This is sharply-broken volcanic rock from the late Tertiary (an Andesitic Lava) forming two bands of cliffs, the south or left of the road areas (Upper Jungle and Upper Canopy) and the north or right of the road areas (The Lower Jungle, Distant Drum, and Planet of the Apes ), and now the newest area, The Dark Continent (not reachable by the trail but by the road above). There are many excellent, long cracks to be developed. There is also a lot potential for bolted sport routes. As of Oct. 2013, there are 103 routes ranging from 6s to 13s with at least one route at every grade in that range and a few multi-pitch routes.
This is an alpine setting (10,400 ft.) and one of the highest (drive up to) crags in the country. Thunder storms can come and go quickly especially in late July and August. The north band of cliffs have two towers, Authors and Jared Diamond, that can provide shelter from the storm. Lighting strikes on the upper reaches of the cliffs can bring rocks down. The closest hospital is in Panguitch 50 minutes distant. The Tropic First Responders have been briefed on the area and a 911 call can be made from the parking areas. Give them the area and route you need help on to speed (1.5 hr.s) the stokes stretcher to you.
Camping can be had in a civilized manner, "pool and restaurant," at a KOA in Cannonville (1 hour, 10 minutes) or at Ruby's Inn (50 minutes). Otherwise, this area is USFS controlled and there is a primitive campground near Pine Lake or many off-road options right near the crag are available (see topo below).
Food can best be purchased at Ruby's Inn: there's a grocery store, and - BONUS - a full range buffet in the restaurant.
Spirits are hard to come by in the "Empire of Utah"... There is a full State liquor store in Panguitch (1 hour, 30 minutes), or a limited State liquor store at Ruby's. Beer here is "near beer" so come prepared, stock up before you cross the state line.
OTHER THINGS TO DO: Just down the road 1.9 miles is a 4 mile jeep trail that finishes as one mile of single track and a non-technical but great views mountain bike ride...about 10 miles in and out. Very nice! Also, father down and behind Pine Lake is the Hinderson Canyon ride that will take you to the town of Tropic. About 10 miles of single track to dirt road that lasts for about 5 miles. A super trail in the upper section! This can be shuttled to skip the road. The fishing at Pine Lake is not bad but higher up, above the Jungle, are many small lakes thick with trout (mostly Brook, though a splattering of other species can also be caught).
NOTABLE FLORA AND FAUNA: Subalpine Firs and Bristlecone Pines (a.k.a. Foxtail Pines locally) as well as Black Bears, Mountain Lions, Mule Deer, Elk, Marmots, Pikas, Black Rosy Finches, Magnificent Hummingbirds, Blue (Dusky) Grouse, Swifts, many species of Owls, most of the raptors, including the Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, California Condor and the Peregrine Falcon to name but a few.
ROCK QUALITY: There are some really great quality rock sections to this crag and some loose parts, as well. Be advised of the possibility of rock fall from high up. Blocks have weathered away from the main material (temperatures can range between 90 degrees F. and -60 degrees F.) and precariously await their transition from potential to kinetic energy.
Interestingly, there is a debate regarding the exact origin of the material we climb. Some believe the crags were formed by volcanic ash dropping out of the sky over a long period of time; a caldera many miles away being the source of the activity. Others suggest the volcanism to be local and that this is a lava flow or perhaps an old plug. This idea is currently winning the discussion.
Cutting a cross-section and using a microscope to examine the pattern and composition of crystals has yet to be done. Examining the best visual display of geology on site can be done in the Lower Jungle on the north-facing route called "Kunckle Draggers Needed." There's at least 6 to 7 layers exposed and there is a paper, if not a thesis or dissertation here.
The area was once thought to be composed of Rhyolite. With more time and research a more precise igneous definition has evolved. We are now referring to the material we climb as an Andesitic Lava. The term is interesting in that it got its name from similar formations in the Andes of South America. A visual/hand lens inspection seems to reveal abundant biotite, quaretz, sanadine, and amphibole. In any event, there is good climbing to be had.
ROUTES: Due to the nature of the rock, bolt placements may not always coincide with your views. Judicious placements have been set, with safety being the primary concern. What may appear to be a perfect, sheer face, may actually bear a hollow, brittle base. Among the many things that are considered while setting, the "hammer-hollow" test has been determined as the most measurable way to rule out poor rock quality. While climbing please understand that routes may not follow a direct path and anchors may be placed prior to the top of a crag, all of which keeps everybody safer.
ETHICS: My once conservative purest standard has softened. The Jungle and my old age have schooled me. There are a few lines here with bolts and cracks side by side. In the beggening we would pick the best clean trad lines. No problems here going ground up. Then we also saw good trad lines that would need cleaning. Sometimes we found that the material in the cracks was endless and deceptivily unstable. After scouring out a place for a couple of pieces, we would stand on aid and do more crack cleaning only to have our pro move or fail in the yet to be reached good rock. So then came a bolt to complete the ground up cleaning and hopes that the face to the left or right would work out into a sport alternative. Or, we thought the crack would never clean up and remain unsafe and the face moves were promising and close. After a fall with the drill and a small hole in my shoulder I have concluded the following: 1) Due to the extreme weathering that goes on here some routes are best set from the top down. Clean the line, establish the solid stances, mark out the clips remembering those shorter folks, and place bolts based on how good the rock is on this particular line. This also keeps your belayer happy. Many belays are from a narrow trail with few to no options for protection while the leader is cleaning on a ground up campaign. There are some very large blocks that often need removing. This type of top down plotting identifies future weathering issues and establishes a safe and lasting route. 2) If the line is clean and on good rock to begin with, set it from the bottom up using camouflaged hardware. The locals love to site-in the new scope on the bright and shiney hangers. Also, please avoid crouding routes togeather here. There is so much rock here that one need not look far to find an isolated spot for an awsome new route. So before judging a line with a crack and a bolt, know how much cleaning work sometimes had to go into getting the route climbable. Avoid my mistakes by just doing the work from the top down and create a durable, safe route without bolts and cracks together.
WEATHER: Thunder storms can be a problem but the rock dries out fast... not so much the road. If windy head deep into the "Lower Jungle" or even further into the "Distant Drum Area" and you can climb in calm albeit with the trees screaming above. There is more shade in the morning in the "Upper Jungle" though by 11:00 am or so it grows hot... move into the north facing routes in the "Lower Jungle" or "Distant Drum Area" or even further into the "Planet of the Apes Area" where many fine routes can be found in shade or soon to become shady. These areas are the the most protected from the sun. The fall season may be the most pristine time to climb here and can last late into October and in 2012 we were climbing in early November.
WHAT TO BRING: In terms of gear, a set of small to medium wires, at least a set of double 00 Metolious through BD 5s and perhaps one 6. Also, BD 4s are needed in threes on some of the classics. Bring four shoulder length and two five ft. runners along with a dozen QDs. Always have a light weight rain jacket and perhaps rain pants along. Speaking of clothing, shorts are a mistake! Long pants in any color but black (the flies here LOVE black) with a high top approach boot is recommended. Firewood is not a problem but thunderstorms are, so, bring the rainfly. Water is around in creeks on the drive up or in the Pine Lake Campground. Please bring a shovel to bury your shit! Wear a helmet unless you are really confident and 60 meter ropes will suffice on almost all of the routes. When you get back home please leave comments and ratings on what you did
ROAD CONDITIONS: On occasions a flash flood will take out the road just above the Pine Lake Campground. There is a back way in. Take the forest service road out of Widtsoe then make a sharp right at the BIG intersection back to the Jungle and "drop in." High clearance!
SHORT CUTS: To more quickly access some of those newer quality routes established far out in the Distant Drum Area or even farther out into the expansive Planet of the Apes Area, check the beta photos on those area's cover pages. Here you find mentioned a down chute at the interface between these two Areas. Though not dog friendly, it is an easy (5.4) way to reach the trail below where many terrific new lines are within a short walk. The chute should be approached as having the possibility of rock fall. Therefore, use the hardware provided on the walls and avoid the loose floor. Travel down in pairs staying close together making sure nobody else is in the bowling rock-ball funnel. You can take your pack down and stash it in the many over-hanging dry areas making the exit and next day approach even more enjoyable. Or if you are worried about food smells attracting vermine and/or bears, hang the pack off any one of the many routes lower bolts. People are not expected to be an issue here.
Take UT Highway 12 toward Bryce Canyon National Park; at BCNP junction, turn northeast onto Highway 22 (toward Antimony); turn southeast onto Forest Service road 132 toward Pine Lake for 5.2 miles; continue past first exit toward Pine Lake and look for left turn to Powell Point; continue on this road (132) for 5.9 miles until Powell Point jeep trail on right(143); Go PAST this jeep trail, setting odometer again and travel 1.9 miles, again, passing Powell Point jeep trail and PAST THE UPPER JUNGLE SCREE FIELD (looks like a single-car pullout on a hairpin turn) to the "Lower Jungle" et al. parking areas on right, or around the corner and up the road 100 meters to the "Upper Jungle" and "Upper Canopy" parking area where the approach trail leads DOWN to the climbs base trail (well marked). Short approaches can be found at these two parking areas to: 1) Lower Jungle and Distant Drum Areas from the northern/lower parking location and 2) from the southern/upper parking area to the Upper Jungle and Upper Canopy areas. Although the more northerly areas, i.e. the northern part of the Distant Drum Area, and to be sure, the Planet of the Apes Area have shorter approaches from above on the plateau (see topos and descriptions within each area).
The Jungle rocks! Approach from parking area is short and sweet, rock quality is excellent, and the routes are superb - well deserving of those stars on the ratings. This place is a gem, well worth going out of your way to investigate. Beautiful setting, no crowds, some terrific established routes and the potential to put up additional ones. Be kind to this place, it deserves it!
Check out the satellite image on this web site for crag directionals. The Lower Jungle and Distant Drum areas are always cooler and provide a great deal of shade. The Planet of the Apes is north facing for the first few routes and very tree covered near the middle. The Dark Continent has many north facing routes.
I really enjoyed this gem of an area, with fun and quality routes of many grades, great views and camping. The grades are pretty right on. New routes going up as I write. Check it out! Wear your helmet! Thanks Roy! Onsight on you crazy monkeys...
By BobGray From: Salt Lake City, Utah Feb 29, 2012
Rock quality is awesome? Rhyolite, the crumbly version of Basalt..........
I found the rock to be more friendly than basalt... none of that razor-sharp tip-destroying nonsense. As for the crumbling, well, it makes for interesting climbing. I'll tip-toe lightly at the Jungle vs. pull on greasy jugs anytime.
Yep! The quality varies. Ross states the rock is "perfect" on his route "Dr. Livingstone I Presume" and I put up a route called "Flaky Chimp" that is...well...crumbly, but still good enough to have fun on. On another one of the better climbs, "Missing Link," the first twelve feet or so is a little loose and then becomes really good for the next seventy feet! The jams at the top are solid, smooth, perfect hands to exit. Pick and choose your climbs here and you can find some great routes with really quality rock.
Rhyolite is the crumbly version of basalt??? No! Rhyolite is an extrusive igneous rock, same as basalt - the difference between them is that rhyolite has high silica content, basalt has low silica. The significance of this for "crumbliness"? Zero. Rhyolite, in fact, is the extrusive counterpart (same mineralogic makeup) as granite. Of course, the degree of weathering - that can vary in any rock type and between and within climbing areas. You can find places (northern Rockies, Sierras, etc. - not the Jungle) where there is deteriorated weathered granite that is so crumbly it falls apart when you grab it - does that mean granite is crap? Obviously not - you have to look at the individual situation. And the comments from people who have been to the Jungle (including me) are that the rock is pretty darn nice!
Sorry to belabor the geology, I wanted to clear up the unconstructive comment from someone who has clearly never been there. Look, if you don't like the rock quality at the Jungle, you better stick to climbing on plastic.
By BobGray From: Salt Lake City, Utah Mar 17, 2012
I stand by my statement, I've never spent so many hours cleaning a single route. After 10 hours of hammering I still didn't feel the route was clean. There are some areas of the jungle that have less than stellar rock, but other areas are solid. It's OK, people will still visit this area and enjoy themselves immensely.
A BIG thank you to Roy Suggett for all the hard work that went into the creation of such a fine climbing area. We really enjoyed the both the trad, and sport climbs we did at the upper, and lower Jungle. After climbing we hiked to Powell Point, which was beautiful, and even spent some time camping & kayaking at Pine Lake. It made our weekend trip to your neck of the woods very worthwhile. Great memories- Thanks again!
Big Kudos to Roy and his fantastic little hidden world! We had a great time enjoying the Jungle this past week. Thanks Roy for the Subaru guidance on the descent of Barney Top! Wouldn't have done it without you! Can't wait to come back again, keep up the great work!
Yep! Just two years ago Bryce Canyon National Park at less than 8000 ft. recorded a -35 F. And the cell towers also confirm these extreme temp.s which are nearer the Jungle. Using common sense and a broad, long range time frame for geology, which was the focus of my point, if a -60 F. happens once a decade, well that's pretty regular for a rock. But I will change the word to "can" if that helps.
I don't see this rock as rhyolite. It appears to me more as a dacite and andesite mix. The rotten stuff with big crystals that is found at the base of the Jungle cliffs seems to be dacite. The more solid and fine-grained rock in the middle and top looks like andesite with a weathered patina on the surface.
I collected a couple of samples and will query my geologist colleagues for confirmation.
This is an exceptionally user-friendly area. Trails are well-groomed and cairned and the protection is generally excellent for both sport and trad climbs. Were it closer to an urban area, the Jungle would be very popular. It is quite similar in character to the Uintas, but much less crowded and with poorer-quality rock.
Bravo to Roy for his labor of love, creating this truly special place... Big climbs. Scary climbs. Bolted gentle climbs or hair raising routes, whatever floats your boat, it is here, up high in the sky. Be sure to walk lower jungle all the way through distant drum. Marvel at king kong. Just seeing that line made my palms sweat! Thanks Roy et al.
I was here early on (Roy and I set up Climbers in the Mist). And now I've just returned from a three day adventure here with wife, Roy, and Phyllis. I can hardly believe there are almost 100 routes now.