The Circus Wall of Island in the Sky is by far the most popular climbing destination within the confines of Snow Canyon. Most of its popularity is attributed to the classic 5.7 for the entire Canyon if not St. George area, Pygmy Alien. Circus Wall is thusly named due to the confusion created by published routes crossing each others paths. Only one of the eight routes on Circus Wall avoids this “circus”, Cloudwalker. Cloudwalker is actually to the left of the Circus Wall (main) hidden by a corner that runs 200’ before it peters out forming a significant buttress. As is consistent with most routes put in by Goss, the rating seems a little on the conservative side (easier). Cloudwalker is a mixed trad/sport route with 200’ of trad up the corner for the first pitch and 20 bolts (not pins!) placed for the next 200’ (two pitches).
Snow Canyon State Park is a state park of 7100+ acres just north of St. George, Utah. The Circus Wall has eight published routes ranging from 5.6 to 5.10b and offers the easiest approach in the park via the Pioneer Names trail. It receives morning shade (until noon in mid summer) and afternoon sun that makes it an ideal winter climbing crag.
Park at the Pioneer Names trailhead pullout on the right side of the road after you pass a dip in the road beyond the West End parking lot heading northeast through the park. Stay on the trail directly up to the wall (where the pioneer names are carved into the arch) and turn left and proceed around the corner. The route follows the inside left corner itself.
Route Description1st Pitch- (200’) 5.8/ I ran the start of this route out 40’ on easy terrain to a bolt placed on the wall over the corner. Gear is easily placed from there, medium to large, until you reach rap anchors at the top of the corner. I never experienced a crux move and the whole pitch felt more like 5.6 by Snow Canyon standards. Older routes (pins) are more difficult than newer routes (bolts). This is a general rule thumb no matter where you climb but particularly for Snow Canyon. You will pass two mid station anchors en route. One used for a mid rap station and another used to make a top rope practice pitch for the local guiding company. (photo)
2nd Pitch- (80’) 5.10a/ Proceed straight up from the 1st pitch station following 9 bolts to chains. There are two sets of chains, use the left set on a hanging belay below a treed ledge. The pitch is straight vertical, but consists of fairly dependable varnish with variable choices. The pitch feels more like 5.9 versus 5.10. The second should top out and clove hitch the tree on the other end of the ledge and bring up the first onto the ledge. (photo)
3rd Pitch- (115’) 5.8/ The guide book fails to mention the rating on this pitch. I peg it at about 5.8. The ledge offers a great shady belay with one of the largest trees growing on Island in the Sky. Continue up angled ground on varnished edges to rap chains just below the summit through 11 bolts. This is a real straight forward pitch and route. (photo)
It is imperative if you only have one rope not to rap off the end on descent of Cloudwalker. This fact is well noted in the guidebook and I know what Todd is referencing so I will note it again here. If one did not tie knots in the end of their rope and rapped straight down, he/she could easily miss the ledge if they were not paying attention, and possibly not recover or know how to climb the rope. PAY ATTENTION or better yet, use 60m double ropes. 60m doubles will take you all the way back, 200’, to the top of the first pitch. However, rope management skills are at a premium if you take this option. The sandstone varnish on Island in the Sky is notable for catching ropes. You also go into a free air rappel after the ledge, so stop here to deal with any entanglements. Once you come out of the free air rappel, start walk rapping your way back to the right. During rappel, be careful not to kick any of the very loose rock on this section. Pay attention that your rope above does not dislodge anything on top of you. Probably the better solution is to go ahead and use the ledge as a mid rappel station whether you have two ropes or not. Doubles will still save you a rap from the top of the first pitch.
External LinksSnow Canyon State Park
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