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Southern Utah's Cobra formation, popular rock climbing spot, topples in summer storms

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SALT LAKE CITY - A towering red sandstone formation prized by rock climbers has fallen in southern Utah.

It was known as The Cobra, carved by wind and rain into a snaking ascent with a flat top.

Officials don't know when the rock fell on public lands near Moab, Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Megan Crandall said.

"It's sad and it's unfortunate," she said, recounting that officials have kept in mind that "those same forces that made it eventually would contribute to its demise," she told the Associated Press.

They believe the structure tumbled in a series of storms last week. No one reported seeing the collapse and no injuries were reported.

The formation was open to climbers and hikers until it broke from its narrow base. One of many nearby hoodoos, or sandstone pillars, it was considered safe and not in immediate danger of toppling.

"It wasn't like it was teetering or tottering or anything like that," Crandall said.

Moab-based climber Lisa Hathaway has scaled the formation several times, she told the Salt Lake Tribune.

It's long been an April Fools' Day tradition in Moab to say that the tenuous formation had collapsed. So when word spread online in recent days that the tower had fallen, some people hesitated to believe the news.

"It was really a surprise to no one that that tower, at least the cap rock, was going to come off at some point in time," Hathaway said in a Monday statement.

The Cobra had been a popular climbing spot, she said, because it was accessible and not too high of a climb.

It's not the first time in recent memory that such a feature has fallen due to natural causes; Crandall says another towering rock fell in 2008 in Arches National Park. A 12-foot slab of sandstone fell in July in the same park, the Deseret News reported.

Moab and surrounding lands are known as a playground for mountain bikers, rafters and extreme sports enthusiasts.

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