St. George, Utah is surrounded by climbing walls on all fronts. We first found Green Valley Gap several years ago while trying to squeeze in some last minute climbing just hours before flying out of town. St. George’s airport sits atop a bluff that separates the downtown area of St. George from Green Valley to the west. Like most of St. George’s climbing areas, Green Valley Gap offers tremendously easy access. You could top rope from your bumper if you wanted to. Just like the more popular Black Rocks, you descend a rising mesa via easy scrambling slopes to find north and south facing walls lining a deep cut canyon that broadens out as it spreads west. On approach, you will notice that this area is also frequented by mountain bikers, so bring your bikes for some diversity. Todd and Chad Perkins along with Casey Anderson began bolting this area in the mid 90’s.
There are 28 short sport routes featured in Todd Goss’s new edition guide book, Rock Climbs of Southwest Utah. This book was published in 2006 and I highly recommend it. I have climbed many of the south wall routes, one of which is missing its bolts (Cool Katz). Another is rated 5.3 and I do not include it below. These are all short sport routes. I found the grade dead on except for “Where Egos Dare” which is more of a 5.10 than 5.9.
Routes are Left to Right as You Face Each Wall
- North Wall
- Sand Stoner Reverse- 35’- 5.12a/
- Redneck Wonderland- 30’- 5.12b-c/
- Short and Dorkey- 30’- 5.12b/
- Cool Katz- 35’- 5.7/ WARNING- The bolts have been pulled, you would have to top rope it or free solo. No opportunity for pro.
- The Inquisition- 35’- 5.11a/
- Benefit of the Doubt- 30’- 5.11a/
- Where Egos Dare- 30’- 5.10/ Three bolts worth of thin edges and varnish past a block to bolted anchor. Alternate starts exist on this Goss route. Left is a corner and easier option, middle is thin and tough and right is the outside edge with a little gravity issue. This route is definitely stiffer than the 5.9 given in the book if you attack it head on. (photos)
- Hair Today Gone Tomorrow- 35’- 5.11d/ Bad ass roof and mantel problem just to the right of Where Egos Dare.
- Stick to your Guns- 35’- 5.12c/
- Luck o’ the Irish- 30’- 5.9+/ Much easier than Where Egos Dare in my opinion. Three bolts to bolted anchor. I definitely recommend this route. Crux is low, like 2nd or 3rd move. Cool edges and pockets. (photos)
- Moral Dilemma- 30’- 5.11b/
- The Quickening- 30’- 5.12a-b/
- Factional Infighting- 30’- 5.9/ There are no bolts or pro on this route, thus it has to be top roped. Good one to save for dusk. Short varnished slab with anchor bolts. (photo)
- The Offering- 30’- 5.6/
- Hairy Virgin- 30’- 5.7/
- The Wave- 30’- 5.10b/ Real aesthetic mini tower climb using a few arete moves. One crux move midway is kind of reachy, suppose that is where the grade comes in. Three bolts to anchors.
- Damned if You Don’t- 25’- 5.8/
- Damned if You Do- 25’- 5.8/
- Beggars and Choosers- 35’- 5.10b/ Like Perky's, only 3, not 4 bolts to anchors and the grade seems a little soft, feels more like 5.10a to me. Same varnish edges on same wall as Perky, just a little more blank.
- Perky’s Playground- 40’- 5.9/ Fun face route up varnish edges, but more like a 5.8 I believe. No real crux. 3 bolts, not 4 as mentioned in the guide book, to anchors.
- Skin Graft- 35’- 5.11b/ What a tough mother. I have a torn psoas and could not do the start on lead because you have to do a massive spread eagle. Top roped it and started up the arete which does not make it 5.11b. The start is underneath on the face, spread out and reach like crazy, then the route eases up. Fun route, don't miss it. Four bolts to anchors.
- Fat Black Chuck- 35’- 5.11b/
- Dueling Grandmas- 35’- 5.10c/
- Puppet Strings- 35’- 5.10a/ Probably the best 5.10a at Green Valley Gap. Nice arete start, move in and clip on the face and then a physical heave ho reach at the end. Four bolts to anchors.
- Shotgun Baptism- 35’- 5.10c/ Real fun jump start pull up move. Whole thing kind of overhanging, get moving and don't waste time getting pumped out. Four bolts to anchors.
- 12 Gauge Conversion- 30’- 5.9/ Not really worth the effort, just a top rope route, kind of 5.8ish if you ask me, but once you are working on Puppet Strings and Shotgun Baptism, you might as well tick this off as well. (photo)
- Bitter Recriminations- 30’- 5.10d/
Getting ThereYou can access Green Valley Gap from the northeast or southeast, depending on which way is shortest for you to circumvent the huge bluff that the St. George Airport sits on. Either way, your target is Dixie Drive which runs north south on the west side of the bluff. Turn west off of Dixie Drive for the Green Valley Spa, which is considered by Travel and Leisure Magazine as one of the top three spas in the world, so it is not so hard to miss. Pass the spa on the left and continue until the pavement hits a dead end. Continue on the dirt road and turn right following the tracks for a short period and turn left down a steep hill and follow a dirt road due west for the right side of the Green Valley Gap. You will rise onto the mesa on the right side (north) of the gap and have several spurs to turn on depending where you want to start via the south wall. If you drive until the gates, you have gone too far. Backtrack to the last spur to find a load of moderate routes at the west end of the south wall.
Red TapeThe rock at Green Valley Gap is not as solid as Black Rocks, but stronger than Snow Canyon. As with most of the climbing in and around St. George, you should avoid climbing for at least 24 hours after any rain. You are close if not within the city limits of St. George and there are no permits to climb or park. Access issues could become more complex as this area is slated for future development.
My favorite place for dinner is the sushi bar at Samurai, 245 Red Cliffs Drive. The best breakfast and coffee (Italian espresso) can be had on Main Street at the Bear Paw Coffee Company. The Outdoor Outlet is one of my favorite independent climbing stores anywhere. They know the climbing area well and have a great selection of gear at competitive prices.
When to ClimbI have climbed in Green Valley Gap twice during the winter months. It is the lowest elevation of the sport climbing areas around St. George, thus is no doubt one of the warmest. The climbing is good all year round with the exception of daytime during the summer months. If you are climbing anywhere in southwestern Utah during the summer months, you more than likely better get up early and finish your climb early. The walls can get brutally hot.
CampingThere are three campgrounds within the city limits of St. George none of which I have experienced. Temple View RV Resort at 975 South Main Street; Settlers RV Park at 1333 East 100 South; St. George Campground at 2100 East Middleton Drive.
Of course my druthers would be to stay at the campground in Snow Canyon State Park. This has to be one of the finest State campgrounds anywhere with direct access to tons of climbing routes. The campground is open all year, no holiday closures. There is a limit on your stay of 5 days. They have 33 total units, 17 of which are reserved for the big boys (RV’s) with utility hookups. The tent sites were $14 in 2005. Drinking water is available on site along with vault toilets and even showers. The running/hiking/equestrian trail system is pretty cool and as long as you don’t run into the occasional Segway group, the whole park is usually very quiet, particularly during winter months.