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 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, 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.
Frisco is a two pitch route located just to the right of Stigmata and the Friar, which are the first routes we established in Padre Canyon. Frisco is best located by continuing east along the cliff whilst looking back at the upper reaches within just minutes of leaving the other two routes. A beautiful black varnished wall with an overhung wide crack up to a roof comes into view. Our first fixed rap can be located at the lower left of that wall. The first pitch is a chossy wide piece of crap that you would normally ignore when establishing routes if it did not lead to this upper wall. I might add a bolt or two in the future on this first pitch, but right now it is a dirty wide crack made up of precarious rock.
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 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. Continue on as stated in the second paragraph above and you find Frisco, which has one of the best (and worst) pitches on the entire wall.
Route Description200’+/-, 2 Pitches, 5.10
1st Pitch- 30m- 5.9/In contrast to the second pitch on this route, this is one of the worst pitches we have established to date in Padre Canyon, but the second pitch makes it well worth it. I have led it twice now and really only ever placed a C4 #4, #5 and #6. The rock is rotten to say the least. There is a chock stone to sling at a short tight off-width section, but even it is suspect. Climb the wide crack to the top and traverse left to the fixed station. I prefer to stay in the off-width, avoiding any face holds in or around the crack due to lack of trust.
2nd Pitch- 30m- 5.10/This is one of the best if not the best pitch of climbing we have established in Padre Canyon to date (2012). Climb the varnished off-width placing your large gear early, C4#5 and #6. When you hit the roof, face up and follow the crack with your body arched getting solid jams with your right hand. There is always something for your feet to do as you do a 180 and stem and jam the rest of the roof. A C4#2 protects the pull-out well as you continue to follow a fun hand crack to the comfortable belay ledge on top with a fixed rap on the opposing wall. We are not done with this route. Two additional pitches are going to make this the best route in Padre Canyon, hands down.