Provo Canyon is the most well known ice climbing area in Utah. It is located east of the city of Provo in Utah Valley. This is south of Salt Lake City in the Southern Wasatch Mountains. Many visiting ice climbers make Provo Canyon their first destination because of its reputation for quality ice routes and easy access. Other places have been explored and routes have been put up but Provo Canyon still remains a favorite and rewarding place to ice climb. Rock climbing routes have been climbed in the canyon but little information has been published about them.
The canyon is large and surrounded by huge limestone cliffs on both sides. It is south of Mount Timpanogos, the most famous mountain in the Wasatch Range. The opposite side of the canyon rises steeply from the north face of Cascade Mountain. The majority of routes are located on the shaded south side of the canyon. During most of the winter season, the sun may not even touch the ice. The routes are mainly between WI4-WI5 in difficulty. Mixed climbing has become popular and several routes and variations are located in Provo Canyon.
Bridal Veil Falls was the first known ascent of a major ice route in the canyon. Greg Lowe climbed the falls solo in 1971. The route Stairway to Heaven was climbed in December of 1975 by Jim Knight and Mark Ward. It is one of the most climbed routes in the canyon along with Bridal Veil Falls. Jeff and Mike Lowe then climbed Stewart Falls located near Sundance and Aspen Grove on Mount Timpanogos. In Upper Provo Canyon, The Fang was climbed by Greg, Jeff, and Mike Lowe, Kim Miller, and Jim Knight. Then a nearby route known as Post Nasal Drip was climbed by Rick Wyatt and Evelyn Lees.
The first people to inhabit Provo Canyon were Native Americans. They included the Ute Indians who called themselves Timpanogotzis people. Obviously, this is where the name Timpanogos came from and the state of Utah was named after the Ute Indians. The first explorers came to Utah Valley in 1776. They were Spanish expedition leaders Francisco Atanasio Dominquez and Silvestre Velez de Escalante. Etienne Provost is thought to be the first white man to explore Provo Canyon which now bears his name. The road through Provo Canyon was finished in the summer of 1858 and then paved decades later.
I thought making a page for Provo Canyon would be helpful so that ice climbing information could be found easily. I don't live near Provo Canyon so I probably won't be able to keep up with current conditions. Feel free to add any of your route pages or photos.
Provo Canyon Directions:
Drive on I-15 to (exit 272) which is 800 North in Orem. Turn here, and head east. Drive on 800 North through Orem towards the mouth of Provo Canyon. Stay in the left hand lane, which will drop onto Hwy 189. Continue into the canyon.
View Area Parking Area - Located before Nunn's Park Parking Area on the north side of the road. There is a nice pullout for several cars.
Nunn's Park / Bridal Veil Falls Parking Area - Approximately 4.7 miles up Provo Canyon. You’ll want to park on the south side to approach the ice climbs.
Upper Falls Parking Area - About 1.5 miles past Bridal Veil Falls Parking Area. Turn south and drive down the road for 0.5 miles to Upper Falls Parking Area.
Vivian Park Parking Area - Farther up Provo Canyon on the south side of the road. The South Fork Road branches off from Vivian Park.
North Side Parking - There are pullouts located on the north side of the road that are across from Lost Creek Canyon and areas to the east.
Aspen Grove Parking Area - Drive up Provo Canyon to Aspen Grove / Sundance (exit #92), which is the first left after the tunnel. Sundance is two miles up the canyon on the left. Aspen Grove is located farther along the main road with a well signed parking area.
I refer to the routes located below and west of the Bridal Veil Falls Area as the Lower Canyon. There are two main parking areas. They are at the View Area Parking Area and Nunn’s Park. All of the routes are located near the bottom of steep gullies on the mountainside.
Getting There: The View Area parking area is located before Nunn’s Park parking area on the north side of the road. There is a nice pullout for several cars. You will have to cross the street to get to the ice climbs below Cascade Mountain. Nunn’s Park is also known as the Bridal Veil Falls parking area. It is located approximately 4.7 miles up Provo Canyon. You’ll want to park on the south side to approach the ice climbs. There is a good parking area here but it often fills up on the weekend.
Approach: From the Parking Area walk along the drainage on the south side of the road. You will be able to see the ice routes above you. Getting to the base of these climbs requires hiking up steep talus and snow. Most routes can be reached in about 10 to 20 minutes.
Pipe Dream: I, WI3-4, mixed - 180 feet
The Pipe Dream Area is also known as Kitty Litter Wall. This is the first major ice route located near the mouth of the canyon. It is near the junction with UT 52 and US 189 on the north side of the road. There is a service road where you can park and hike to the base of the route. It was named after the pipe which the route forms underneath. Pipe Dream is one of the first routes to dry out because it faces the sun.
Fudgepacker: I, WI5 - 90 feet
This is a single pitch climb that is located in the drainage west of the arched strata layers. These rock layers are easy to see from the bottom. The route forms on either side of a waterfall. Expect thin vertical climbing.
Fear of Motion: II, WI4 - 540 feet
This is a long route with up to 540 feet of climbing. It is located in the drainage that is east of the arched strata layers. These rock layers are easy to see from the bottom. The climb ascends bulges for over 300 feet and then splits into two gullies. The left fork is near vertical.
IceMate: I, WI4 - 50 feet --- PlayMate: I, WI4 - 60 feet
These two climbs are located in the same drainage about 200 yards east of Fear of Motion. IceMate is on the right side and is 50 feet in length. PlayMate is on the left side of the cliffband and is 60 feet in length.
Daily Fears: I, WI4 - 120 feet
This route is located south of Nunn’s Park and west of the route Hello. You can either climb that route or hike around to access Daily Fears.
Hello: I, WI4-5 - 80 feet
Single pitch climb located below Daily Fears. It has a short approach and climbs over 50 feet of vertical ice to lower angled ice.
Bridal Veil Falls Area
The Bridal Veil Falls Area is the center of ice climbing in Provo Canyon. Anyone driving down the canyon will notice the large amount of ice that is contained here. This is the most crowded ice climbing area in the canyon. Approaches are short and there are many quality climbing routes.
Getting There: The Bridal Veil Falls parking area is located approximately 4.7 miles up Provo Canyon. This is also known as Nunn's Park. There is a nice parking area for several cars. You can also park a little farther up Provo Canyon along the main road. There is a large pullout that is just north of Bridal Veil Falls. You can descend and hike directly to the ice climbs from here.
Approach: At Nunn's Park there is a trail that goes east that will be packed down in winter. The first route you will see is Stairway to Heaven. Farther down the trail you will get to the Bridal Veil Falls Area. The last route on the east side is All is Quiet. Once you are at The Bridal Veil Falls Area, you can hike up the talus field below the main routes. This area can be reached in 10 to 15 minutes.
Stairway to Heaven: III, WI5 - 800+ feet
Stairway to Heaven is considered one of the best ice climbs in the canyon. There can be over 800 feet of ice climbing to the top of the route. The upper pitches do not always form. The first two pitches climb up to a wide ledge. Then the route ascends several pitches of vertical ice up a narrow curtain. Stairway to Heaven is popular and a few accidents have occured here. There are several variations on the left and right side that have been climbed. The most notable of these are Prophet on a Stick: WI6 or M7, located on the left of the 4th Pitch and Contrivance: M8 which is located left of the 5th Pitch.
White Nightmare: I, WI4-5 - 200 feet
This route is accessed by the same approach as Bridal Veil Falls. Hike up to the amphitheater below the climb. This route is located to the right of Bridal Veil Falls and makes a nice alternative. It is usually climbed in two pitches but can also be done in one long pitch. The climbing is done on the face or in a series of curtains. Trees make good anchors at the top. Bring two 60 meter ropes to rappel the route.
Info from SP member jimk - I would suggest belaying underneath the curtain/overhang. Scramble up to a ledge and start from there, traversing left under the curtain. You'll be safer and have all the rope you need. White Nightmare got its name from spewage out of the large gully above and right. And that's not the big stuff. Monster slides from the upper basin follow the waterfall and obliterate everything. That's how the tram & base station got destroyed.
Four mixed routes located to the right of White Nightmare:
El Santa Blanca: M4-M5, This route is next to the right margin of White Nightmare. It’s easy to get to ice at any point. There are four bolts.
La Punta Blanca: M6-M8, This mixed route goes up the corner and angles left. It then climbs twenty feet of ice to reach the anchors on the wall above the rock roof next to the ice. This is a well bolted route. The difficulty depends on how much ice there is.
M-Possible: M7, Start on La Punta Blanca, then go straight up over a small roof. There are 8 bolts.
M-Possible Left: M6+, Start on La Punta Blanca, then go right up over a small roof. There are 7 Bolts.
The Bridal Veil Falls Area has the most popular ice climbs in Provo Canyon. This area is a short approach from the parking area. The main falls has frozen in some years when the weather has been cold and there is a lot of snow. There will almost always be some running water. In most years, the waterfall will be flowing freely down the cliff while the right side of the falls will be frozen. The first ascent of Bridal Veil Falls was made by Greg Lowe.
Bridal Veil Falls Right: I, WI4-5 - 180 feet
This is the rightmost ice flow. It is located to the right of the Bridal Veil Falls Left route and to the left of White Nightmare. Bring a 60 meter rope to climb the route and have two to rappel off. Trees can be used at the top of the pitch as a anchor.
Bridal Veil Falls Left: I, WI4-5 - 180 feet
This route goes up the main flow of ice. It is to the right of the main falls and to the left of the Bridal Veil Falls Right route. It climbs over several bulges and a steep final pitch. Bring a 60 meter rope to climb the route and have two to rappel off. Trees can be used at the top of the pitch as a anchor.
Upper Bridal Veil Falls: II, WI5 - 180 feet
Upper Bridal Veil Falls is located above both lower falls. It can be climbed as a continuation of the lower routes. It has vertical ice climbing that can be done in one long pitch or two shorter pitches. Bring two ropes to rappel off the route or descend around the stairway to heaven drainage which is not recommended.
All Is Quiet: I, WI5 - 100 feet
This ice climb is located on the next large rock wall to the left of Bridal Veil Falls. All is Quiet is best approached from Nunn's Park. The name says it all and the route is usually not crowded. This cliff usually forms a large wall of ice with the left side being vertical. All is Quiet is located on the right side of the wall. The route goes over three tiers of steep climbing.
I refer to the routes located above and east of the Bridal Veil Falls Area as the Upper Canyon. The approaches start from the Upper Falls Parking Area. The routes are located in obvious gullies that have cut deep notches though the steep limestone cliffs.
There are also routes located in the vicinity of Vivian Park. They are not climbed as often so I will mention them here for now. The route Edge of Sanity: WI4 is located in Snow Slide Canyon. The route South Fork: WI3 is located along the South Fork Road.
Getting There: The Upper Falls parking area is located about 1.5 miles past Bridal Veil Falls parking area. Turn south and drive down the road for 0.5 miles to Upper Falls Parking Area. In winter, you can only drive to the gate where you can park on the side of the road. This is near the east side of the area where all of the ice climbs are located. Alternatively, you can park at the trailhead for Bridal Veil Falls, Nunn's Park, and walk to all of these routes from there.
Approach: From the parking area, the first ice climb you will be able to see is FMR Wall which will be directly south. Walk toward the base of the cliffs and start hiking west. The Fang will be a short distance west of FMR Wall. Farther west are the routes Post Nasal Drip and Finger of Fate. There is a long snow couloir that is located west of Finger of Fate. The routes in this area can be reached in 10 to 20 minutes.
FMR Wall: I, WI4 - 180 feet
The route is located in the next drainage east of The Fang. It is the first ice route you will see that is immediately south of the Upper Falls parking area. You can either get there by climbing directly up the drainage or traversing east from the top of the Fang to the base of the climb. The route goes up a 180 foot wide wall of ice and is usually done in two pitches.
The Fang: II, WI5 - 400 feet
The Fang is located on the east side of this cliff band. Pitch 1 and 2 climb straight up the ice flow. Then the route ascends a WI3 snow gully. The final pitch goes up “The Tube” which is considered one of the highlights of the route. Climb up a narrow 50 foot column.
Miller's Thriller: II, WI3-4 - 400 feet
Miller's Thriller is just east of Post Nasal Drip. The first pitch goes up a lower angled WI3 gully to the bottom of the second pitch. It then ascends this snow slope to the beginning of the crux pitch. There is a more difficult variation known as Miller's Pillar: WI5-6 that climbs over an overhang to the left of the third pitch.
Post Nasal Drip: II, WI5 - 400 feet
This route is located between Miller’s Thriller and Finger of Fate. Post Nasal Drip is 4 pitches long. Hike up the gully and then climb the first pitch and second pitch up a column. The third pitch is 80 feet and then ascends over two bulges on the last pitch. When conditions are thin and the route is not a continuous ice climb it is known as Snotty Nosed Brat and is rated M6 with aid climbing.
Finger of Fate: II, WI4 - 500 feet