Two of the better trad routes in Snow Canyon State Park are located in Johnson Canyon. Both are Ron Olevsky routes and neither are in Todd Goss’s local guide book. Todd is a sport climber and did not do a very good job of including trad routes in his book. Few have climbed these routes but they are both in great shape in terms of offering clean rock and with solid rap anchors. The obvious one is named Highlander (5.10d) and is the single pitch that ascends the popular guided canyon descent at the dead end of Johnson Canyon. On most weekends during good weather and an open trail (raptor closures), there is always a chance of a tourist rapping over you (yes, this has happened to me). However, during the week, it will almost certainly be all yours. An even better route is Trouble No More (5.10b). This is a two pitch route located directly across from the Johnson Arch itself. There is a rap station above a third pitch, but it is not recommended. I cannot recommend the other two routes with established raps in the canyon. One is an obvious crack comprised of horrible rock (unnamed, 5.10) located on the south face of the west buttress at the entrance to the canyon. I have climbed this a few times and the rock gets worse not better. Another unnamed route is located to the left of Trouble No More and has an R/X start to it (photo). If bolting were ever allowed to get you started on this route, it could be quite a line!
Park at the parking lot on the west side of Snow Canyon Drive before the park kiosk at the south entrance. Hike the short, scenic and popular Johnson Canyon Arch trail. Highlander is located at the very end of the trail in the obvious black varnished corner.
Route Description(s)Routes Listed As you Approach them on the Trail
- (Unnamed)- 25m-5.10a/I have put in my fair of FA’s in the area and will state for the record that this is some of the worst rock in all of St. George. Comparable to the Fisher Towers near Moab, I am not confident this route could clean up that well. The (mostly) hand crack looks very aesthetic and is there from bottom to top, but it gets enough drainage, wind, etc., that it is chocked full of loose sand and the light colored sandstone face around it breaks away readily. The bulge involves the first crux with some more moves at the grade in the curving crack above. I obviously don’t recommend the route. I did replace the fixed anchor webbing in 2014. Dow
- (Unnamed)- 25m-5.?RX/I have provided a photo looking up from the base of this route but the start needs to be bolted to be safe.
- Trouble No More- 2 Pitches-5.10b/This is the best trad route in Snow Canyon. The first pitch stems up twin cracks with small but good pro to a comfortable ledge with a fixed station. The second pitch is a Indian Creek quality 5.10 corner of mostly C4#.75-1's. You will not get a #2 in until near the top. Climb out to the ledge out right. The rap anchor is way out right offering a free air (full single 60m rope just makes it, no need for double ropes as stated on another web site) rap back to the base. There has been a 3rd pitch added up through the roof, you can see its fixed rap from the trail but the rock quality appears to deteriorate through this feature. There is one fixed pin on the second pitch but it is not needed. Dow
- Highlander- 25m-5.10d/Perhaps the best single pitch trad route in Snow Canyon, beating out Atomic Indian by sheer length and variety. The rock is exceptional for Snow Canyon and quite clean despite being an active waterfall during heavy rains. You can sow it up nicely with triple .3's and .4's which take you through the crux section below the roof which is made up of a body wide flare with a finger crack in the back for several meters. I prefer to take the crack direct, although it is possible to stem which must have been Ron's preferred method as he set a pin way out right. The small roof pull itself is not that difficult in comparison to this flaring section underneath. This pitch protects very well with modern gear and there is no need to clip the single fixed pin way out right (2014). The chained anchor is in good shape in 2014. Guided canyoneers have another fixer rap at the top of the black cap stone above. Dow