Mrs. Butterworth (aka Aunt Jemima) is the most prominent spire of Eagle Crags located on BLM land
on the southwestern outskirts of Zion National Park. Aptly named as it resembles the syrup bottle
, Mrs. Butterworth offers a lengthy approach (by Zion standards) along with an entertaining 5.9 three pitch route on its west side (backside of the bottle). Finding the start of this route can be quite the challenge. It took me two trips as I climbed the wrong route in 2004. And in 2005, it took quite a debate to find the start of the proper route which is equipped with four rappel stations that are not in view from the ground.
Mrs. Butterworth is definitely a local’s choice. And as I pointed out with Island in the Sky
most climbers focus in Zion National Park, thus, a good chance of solitude at Eagle Crags. There are sure to be other routes on Mrs. Butterworth, I invented one myself in 2004 (too much loose rock). But the only one I recommend and/or has any stations is the three pitch 5.9 on the “Backside”.
You will not find much, if any beta on line or in guide books. The view during the climb and from the summit down Parunuweap Canyon and over to the Watchman are remarkable.
An interesting phenomena occurred in 2005 on this route. While my partners and I were out onto the wall after finishing the first pitch, a large swarm of bees flew between Mrs. Butterworth and the next Eagle Crag to the west, burrowing there way into the other crag.
As the swarm noise intensified, it was quite startling and no doubt became a surreal moment for all three of us. Just prior to that, one of the team jokingly swore he smelled the aroma of syrup. I visualized the potential headline it the Utah newspapers: “Climbers attacked by killer bees while climbing Mrs. Butterworth!”
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior, administers 261 million surface acres of America's public lands, located primarily in 12 Western States. Eagle Crags is in the Canaan Mountain BLM inventory units. These units contain four major BLM listed habitat types for wildlife: pinyon pine and juniper country, riparian habitat, open sage lands, and cliffsides (including Vermillion Cliffs). Mammals found in the units include the spotted bat, desert shrew, cougar, cottontail rabbit, and the ringtail cat. A variety of birds also live in the area including mourning doves, Lewis’s woodpecker, canyon wren, and several species of raptors, including the golden eagle and the endangered peregrine falcon
which nests along Vermillion Cliffs. And of course plenty of reptiles roam the landscape.
From Rockville, UT, turn south on 200E and cross the bridge due south until the road turns right and then turn left onto a dirt road that winds its way past several homesteads. This narrow dirt and gravel road moves up the canyon. As you continue, it becomes more of an all terrain dirt road. In the winter, it remains wet and impassable at times. The trailhead is not well marked. As the road turns east, there will be different pullouts on the right. Pulling off this road is where you want to access the Eagle Crags Trail. It is not a well marked trailhead, but becomes a definitive single track once you are on it. Eagle Crags and Mrs. Butterworth are in clear view to the south and you want to aim for the left hand col which is where the trail crests and descends to the south.
- No permits are required to climb on BLM land. My favorite place for dinner in Springdale is the outdoor patio at Oscars. It also appears to be the local’s favorite. I eat there so damn often (every night when I am there), I get the locals discount. Most of the staff is into climbing as well, so it is a great place to plan your next climbing day and maybe even pick up a partner. Ask for Zach. The Mean Bean across from Oscars is one of my favorite independent coffee houses period. Ask for Joe.
When To Climb
The climbing is good all year round with the exception of daytime during the summer months. If you are climbing anywhere in southwestern Utah during the summer months, you more than likely better get up early and finish your climb early. The walls get brutally hot.
Springdale has tons of lodging options including a privately owned campground right before the entrance to Zion National Park
. There are great campsites in Zion. We stayed at the South Campground just inside the gates. We found a great spot on the North Fork of the Virgin River. This is a first come, first serve campground via self registration. This is a popular park however and I advise booking a site ahead of time at Watchman Campground
if you think you are going during a popular period. If you demand the luxuries of town, I recommend Majestic View Lodge
. I have stayed here on several occasions and the rooms are first class with direct views of Eagle Crags and Mrs. Butterworth.
The Zion National Park
websites have everything you need including trail conditions or closures, wildlife notices, weather conditions, camping permits, canyon water levels, etc.