“Want to go climbing at Lime Kiln Canyon near Mesquite?” Mesquite? I thought I had climbed every crag during the past few years from Zion National Park to Red Rocks Canyon and had never thought of the hills sandwiched by the Grand Canyon to the south and I-15 to the north along the Arizona strip. From the town of Mesquite, NV on I-15, they look dusty, hot and remote and generally not full of promise. Yet when my partner plopped down a recent issue of Rock and Ice, there it was, beautiful photos of hard core multi pitch climbing in a canyon full of large limestone faces nestled remotely away in the desolate reaches of the desert on the Arizona-Nevada border. Lime Kiln Canyon surprises the hell out of you as you make the transition along a 4x4 road that leads from harsh desert environs into the shady retreats of the canyon where cottonwoods and pine trees pop up among varying drainages and underground water reserves with a “secret” stash of tall (still underdeveloped) limestone faces.
Lime Kiln Canyon, not to be confused with a canyon in California by the same name, is 20 miles due south of Mesquite, Nevada which is not far from the epicenter of climbing in the southwestern US, St. George, UT. Lime Kiln Canyon is part of the Grand Wash Cliffs Wilderness (37,030 acres) managed by the BLM and is just 36 air miles south of St. George proper but of course a lot more difficult to get to by road.
There are two main walls that are being developed in Lime Kiln, the Grail Wall (with at least 7 routes to date) and the Sacred Trust Wall (at least 12 routes to date). There are many more routes than this based on a scouting we did of adjacent walls including some climbs originating in a small slot canyon to the east of the Grail Wall. Secret Tryst is located on the Sacred Trust Wall and was put in by the Garretts in 2007. They left a route register hanging at the base of the 6th pitch. We appeared to be the third signatories of this register. Lime Kiln is quite remote and you should be shocked to see anyone or anything besides a few big horn sheep.
Lime Kiln Canyon can be reached from Mesquite via the Lime Kiln (County 242), Cottonwood (BLM 1027), Grand Wash (BLM 1061) and Grand Gulch (BLM 1050) roads. The Grand Canyon and Lake Mead block access from the south. The Arizona Strip Field Office has a visitor map which shows wilderness areas and roads in detail. The Sacred Trust Wall is unmistakable on the left side of the canyon. There is a small one vehicle pullout on the left (east) side and a decent marked trail takes off from there for the wall to the east. The Grail Wall is harder to see from the road, but is adjacent to Sacred Trust.
Route Description500’+/-, 6 Pitches, 5.11b
1st Pitch- 25m- 5.10b/ No routes have been published in Lime Kiln Canyon as of 2008 therefore outside of rockclimbing.com and what I publish here on summitpost.org, you will be hard pressed to find topos (2008). I have included a topo photo for Secret Tryst and you will need it to find the start. There are two bolted lines side by side, just south of a significant corner and roof system up the middle of Sacred Trust Wall. We climbed both routes, but have yet to identify the one to the right. Secret Tryst has red hangers on the 2nd pitch and a glued rappel ring just off of the deck used for 60m ropes to finish the last rappel. Climb through cool rusted chert up smooth white limestone to a decent belay stance and fixed station.
2nd Pitch- 25m- 5.10c/ The 2nd pitch gets into the red hangers as I recall. Some crux face moves give way to easier ground as you round out to the next belay ledge. You are now real close to a route to the left (that we did not get to on our first outing) that runs up a beautiful corner (but is still bolted???). In fact you could easily switch routes at this point if you wanted to.
3rd Pitch- 30m- 5.11b/ From this point on there are three pitches which all offer about the same difficulty, but the climbing cruxes are completely different in scope. Continue straight up passing a roof fairly easy to the left and then enter a blank area of limestone requiring solid smearing and balancing moves. You reach a solid ledge just below a roof to the left. This is a relatively sustained pitch but easy for the grade in my opinion.
4th Pitch- 25m- 5.11a/ This pitch requires a really unique move off the deck, around the roof to the left and into a blank corner. Hands will be slopy here so look for a friction sequence of sorts before you get good hands again. The most exposed pitch of the day to be sure, and most interesting and exciting as well through its lower section. It eases up midway through and to the finish.
5th Pitch- 15m- 5.9/ A nothing pitch that we combined with the 6th pitch, but that will require skipping some clips on the rightward traverse or back un-clipping to comfortably do this. Continue up the line to a narrow ledge. Traverse out right around a bulge. Here you will find a route register in a large black tube (2008). There is only one glued in bolt for the belay. If you are going to continue up the steep and challenging left facing corner above, unclip the last few bolts to assist with rope drag.
6th Pitch- 25m- 5.10d/ What really makes this pitch so incredibly hard is how brutally sharp the jams are in the corner. The interior walls will rip your hands and arms to shreds if you fall here. Jammies or taped hands are definitely recommended for this pitch. Climb the challenging corner to the top. The last several moves are the most difficult and thus the most painful! This is not a perfect or pleasant crack to be climbing by any measure.