No Start Wall, 5.9-5.12b

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 42.08599°N / 113.71187°W
Activities Activities: Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Sign the Climber's Log


Vertical Turtle, 5.9***
Dow leading Vertical Turtle, 5.9***

Across from the famed (Idaho’s version anyway) Lost Arrow Spire which has a very popular 5.7 climb on it, sits No Start Wall. Despite the boring name, this is actually a significant rock at the City. Its striking vertical south face is almost 200’ tall offering 150’ single pitch routes which is unusual at the City. I got lured into climbing an off-width on this face, aptly named, Vertical Turtle (5.9R***). Vertical because the wall is vertical, turtle because of the slow off-width form of climbing. For some reason, the guidebook author inflated the stars he gave this route (his own) from one star in his last edition to three stars in his 2017 edition guide. It is just a one star route if for nothing else than the quality of rock or lack thereof (my belayer could have filled a bucket with sloughed off debris). There is another moderate on the eastern arête named Pig Arête (5.9**). Decent enough in that if you are already climbing on No Start, it might be worth doing, but again, a single star route at best.

There are two approaches you can use to reach Lost Arrow and No Start wall. My preference is to park at the Flaming Rock trail-head and descend past Flaming Rock and Bumble Rock on their western flanks. Continue on the trail north past Bumble Rock and through a fence heading west and eventually past Lady J on the left and just below Lady J, turn left on a trail cutting back north to in-between No Start Rock and Lost Arrow. Vertical Turtle climbs the right side of a slightly detached pillar on the south face (east end) of No Start. Pig Arete climbs the broad arête at the east end. Their starts are just a few minutes apart. A similar adventurous route in the same league as Vertical Turtle is the Box Top Traverse (5.9***) which is every bit deserving of its three stars. To do that route along with these, park at the Boxtop Trail-head (campsite #10) and descend past Boxtop and make two creek crossings, then turn left on a trail heading for Lost Arrow and No Start, turning right up a trail to reach the climbs.

Route Description (s)

South Face, Routes Listed Left to Right

  • Squeeze Box- 150’-5.10d**/

  • Boss Hog- 50’-5.12b A0*/

  • Vertical Turtle- 150’-5.9R***/There is no reason to do this route in two pitches as the guide suggests, it is easily done in one. From Dave’s previous guide to his current (2017) he has inflated or adjusted grades upwards on at least 20 routes. Regarding Vertical Turtle, he inflated the stars he previous gave his own route from one to three? Interesting enough, the route shows zero sign of traffic. Weeds populate the base and I cleaned buckets full of rock off the route in 2017. Typically City of Rock grades are soft compared to California or Joshua Tree (similar destination) in particular and I normally do not agree with Dave’s grade inflation over time, but this is one example where he appears to be out to sand bag the typical 5.9 trad climber. First of all, Turtle is not deserving of more than one star if for no other reason than due to the quality if the rock. To lead this route appropriately requires doubles from C4#3 through #5 along with a single #6. On top of that, you will still be running out the squeeze chimney atop the pillar and the entire face above that. Versus the run out above, there is an exit option onto Big Pig (5.11a) once you top out on the pillar. Down climb and traverse right into its bolt line and up through three bolts to its fixed anchor. From the start to the top of the pillar, it is strenuous off-width climbing. You will encounter a few fist jams, but most of the size is C4#4. Arm bars were tough to achieve. I found stacked hands the most efficient. Count on heavy breathing and rock with the consistency of paper. Not a three star route to say the least, and I climb and enjoy more off width than most anyone you will run into. Dow

  • Big Pig- 100’-5.11a A0***/

  • Sizzler- 100’-5.12a A0**/

  • Power Pig- 35’-5.12a***/

  • Pig Arête- 100’-5.9**/ At the south end of No Start Wall is an arête climb maybe worth doing if you are in the area but more of a one star vs two as the guide gives it. It is a mixed climb, however I placed little in the way of gear. The first bolt is up on the arête proper. Scramble up and start clipping bolts. You trend left and up the golden features with a few horizontals for gear. This is a short vertical wall, then you make a crux move on top of it via a high step slab and continue clipping bolts to a fixed anchor. Dow

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