Voodoo Rooves is labeled as “old school” by Bryan Bird in his local guidebook, “Zion Climbing, Free and Clean”. He follows with additional comments like “expect wild climbing with large pro”. I concur. What made the route even more adventurous for us was that it became evident that Bryan and/or whoever he had extracted the beta from for the guidebook had never climbed the final pitch. It was the only pitch he failed to give a grade to on his topo and just mentioned “10” squeeze chimney”. Well of course 10” is not much of a chimney, but rather a tough sized off-width if no features are present. And of course being a typical adventure climb in Zion, this was an unprotected pitch at that with the gear call given. Once back to the safety of Oscars, I confirmed that few locals ever repeat the final two pitches.
Randy Cert and Wesley Krause established Voodoo Rooves in 1977. It is actually a rather aesthetic climb fairly close to the Angels Landing trail, but sees few ascents. The gear call on the topo might have something to do with that, (doubles to 6”, extra 5”). We found firsthand that yes, you really do want two sixes and three fives as the guide book suggests. And an extra 4” would have come in handy on the second pitch as well. Of course with this huge rack, you still cannot protect the final portion of the climb, the 10” off width which is the crux of the route in my opinion, unless of course you brought a big bro for that size. The fixed gear on this route, the fixed rappels and few bolts on the first and last pitches, are in serious need of replacing.
The first pitch is rated old school 5.9+ and is quite spicy for the grade. It requires traversing from left to right, crack to crack, and involves several heads up moves. The second pitch pulls a huge roof setting you up for a hanging belay above same. The setting of this pitch is spectacular and although the rock quality of the roof itself left something to be desired, the moves were fantastical. The third pitch is a consistent 5” inch crack in the best rock of the route, a heavily varnished short corner. It pulls a small roof to easier ground and a ledge belay with bad fixed gear. The fourth pitch is an easy and fun 5.7R chimney on decent rock to a slightly better fixed belay (and thus better rap option) on another ledge. The final pitch offers up the crux of the climb, the 10” off width finish which is dirty and lacking in features. You can get one heel to toe going, but the facial features helping you up the vertical off-width are lacking.
Get off the bus or park at the Grotto as though you are going to Angels Landing. Cross the bridge and turn right onto the Angels Landing trail. Continue until almost at the steep switchbacks heading up to Angels Landing. The steep wall above is actually a lower flank of Cathedral Mountain. The largest feature on this wall is a significant roof about 200’ off the deck which is the roof of the second pitch of Voodoo Rooves. This route is rarely climbed and there is no climber’s trail through the thick brush to the base of the wall. Instead, it is better to locate a drainage about 40 yards or so to the left. Several 5th class scrambling moves gain the base of the wall via this drainage. Then follow the wall right to a tree at the base of the climb. Start in the hand sized flake/crack on the left below the roof.
Route Description (s)500’+/-, 5 Pitches, 5.10+
1st Pitch- 30m- 5.9+/ This is an old Zion 5.9 rating. Follow the hand crack up the flake/crack on the left. Traverse right when obvious to the next crack. Move right again, perhaps the crux of the pitch, when that crack fizzles. A couple of old bolts show up, one on the traverse and one higher up in the third crack over. Ascend this steep crack making another hard move for the grade before reaching the belay pod with an old/unreliable fixed chain anchor (2011).
2nd Pitch- 20m- 5.10/ Perhaps the most interesting lead on the route. Stem up the chimney until below the roof. You can place a 4” through here, but I advise keeping both on you for the start of the roof itself. The roof looks daunting, but you will find feet pretty much the whole way. The hand holds are dirty and less inspiring. As you traverse right below the roof, you can eventually place a bomber 5” piece. Pull the roof with a great jug just below the fixed belay above. You can back up this fixed belay with another 5” and replace it with a 4” to give the next lead all the 5” pieces.
3rd Pitch- 25m- 5.10/ Move up the stellar varnished 5” crack. Even if you have two 5” pieces, you might want to walk one a bit. When the going gets a little tough, small finger ledges show up on the left face. Towards the top, place a 6” before pulling the roof. Then up easier ground to the fixed belay ledge. Use your other 6” to back this belay up or set up an independent gear belay as this old fixed belay is not trustworthy for rappel or belay (2011).
4th Pitch- 25m- 5.7R/This pitch is a very pleasant chimney via good rock. I placed one piece low and just ran it out to the next comfortable belay ledge where the fixed station is slightly better than the previous one.
5th Pitch- 35m- 5.10+/ Who knows what the real grade is on this pitch. It has 30’ of extreme burly off width. No grade was placed on the topo and few have ever repeated these last two pitches. Run up the easy chimney to an old bolt (2011) on the left wall at the base of the 10” crack. Face left (the most featured and better rock) and start to heel to toe your right foot shimmying up best you can. We took no big bros as the guide book and topo neither called for them, but you are advised to take one of the appropriate size to accommodate this section. Run out the climbing as some small features start to show up out left. The rock quality is not great, but better than the wall behind you. Eventually you can get a sandy grip up and left and turn around to get a better hold up and right. Mantle out of the crack onto easy ground. Belay from a tree up and left. The rappel tree is up and right across loose and bushy ground.
DescentThere is a mid-sized tree to climber’s right. Rap off this tree heading skier’s right, but stay out of the crack you just ascended. Watch for a cacti and loose blocks and lay the rap line carefully. Take a double rope rap back to the top of the 4th pitch. This is the better of the 3rd and 4th pitch anchors. Take a 60m double rope rap back to the top of the second pitch. We backed up this rap with a .5 inch and a very long sling for the first to rappel. Take a 60m double rope rap to the ground from the top of the 2nd pitch. This anchor is better than any of the others, but again not a bad idea to back it up for the first to rappel. It can be backed up with a 5” or 4” piece. Descend back to the Angels Landing trail via the mini-canyon by removing your packs and handing them down at a few steps along the way.
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