Mortal Combat, although not as popular as Kung Fu Fighter (5.11-) is a recommended 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. Mortal Combat and Blood Sport will give you ever bit your money’s worth as well but are not near as traveled as the Fighter. Mortal Combat was established by Bryan Bird and Brody Greer.
All three pitches of Mortal Combat offer decent climbing. The first pitch offers a surprisingly clean hand crack out right that peters out toward the top when you switch to the wide crack in the corner itself. The middle pitch involves all kind of moves and 360’s as you stem, chimney and jam your way up an almost full 200’ of good climbing in mostly varnished rock. You should empty your entire rack on this pitch minus the smaller pieces. The last pitch goes back to pleasant hand jams with a short stemming section to mantle up and out of the tall corner you have been climbing in for the entirety of the route. Then scramble up the next corner so you can traverse left past loose and bushy ground to Blood Sport’s rappel.
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 huge half diamond shape roof one pitch off the ground (photo). Mortal Combat climbs the tall right facing corner on the right side of this roof.
Route Description400’+/-, 3 Pitches, 5.10
1st Pitch- 25m- 5.9/ Start in the obvious (and pleasant) hand crack three feet to the right of the tall right-facing corner. Before you hit the loose sandy and bushy ledges, traverse left into the corner proper and climb the wide crack to a comfortable belay ledge with a large rap slung tree.
2nd Pitch- 50m- 5.10/ This is a full-on pitch (crux) littered with different jam, off-width and stem moves. There are quite a few fist jams on this pitch of the more typical secure size (C4 #3) versus the wider crack on Kung Fu Fighter’s second pitch. You can place a ton of your medium to large pieces and get adequate rests despite most of the moves coming in at the grade. Climb to a small gear belay on a comfortable ledge below a 5.9 hand crack that finishes off the corner.
3rd Pitch- 45m- 5.9/ This completes three solid good pitches for Mortal Combat. Climb the corner hand crack with a stemming move or two to its top and cross the ledge to the next corner, climb it and traverse left to find the top of the 200’ first rap of Blood Sport’s tall corner.
DescentTake a 200’ rap down climbers left to a fixed belay on a ledge at the base of the deep chimney on Blood Sport. Do two single rope raps from here. If you try and go another 200’ to the ground, you will risk getting a rope caught up on “Last American Ninja”. Instead, do a single rope rap climbers left (left of roof) to a ring bolt rappel and another single rope rap to the ground.
- 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.
- Zion National Park
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