It was a sad day in the Moab area of Utah last week when word came from the Bureau of Land Management Moab field office that the iconic tower rock formation known as ‘The Cobra’ had lost its head. Was it weather that caused the Cobra to crumble or could it have been stress caused by the numerous climbers scaling its heights?
The Cobra is part of the Fisher Towers formation about 20 miles northeast of Moab. These tall spires known as “hoodoos” are estimated to have been formed 245 million years ago and the Cobra was one of the more famous ones because of its snakelike shape. It has been a common April Fool joke to spread the story that the Cobra had toppled. Sadly, it’s no longer a joke.
The Cobra has been a popular rock for climbers since the 1990s because of its shape, accessibility and low 50-foot height. Did climbing contribute to its demise? Lisa Hathaway, who has climbed it several times, said this in the Salt Lake Tribune:
It had a very loose cap. It was almost more miraculous that it lasted as long as it did.
In February of 2002, George Bell wrote this prediction about the Cobra on the climbing website MountainProject.com:
This sick tower gets my vote as ‘most likely to fall down in the next 10 years.’ What is holding it up?
Most climbers blame recent storms with high winds, rain and lightning for the Cobra’s collapse. Lisa Bryant, assistant field manager at the Bureau of Land Management Moab field office, added one more possibility.
Erosion happens. It’s sad when something like this happens, but we’re very grateful that no one was hurt.
Erosion DOES happen, but so does unnecessary wear and tear caused by humans. Are we reaching the point where we can’t have any nice things?