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City of Rocks & Castle Rock - Tips
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By Mark Lewis
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Jul 5, 2012

I've climbed in the City in the mid 1990's and it looks like alot has changed since then. I'm playing around with planning a 8-9 day trip to the area at the end of August and was wondering what other's have learned from their experience in these two areas. Any tips you'd like to pass along?


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By NikGurney
Jul 5, 2012

Beverage and pizza at the Rock City store are a must. Best. Pizza. Ever.


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By Colonel Mustard
From Reno, NV
Jul 5, 2012
Colonel Mustard

Tell people you're sorry but you've already reserved the route they're about to get on. No kidding, this happened twice to members of our party there recently!


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By ross.mon
From Montana
Jul 5, 2012
lunch ledge

NikGurney wrote:
Beverage and pizza at the Rock City store are a must. Best. Pizza. Ever.


+1 And they're super nice!

If you're looking to scrimp, staying outside the park on BLM land is free camping, and you can carpool into the climbing in the morning.


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By Greg G
From SLC, UT
Jul 5, 2012
The route in it's entirety.

expanding on the Colonel's response I would suggest going with zero ticklist. climb what is convenient and fun looking not what you've built up by spending time on this site drooling over. you'll get on what you want without a doubt just don't force it. even on the busiest days i still find myself crushed after climbing a ton of pitches.


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By Austin Baird
From SLC, Utah
Jul 5, 2012
Me scaring years off my mom's life

Colonel Mustard wrote:
Tell people you're sorry but you've already reserved the route they're about to get on. No kidding, this happened twice to members of our party there recently!


Can I do that online when I reserve my campsite or is there a list at the bottom of the route?


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By Colonel Mustard
From Reno, NV
Jul 5, 2012
Colonel Mustard

Greg G wrote:
expanding on the Colonel's response I would suggest going with zero ticklist. climb what is convenient and fun looking not what you've built up by spending time on this site drooling over. you'll get on what you want without a doubt just don't force it. even on the busiest days i still find myself crushed after climbing a ton of pitches.


Definitely. It's just a practice I've never seen... practiced before. There's a ton of good climbs there, and, frankly, many of the unheralded climbs were as good or better than the classics I got on.


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By Colonel Mustard
From Reno, NV
Jul 5, 2012
Colonel Mustard

Austin Baird wrote:
Can I do that online when I reserve my campsite or is there a list at the bottom of the route?


Hahahaha... that's exactly the kind of running joke we had about the whole thing.

Oh, yeah, and the number of semi-pissed off looking "i'm a serious climber dude from the day" dads hauling their families and their itineraries along with their harried air and no time to talk with you weinerdude attitude out there was far more than any other area I've ever been to. Cool to know it's family friendly (but not necessarily "friendly") if you're in that demographic though.

The worst was this group of fathers who strung up a classic 5.10 for the whole morning (while it was in the merciful shade) so they could push their 5-year old sons up by their bottoms and pretend lil' Johnny's getting his tens done. They'd look at you like a total anus if you came by hoping to lead. I guess running into that crew a couple of times pushed me over into passive aggressive, whining interdouche ;). Sorry.


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By Greg G
From SLC, UT
Jul 5, 2012
The route in it's entirety.

The go to line is, "Soooooo your all going to TR this...?" as you scan the 20+ parents and kids strewn about the belay area.


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By Tom Fralich
From Fort Collins, CO
Jul 6, 2012

We just got back about a week ago. Like others, I was pretty annoyed by the crowds. We didn't reserve a campsite, which forced us to keep moving from site to site. But I'm not the kind who likes to reserve things...I like to keep my options open with the possibility to go elsewhere if the weather or my mood indicates.

One thing that worked for us was to start early and get on some classics. It takes a lot of time in the morning for those groups of gangropers to get moving. We took a nice long break in the afternoon and then climbed a few more routes in the evening.

I agree with others though, the punter quotient is high, so you just need to avoid them as much as possible.


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By Mark Lewis
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Jul 6, 2012

Rock City store - check.

Reserve routes - check :)

Any suggestions on good, shady camp sites which aren't cramped up against a bunch of other sites (other than the walk-in sites)?

Anyone been to Castle Rocks who may want to chime in?


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By Austin Baird
From SLC, Utah
Jul 6, 2012
Me scaring years off my mom's life

Colonel Mustard wrote:
Oh, yeah, and the number of semi-pissed off looking "i'm a serious climber dude from the day" dads hauling their families and their itineraries along with their harried air and no time to talk with you weinerdude attitude out there was far more than any other area I've ever been to.


No joke. If I had a dollar for every kid I saw break into tears when their formerly badass climber dad forced them to grovel up something that was obviously out of their skill level, I'd buy all of you dinner at the Almo Outpost and still have gas money for the drive home.


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By Boissal
From Small Lake, UT
Jul 6, 2012

If your favorite thing at the Rock City store is the pizza, your priorities are skewed. The beer selection is what should matter.
As for the classics, I doubt anyone can tell the difference between the 4-stars routes with 38 aggro bros in line and all the 3.9 star classics that haven't seen an ascent in weeks.

The best advice for the city is to not be a sheep and walk.


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By Nick Stayner
From The Magic City
Jul 6, 2012
Nick Stayner near the crux. Ryan Minton photo.

Tom Fralich wrote:
One thing that worked for us was to start early and get on some classics. It takes a lot of time in the morning for those groups of gangropers to get moving. We took a nice long break in the afternoon and then climbed a few more routes in the evening.

This has become my strategy in the last few years as well, more to avoid the heat than the crowds. Climb til noonish, siesta for a few hours, then a productive evening session when most east faces have fully gone into the shade. Really quite nice in the dead of summer.

It is amazing how many large groups show up there acting like it's OK for them to set up camp on the 4 star classics of the area. My girlfriend has yet to do Bloody Fingers because the three times we've tried to climb it together, there has been a giant university climbing club with at least a half dozen people waiting to lap it! Yikes... glad I did that one back in high school!

Remember that lots of stuff can be scoped from the road and also that a lot of the formations have a pretty good selection of quality climbs, so keep an open mind (like others have said).


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By Dow Williams
From Saint George, UT
Jul 6, 2012
Dow Williams, 2011

Last week the Uriostes and I hiked a maximum of 30 minutes to reach Yellow Wall, which has three great routes on it, Patina Turner, Yellow Wall (the namesake and just about the finest 5.9 trad pitch anywhere) and King of Suede. The alcove in which to belay is the most idyllic in all of the City. Last Saturday, while we heard horror stories about the City proper, we had this entire area behind the Twins to ourselves. 70yr old willing to hike 30 minutes and loving life doing it...gym crowd from SLC not so willing. Interesting generational gap I suppose. For you sport climbers, real good 5.11's on BLM wall as well, which is just a 5 minute walk from those camp sites at the Twins. Tons to do back there and nice campsites. Animal Cracker and Thin Slice are prob my favorite moderates in the main City area. I don't really sport climb much. Bloody Fingers is ok. Stress Fracture is way better than most of the so called classics...again, full on trad though. Good Luck.

Dow Williams leading Yellow Wall
Dow Williams leading Yellow Wall


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By Tom Fralich
From Fort Collins, CO
Jul 6, 2012

I'm sure others can recommend the most choice campsites if you're going to be making a reservation.

There is a walk-in site (Site E), left side of the road between Bath Rock and Parking Lot rock, which is absolutely splendid.

Despite the criticisms (all of which are valid), City of Rocks remains one of the best cragging areas in the US. I just left and can't wait to go back. For another place with many of the benefits of CoR and none of the crowds, check out Tennessee Wall outside Chattanooga. Go in the fall...it will blow your mind.

Also, Dow, what's the deal with access in those areas (Yellow Wall, etc). I was under the impression that some of those are on private land.


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By Rob T
Jul 6, 2012

Dow Williams wrote:
Last week the Uriostes and I hiked a maximum of 30 minutes to reach Yellow Wall, which has three great routes on it, Patina Turner, Yellow Wall (the namesake and just about the finest 5.9 trad pitch anywhere) and King of Suede. 70yr old willing to hike 30 minutes and loving life doing it...gym crowd from SLC not so willing. Interesting generational gap I suppose. .


Could be lazy gym climbers, or it could be questionable access status. While Yellow, Weather, White Lightenting, Skinners and the rest are on public land, that dirt road you walk down is most definitely private. stories go back and forth about whether or not the owner is amenable to having climbers cross his land, but last i heard, he was not. The only totally legal way to access the crags is to take the pass between the sisters and stay off "the flats" the entire way.

and BLM is good, the routes are almost all .10s but might feel more like .11 if you're from the st. george soft stone crowd. :)


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By Dow Williams
From Saint George, UT
Jul 6, 2012
Dow Williams, 2011

Local friend who has climbed there 40 years is who told us access was open down the road..in any regard, not difficult to hike up and and behind the sisters..if you don't mind burning a few carbs, it is worth it to avoid the "dead bird" clad crowds with their stick clips...

only sport route I climbed on BLM and can vouch for is Scene of a Crime which Hanselman put in 1991 and calls it 5.11. It was worthwhile even though I am not a sport climber. Goodwin calls his (to the left) 5.11 as well. It looks as good. The 5.9 crack is definitely worth doing even though the guide book does not herald it much. If I can get permission, I might put up an aesthetic seam route there next year, but of course it will be all gear and a bit sporty off the ground.

I don't sport climb in St. George except with family members. Zion is my home crag when there, in the Canadian Rockies and Bugaboos for the most part this time of year. I hear the "internet noice", but every time I am with someone in Zion, they are bitching about our grades being stiff. The only 5.15 climbers (route setters) I hang out with at all fly in from back east to stay with me so they can climb in St. George, so it has challenging routes if you can climb them I suppose. Don't know if I would label the local sport climbers in St. George soft...some pretty hard climbing folks within sport climbing circles. The Virgin River Gorge, as just one example, separates the real sport climbers from the internet hacks in a hurry.

I will say this about the City...from a crack-trad perspective which is all I mostly climb when there...despite having some older established lines...the grades seem to be more in line with the SLC folks vs Jtree climbers where the same routes would be graded quite a bit lower. Comparable granite single pitch crags.


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By Colonel Mustard
From Reno, NV
Jul 6, 2012
Colonel Mustard

Dow Williams wrote:
Bloody Fingers is ok. Stress Fracture is way better than most of the so called classics...again, full on trad though. Good Luck.


Bloody Fingers was indeed okay. Good climb, a bit overrated. Got on it easily enough though!

White Lightning was my classic trad climb of the trip. Every bit of the grade, impeccable jamming, and not another party for a mile or two. A little hiking opens the place right up.

In answer to the OP's question about Castle Rock, the entrance fee ($5?) really thins out the crowds.

Also, the perfect climbing day involves chasing shade. Once we'd figured out the situation, we would climb in the morning, siesta, and then climb in the late afternoon/long summer evenings. Battle the sun if you like, but you will get beat down.

Dow Williams wrote:
I will say this about the City...from a crack-trad perspective which is all I mostly climb when there...despite having some older established lines...the grades seem to be more in line with the SLC folks vs Jtree climbers where the same routes would be graded quite a bit lower. Comparable granite single pitch crags.


Maybe I got on different climbs than you, but having climbed a fair amount at JTree, I thought the grades were about the same. We kept commenting how we heard the City was soft and it just wasn't so.... It really doesn't make a difference, fun climbing is fun climbing, and grade comments are usually spray.


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By Paddy McIlvoy
From Hailey, ID
Jul 6, 2012

++++++1 for Yellow Wall. Maybe my favorite 5.9 ever. If you want solitude ( and like slabs) everything at the Lost World is a must. Drilling Fields is amazing, shady, and generally un-crowded. A lot of the stuff out circle creek is very good and sparsely populated - check out Site 18. Castle Rocks (other than Castle Rock itself) generally has less people than the City.
The "crowded, but you've gotta do 'em anyway" picks IMHO are: Wheat Thin, Just Say No, Pygmies Got Stoned, Batwings, Funky Bolt ( another best .9 candidate, and SOLID for the grade) Pocket Rocket, Skyline, Fall Line, Redtail, TRIBAL BOUNDRIES (seriously! Do not go to the City and skip Tribal!) , and a late afternoon simul-climb of Theater of Shadows.
God I love the City......


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By Eric Fjellanger
Aug 31, 2012
Me on top of Chianti Spire

Can anyone tell me where where the BLM land is? I'm heading to CoR for a day in the middle of a road trip and was not able to make reservations.

Here's a map I'm looking at:
goo.gl/maps/hbIJX


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By jdm
Sep 3, 2012

A bump for this. I'd like to know where the BLM land is also... thanks.


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By kevinhansen
From Albion Idaho
Sep 7, 2012
Why I do it...

The real trick is to climb on Monday through Thursday. Litterally a ghost town. Drop me a line, I can climb after work anyday. I'm about 30 minutes away.
Kevin


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By Kiri Namtvedt
Sep 7, 2012

Campsite #19. It is THE BOMB. On the loop with Practice Rock, but tucked in among huge boulders - the tent platform is partially under a giant balanced boulder, and the whole thing feels private. Has a "secret" path to the outhouse.


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By kovacs69
From Dallas, TX
Sep 7, 2012

Man do I love the City. Wish I could be there right now.

If you are planning on eating dinner at the pizza place or the Almo Inn they close early. Don't show up at 7:30...they will be closed.

Sometimes they have live music at the Almo Inn...drop in and check to see what going on during the time you are there...it can be a nice break.

Watch for a$$holes climbing the route you are rapping back down. This really only happens on the very popular routes but I can't tell you how many time someone couldn't wait until I got back on the ground to start climbing.

If you are sporting it always carry 2 extra draws. Bolt counts listed on the net and in some of the books are wrong. I don't mind skipping blots but it screwed with my partners head when he was leading.

Rope length requirements vary alot in the City...always double check to see if your rope is long enough.

Watch out for those pesky ground squirrels. They will steal anything that is not tied down and will chew through you pack if they can smell something edible inside. They are fun to watch though.

Don't camp by the bathrooms.

The top of "Delay of Game" is a great place to watch the sunset...take beers and headlamps.

Pictures


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By Techno-Weenie
From Ketchum, ID
Sep 7, 2012

Please DO NOT post the whereabouts of the free BLM camping! Sorry Eric and jdm, but if that information is posted here we'll have every punter and they're brother taking up the free campsites. Keep it to yourselves.

As far as the climbing, as others have said, Yellow Wall (no crowds) is great. Some of the climbing at the sisters is restricted, apparently due to the fact that climbers impede on the visual experience of tourists traveling the Oregon trail (there were no climbers when the Oregon Trail was being used) even though those tourists are probably traveling in lavish RVs (not horse and wagon)... Actually there is ALOT of climbing that is not restricted near the sisters, most people just assume otherwise, leaving much of the climbing uncrowded.

It should go without saying that the further you are willing to hike, the less crowded it will be. Some great climbs that are a bit off the beaten path include Yellow Wall, Lego, Techno-Weenie, Private Idaho, Lost Arrow Spire, True Grit (Castles), and many more...

You may have to wait in line a bit for Tribal Boundries, but as Paddy said before, Don't go to the City without getting on it. Best 5.10 at the city!


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