The Three Marys are distinct features directly to the north of downtown Springdale, flanking West Temple to the east. Probably the more popular free climb on the Three Marys at this point (2011) is Immaculate Conception
which runs up the left side of the Right Mary. Immaculate Conception was established by Bryan Bird
and Carl Oswald in 2005
and offers three decent pitches of crack climbing out of a total of six. The FAer's left no fixed gear or anchors on the route and there are none as of 2011. In comparison to like graded climbs in Zion, Immaculate Conception is fairly tame for the grade given
(5.10+). Most of the moves are 5.9 or less and half the route goes pretty fast on broken/non sustained terrain.
3rd Pitch- 30m- 5.9
The first pitch is by far the classic of the route
, a continuous hand/finger crack in good rock with face features abound. The fourth pitch is no doubt the crux of the route
due to the nature of the rock and the few intermittent cracks that connect through it. The third pitch is a pleasant off width to hand crack. We placed little gear on the second and fifth pitches and none on the last pitch despite Bryan’s topo showing all those pitches at 5.9. Most of that terrain felt more like 5th class. The view from the summit of Right Mary of the amphitheater made up of West Temple, the Sundial, Altar of Sacrifice and the Meridian Tower is exceptional.
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. Locate a climbers trail on the right that aims for the obvious break in the steep lower cliff band above. Once through the cliff band, make for the left, slightly west facing
, wall of Right Mary. The 5.9/10 first pitch crack is quite obvious and leads to a treed ledge well over 100’ above.
Route Description (s)700’+/-, 6 Pitches, 5.10+
1st Pitch- 40m- 5.10/
Bryan’s topo calls this first pitch 5.10, but it felt more like 5.9. He also has it ending below a significant treed ledge, whereas we ran it to the ledge no worries
. Follow the finger and hand crack placing gear at will. There are plenty of facial features along both sides of the crack.
2nd Pitch- 40m- 5.9/
The only 5.9 portion of this pitch are the first few face moves on solid rock. It is a bit run out from the ledge until you can place a bomber 2” piece in a pocket sized crack. From there, we went straight up mostly 5th class ground to another obvious crack feature and climbed it at a lessor grade to belay in the wall above.
3rd Pitch- 30m- 5.9/
Move the belay to the left and thus the base of an off width base crack in white rock. Make a chimney move or two to reach a hand jam. Jam up the rest of the corner, sometimes fingers, sometimes hands to the top of a notch.
4th Pitch- 35m- 5.10+/
Bryan calls this route 5.10+ and this is the crux pitch
, but by Zion standards, I still did not feel the + part even on this pitch. This is the more suspect rock
however of the entire route. Move the belay down to the other side of the notch. Climb up and right to a flake
. Climb the flake up and back left into a finger crack. I used a lot of small cams to protect this pitch.
Follow this finger crack to a nice dark hand crack above. Ascend the hand crack up to a small ledge below a short wide crack up and left. You can use large or small gear to build your belay on this ledge or continue up and left over the next easy crack to a broader ledge, where your 2nd will be out of view. There is a broken fixed piece of gear (2011) up and right of the first ledge which is not on route.
5th Pitch- 35m- 5.9/
Trend up and left via discontinuous faces with a few climbing moves here and there. Belay where comfortable.
6th Pitch- 45m- 5.9/
I placed no gear on this last pitch and never felt any 5.9 climbing really. Run up the loose ground to the top of the wall and belay off of a tree.
The local I was with walked me off the back (north side) and then we bushwhacked back east to the notch on Right Mary’s eastern shoulder. It looks much more pleasant to just walk up to the summit and descend the eastern ridge to the notch, with minimal down climbing involved. Then descend the notch and circumvent back along a ledge which involves a few down climbing moves to the base of the wall above the southern slopes and hike back to the base of the climb.
Single from C3’s to 4”, double from .4 to 2” was more than adequate for us, however Bryan calls for gear to 6”. Bring a set of nuts to sew it up if you want, however we did not take any. Mix of shoulder length and draws. Helmets as there is plenty of loose rock, it is Zion. Single rope. Biner your shoes for the walk off
. This wall faces a bit west, so the first pitch can be quite cold in the morning hours
, dress accordingly.
External LinksThe Many Free Routes in Zion National Park
Oscar’s Café, the only place for climbers to truly fill their appetite (free range chicken, beef and Hank’s Tanker) and meet one of the finer climbers and individuals I know on the face of the earth, Zach Lee, someone who has established many of his own local FA’s in the area.
Zion National Park
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