Blood Sport is home to the toughest 5.10+ pitch in all of Zion. That is saying something for an area known to be a bit stout on its grades. Its off-width pitch (third) is one of the more interesting off-widths anywhere. I rank it right up there with the off-width pitches on the North Face (5.11a) route on Castleton Tower and Ixtlan (5.11c) at Red Rock. It is a full on “in your face”, making you think, kind of pitch. Stemming out of a chimney position to pull the “Van Damme” roof via an off-width crack (knee jam) is quite dramatic and physical. Blood Sport was established by Bryan Bird and Brody Greer.
Kung Fu Fighter (5.11-), Mortal Combat (5.10) and Blood Sport make for a fantastic trio of free multi-pitch crack routes to get on during the summer months. Kung Fu Theater wall offers the most shaded and higher elevation climbing in the entire park. Along with Tunnel Wall to the east, this whole area offers enough Indian Creek quality cracks to keep summer visitors occupied for as much free Zion climbing as they can stand. Just keep in mind the routes won’t be as clean as Indian Creek and on most days, you won’t run into another party on any of these walls, much less a route. If you did, it would more than likely be on Kung Fu Fighter as it has a reputation as a must do. Mortal Combat and Blood Sport will give you every bit your money’s worth as well but are not nearly as traveled as the Fighter.
The first pitch direct variation (independently named Last American Ninja, 5.10) is no slacker pitch offering a C4 #4 small roof pull shortly off the deck. After that it turns into a surprisingly good hand crack. The second pitch (5.9) climbs the worst rock on this route. Varying ground covers delicate and dirty sandstone to a comfortable ledge and fixed belay below the varnished third pitch in the corner/chimney above. The third pitch is a full on almost 200’ of climbing through chimney, off-width and a wide crack that follows the corner proper to the top. The entire pitch is quite stout and sustained for the grade. The end gets a bit dirty
Park at the last switch back (on the right) along the park road before you enter the Zion tunnel heading eastbound. Locate the trail heading west for Bridge Mountain (Smash Mouth, 5.11). The entire north facing wall above you on your left is known as Kung Fu Theater. Cat Hole, Cave Dweller and Walk in the Park share the same start in a chimney system surrounded by bulging walls on each side. Once you ascend to the base of Kung Fu Theater wall on the trail, continue west on the trail (as the base of the wall continues to rise to your right) until you come across a huge half diamond shaped roof one pitch off the ground. Mortal Combat climbs the tall right facing corner on the right side of this roof. Enter the Dragon (5.11) is a bolted route up the arête on the left side. Sumo Wrestler climbs the wide left side. Last American Ninja and thus the best, more direct, start for Blood Sport climbs the hand crack out left of Sumo.
Route Description350’+/-, 3 Pitches, 5.10+
1st Pitch- 25m- 5.10/ The way to climb Blood Sport is to use the direct option given its own name, “Last American Ninja”. Why anyone would do the FAer’s first pitch out left, I have no idea. Last American Ninja has a stout couple moves to pull the wide crack bulge/roof shortly off the deck, but it is well protected. From there it is a fun 5.9 hand-crack to a comfortable belay ledge via a gear belay.
2nd Pitch- 25m- 5.9/ Not some of the better rock on this wall. Climb the delicate corner up to a comfortable large ledge and fixed belay.
3rd Pitch- 55m- 5.10+/ This is a stout 5.10d even by Zion standards! And appropriately enough the crux comes pulling the dramatic “Van Damme” roof and continuing up a tough (C4 #5) off-width section. The chimney leading up to the roof involves stellar stemming and chimney climbing and is well protected via interior cracks. Pulling out of the roof and staying in the off-width that follows is the crux. This pitch just never lets up, even towards the end it is still full on as the pitch gets considerably dirtier. However, it is a great pitch, with great positioning. The view out of the chimney and below the roof is incredible. This is a real “thinker” of a pitch requiring a variety of moves.
DescentTake a 200’ rap back to the top of pitch two. Do two single rope raps from here. If you try and go another 200’ to the ground, you will risk getting a rope caught up on “Last American Ninja”. Instead, do a single rope rap climbers left to a ring bolt rappel level with a roof to its right. Then one more single rope rap to the ground.
- The Many Free Routes in Zion National Park
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