One of the warmest spots to climb in all of Zion National Park is the south face of the Right Mary. The Three Marys are located above the town of Springdale to the right of West Temple. The steep approach up the loose sandy hill side provides a nice warm up during cold winter days. The approach is easily accessed from the Tanner Amphitheatre’s parking lot (thus the name of this route).
As of 2011 most folks have focused on just one route on the Right Mary, Immaculate Conception (5.10). However, I consider Theatre Goddess a better climb. It offered three interesting 5.10 pitches, one of which is a full 200’. Immaculate offers two decent pitches and one of those is on suspect rock. The pro and rock on Theatre Goddess is relatively solid and if it got climbed a few more times (we might have been the 2nd ascent) it would get cleaned up fairly quickly.
Bryan Bird established Theatre Goddess in 2009. The first pitch is an easy pitch (relative to the grade given the route) that starts way left of the main corner/dihedral that makes up the majority of Theatre Goddess. The second pitch follows a good crack system straight up into and stemming through a large roof in the lower dihedral. The third pitch offers three separate climbing disciplines in 200’ of climbing. It starts off with a fun hand crack for about 30’+/-. Then a full on chimney experience with great rock and a tight squeeze through the top. The FAer’s might have belayed a pitch here. I chose to continue up and through a fun finger/hand crack pulling the next roof above to a comfortable belay ledge. The fourth pitch involved a fun 50’ section of off-width in stellar rock. Once in the off-width I faced left the whole way and found it fun and challenging climbing. We scrambled the rest of the route to the upper right shoulder of Right Mary where we put away the rope and changed out shoes. From the shoulder, you can scramble all the way down into the descent gully without rapping if you carefully pick your way through the brush, cactus and loose sand.
Drive down the paved road (Lion Avenue) toward the Dixie State College Tanner Amphitheater. Park before the gate and hike in along the road to the amphitheater itself. Right before the amphitheater locate a climbers trail on the right that drops down into a wash and then aims for the obvious break in the steep lower cliff band above and slightly to the west. The trail is rarely used and can be faint, but there are a few cairns along the way (2011). Once through the cliff band, make straight for the base of Right Mary. Theatre Goddess starts way off left from the huge corner/dihedral (three topo photos included) and angles back right until at the end of the second pitch, you are in the dihedral that you then simply follow to the top right shoulder of Right Mary.
Route Description700’+/-, 6 Pitches, 5.10
1st Pitch- 40m- 5.8/ Start in the very right corner of the prominent pillar in front of Right Mary. Follow the right trending crack away from the corner. The traverse move from the corner into this crack might be a 5.8+ move, otherwise, most of the climbing on this pitch feels more casual. I chose to move beyond the tree (100’) extending this first pitch up and right to belay at the base of pitch two, a crack system that runs up to the roof above (place a rock over a cactus to avoid running your rope through it and remember to ask the 2nd to uncover it). The rock at the base of this crack system is quite chossy and thus solid pro is at a premium. It might be best to stop at the tree, your choice.
2nd Pitch- 50m- 5.10/ This pitch will be closer to a full 60m if belaying from the tree. Follow the nice crack system straight up the wall. Most of the climbing is 5.9 or less. The crux of this pitch involves a few stemming moves through the left end of the roof above. There is a comfortable gear belay at the base of a nice 30’ hand crack once you pull the left corner of the roof.
3rd Pitch- 60m- 5.10/ This is the best pitch of the day. The FAer’s might have easily had this pitch divided into two. I enjoyed leading it in one. The first 30’ is straight up a corner hand crack, 5.8-5.9. Then move into the base of a chimney (Epinephrine quality!) and climb to the top of the chimney, squeezing out left (a #6 C4 protects the squeeze section) to the top of the chimney. I continued this pitch up another 30’ section involving a finger crack that turned to hands to pull a small roof. A comfortable medium gear belay waits above.
4th-6th Pitches- 5.10/ The 4th pitch highlight is a fun 50’ off-width section in good rock. I faced left the whole time and found it went fairly well. You will appreciate your large gear on this pitch. Easy climbing awaits above the off-width. We changed out shoes here and scrambled up 5th class to the very right shoulder of Right Mary. You can angle back left if you want to summit Right Mary and then work your way down to the col to the east. If you want to return from the shoulder, you can just drop almost straight down into the gully. You definitely need to pick your way through a few ramps full of brush, cactus, sand and loose rocks.
DescentDescend the gully. Stay center as much as possible to avoid cliffing out on the right or left. Eventually you will need to down climb a few spots. One with a tree and then another to a traverse point where it is an obvious cliff-out if you continued straight below. Traverse skier’s right to the wall and follow the wall back down to the base of Right Mary. Turn right to head back to the base of the route.
trail conditions or closures, wildlife notices/closures, weather conditions, camping permits, canyon water levels, etc.