Kelly’s Rock was the last of three Woodbury Road crags
that Stacy and I climbed. The whole idea of Woodbury Road climbing could be summed up with one word, solitude
. Whenever I have climbed at Solstice Wall
or Black and Tan Wall, I and my partner(s) have been the only humans within sight or sound for miles in all directions. Kelly’s Rock was no exception. Although Solstice Wall is one of the best winter destinations in or around the St. George
area, Kelly’s Rock, not unlike Black and Tan Wall, remains shaded for much of the winter
, making it a better Spring-Fall destination. We climbed in October and experienced ideal shaded conditions.
Black and Tan Wall and Kelly’s Rock were mostly developed during the mid 90’s. Since Todd Goss’s 2nd edition of “Rock Climbs of Southwestern Utah” published in 2006, even more routes have been added on the east section of Kelly’s Rock. Similar to Utah Hills
above it, Kelly’s Rock is solid limestone, a nice break from the precarious sandstone at lower elevations. Kelly’s Rock lies adjacent to a desert wash, thus its limestone has been more influenced by water than Solstice Wall which displays the very sticky Kaibab variety. Kelly’s Rock is made up of a variety of water runnels, but the texture is still quite adhesive and is definitely easier to climb than sandstone.
The approach for Kelly’s Rock is short and utilizes the same parking area next to a large Joshua tree (photo) that is used for Black and Tan Wall. Just cross the road to the northeast and follow the wash back into the wall. Kelly’s Rock is within the Woodbury Desert Study Area, a 3,040-acre community of creosote bush, Joshua trees, bursage, and pinyon-juniper that has been closed to grazing and is returning to its natural state. The Woodbury Study served as the first ecological study of the endangered desert tortoise. Part of the largest stand of Joshua trees in the northern extent of their range is found here but it is evident that a recent fire (2007) has taken its toll on this unique vegetation. This whole area is part of the Joshua Tree unit of BLM’s Utah wilderness inventory.
Kelly’s Rock has 23 published sport routes as of 2007 in addition to several new unpublished routes. The crag is mostly shaded in the fall and winter and in my opinion would be too cold for winter climbing, but was fantastic in October. As before mentioned, the limestone is solid and sticky water runnel type formation. I found the routes on the easy side for the grade.
Route Description(s)The Routes are Left to Right as you Face each Wall
- K-1- 40’- 5.10a/ A fascinating route for the area. Kind of a hard roof pull through sharp limestone. This whole north wall is full of water runnels, so there is plenty to grab on to. This route is definitely an anti-gravity play. Four bolts to anchor.
- Wet My Whistle-60’- 5.8/ Edges and large jug holds through six bolts to anchors. Very non-descript. Not worth the effort in my opinion.
- The Awakening-40’- 5.9/ There are two unpublished routes between “Wet My Whistle and “The Awakening”. They appear no more difficult than “Wet My Whistle”. The Awakening is a fun route, easy for the grade I thought, up the left side of a limestone pillar past five bolts to anchors.
- K-3-40’- 5.9/ This route is a little run out, but you can stay left to make it easier. Three bolts to chains.
- Topless Vegetables-65’- 5.9/ the first route on the East Wall that starts a large slab area. Steep slab, but easy moves for the grade to more water runnels. Eight bolts to anchor.
- K-4-50’- 5.11b/
- K-5-50’- 5.10b/
- Tag Team-60’- 5.10c/
- K-6-50’- 5.11b/
- K-7-55’- 5.12d/
- Another Day at the Office-80’- 5.12c/
- K-8-60’- 5.11b/
- The Hookup- 60’-5.10c/
- K-9-55’- 5.12b/
- Czech Frogs Say Qua-70’- 5.11c/
- Rending of Garments-70’- 5.10a/
- Gnashing of Teeth-65’- 5.10b/
- Zealot-40’- 5.12c/
- Just This-75’- 5.13a/
- Hubris-80’- 5.11a/
- The Heeler-60’- 5.12c/
- Mayhem-60’- 5.12b/
- Long Way to Redemption- 5.11b/
Getting ThereDrive west out of St. George and through Santa Clara on Sunset Blvd approximately 11 miles to the Gunlock turnoff intersection. Stay left on old route 91 for another 14 miles plus. As you are descending towards AZ and NV, look for the BLM Woodbury Desert Study Area sign on the left. Drive 3.2 miles down the dusty road across several washes and cattle guards to a large Joshua tree on your right. Black and Tan Wall is the large wall to the right. Walk back up the road a bit and access a trail that heads northeast. Circumvent into a wash and Kelly’s Rock is the large wall in front of you with a cave to the left. The East Wall shorter routes are around the corner to the left. It is imperative that you stay on the existing trails (hard to determine at times) to avoid damage to the desert terrain, damage that can last for much longer relative to other environs.
Essential GearOne 60 meter rope should do you, there no routes over 100’. All Kelly’s Rock routes are sport with fixed stations. I believe Paragon guiding comes out here and probably maintains the wall. Bring a dozen draws.
- Paragon Guiding
- DowClimbing.Com Woodbury Road Crags
- Southern Utah Climber’s Coalition
- Outdoor Outlet