun cream and appropriate clothing) and enough water for the planned outing. Temperature and sun are key considerations: Plan according to the weather forecasts and note that the days start cool but heat up dramatically in the sun, say by noon. One could consider a wide brimmed hat, sun protection clothing, and some people find it quite useful to take an umbrella. At a later date I will add more information on hiking in the area.
View from Deadhorse Point
Alex Hannold is a world class climber who has made several commercials in the MOAB area. One is currently available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5S-t6HWA4AQ. Alex is known for free solos (no protection), as shown in the video. Do NOT do this yourself! However the video gives a sense of the climbing and the scenery in the area.
Climbing around Moab is on red sandstone that varies widely in quality due to the varying hardness of the stone. Wingate sandstone is hard and supports crack climbing; Entrada sandstone is softer and rounded; Cutler sandstone is a conglomerate generally covered in 'mud' (that is scraped off by climbers putting up the standard routes: e.g. on the tallest and famous Fisher Towers) making for adventurous climbing best left to super experts. The area is nonetheless replete with high quality climbs everywhere, described below by type of climbing. Bouldering aside, much of the climbing uses traditional protection, with anchors for belays the only preset protection. There is bolted sport climbing in several areas, but often it is useful to add protection, both to reduce run-outs and add protection.
A good book covering many of the climbs in the area is by Stewart Green: “Best Climbs Moab” (a FalconGuides publication). There are several agencies in Moab at which rock climbing guides can be hired. We will as usual have at least one guide (hopefully Guido Bonvicini, and possibly another) for the week, and available to attendees. We typically arrange one and possibly two group climbing days for all climbers from complete novices to experts; the better climbers help the guides train and instruct the beginners, and help set up top ropes, before moving on to the more difficult climbs in the same area. These group climbing days are offered free of charge to attendees, their families, and friends. Other guiding services will require payments to the guides that are hired.
Guides and equipment rentals (these guides generally offer canyoneering as well) can be found at:
The tower above is one of thousands of weirdly shaped spires and towers all around the Moab area. There are a few of these accessible to non-experts and climbing one is an experience of a lifetime. “Ancient Arts” is perhaps the best of these (some of you may have seen a Citibank commercial using this climb):
The weird corkscrew in the upper photo is at the top of a strange blade of rock shown on the right in the lower photo. As unlikely as it may seem this multi-pitch climb can be done by relative beginners, with the help of a guide (as I can testify to personally from a trip many years back, though I, like many beginners, decided to kneel rather than stand up at the top). There are some other relatively easy and accessible towers such as Castleton Tower (seen in many TV advertisements over the years), and there are many other towers that are more difficult and require more expertise.
There are many spectacular towers that are accessible from Moab but access takes long enough that expeditions should be planned for days prior or after the conference per se. For example, a number of multipitch towers in Canyonlands are quite famous but the road access is lengthy, requires 4WD, and climbs should not be scheduled if one wants to return in time for the talks. A good example is Moses Tower in Taylor Canyon, as shown above. It is 600 feet tall and the climbs up it are five or six pitches, at about 5.11. Also in Canyonlands, adjacent to Island In the Sky, is Washer Woman Tower. It has six pitches mostly at 5.9 with one harder section that is closely bolted and can be aided. Washer Woman is famous for having an arch, and having a descent that makes a wild rappel from the arch as shown below.
The primary sport climbing area is Wall Street, a towering 500 foot tall cliff (yet another type of sandstone called Navaho), with many of the climbs ascending only the lower portion. The cliff is directly adjacent to UT 279 (also called Potash Road, and quite close to Moab). The approach to the climbs is approximately zero feet, because the road is sandwiched between the Colorado River and the cliff. There are hundreds of climbs along this wall. One picture of Wall Street is shown below (scanned from the book above--pardon the page crease). Other areas may be found in the guidebooks and local climbing shops.
There is a great deal of crack climbing everywhere, including along cliffs and on towers. Worth special mention is perhaps the world's most renowned crack climbing area, Indian Creek.
This sport is probably not as well developed in the Moab area, but is nonetheless possible. One of the excellent areas is Big Bend:
This sport, known as canyoning in the rest of the world, has been offered and enjoyed at prior ASIC conferences in Europe. However, there are important differences in the American southwest. First, the temperature (in June) is quite warm, and wet suits (used in Europe) are not needed. Furthermore, some of the slot canyons that are explored are dry, and normal outdoor clothing and footwear is fine. Other canyons have water and waterfalls, and in those cases, bathing suits and footwear that can survive water are a good idea. The most exciting itineraries generally involve the participants being lowered on rappel into the canyon, before the walking/scrambling begins, or during the walk, as illustrated in the photo above. It should be noted that pure novices can go on these trips, as long as one uses one of the guides or guide services.
SLICK ROCK BIKING
Moab is renowned worldwide for the many 'slick rock' bicycle trails (see above, and the photo at the top of this Activities page). This is a unique form of mountain biking that many will appreciate, even novices to the sport. The trails are generally well marked, and vary in difficulty and length. Appropriate bicycles can be rented at shops in town.ROAD BIKING
Biking on paved roads is of course quite common, and as with hiking and slick rock biking, it is hard to find anywhere to go that is not a scenic highlight. Of course, care must be taken to watch for road traffic, especially on the major roads.
WHITE WATER RAFTING
There are many companies in Moab that offer rafting and kayaking tours.OTHER ACTIVITIES
The above descriptions highlight only a few of the unique adventure activities to be found in the Moab area. Others include a variety of motorized tours, scenic flights, hot air ballooning, and more.WEBSITES
Some relevant websites: