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 is included more specifically within the Red Mountain Wilderness. Mule deer, mountain lion, bobcats, jackrabbits and fox are the more commonly observed mammals of this wilderness area. However, it is several reptile, fish, bird 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.
The Friar is a two pitch route located just to the right of Stigmata, which is the first route we established in Padre Canyon. Friar was the third route we put in on this wall and an obvious choice. When I originally walked below the line, the feature I was excited about was what looked to be a stem box up the first pitch with a hand crack roof pull. However once I got into it on the FA, it was quickly apparent that this shallow chimney involved easier climbing therefore not necessitating a lot in the way of stemming. The exit to the wide crack above provides a little air, but it is via relatively mellow moves on good ledges. Exiting the chimney and up a meter or two is where we placed the only bolt to assist with that belay. The wider crack above leads into a typical feature for this wall: an overhanging wide crack forming a roof out right. The climbing is fairly mellow and the only move that is 5.10 is towards the end of the pitch on a bit of chossy rock, up a wide crack to a reachy pull. The route ends in a deep seated shaded chimney of choss sandstone with a wall void of cracks but full of huge huecos looming above. We slung an arch feature versus drilling any bolts for the top rappel (only rappel needed with double ropes). Thus we only placed one bolt on the entire route; at the first belay station.
The best access to the Padre Canyon climbs is to park at the southeast corner of Tuacahn High School and Theater 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. Due to the theater, parking is open to the public. From the southeast 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 and faint 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 walls until you are below an obvious “lightning bolt” crack (left to right). We named this route Stigmata. Just to the right is an obvious 70’ tall shallow chimney, this is the Friar. If you step back, you can locate our singular bolt above said chimney.
Route Description(s)200’+/-, 2 Pitches, 5.10
1st Pitch- 30m- 5.8/I led both these pitches on the FA/on-sight. We took the time to clean this route after the first trip up (more than most of the others). But after waiting three months and getting on it again, I can say it is still plenty dirty. Start up a thin right facing corner (C4 #.4 ) until you reach the shallow chimney. Place gear at will until you reach the top. Stem out onto a solid foot ledge out left. Follow a hand crack from there up to a comfortable belay ledge where a C4 #3 supplements a lone bolt. You could combine these two pitches if you extend any placements well out of the chimney.
2nd Pitch- 30m- 5.10/Follow the C4 #3-#4 sized crack above until the roof. The roof portion is fairly mellow with decent feet and hands until the last meter or so which is protected with a C4 #4. The last move up and into a receded chimney is the crux of the route. Implement an off-width move or two (heel-toe and/or knee) until you can reach a suspect flake up and left. Then stem out and face the left wall and mantel up into the chimney above. We slung a solid feature (window arch) for the top rap station versus putting in a fixed one.