Kung Fu Fighter is the most popular (and rightfully so!) route on the Kung Fu Theater wall in Zion National Park. Kung Fu Theater wall offers the most shaded and higher elevation climbing in the entire park. Along with Tunnel Wall to the east, this whole area offers enough Indian Creek quality cracks to keep summer visitors occupied for as much free Zion climbing as they can stand. Just keep in mind the routes won’t be as clean as Indian Creek and on most days, you won’t run into another party on any of these walls, much less a route. If you did, it would more than likely be on Kung Fu Fighter as it has a reputation as a must do. It was established by the usual suspects, Bryan Bird and Eric Draper.
The first pitch has an alternative start (5.8) to the left, but I can’t see any reason why one would use it. The direct line up the right side of a short tower offers a pleasant hand crack (5.9). The second pitch is the business of the route. After a few laid back meters to start, it pours into a large fist crack (5.11-/C4 #4’s) with few features to assist along with little to no rests. The third pitch (5.9+) offers dramatic exposure traversing below a large roof (see photo looking out from roof!) and then pulling a smaller one before finishing up a hand crack to a belay ledge. There is a fourth pitch but the FAer’s don’t recommend it.
Park at the last switch back (on the right) along the park road before you enter the Zion tunnel heading eastbound. Locate the trail heading west for Bridge Mountain (Smash Mouth, 5.11). The entire north facing wall above you on your left is known as Kung Fu Theater. Cat Hole, Cave Dweller and Walk in the Park share the same start in a chimney system surrounded by bulging walls on each side. Once you ascend to the base of Kung Fu Theater wall on the trail, continue west on the trail (as the base of the wall continues to rise to your right) until you come across a junction that heads back up and left to the wall below a large arch. On approach keep looking up and you will easily spot the incredible wide splitter of the second pitch with a roof (arch) above it representing the second and third pitches. I have supplied two solid topo photos, one with climbers on it, to help identify this route.
Route Description300’+/-, 3 Pitches, 5.11
1st Pitch- 25m- 5.9/ Start up the right side of a small tower following a hand crack to a fixed anchor. Supposedly you could climb the easier alternative to the left, but there would be no reason for it.
2nd Pitch- 30m- 5.11/ This pitch is the crux of the climb and involves a full on sustained large fist splitter crack (after the first few meters of easier climbing). I wear large sized gloves and could not hold a locked fist in most of the slightly angled splitter. Most climbers (except for those with extra-large sized hands) will be required to leverage their arms deep in the crack to keep stepping up. C4# 4’s will be far more useful than C4 #3’s which is an indicator of the true size of this crack. A fixed hanging belay is to the left. Another fixed belay for Pu Corner (aptly named!) is below and left.
3rd Pitch- 30m- 5.9+/ This is a fantastic pitch for the grade. Reminiscent of Overhanging Hangover at Red Rock. Continue up the crack to the roof and traverse right under the large roof, pulling over the arête to below a smaller roof out right. Chimney up this short section and pull out of it via a hand jam and follow the hand crack up to a comfortable fixed belay. The exposure is first class. There is a fourth pitch, but it is not recommended by Bryan nor I. There are too many other good pitches on this wall to pursue.
DescentTake a 200’ rap down to the top of the first pitch and then a single rope rap down from there. You should be able to incorporate the fixed belay atop pitch two or on Pu Corner with a 70m rope as well but with a less cleaner pull. Update: A new route has been put in to the right. Rap with a 60m straight down to a ledge with chains. Then do an awkward long rap having to swing far skiers right to the top of a pedestal. One more short rap down to the base.
- The Many Free Routes in Zion National Park
- Oscar’s Café, the only place for climbers to truly fill their appetite (free range chicken, beef and Hank’s Tanker) and meet one of the finer climbers and individuals I know on the face of the earth, Zach Lee, someone who has established many of his own local FA’s in the area.
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