The Gate Buttress - Five Fingers Area

The Gate Buttress - Five Fingers Area

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 40.57170°N / 111.7545°W
Activities Activities: Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Elevation: 5800 ft / 1768 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Photos Coming Soon!

Park at the large pullout on the left side of the road 1.25 miles up the canyon. This parking area is used for approaching any of the 94 routes found in The Gate Buttress area.

Five Fingers has three separate approaches, and all are a bit of a pain - it takes longer to get to the climbs here than you think. I will describe the approaches in order of my biased sense of speed. In general, expect about 15-20 minutes to reach the base of any climb in the Five Fingers area.

School Room Approach:
Hike up the trail heading west (left) from the pullout. This will take you through a shady grove with some large boulders collectively known as the Gate Boulders, which are popular for bouldering. Keep to the left, and soon the trail leaves the trees and becomes harder to find as you enter a large talus slope. Pick your way up the slope, heading to the large granite wall on your right. This is School Room.

At School Room, follow the base of the cliffs until you reach a mottled slab. The slab is exposed, and a belay may be desire, but you can (carefully) walk across it in climbing shoes to reach the Five Fingers area.

Prune Face Approach:
At the Gate Boulders take the trail that heads into the boulders area. Eventually this trail forks - take the left fork. Soon a feinter trail heading up a wash is reached. Head up this trail (right), and turn left once you reach some cliffs. You'll walk beneath the Prune Face slab and a chimney. Continue another 50 ft to some easier (but exposed) 3rd class slabs. Climb these until you reach a roof. At this point, traverse to the right and drop into a gulley on the right. Climb the gulley to reach Five Fingers.

Middle Approach:
Same as School Room approach, but less risky. As you head up the talus slope, once the trees to your right end, traverse right and descend a clearing on the other side of the trees. Walk left to reach a mottled slab. This slab isn't as steep as the one on the first approach, and it has a nice seam/ledge to walk on. Cross the slab taking the higher seam. On the other side, climb alongside a gulley until you reach a roof, and descend into the gulley on your right. Scramble up this to reach Five Fingers.

Once at the Five Fingers area, there is an exposed class 3 ledge system right across from the mottled slab. Take this ledge system to reach routes on the left (west) side of Five Fingers. This ledge system can also be gained by climbing a brushy chute right before the mottled slab, and descending the backside of a large flake.

For Bombay Chimney and the routes on the right (SE) side of the area, follow the gulley up to the granite wall. This is the base of the Five Fingers route. Traverse left over some spires and a class 3 ledge system beneath the routes. At Bombay Chimney there is a large shady pine tree located on a flat ledge that makes a good anchor. All the ledges here are relatively tight and exposed.

Descent: There aren't any bolt anchors here, and I didn't really see any runners left behing, so be prepared to make your own rap anchor on the small trees above. As a fast way to leave the climbing area, if you're near Bombay Chimney, rap off the large pine tree. You can drop straight down and cut right across the mottled slab on one rappel, saving yourself the time and trouble of downclimbing the exposed and brushy 3rd class rock.

Route Description

The Five Fingers Area is a section of the Gate Buttress where the wall grows shorter and steeper. It is bisected by many more cracks and chimneys, and the rock here is somewhat rotten. Where the cliff changes from east to south-facing there are a series of prominent vertical cracks that appear to be fingers stretching up the cliff face form which the climbing area draws its name.

An exposed and slightly brushy scramble is needed to reach the base of any of these climbs, but the trees and steeper walls keep most of the area better shaded than most of the rest of Gate Buttress, and the harder approach gives the climber more solitude here than in the other areas of Gate Buttress. Gate Buttress is noticeably different from the other areas because of the large number of easy to moderate route grades that ascend chimneys, giving the climber a chance to practice offwidths and stemming.

Route Difficulty Rating FA Trad/Sport
Chicken Chickenhead 5.6 Larry Evans & Rich Reams Tr
The Waltz 5.6 Unknown Tr
Tenderloin 5.5 Unknown Tr
High Five 5.11d 1990, Stuart & Bret Ruckman Sp
Fat Man's Misery 5.5 Unknown Tr
Scumbag Crack 5.6 Unknown Tr
Five Fingers 5.6/5.7 1960, Bob Bruschke, Wilf Bruschke, & Ted Wilson Tr
Bitterfingers 5.11d 1981, Merrill Bitter Sp
Bitterfingers Direct 5.11d 1988, Gordon Douglass & Stuart Ruckman Sp
Hornet's Rest 5.8+ Ted Wilson, Bob Bruschke, & Wilf Bruschke Tr
Route overview information used from Stuart & Bret Ruckman's Rock Climbing the Wasatch Range. In depth information is from personal experience

Chicken Chickenhead - 5.6

Coming Soon . . .

Fat Man's Misery - 5.5

This climb ascends a large crack nead the back right corner of Bombay Chimney. The route starts out a little brushy, but the rock is really quite good. Fun chimney climbing mixed with crack climbing, with many different types of trad placements needed. This chimney stays pretty well shaded throughout the day, making it a nice climb.

Its nice to girth hitch the belayer to the tree for the lead climb. Be careful if the belayer sits away from the tree as bits of gravel can be knocked down, but the frist headwall sends most of it overhead. When a climber is top-roping, it is reccommended to set a gear anchor and belay from the far side of Bombay Chimney to reduce rope drag.

Five Fingers - 5.6/5.7

Technically I haven't completed any of the routes variations on this part of the wall, but I figured since I've climbed on them (and downclimbed!), I can give a first-hand account of what they're like.

Basically, there are a bunch of deep off-width cracks and squeeze chimneys with a lot of variations on very steep rock. As such, no specific line is described and the rating varies depending on where you go.

This area has the potential to be fun in that the strange rock requires some very awkard and difficult moves and will test your creativity for climbing, pro placement, and route selection. The downside to this climbing area is the rotten rock. Perhaps because this area hasn't been climbed much, there are many flakes that you can rip off with your hands, and climbing sends down a constant stream of grit that is scraped off the granite.

Its because of the loose rock that I retreated leading midway up, but I'm eager to climb it more securely on top rope.

Essential Gear

Most of the routes here are trad routes. Based on the nature of the cracks, a variety of nuts, hexes, and cams from large to small sizes are needed. There are no chains above this area, and it seems like it is rarely climbed, so don't count on an anchor being left for you! Bring some webbing and rap rings for setting up a top rope/rap anchor on the trees at the top of the routes.

Other Info

If you have additional info for routes described or have done a route not described in depth, please put the info here and I'll integrate it into the page!



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