rock climbing limekiln

Rock Climbing

As a location for the pursuit of rock climbing Southwestern Utah is hard to beat. One look at the quantity of exposed rock that surrounds the town of St. George makes most climbers hands begin to sweat in eager anticipation of moving up a line of perfect vertical features. A broader look at the landscape from an even wider view reveals a variety of rock types, climbing styles, elevations, environments and sun exposures that is unrivaled in the world. To all of this add in over 300 days of climbable weather a year and you have one of the best climbing destinations on the planet.

Most places that are considered destinations for rock climbing feature one primary cliff band, landscape feature or rock type. Think about Yosemite valley, El Dorado Canyon, Joshua Tree or Smith Rocks. These areas may offer hundreds of developed routes, but all on the same rock features and often of the same climbing style, yet they draw climbers like flies to a carcass. Standing in line is what most people travel to get away from, and queuing up to do a particular route is not high on any climbers wish list. Additionally a large enough group of grubby road tripping rock climbers qualifies as an environmental hazard at least, and a potential superfund site in extreme cases,… (Tonsai Beach in Thailand.)

rock climbing kolob canyon, zion national park, utah

Rock climbing in Kolob Canyon, Zion National
Park, Utah: Paul Auerbach on Namaste 5.12a

By contrast, Southwestern Utah offers numerous scattered crags within a 100 mile circle drawn around St. George. Some of these offer as few as a dozen routes, most feature several days worth of developed climbing, while others like Zion national park are a world all to themselves, where several lifetimes would not suffice. What the development of many small areas over a large region really adds up to is a very low level of other climbers at most any crag that is visited, as there is not any single area for everyone to flock to. Seasonal exceptions are to be expected with the warm and sunny low elevation areas gaining popularity in the winter, and high elevation refuges from the heat seeing summer traffic.

What Southwest Utah may lack in cultural diversity is made up for in the variety of rock types that exit here and climbing styles that are practiced.  Sandstones, limestone’s, basalt, welded tuff, conglomerates, and granites are all to be found within decent driving distances from town, and some of it within walking distance from Main Street.  While bolt protected sport climbing is what attracts most visitors, the region also features a nationally recognized bouldering area, several traditional climbing locations as well as the big wall aid and free routes of Zion Park.

While the variety of rock types and climbing styles are wide ranging, it is the differing environments where all this climbing takes place which astounds most first time visitors.  Three of the five desert environments in North America are to be found within 20 minutes drive from St. George. The Mojave, Great Basin, and Colorado plateau ecosystems all merge together just here, meaning that you can climb limestone in Joshua trees in the morning, pull on Navaho sandstone up in Ponderosa pines before lunch, and finish the day on welded tuff near an alpine meadow. The elevation range of established climbing areas is from 2000 feet above sea level in the Virgin River Gorge to nearly 11,000 feet at the Overlook area in Brian Head, with a driving time between the two of under 2 hours, and a temperature difference often over 50 degrees between these two extremes. There isn’t a season where the skin on most peoples fingertips will stand up to the number of climb-able days.

rock climbing southern utah

Jerry Howard rock climbing running scared wall Brian Head, Utah

There are perceptions of the state of Utah that keep many climbers away, some of which are more reality than others. Rainy day activities or rest day pursuits here are often a challenge to the imagination or tolerance for the excessive wholesomeness’ that Utah is famous for. Night life is for the most part non-existent. St. George is a family oriented retirement town with perhaps the highest ratio of golf holes to population in the nation. Combine the retired population with the statistic that Utah is per capita the youngest state (large families) means that we have a population curve that is skewed to the very young and very old, which is reflected in the services that the town is based around (buffet restaurants, and playground parks)

Yet non climbing activities abound for both the recreationalist and resting. Hiking opportunities are limitless both near and a bit further afield in Snow Canyon state park, and Zion national park, not to mention the miles of trail in the Red Cliffs National Conservation area, and Santa Clara River reserve. Numerous coffee shops, movie theaters, restaurants, and shopping opportunities abound. Outdoor theater is available seasonally at Tuachan, with a Shakespearean festival about 45 mintues drive away in Cedar City.  Adult activities, casino gambling, and off site betting services are kept just over the Nevada border about 30 minutes away in Mesquite.

Climbing, camping, canyoneering, backpacking, and outdoor equipment is available at our local climbing shop The Desert Rat. This is also the place to purchase guide books and get the most up to date information on the outdoor opportunities that the region offers. The staff are local experts in some of the best off the beaten track places to visit.

Desert Rat-13

Desert Rat-10

http://www.thedesertrat.net

435 628-7277

Selected Climbing Locations:

Crag name

Climbing Style – Rock type/layer—# minutes to crag w/ approach- # of routes

 

Bluff Street Cracks

Traditional sandstone crack climbing  10 min. – 12 routes

By far the best route here is pictured below: Deface Crack 5.9 offers smooth sandstone splitter hands widening to fists near the top. Unusual feature more commonly found in the Wingate layer than the softness of the Kayenta.

climbing bluff street cracks southern utah

Leo Boren climbs up Deface Crack Bluff Street Cracks St. George, Utah

Green Valley Gap

Sport climbing/top roping on sandstone 10 min– 60 routes

Best route: Sandstoner Reverse 5.12a  One of the few routes on the south side (north facing) side of the canyon, Sandstoner is a relentless jug haul up a beautifully overhanging wave of Shinarump sandstone. One of the first routes in the canyon it was bolted by youthful Casey Anderson and Todd Perkins with the drill running in the wrong direction.

rock climbing green valley gap

Fio Antognini rock climbing at the Green Valley Gap, St. George, Utah

The Point

Sport routes on shinarump sandstone 15 min. drive—12 routes

Chuckawalla

Sport routes on Kayenta sandstone 5 min.– 27 routes

Second Coming 5.12a chuckawalla wall st. george utah

Corey McCarthy pulling the prow on Second Coming 5.12a chuckawalla wall st. george utah

As a quick fix for getting some blood flow through your forearms, Chuckawalla is hard to beat. Literally within the city limits, the approach is measured in seconds instead of minutes, and the down hill hike ends at a 50-60 foot cliff packed with routes. It is true that if Chuckawalla where any less accessible we would never consider climbing there, but this highly featured cliff of Kayenta sand / mud stone has for years been our local outdoor gym.

Best routes:

Tombstone Bullets 5.10b/c-

Pockets up ever steepening wall of pockets. Pull overhang at top, stand up and clip the chains 5 bolts 45′

Second Coming 5.11d

Slopers on overhanging stone to rest then jugs on prow to chains. 6 bolts to anchors 50′

Pilgramage 5.11d/12a

Body tension through scoop and small pockets, then jugs and rails to the chains. 6 bolts 50′

As the Crows Fly 5.11b

Steepening wall of pockets giving way to devious crux with smearing footwork. 6 bolts to chains 50′

Turtle Wall

Sport route on Kayenta sandstone 20 min– 19 routes

The Black Rocks

Sport/ Trad routes on basalt—15 min– 60 routes

rock climbing black rocks

Climbing at Black Rocks, St. George Utah. Climber: Leo Boren

Cougar Cliffs

Sport routes on Navajo sandstone– 15 min—17 routes

Rob Foster on Indecent Exposure 5.11b Cougar Cliffs

Rob Foster on Indecent Exposure 5.11b Cougar Cliffs

Snow Canyon State park

Sport / Trad routes on Kayenta and Navajo sandstone—20 min– 150 routes

rock climbing snow canyon state park, Utah

Rock climbing at Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

The Prophesy Wall

Sport / Trad routes on Navaho sandstone—25 min– 40 routes

rock climbing at the prophesy wall Utah

spring time rock climbing on Sticky revelations 5.8 at the prophesy wall

Crawdad Canyon Rock Climbing park

Sport routes on basalt– 20 min– 200 routes

rock climbing at crawdad canyon

Sparkle and Fade 5.11a at Crawdad Canyon rock climbing park

The Underworld

Trad routes on columnar basalt– 45 min– 20 routes

Pine Valley

Sport / Trad routes on basalt– 50 min– 60 routes

Shotgun Alley

Sport routes on conglomerate—20 min– 40 routes

Sunset Alley

Sport routes on limestone– 60 min– 80 routes

Sunset lanes 5.11d sunset alley

matt pederson on sunset lanes

The Beaver Dam Wall

Sport routes on limestone– 75 min– 15 routes

rock climbing on the Beaver dam wall

Todd Perkins on the Power of D

Gorilla Cliffs

Sport routes on limestone– 30 min– 25 routes

The Snake Pit

Sport routes on limestone– 25 min– 10 routes

The Simian Complex

Sport routes on limestone– 25 min– 13 routes

The Soul Asylum

Sport routes on limestone– 45 min– 35 routes

jerry howard on arch enemy 5.11a soul asylum

jerry howard on arch enemy 5.11a soul asylum

JB’s Crag

Sport routes on limestone– 45 min– 3 routes

The Diamond

Sport routes on limestone– 60 min– 30 routes

darl biniaz climbing clarity at the diamond utah

darl biniaz climbing clarity at the diamond utah

The Logan Crag

Sport routes on limestone– 40 min– 5 routes

The Sumo Wall

Sport routes on limestone– 45 min– 17 routes

The Cathedral

Sport routes on limestone– 60 min– 30 routes

worhsiping the limestone gods 5.11b the cathedral utah

worhsiping the limestone gods 5.11b the cathedral utah

The Wailing Wall

Sport routes on limestone– 60 min– 30 routes

rock climbing the wailing wall Utah

rock climbing on Heretic Wisdom 5.12a the Wailing Wall

The Basilica

Sport routes on limestone– 60 min– 5 routes

The Anti Theme Wall

Sport routes on limestone– 75 min– 10 routes

Black and Tan

Sport routes on limestone– 50 min– 35 routes

Kellys Rock

Sport routes on limestone– 55 min– 35 routes

rock climbing kellys rock utah

Choli Ence on Harsh Rhetoric Kellys rock Utah

The Solstice

Sport routes on limestone– 55 min– 20 routes

Rock climbing at the Solstice wall Utah

Choli Ence on Eves testicle 5.11b

The Virgin River Gorge

Sport routes on limestone– 40 min– 80 routes

forever man virgin river gorge rock climb

forever man virgin river gorge rock climb

Duchman’s Draw

Sport routes on limestone– 60 min– 25 routes

The Cone

Sport routes on Welded Tuff– 60 min– 3 routes

Pocket Rocks

Sport routes on Welded Tuff– 70 min– 20 routes

rock climbing pocket rocks cedar city utah

Utah Claw 5.10a pocket rocks Cedary City Utah

The Iron Mine

Sport routes on Welded Tuff– 80 min– 16 routes

 The Cetacean wall

Sport routes on freshwater limestone– 60min– 12 routes

The Graveside Matter wall

Sport routes on freshwater limestone– 60 min– 20 routes

Gordon Larsen climbing at the Graveside matter wall Cedar Canyon

Gordon Larsen climbing at the Graveside matter wall Cedar Canyon

The Overlook

Sport routes on Welded Tuff– 90 min– 20 routes

rock climbing at the overlook Utah

the Overlook, Brian head Utah

The Running Scared Wall

Sport routes on balsalt– 90 min– 20 routes

climbing the dogs bollicks 5.10c at the running scared wall

climbing the dogs bollicks 5.10c at the running scared wall

The Principality

Sport routes on Welded Tuff– 100 min– 20 routes

Shinobe

Sport routes on conglomerate cobbles– 90 min– 20 routes

rock climbing shinobe parowan Utah

rock climbing on the Winds of Change 5.11d Shinobe Parowan Utah

Parowan Gap

Sport routes on conglomerate cobbles– 120 min– 4 routes

Lambs knoll

Sport routes on Navaho sandstone– 70 min– 20 routes

rock climbing at lambs knoll utah

matt pederson on beastiallity 5.11d Lambs knoll Utah

The Hurricave

Sport routes on limestone– 50 min– 15 routes

Limekiln Canyon

Sport routes on limestone– 90 min– 120 routes

rock climbing limekiln

rock climbing on Office party 5.9 limekiln canyon Arizona

Zion national park

Trad and Big wall aid routes on Navaho and Kayenta sandstone– 90 min– 1000+ routes

 

Bouldering

 Pioneer park

Traverses on Kayenta sandstone– 5 min– 50 problems

 

Moes Valley

Problems on Shinarump sandstone– 15 min– 300 problems

bouldering moes valley st. george utah

unnamed v2 in moes valley utah

The Gap Boulders

Problems on Shinarump sandstone– 15 min– 20 problems

The Wash

Problems on Welded Tuff– 55 min– 20 problems

Bunker Creek

Problems on Welded Tuff– 120 min– 20 problems