Prophesy Wall, along with Solstice Wall
down in Woodbury Road Crags
, is one of the finer “moderate”
sport walls in or near St. George and Zion National Park. In terms of multi-pitch, it offers some of the better “moderate” sport routes anywhere in southern Utah. I have done the most challenging route at Prophesy, Harbingers, 5.11b, and that is something I will never be able to say about Chuckawalla or many of the other local crags in and around Zion and St. George that include 5.13’s in their portfolio.
At an elevation of 4200’+/- and northwest facing, Prophesy Wall is one of the better places to escape the desert heat during spring and summer months. The steep cliffs are a full 60 meters tall at the steepest sections, thus allowing multi-pitch set ups using buttresses and corners. Like a lot of other areas in and around St. George, Chuckawalla Wall, Green Valley Gap, Black Rocks, Bluff Street Cracks, Woodbury Crags and Utah Hills, Prophesy Wall was developed relatively late, during the mid 1990’s. Prophesy Wall offers a much more private experience than the sometimes cluttered sport crags closer to town.
There are 24 routes featured in Todd Goss’s new edition guide book, “Rock Climbs in Southwest Utah”, with 17 of them being multi-pitch. Most routes are bolted, but some gear is required either for stations or mixed protection. Double ropes are highly advised as well to avoid multiple rappels or having to walk off many of the routes. Compared to ratings on other local walls, we found the grades to be somewhat relaxed. The rock quality is typical of the area, some routes seem bomber, others are falling off in your hands. The right (west) side sees a lot of traffic as it has several of the better training multi-pitch routes anywhere, i.e. Sticky Revelations, 5.10a. Harbingers, 5.11b, towards the middle right is in great shape, but some of the routes, i.e. Harsh Reality, 5.9, in between these two sections are quite loose.
The Routes are Left to Right, East to West
- Seer Stone - 35’- 5.3/
- Softscrub- 45’- 5.7TR/
- Elizabeth Blue Moss - 55’- 5.9/ Todd is right when he says "don't let clients name a route", so why did he here? She must have had some special influence. Actually not a bad climb for being on the left side where the rock is usually not so special. Again, like several of his routes on Prophesy, starts out easy, looks easy and just when you are wondering where the 5.9 comes from, you run out of any hands and have a knee in the chest balancing mantel to pull off before you can reach the chains. This is a short route by Prophesy Wall standards. 5 bolts to chains.
- Non-Technical Church Socks- 60’- 5.8/ Not a huge fan of this one, but then it was hailing on me during a trad lead climb with dust devils slamming into the wall every few minutes. Pro is a little funky, I kind of ran it out myself, real uneven and large, I don't normally bang around with a #5 camelot, but suppose you could use one here. As the cool name implies, not overly difficult, just a little run out. Medium to large pro to anchor under roof.
- Wooden Hammer – 3 Pitches- 5.8/ A dirty route that rarely gets climbed. Some real precarious varnish you must rely on to pull yourself out of two separate chimneys that are fractured. Horned owls use the upper chimney as their dining room, tons of skeletal remains of rodents, etc. The first pitch starts out with two bolts and then the rest of the route is trad. There are two distinct chimneys, make your way through the first one by protecting really deep with large gear and then having to come out onto suspect holds to reach the next chimney. The 2nd chimney is a squeeze play up to suspect holds again to pull yourself up and over onto easier ground. The third pitch can be combined with this second pitch. Once you top out, you can traverse west to a set of chains, about 15 meters. There will be another set of chains half way down on top of an arch.
- Ship of Fools- 140’- 5.10b/
- Whatever Happens… Happens – 90’- 5.9/ Surprisingly nice route. I had done the Roofs of Jericho two days earlier and looked over at this route and thought it was another soft rating by Todd on Prophesy. But it is a long steep route that gives you two 5.9 moves towards the finish, both kind of overhanging type stuff where you have to trust heavily on some precarious varnish. Although it is well bolted, a fall on this kind of stuff will take some skin with it. This is a long route moving over the left hand side of the arch to a rap chain. The rap below the arch is not for this route. 11 bolts to anchor.
- The Roofs of Jericho- 2 Pitches- 5.10c/ A fantastic sport route at Prophesy Wall that pulls a roof on top of a distinctive arch. Start right of the dihedral that has the fun face route, Whatever Happens...Happens on it. The first 80' goes at 5.9 on varnish edges and then you come to the 5.10c move, pulling the roof (95' through 11 bolts. The 2nd pitch is 65' through a much smaller roof to chains. You can rap the route with a 60m rope.
- Grumpy Old Men – 2 Pitches- 5.10b/ On most occasions Goss will have more pitches built into his routes than necessary (I think he is into making them sound like bigger ideas than they really are), but Grumpy Old Men should in fact be done in two pitches. We had a 70m rope and my wife did not want to pull the roof on second, thus I lowered her to the ground for the belay which created quite the rope drag when I continued on as one super long pitch (220’).
- Misfit Prophets- 3 Pitches- 5.10c/ My recommendation is to combine Misfit Prophets, Lunatic Cry, Secrets of Fatima and Grumpy Old Men for a full day of climbing in the mid 5.10 range. All four routes can be located together in the middle of the wall. Lunatic Cry is the only route requiring trad gear, the other three are fully bolted. As is many times the case, Goss has more pitches built into his routes than necessary and Misfit is no exception. Misfit Prophets is best done as two pitches versus the three he has outlined in his guide book.
- Lunatic Cry – 3 Pitches- 5.10/
- The Secrets of Fatima- 2 Pitches- 5.10c/ Todd’s notes indicate that both pitches of Secrets of Fatima are 5.10c and that the second pitch is the crux of the climb. However, a couple who climbed the route before us and had rapped back down Misfit Prophets told us they thought the first pitch was the crux. After climbing the route we concurred. However, the second lead is a long and sustained one just the same.
- Past Lives – 3 Pitches- 5.9/ I turned this into two pitches. 20+/- bolts. This can be a little cold in the morning. Seemed much lighter than a 5.9 I thought. Nice varnished (darker) pockets and edges. Crux is in 2nd pitch, not so bad, little airy out on a minor arête to the left of sorts. You can rap it with double ropes, otherwise a walk off. When rapping, a horned owl came out of her nest and spun me around. I would have never climbed this route if I knew she was there. Please avoid this route March-April. A raven tried to steal the eggs and was almost successful. She finally came back to them. (neat photos of the nest and eggs)
- Harbingers- 2 Pitches- 5.11b/ Definitely the best route at Prophesy Wall and most challenging. Beautiful solid arête following a tower up the left side of the middle routes of Prophesy Wall. The first pitch is the same for Conditional Bliss and Caging the Zealot. Then turn left to the base of the tower. Take on an overhanging face just right of the arête and turn out onto it for easier moves up to the crux final which is a wild move, no feet, back right to the overhanging anchor. 60’ on six bolts. (cool photos)
- Conditional Bliss – 130’- 5.10a/ Shares the same first four bolts of Caging the Zealot and Harbingers, then stay on the wall and follow the left most line. Seemed easy for a 5.10a. Solid varnished edges past 11 bolts to chains. Double 60’s get you to the ground, otherwise, 2 raps with a mid station. (photos)
- Caging the Zealot- 2 Pitches- 5.10b/ Shares the same first four bolts or so with Conditional Bliss, but then take the right fork. Solid varnish edges past 15 bolts to chains. Double 60’s get you to the ground, otherwise, 2 raps with a mid station. (photos)
- Harsh Reality – 2 Pitches- 5.9/ I don’t recommend this one, more of the loose whitish rock, that is why routes further right have not been developed. A solid hold came off on me turning the small roof crux. If you are going to do it, I recommend using long runners and combine the pitches (155’). Once you get over the roof, make sure to start tracking back right to avoid the loose corner straight above. 17 bolts to rap anchor, double 60’s get you down. (photos)
- The Visionaries- 2 Pitches- 5.10c/ Visionaries and the three possible add ons (unpublished) make for a real nice morning run on Prophecy. So much better rock then the middle of the wall. Decent route, but no 5.10c, don't know where Todd came up with that rating on that last pitch. Watch out for the rattle under the rap chains on top.
- Gordian Knot- 2 Pitches- 5.9R/
- Sticky Revelations – 3 Pitches- 5.10a/ First pitch is a very easy 5.7 to a substantial belay ledge to the right of a big trad corner. Then traverse out right for the start of the 2nd pitch which is a blast 5.8 up a crack and over a flake. We combined these last two pitches, so 12 bolts to the top of Prophesy Wall after the 1st pitch. Two raps with double 60m ropes, three otherwise. The crux 5.10 move is left over a hollow flake towards the top. Fun route, good training one. Kind of a busy section of Prophesy Wall on weekends though. (photos)
- The Exodus Variation- 3 Pitches- 5.8/ This bolted 5.3 escape to the east of the top of Sticky Revelation's 2nd pitch or Book of Prophesy reduces the overall route down to 5.8. Not worth doing (you have rap chains at the top of the 2nd pitch options) unless you want to check out The Visionaires, 5.10c on rappel.
- The Book of Prophesy Variation- 3 Pitches- 5.8/ Buying into this variation allows you to mix it up with a great trad corner-crack that leads to the same location as the 2nd pitch of Sticky Revelations. Traverse left from whichever route you chose for pitch 1 on a substantial ledge into the corner. There is a belay/rappel station located here. The corner is easy to protect, but Todd references small to medium pro, when in reality, you can place your #5 Camelot perfectly in a place where you would want it. On the contributing route photo, I show where that is. Since I did not bring my #5, I placed my #4 in a spot where it probably would not hold making the top of the route somewhat run out. This is a great pitch for training trad leading because you must place two small nuts as well as at least one TCU along with your Camelot’s. The crux is early and then face features to the right start to appear making the pitch go at 5.8. You will pass one bolt further up as you enter the white band of rock which is not worth protecting. This section is a little run out. You have a station directly above for the continuation of Sticky Revelations or you can go left to a station on a large ledge for the Exodus Variation.
- All Decked Out- 3 Pitches- 5.8/ A sustained 70’ of 5.8 edging on solid varnish. Todd Goss’s “Rock Climbs of Southwest Utah” is out of date regarding “All Decked Out”. He labeled it R/X and “a lesson on how not to bolt a sport route”. Somebody, probably Todd, has bolted it straight up since, 9 bolts to anchor. Tiny roof mantle in between.
- Interview with a Psychopath- 5.8/
Essential GearDouble 60m ropes will serve you much better on Prophesy Wall than a single, otherwise you will be walking off and doing double raps where one would do. Most of these routes are 2-3 pitches long and bolted complete, but some are mixed and a few are pure trad. The approach is no biggie, so you might want to just bring your gear bag. If you load up on draws, like 15-20 between partners, then you will be able to combine quite a few of the pitches if utilizing proper double rope management on lead. Remember, you are several thousand feet higher than St. George, so if you are visiting Prophesy Wall in the winter, bring a decent jacket. Some of these routes are still quite loose. My partner ran for his helmet on one of my leads as a hand hold broke loose. Helmets are never a bad idea.
Getting ThereDrive north of St. George on Bluff Street which is State Highway 18. Stay in the right lane as you exit town. Continue north past Snow Canyon on the left to mile marker 18. Turn left onto a gravel road and drive past the Upper Sand Cove Water Reservoir on your right. Prophesy Wall is obvious to your left. You can turn down one of two roads on your left and drive to a large above ground reservoir pipe. There is a decent trail that leads to the right side. If possible, try and find existing trails that venture to the left routes versus making your own.
Red TapeThe BLM manages nearly 22.9 million acres of public lands in Utah, representing about 42 percent of the state. The regulations regarding most BLM land are fairly wide open compared to State and Federal parks. It appears you can camp and climb in this area at will. Pit fires are highly discouraged if not illegal. Like most of the rock back in the St. George area, you should not climb at Prophesy Wall within 24 hours of any rain.
My favorite place for dinner is the sushi bar at Samurai, 245 Red Cliffs Drive, St. George. The best breakfast and coffee can be had on Bluff Street at Jazzy Java. Great owner, solid espresso, free internet and huge omelet breakfasts for under $6 (2007). The Outdoor Outlet is one of my favorite independent climbing stores anywhere. They know the climbing area well and have a great selection of gear at competitive prices. St. George is the place to center your self for climbing at Prophesy Wall.
When to ClimbUtah Hills and Prophesy Wall offer better rock than most of the crags in and around St. George proper, but are at considerably higher elevations. Climbing in the winter can definitely be too cold. But of course that means they are great escapes from the searing heat in the summer. I consider the season for Prophesy to be year around for the most part. 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 can get brutally hot.
Camping/LodgingThere are three campgrounds within the city limits of St. George none of which I have experienced. Temple View RV Resort at 975 South Main Street; Settlers RV Park at 1333 East 100 South; St. George Campground at 2100 East Middleton Drive.
Of course my druthers would be to stay at the campground in Snow Canyon State Park. This has to be one of the finest State campgrounds anywhere with direct access to tons of climbing routes. The campground is open all year, no holiday closures. There is a limit on your stay of 5 days. They have 33 total units, 17 of which are reserved for the big boys (RV’s) with utility hookups. The tent sites were $14 in 2005. Drinking water is available on site along with vault toilets and even showers. The running/hiking/equestrian trail system is pretty cool and as long as you don’t run into the occasional Segway group, the whole park is usually very quiet, particularly during winter months.
External LinksOther useful sites beside the BLM site include the weather forecast.