FA June, 2012
Padre Canyon is located within the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve near Ivins (St. George), Utah. The reserve is managed as a Habitat Conservation Plan administered by Washington County in coordination with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Utah Department of Natural Resources and the State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. The reserve began in 1996 and in 2009 received designation as a National Conservation Area, similar to Red Rock, Nevada. Within this relatively new National Conservation Area, Padre Canyon falls mores specifically within the Red Mountain Wilderness area. Mule deer, mountain lion, bobcats, jackrabbits and fox are the more commonly observed mammals of this wilderness area. However, it is several reptile, fish and native plant species that drive the protection of this land; the Mojave Desert Tortoise being a critical component of that vision. One of the richest populations of these tortoises can be found between my home located along the edge of the reserve and the climbing routes we have established along the eastern cliffs of Padre Canyon. Please respect the established trail system through this area. It is heavily monitored for potential abuses.
Joe Allen and I established Francesco in 2012. Most of the routes we established in Padre Canyon are multi-pitch pure crack lines with little to no fixed protection. It is/was our intent to make this area as pure of a trad climbing experience as possible. By doing this, our “rack call” on many of these routes is quite large if one wants to protect them well. Francesco is no exception in its ability to accept gear, however, we did place two pro bolts at a fragile transition between cracks systems on the crux (3rd) pitch. I led this section on the FA, on-site, without them. With these two bolts, the entire route protects well. The rap anchors at the top of the route are out right; double ropes required to the top of the first pitch and a single rope rap to the ground from there. There is a cool tunnel at top which serves as a shaded belay if in need. To summit this section of the cliff, go through the tunnel and scramble up left for great views.
The best access to the Padre Canyon climbs is to park at the southeast corner of Tuacahn High School in Ivins, UT. Tuacahn High School is a Utah charter school for the performing arts. It is a public school that would rival any private school in the United States. To reach the school, you are driving back to an incredible natural amphitheater. Parking is open to the public. From this corner of the large parking lot, locate a trail that descends into the wash and immediately up the other bank. Cross a well-traveled running/hiking trail and locate a bushy, sandy and loose climbers trail up a rib of sand that breaks through the chossy lower cliff band. Once you gain the base of the steep climbing walls above, head southeast along the wall, past an obvious notch (15 minutes +/- along the base). There is a huge face up and left facing southeast. Continue below the notch another 10 minutes or so until below a huge and heavily varnished “diving board”. Running up the right side of this diving board is the last pitch (crux) of Francesco. Continue a few more meters east to an obvious 100’ tall corner that undulates between fingers, hands and few wide pods.
Route Description350’+/-, 3 Pitches, 5.9
1st Pitch- 30m- 5.9/This is a very aesthetic corner that starts out fingers and quickly gives up hands. A few wide pods allow you to dump a couple of wide pieces you will need to carry to build a station on pitch two. Towards the top of the corner, you have a choice to exit on slab out left or stay with the corner as it gets a bit chossy and then exit out left to a large ledge with a fixed belay. When the corner protection peters out toward the top, you have a good crack to protect in on the right.
2nd Pitch- 30m- 5.9/ This pitch is not 30m vertical. But rather it involves you down climbing from the station and traversing left into the chimney. If you think it is dirty now, you should have seen how chossy it was on the FA. In any regard, easy stemming and jamming with adequate protection leads to the top of the chimney where you can build a bomber gear station with a C4 #6 and #5 at a semi hanging belay. Via the FA on site, to avoid rope drag, I placed no gear myself until I made the traverse and was at least back equal with the first belay, at which point I would have extended the placement.
3rd Pitch- 45m- 5.9/This final pitch is the business of the route. Bomber small pro (.3-.75 C4’s) protects the exit of the roof straight up and left. A questionable flake up and right helps you mantel up to a decent foot ledge. We placed two bolts angling up and right to protect any potential fall back into the chimney below. Follow solid foot ledges up to the right of the twin cracks above looking for a third large hand sized crack out right. Ascend this lovely varnished feature to blocky and loose terrain above. Once you are positioned next to the “diving board”, make a move up and right into a flaring, but easy, short chimney. At the top there is a well shaded tunnel in which to belay with gear, C4 #3 and #2’s. The fixed rap station is lower and out right on a ledge which can serve as the belay if the sun is not too intense for you. The summit is easy to attain by walking through the tunnel and scrambling up left to the top.