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Cottonwoods Route Advice and/or Partners 7/14-7/21
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By Jason Albino
From San Francisco, CA
May 17, 2013
Me

Hello all!

My girlfriend and I will be in SLC in the middle of a two-month road trip on 7/14-7/21. We'll be camping in Little Cottonwood and climbing most days.

If you're interested in climbing with us, please let me know! In particular, my girlfriend is taking a trip hiatus 7/18-7/21 so I have no climbing partner during that time.

If not, I would love to hear your advice on can't-miss routes/areas. The Falcon Guide I've been browsing is enormous and it's hard to tell where the best concentration of high-quality routes are. So far I've bookmarked Iron Curtain Wall, Dead Snag Area, The Watchtower, The Coffin, The Thumb, Perhaps Area, The Gate Buttress, Hellgate Cliffs and The Pentapitch, but that's purely based on this guidebook so I'd love to hear any (positive, constructive) opinions from you locals!

For reference:
- I lead ~5.9/10a trad and follow 10c/d
- I lead 5.10d/11a sport and follow 11b/c
- My girlfriend is just learning to lead over the last year but she's a great climber and fast learner (5.8+ trad/5.10a+ sport)

Cheers and thanks for reading,
-Jason from San Francisco

(forgive me if you see a similar post in other regional sections or a refresh of this post in a few weeks - I am trying to ping locals in each area along our trip!)


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By Kiwi
From Stansbury Park, UT
May 18, 2013

If you are up to it, Mexican Crack 5.10a, is a great climb. I've only followed up it, so I don't know how hard the lead is. Also, +1 for The Coffin, especially if you start out by doing the two pitches of Crescent Crack (5.7). If your girlfriend is looking for a good lead, Tarzan 5.10a has a hard 5.10 move at the beginning protected by a bolt, and then 5.7 the rest of the way up a crack that just eats pro.


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By Mooner
From Bountiful, UT
May 18, 2013
Strawberry Pinnacles Excalibur WI5 2/09/12

+1 for The Coffin and Mexican Crack. Also don't miss After The Fall, Gordon's Hangover, Wheels on Fire, Satan's Corner, and Pentapitch with Sasquatch


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By BackAtItAgain
May 18, 2013

Jason Albino wrote:
So far I've bookmarked Iron Curtain Wall, Dead Snag Area, The Watchtower, The Coffin, The Thumb, Perhaps Area, The Gate Buttress, Hellgate Cliffs and The Pentapitch


It's the heat of the summer - which means anything around here bakes if south facing. Most LCC granite falls into this category. The Thumb would not be a good choice, Perhaps area/ Gate Buttress in the late afternoon works okay, hellgate is way high up - so better, and pentapitch is more northerly facing, so its probably okay. Tends to be easier to chase shade in BCC. Put the Outside Corner on the list.

Lots more around here if hot.. Uintas, American Fork.

Have a great trip!


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By Josh Allred
From Salt Lake City, UT
May 18, 2013
Pfeifferhorn via North Ridge

Gateway Buttress:
The Hook
Bushwack Crack
Beckeys Wall + Plus Fingertp variation

Get out there early wth that heat


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By Austin Baird
From SLC, Utah
May 18, 2013
Me scaring years off my mom's life

With your time-frame, I'd consider going to Maple Canyon instead. There's no trad but the weather will be cooler and the climbing is awesome. Less than 2 hours south too!


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By cdec
From SLC and Moab, ut
May 18, 2013

Plenty of climbing to be done in the Cottonwoods even if it is hot.
Devils Castle, New Hell Gate, Albion basin, Maybird, Tanners all up high and great.
LCC, Coal Pit Buttress, and Coal Pit both good, South Facing LCC goes into the shade late in the day and areas like the Dihedrals particularly Beckey's Wall get shady early.
BCC, Mule Hollow faces East and is shady by about 2 or 3 plenty of time to do anything on that wall. Challange Buttres has N, W, and E faces you can climb in the shade all day there.

The Falcon guide is a relic and should be supplemented with a good dose of MP research. Hundreds and hundreds of new routes have gone in since.


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By Jason Albino
From San Francisco, CA
May 18, 2013
Me

Hi all,

Thanks for all your thoughts! I've definitely been cross-referencing MP with the guidebook but am hoping the local's perspective is better than either of those. We'd obviously prefer to visit in a cooler season, but our schedules just won't allow it for now.

How would folks characterize the climbing at Unitas, American Fork, and Maple Canyon relative to the Cottonwoods (in terms of both climbing and camping)?

Sounds like the consensus is that there's enough to be done in the Cottonwoods in the shade, but I'm all ears for other ideas as long as they are within our travel path (we will be coming from City of Rocks and then heading on to Zion or somewhere around there).


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By BackAtItAgain
May 19, 2013

Camping in Maple, American Fork and the Uintas is stellar - BCC and LCC have campgrounds - but way up hill from the bcc stuff and the granite in lcc. Uintas is 10k+ feet - can be really nice when hot. Maple and Am Fork have a lot of shade. Midweek camping anywhere will be easy - weekends may need reservations.


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By Mooner
From Bountiful, UT
May 19, 2013
Strawberry Pinnacles Excalibur WI5 2/09/12

I don't know how much you want to hike but My Favorite routes and place to be in the Wasatch is the Lone Peak Cirque. If you get up there you will never forget it. ( Make sure you Camp in the Cirque). Also you should check out Sundial and Devils Castle


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By BackAtItAgain
May 19, 2013

Mooner wrote:
I don't know how much you want to hike but My Favorite routes and place to be in the Wasatch is the Lone Peak Cirque. If you get up there you will never forget it. ( Make sure you Camp in the Cirque). Also you should check out Sundial and Devils Castle


great ideas!


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By Jason Albino
From San Francisco, CA
May 19, 2013
Me

Interesting suggestions, thanks!

What's the duration and type of approach for The Lone Peak Cirque? Does one need backpacking gear for camping (we'll only have drive-in camping gear for this trip)?

And how about Sundial and Devil's Castle?


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By Boissal
From Small Lake, UT
May 19, 2013

Forget about Lone if you don't have or can't borrow a light camping set-up. The approach is long with gear (5 hours). People go up there for day trips but it usually involves cached gear and fast legs. Call IME in SLC and ask to speak to Shingo, he's the mayor of Lone Peak and can give you the best beta in town.

Sundial is a 2 to 2 1/2 approach for one route, a really fun 4 pitches 5.8 on quartzite (all gear). It will be hot as hell in July, the route is S facing. Do it as a day trip and get up really early. The setting is incredible up there.

The Castle has a bunch of routes, mostly sport, some mixed, 8 pitches or so, you can link 2 in a day if you haul ass, most people will be satisfied with 1. The exposure is sweet, the setting incredible, it never gets too hot. The approach is about 1 hour moving at a reasonable pace. The trade route (Black Streak) has cleaned up a ton and you can even rap it if you're lazy (and stupid). Still, prepare to embrace the choss as there is a fair amount of loose rock and an entire pitch of rubble scrambling (that limestone isn't all that solid).

I'd spend a few days in the Uintas for sure. It will be cool and it's early for thunderstorms. Mosquitoes are an issue so pack bug spray. The camping is incredible, the temperatures always perfect and the climbing is great, mostly edging on quartzite. There's sport, trad, mixed, multipitch, you name it. It's super quiet on week days and people flock to 2 or 3 crags on weekends, the rest is deserted.

LCC/BCC are hot but there are plenty of options to chase shade. Don't plan on climbing hard granite slabs and you'll be fine.
Ferguson stays cooler but is packed full of dogs and top-ropers. The routes are short, bulgy, weird and often hard for the grade with funky gear. If your topos show pitons, chances are they have been removed so plan accordingly. Some routes don't go anymore unless you have gigantic balls.
Parley's (Iron Curtain) will disappoint you unless you're part of a select few who enjoy the great rock and ignore the fact that you're climbing on the freeway.

Maple is a sport climbing paradise with unique rock. Do you like steep jughauls with no moves harder than 5.10 and a 12b rating? Do you like the gym, its crowds and attitudes? Personally it's not my cup of tea but you can have an absolute blast there. Camping ain't easy although during the week you should be OK. Weekends are hell.

AF is awesome sport climbing and shady options abound although the place can feel muggy in the summer. Avoid the ultra-classic roadside attractions unless you like the aforementioned gym feeling.

Feel free to PM me if you want some details.


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By Alex Quitiquit
From Salt Lake City
May 19, 2013
meow

-1 style points for Sundial being north facing....


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By Boissal
From Small Lake, UT
May 19, 2013

Indeed it is.
And it's still hot as shit.
Also, I don't think "style" mean what you think it means.


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By Garret Nuzzo-Jones
From Salt Lake City, UT
May 19, 2013
Cleaning up in Jenny Lake.

Walk all the way up to the Coffin. Crescent Crack is miserable as far as I'm concerned. Perhaps and the area around it are fantastic. The Green Adjective might be the most wild 5.9 I've ever lead. Outside Corner in BCC is a heap of fun too, though not hugely challenging.

Camping in the Cottonwoods is definitely a pricey proposition. Cheaper than a hotel, but it's not particularly affordable. Know that there is no dispersed camping anywhere in the Cottonwoods (or particularly close to SLC).

Also start out pretty slow on LCC granite, depending on where you've climbed. Some of the ratings may feel sandbagged.


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By Jason Albino
From San Francisco, CA
May 20, 2013
Me

Boissal: Thanks for your offer - I am messaging you directly.

Others: thanks for the great thoughts! I think we might have heard from a local volunteer to supply gear for the Lone trip, which is amazing! So we'll definitely be exploring that. By "IME in SLC", did you mean here?: www.imeutah.com/contact/ If so, thanks for the tip!

Uintas looks very cool but it seems like a 3.5+ hour drive from SLC? I am thinking we'll probably have to do that on another trip (perhaps one that includes Southern Wyoming and Western Colorado?) unless we were to skip LCC/BCC entirely.

I know some folks poo-poo steep jughauls, but I loved the climbing in Southern Thailand so it sounds like Maple might be fun for a simpleton like me :).


Hard to decide from all these great tips! We have about 8 days, and are heading north>south anyway, so how about this for an itinerary?:

1) Few days in LCC/BCC choosing from:
(*** How would you rank the following areas if you had to?)
Pentapitch, Hellgate, Crescent Crack Buttress, Coffin Buttress, Perhaps Area, Gateway Buttress, Coal Pit Buttress, Challenge Butreess, Devil's Castle (or Lone Peak if we can swing it).

2) Couple weekdays in Maple Canyon

3) Couple weekend days in American Fork

We already have a campsite reserved in Tanner's Flat and we are ok with the price there. I've climbed a good bit in Yosemite, Lover's Leap and Leavenworth, so hopefully that's sufficient prep for sandbagged granite grades :).

Hopefully this thread will be helpful to other visitors as well. I intend to write up a trip report from a visitor's perspective after we return.


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By safetyfourth
May 20, 2013

Uintas is only about an hour and 45 from SLC.


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By SMR
May 20, 2013

Maple is getting crowded even mid-week. I would advise if you really want to camp in Maple you get a campsite reserved. There are options outside of Maple or if you have a good 4w-drive vehicle in Maple if you prefer to wing it.
The areas you highlight are unique and one of the reasons Utah is a destination. Maple is fun. Lots of bolts, lots of good routes, lots of pump, lot of people, dogs and fluff (jk- the new guidebooks have done a decent job of bring the grades down).
AF is not the go-to crag anymore but there are really enjoyable classics to get on and enjoy. Plus for some history, check out the new vid by Bruce called Project American Fork. Unitas is beautiful scenery, a mix of trad and sport climbs in the grades you are looking for. On your list for LCC- I love Pentapitch with the Sasquatch start and my favorite route of the grade. Never liked Hellgate, so I would prioritize Perhaps and Coffin.


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By BobGray
From Salt Lake City, Utah
May 20, 2013
My Hero

(*** How would you rank the following areas if you had to?)
Pentapitch, Hellgate, Crescent Crack Buttress, Coffin Buttress, Perhaps Area, Gateway Buttress, Coal Pit Buttress, Challenge Butreess, Devil's Castle (or Lone Peak if we can swing it).

1. Pentapitch - classics throughout and mostly in the shade

2. Coal Pit Buttress - Stiflers Mom enough said

3. Devils Castle - must do should be perfect weather

4. Hell Gate - best chossy limestone sport routes in LCC or BCC, short approach, tons of really fun climbs

5. Cresent Crack - July sun and south facing slab don't mix well

6. Perhaps Area - classics throughout though south facing slab in... you get the point

7. Coffin Buttress - classics throughout July sun and south facing slab don't mix well

8. Challenge Buttress - some of the best moderate sports climbs in BCC and worth a visit

9. Lone Peak - if you don't mind a 7 hour approach and there's snow melt still available go for it! Might be #1 on the list if it's very hot in SLC during that time as high elevation will be your only escape. This and Devils Castle should be perfect temps in July.

Enjoy your trip!


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By Jason Albino
From San Francisco, CA
May 20, 2013
Me

Thanks Safety! I did a quick Uintas map lookup and I guess I had the wrong spot. Perhaps if it looks especially blazing hot we'll head to Uintas instead of LCC/BCC and then move on to Maple and American Fork.

SMR: We'll definitely take that advice on the reservations, thanks! We're pretty diligent on the planning front as you can probably tell.

BobGray: love your list, thanks! Enjoying our trip will be the easy part no matter what :)


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By Boissal
From Small Lake, UT
May 20, 2013

Jason Albino wrote:
BBy "IME in SLC", did you mean here?: www.imeutah.com/contact/ If so, thanks for the tip!

That's the one.

As mentioned above, most crags in the Uintas will involve a 1.5 to 1.75 hours drive + hike. I usually run out of juice before I run out of time on day trips there.

Jason Albino wrote:
(*** How would you rank the following areas if you had to?) Pentapitch, Hellgate, Crescent Crack Buttress, Coffin Buttress, Perhaps Area, Gateway Buttress, Coal Pit Buttress, Challenge Butreess, Devil's Castle (or Lone Peak if we can swing it)

Hellgate is great but isn't really LCC. Think of a mix of bomber and chossy limestone with new super well bolted sport lines and stout old-school spicy lines. Kind of a single-pitch appetizer for Devil's Castle. You can get a lot of climbing done in a short time there but it gets crowded if you go to Melting Mud. The Towers have some high quality sport lines that would get many stars in AF (example: Medussa, Deja Vu). Might as well got to AF though as you'll have many more options.

For the rest, in July, without knowing much of what you prefer and what grades you're chasing, I'd say hit Lone as a priority if you can swing it. For granite, Pentapitch and Coalpit have high quality long shaddy lines (4+ pitches), the Coffin and Perhaps area great single to 2-pitch lines. Crescent to Final Link to Coffin is the only way to make Crescent Crack worth a shit.
For quartzite, Challenge is uber popular and has some classic lines but it's packed and greasy. Better options exist in BCC for sure (depending on what grade and style you're looking for) and if that's the only thing you've scoped there I'd almost recommend ignoring the quartzite altogether.
I am no AF or Maple expert so I won't comment on those two.


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By Jason Albino
From San Francisco, CA
May 20, 2013
Me

Thanks Boissol!

I'm all about quality climbs at any grade, as opposed to being a grade-chaser first.

Assuming the quality is equal I definitely prefer trad multis up to 5.9/5.10a first, followed by sport routes, followed by trad singles.


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By safetyfourth
May 20, 2013

(has a weird - and entirely unfounded- suspicion OP is secretly writing a comprehensive how-to guide as he is posting for advice in all areas on MP)


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By Jason Albino
From San Francisco, CA
May 21, 2013
Me

Unfounded :).

I have separately for all the areas that we are visiting across our road trip in the hope that folks will only take the time to read about/offer their thoughts on the areas they care about most!


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By rging
From Salt Lake City, Ut
May 21, 2013
CoR

Outside Corner is a three pitch 5.7 in BCC. Its fun and is in the shade early and late. Also know that LCC trad routes are old school ratings and can be pretty stiff. A good place to start/see what that is like is Becky's Corner-two pitch 5.7. If that is easy then step a few feet over and do Sweet Jane (5.7) (or the Tarzan start 5.10a), Tingey's Terror (5.7), and Tingey's Torture (5.8) if you want to keep going. They are all stacked one on top of the other. A dam long climb if you do all of the pitches. If Beckey's was way easy for you then you don't even have to move to start Satan's Corner a 2-pitch 5.8. That's probably the toughest 5.8 in LCC and will give you an real good idea of the grading.

Basically start out at the Gates parking lot as there are 80 or so climbs within 15 minutes.


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