This route climbs the prominent southwest ridge of london spire. Overall it is a very easy climb, ranging in the 4th class to easy 5th class range, with one pitch of 5.7. The rock quality is overall pretty good, though there is lots of loose rock and scree. However, there is definitely enough good rock to make it worthwhile and protection is plentiful.
Most competent parties can easily solo the majority of the route with little concern, though almost everyone will want a rope for the 5.7 pitch. I felt slightly less comfortable soloing this route than upper exum or the west slabs, but it is comparable in difficulty. The number of pitches is therefore a bit ambiguous. Belays can be set up basically anywhere with lots of ledges. I have broken my description into sections, rather than pitches.
Essentially, follow the ridge the whole way up. Lots of options. There are no fixed anchors
1. Start up the ridge from the saddle. The first obstacle is a small roof 40 feet up. We passed it on the left on good holds. Maybe 5.6. Belay if you wish.
2. Easy terrain with lots of big ledges will lead you for a couple hundred more feet. Belay as necessary.
3. The main obstacle of the climb is encountered about halfway up. It is a large roof that you don't want to climb over. This is the 5.7 pitch most will want to rope up for. Climb out right of the roof on good holds over a very exposed drop. Climb up into a diehdral of sorts and up a good 60 feet till the climbing turns easy again and belay. Good pro. 100'
4. From here the climbing turns even easier. Mostly 5th class moves to top. You can make this section difficult or easy, depending on your desire. Lots of steeper stuff, but also easy stuff to bypass it. You know your on top when you come to a wood pole with some underwear on it.
Time: 2 hours with mostly soloing, 1 pitch with rope.
This climb is very fun, with great views and an alpine setting. The approach and descent aren't fun, but its a worthy adventure. Very few people seem to do it.
To get to the route, you have two options. I recommend the first:
1. Park on Highway 89 in Willard somewhere legal and where it looks like you are basically in line with the rocky ridge that leads up to and connects with the southwest ridge. Some of this land is private property, but also plenty of public access, so act appropriately. Bushwack up the rocky ridge until you reach the saddle where the route starts, doing the best you can to avoid the really thick stuff. Not real fun. (2.5 hours)
2. Hike up the descent canyon. This is not as bad for bushwacking, but harder to get to the route because you can't see it since you're in a canyon. Hike up from the road, aiming for the spot where the canyon just south of the spire would start. The entrance to the canyon almost looks like famous pictures of the subway, the zion slot canyon, very narrow and vertical with a river coming out of it. Hike up this canyon for a long ways, probably 2 hours. On your left(north) you will spot a ramp system where the rock changes color that looks like it leads to a saddle, which is the beginning of the route. It looked like 4th or 5th class most of the way. 2.5+ hours?
Descent: From top, hike maybe 30 yards east, and then down(south) towards the canyon on the south of the ridge. Scramble some easy rock for 100 feet till you see rappel slings. Rap 20' if you want, but a downclimb there or up(west) is pretty easy. Follow loose scree canyon all they way out. 3 hours
Standard rack will be more than adequate. One rope.
Court leading 5.7 roof pitch.
BETA PHOTO: Looking at the southwest ridge from the approach.
Court and Steve soloing somewhere along the upper ...
|Comments on Southwest Ridge
From: Salt lake city, ut
Sep 27, 2010
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V S 4b
Good description above. The approach and descent are pretty un-fun but straightforward enough. The climb had some really nice sections of solid rock and a lot of fun low 5th class stuff.
Rock quality was better than I expected it to be but there were still a few moments where footholds were turning to kitty-litter beneath my feet. We stayed roped up for a lot of the route with mostly simul-climbing. This would be a bit stressful for me to solo because of all the loose rock and portable hand-holds.
Took us around 12 hours car to car at a relatively leisurely pace.
|By Brian B Ballard|
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 20, 2010
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b
Great beauty route, only roped one pitch, climbed side by side and testing rocks seemed safest for us. The route is missing a pair of underwear, could someone please replace it?
Approach from the top was nicer especially if you like scree.
From: Holladay, Utah
Jul 9, 2012
Did this with Walter Van and Scott Cooney on 7/7/12. There's a rock quarry you can park in at the base of an ATV road. From the road up the hills/ridge leading to the saddle at the base of the London Spire we took about 3 hrs. The rock on the Spire was loose in places but careful footing and testing holds allowed uneventful passage. The writeup is accurate; the approach is a bit beastly (I recommend getting it done early in the am) but worth the fun of the climb. We simul-climbed (roped) the pitch just beneath the 5.7 roof traverse and then protected the traverse. The rest of the climb was soloable. I never felt too out of my comfort zone and I'm not a super experienced climber (this is my first real season of trad/sport/alpine). Harder than Slabs but just as fun. The hike out is also a bit burly and we all ran out of water (I took 4 liters) in the last 1-2 hours. Go for the experience! Worth the trip. 10.5 hours car to car.