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By Stan Pitcher
From: SLC, UT
Mar 17, 2005
Awesome climbing on the Fin! If you're needing some extra adventure, you can climb the ridge directly to the base of the climbs in about 3 or so pitches.
Also a nice link-up is first pitch of Fin Arete and then work right from the belay to join the 2nd pitch of Dark Horse with its stellar arete climbing!! If you have time, you can wrap from there to the base of the Dorsal and do the first pitch on TR if you're a chicken S#it like me!
The third pitch of the Dorsal is one of the best 5.8 pitches anywhere!
By Jim D
Apr 11, 2012
This is the best stone I've seen in Little Cottonwood Canyon. The rock on the prow is that perfect orangish granite that you see on The Exum Ridge on the Grand. It really doesn't exfoliate at all. Even the more standard LCC whitish granite down lower is quite clean.
The guidebook gives a particularly bad description of the approach and descent. If the description were better, it's actually quite a fast approach and descent for LCC.
A few tips might help out:
1) Go up the trail that starts 50 feet East of the gate to the church vaults. After 50 or so feet, there is a cairned trail that takes you, without much elevation gain or loss, all the way to the base of the gully on the West of The Fin. At that point you can look straight down and see the parking lot for the Church Vaults. If all you see is road and no parking lot, you haven't gone far enough. You can occasionally get a glimpse through the trees of Lizard Head and the Fin. Don't turn up too soon. There is only really one pathway off it, a well-beaten trail that cuts uphill AND BACK EAST AROUND A BIG BOULDER. I think it goes to Lizard Head. Don't take this, but continue West and you'll quickly realize you're still on the same trail you've been on. Despite the description in the guidebook, this is a pleasant, fast trail with minimal bushwhacking. When you get into the gully West of the fin, continue upward for just a few minutes, past the huge boulder on the left (looks bigger from below than above), and to the second group of box elder trees (I didn't know what they were, but they're a little taller than the scrub oak) to a flat area on the right side of the gully. See the photo. This takes ~ 18 minutes from where you parked. You'll notice a 3rd class ramp heading Southeast, with a cairn at the beginning of it. This is the place to leave your pack.
2) Go up the ramp, all the way to the Southernmost arete of the buttress, then continue third classing up slabs back North. The description gets vague here and tells you to traverse, but it doesn't say which way. I assure you it isn't to the left. That's where we got lost (but in the process found a good alternate approach.) If you traverse right, there's a corner that looked to be about 5.6 that looks pretty doable. I didn't see anything I would call 3rd or 4th class, but perhaps we just needed to look a little harder. If someone could post a picture of this part of the approach, it would be helpful. At any rate, it's not to the left, so keep looking right.
3) The alternate approach is useful if you don't mind gaining a little more elevation than necessary, doing a very quick, short 5.6 pitch with some exposure, and a 100 foot rappel down to the base of The Fin. It has the advantage of much less scrambling, and you get to leave your shoes and pack right where the rappels come back to the ground. You basically ascent the descent trail, which means going up the canyon another 200-300 feet or so past the gravelly flat area with the ramp, then cutting East toward The Fin on a well-trodden, but scree-covered trail. This is the descent trail from The Fin, and the approach to the Intensive Care Slab. After passing Intensive Care (it'll be a beautiful tall slab on your left) you'll come to a headwall, with a chimney/lieback on the right side. If you go down (a bit Southwest) to the right about 50 feet from the Chimney (which is about where the rappels off The Fin end, you'll see an ugly groove with a tree at the bottom of it, and a right-trending crack 30 feet up it with a small tree growing out of it. If you climb that groove (perhaps 5.6, protects with #1 and #2 camalots), then follow the right trending crack, you'll end up at a big chicken head with several slings on it. You can rap off that, 100 feet down toward the base of The Fin. This also allows for a nice inspection of the cruxes of The Fin Arete's first pitch.
4) The descent is easily found, just 30 feet up and left from some tiny bushes I wouldn't belay off of at the top of The Fin Arete. There are two nice bolts with chains. This is about 185 feet from the last anchor on The Fin Arete, which is another 40 feet up from the Dark Horse anchor at the base of the prow. The first rappel is 100' and lands you next to a bush and a horn/chickenhead, which are slung to provide the second rappel. You can also downclimb this section, but it is far easier to just rap it since it is between two raps. This rappel is 100' plus 5 feet of downclimbing (no big deal) to a ledge with anchors. The final rappel is ~80 feet. If you did the "alternate approach" I detailed above, your shoes are 50 feet down and left from you. Otherwise, hike right and down a scree-covered trail for about 10 minutes back to your pack. When you hit the main gully, you'll have to stay right in it as well or you'll be cliffed out.
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