Dow on Phi Slamma Jamma, 5.11d
The best collection of splitters in Capitol Reef National Park is without question Basketball Wall
. You will not find this many perfect splitters in close proximity anywhere else in the park. Capitol Gorge, for example, is much more spread out. Four have been published and several others have fixed anchors. The four published routes are all outstanding true splitters, each almost 100’ in height. All four are published in the Falcon Guide and Desert Rock. The best of these outstanding four is Phi Slamma Jamma, 5.11d
. Phi is listed as 5.11d in the Falcon Guide and 5.11+ in Desert Rock. Ruckman and Cornacchione established all four routes in 1993
Dow on White Boys Can't Jam, 5.10a
In order of difficulty, White Boys Can’t Jump (5.10a) could easily be 5.9 in Zion. I thought Bench Warmer (5.10a), even though it used a corner for sections, was more technical than White Boys. Followed by Foul Line (5.11c) and Phi Slamma Jamma (5.11d). There was at least one more mixed with these four that I spied an anchor on, but did not climb, that looked 5.9 from below.
Basketball Wall is the high butte located approximately five miles
from the visitor center towering over the scenic drive road. You will notice that heading straight for the wall looks precarious at best. There is no established trail of any consequence but we found a fairly mellow ascent and made short work of it. Park below the very north end. Look to gain a red ridge line coming in from the north. When it hits the lower rock band which is the main impediment to accessing the main wall, traverse right to any number of short 5th class break-throughs (albeit chossy). Once through this crux on the approach, continue to angle up and right using an obvious semi-detached tower located in the beta photo above as your target. Most of the routes are to the left of this tower, Phi Slamma Jamma is to the right. Basketball Wall's independence from the cliff becomes more apparent when you are walking along its base. It provides great shade (west facing) in May/June until early afternoon. It is a great position in terms of views and easy to traverse back and forth along the wall.
Route Description(s)Routes Listed Left to Right (north to south) as you Face the Wall
Dow on Bench Warmer, 5.10aBench Warmer- 90’-5.10a*/The more technical lead compared to its brethren White Boys. A fun, mostly hands, slightly right facing corner requiring a few interesting moves. There is a slight bulge in the middle that is the crux. Near the end, you can stem against the left wall. Fixed rap is visible from below. I would rack single C4#.5 to #3. Double #.75 to #2’s. Dow
White Boys Can’t Jam- 85’-5.10a*/ Outstanding straight in hands splitter reminiscent of the first pitch of the Headache in Zion (except longer). This is the easier of the recommended pair of 5.10a’s (would be 5.9 in Zion). Just jam your way to the visible anchor. I only had two C4#2’s on me and zero #3’s and had it run out. I would rack triple #2’s and single #3 and #1. Dow
Foul Line- 90’-5.11c*/
Phi Slamma Jamma- 100’-5.11d*/ Rated in the Desert Rock guide at 5.11+ and the Falcon Guide for Utah at 5.11d. A Mountain Project poster stated “maybe the best splitter at its grade at Capitol Reef”. In reality it is probably the best splitter in Capitol Reef period. It begins as a laser straight, finger/ring-lock crack and turns to vertical hands for the second half of a full 100’ of climbing. The crux is deceiving. Ring locks are hard to hold in this soft sandstone. The dust is so fine in the crack that any finger or ring lock has the propensity to slip. Because the initial 20’-30’ is so even (the cracks edges are flush, not off-set) it is hard to get much traction with your toes. However a few small hand pods show up just in time and the splitter does eventually turn to hands for a fantastic reward finish. The very last move is a bit awkward up a flare with deep in hands. The fixed anchor is up on the left wall above a ledge. Triple C4 #.75’s, single #1 and triple #2’s is what I would rack if I did it again. Dow