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Routes, Ropes and Rewards in Salt Lake's Nearby Mountains

Published: 05/31/2007

Salt Lake-based climbers know they are incredibly lucky to live in the midst of the Rockies, but their secret is getting out as the sport gains momentum and word travels. The buzz is all about how the mountains surrounding the city provide unbelievably easy access from a metropolitan center to world-class climbs. Each nearby destination, with its individual history of ascents, represents an intricate piece in the region’s vertical puzzle—one of the most intriguing and dramatic in the country.

Following are a few climbs, for beginners to more advanced climbers, all located just minutes from Salt Lake's city center.  The city also offers some excellent indoor climbing facilities and is home to Black Diamond, one of the world’s premiere climbing equipment manufacturers (and one of the city’s top “green” businesses.)

Riptide and Iron Curtain Walls: With a location at the mouth of Parleys Canyon, these limestone and quartzite walls are easily accessed from most points in the city and because of their northerly aspect, stay relatively cool all summer long. Routes here vary from 5.8 to 5.11. Access the walls by taking 3300 South east to Wasatch Boulevard. Follow Wasatch Boulevard north until it ends. Follow the trail to the walls.

Crescent Crack Buttress: Multiple routes up this easily accessed wall makes the Crescent Crack one of the most frequented climbs in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Routes here vary from 5.6 to 5.12. Park on the side of Little Cottonwood Canyon Road, about a quarter mile from the last stoplight at the mouth of the canyon. The left fork of a well-used trail on the side of the road leads to Crescent Crack Buttress (the right fork goes to Coffin Gully).

Resurrection Area: This popular, shady crag offers several routes and, located just 20 feet off the Big Cottonwood Canyon stream, is cool throughout the summer. This is a more advanced climbing area, with routes ranging from 5.9 to 5.13. To get there, cross the Big Cottonwood Canyon stream about four miles up the canyon to the wall. The approach from the west of Resurrection Area is private property and should be avoided.

Indoor practice climbing walls are available at Rockreation Climbing Gym (2074 East 3900 South, 801-278-7473) and The Front Climbing Club (1450 South 400 West, 801-466-7625). 

For more information about climbing routes in the Wasatch Mountains, guides, and purchasing or renting climbing equipment, visit  Wasatch Touring (702 East 100 South, 801-359-9361); IME (3265 East 3300 South, 801-484-8073);  REI (3285 East 3300 South, 801-486-2100; there is also a climbing wall at REI.); Black Diamond, located at the Black Diamond Factory and Headquarters Store (2092 East 3900 South, 801-278-0233) Or purchase Wasatch Climbing by Bret and Stuart Ruckman.

The Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau is a private, non-profit corporation responsible for the promotion of Salt Lake as a convention and travel destination. Salt Lake is a unique fusion of metropolitan city and quaint mountain town; the towering Wasatch Mountains that embrace Salt Lake offer a dramatic backdrop to the vibrancy and activities of downtown. Having recently undergone a $58 million expansion, the Salt Palace Convention Center now boasts 679,000 square feet of exhibit and meeting space, ideal for groups of all sizes and needs. For more information on all that Salt Lake has to offer, visit www.VisitSaltLake.com.

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