The Cobra, one of the more iconic (albeit short) tower climbs of the Utah desert, has toppled. After a lightning and rainstorm swept through the southwest desert on Thursday, July 31, reports began to surface claiming that the 40-foot-high formation had fallen.
Rock and Ice contacted Moab resident and long-time climber, Lisa Hathaway, who confirmed the reports.
“Castle Valley resident and climber/photographer Joe Auer went out to assess the alleged damage, assuming it was another prank—tales of the Cobra’s demise have been wide-spread throughout the years, particularly at the beginning of April,” wrote Hathaway in an e-mail. “But, alas, it was no prank, the Cobra was beheaded.”
The Cobra formation was situated near the popular Ancient Art in the Fisher Towers and was a “must-do, mini-summit” according to Hathaway. The tower was first climbed by Jimmie Dunn in the mid-1990s at 5.11 R, and according to local lore, he protected the top of the climb with a dog leash clipped around the precarious neck feature supporting the summit capstone.
“It would be a surprise to exactly no one who has stood atop that sketchyblock that it slid off, but the Cobra actually lost its head from below the “wattle” of the neck, on up,” wrote Hathaway. “This makes me think the beheading was a result of a lightning strike, either direct or collateral damage.”
Joe Auer, who confirmed the tower’s demise, hoped to bag the Cobra’s summit stump, which he estimated to be around 5.5, but his canine companion was apparently not enjoying the heat so they bailed after snapping the below confirmation picture.