Dow starting the first rap off of Steinfell
and its smaller sibling Jackson’s Thumb
offer the best sport multi-pitch beginner routes in all of Idaho and Utah. You even have to gain several hundred feet on approach, away from the main park, that gives it a bit of an alpine feel. By far the two most popular routes on these features is Sinocranium (5.8***) and Theatre of Shadows (5.7***).
Both are soft at the grade compared to most anywhere else in the country. If Sinocranium has a move above 5.6, it is somewhere in its final pitch which is a bolted corner, but is steeper terrain than any of the slab pitches leading up to it. The guide mentions 4-6 pitches for this route, but many simul climb the whole route or solo it and I am sure some might do it in 2 or 3 pitches as well. The rap is off the east side, two quick raps then a walk around.
Crux pitch on Sinocranium
I soloed Theatre of Shadows on my first trip up there by climbing Old School, New School (5.7R**)
to the left so I could bypass a party on the first pitch. Again you can pitch it out in 4 pitches or simul climb or solo. Difficult to find any moves at the grade, most would be mid-5th. Old School, New School has a bit of moss on it and is a little steeper if you are looking for a more adventuress lead or solo. I do not recall any bolts on it whatsoever, so you would need a few pieces for horizontals, etc. if you were going to lead it. It joins Theatre at its 2nd belay station. The rap off of the very summit of Jackson’s Thumb gets you straight down to the gully between Jackson and Steinfell. A 70m makes it all the way but I am sure the competent individual could make a 60m work as well.
Drive to Circle Creek Overlook. This is a separate road south east of the main City of Rocks National Reserve. You will be turning right before you turn right heading for Elephant Rock, etc. This road dead end's at a trail head complete with restroom. Steinfell’s Dome is the largest granite feature, short of the Twin Sisters, in the entire area. Steinfell is an obvious objective up and right from the trail head. Simply take the marked trail east out of the parking lot and make your way up the hill. Most can easily do both of the before mentioned popular routes in the same day. Depending on whether you seek sun or shade will depend on which route you start on. Sinocranium is south facing
and gets sun all day for the most part. Theatre of Shadows is west facing
and gets good morning shade. Sinocranium is at the east end of Steinfell’s Dome.
The trail just skirts below the massive south face. You will go up hill a bit to a very low angled slab that is well bolted. To reach Theatre, circumvent the lower west end of Steinfell on a well-trodden trail to the bottom of the west face of Jackson’s Thumb which is located right behind (north) Steinfell. Again the route is well bolted and obvious. I personally would haul approach shoes up for both of these routes for the descent.
You do come right back to your packs for both.
Route Description (s)South Face of Steinfell’s Dome, Routes Listed Left to Right
Southwest Buttress- 750’-5.8*/
Southern Arches- 750’-5.8*/
Orange Corner- 750’-5.10d**/
Southeast Face- 700’-5.8/
Sinocranium- 650’-5.8***/This is a 5.6 route at many climbing areas. The presumption of 5.8 would be the final corner section. Although it is steeper than all the low angled slab below it, the holds are significant. Just follow the bolts at the east end of Steinfell’s Dome through many anchors to the top of the formation. The last pitch is by far the most interesting. The rest is all the same type of slab. Two raps down the east end get you to a walk off. I suggest bringing your shoes with you. Return to your packs. Great views of the private valley between the City and Castle Rocks State Park. Fully bolted. Dow
West Face of Jackson’s Thumb, Routes Listed Left to Right
Old School, New School- 280’-5.7R**/I soloed this route, so don’t have much advice for gear. But it is an easy option to pass a slower team on Theatre of Shadows. It ends up at the second fixed station on that route. It is more challenging route finding wise than Theatre as well as less clean (less climbed). I felt some 5.7 slab moves on this one. Dow
Theatre of Shadows- 400’-5.7***/If you want to simul this one, it is easy to do. Bring a bunch of draws and skip some of the bolts and you will make it the top in short order. The descent is simple via one rap from the summit. Bring your shoes to walk back down the gully. It is easy to return to your packs. Fully bolted. Nothing but bolted slab climbing, with few if any moves at the grade. Dow
Upper West Face- 150’-5.9*/
West Face Direct- 150’-5.9/