The Road Not Taken, 5.10, 4 Pitches

Page Type
Utah, United States, North America
Route Type:
Trad Climbing
Spring, Fall, Winter
Time Required:
Most of a day
Rock Difficulty:
5.10 (YDS)
Number of Pitches:

Route Quality: 1 Votes

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The Road Not Taken, 5.10, 4 Pitches
Created On: May 9, 2017
Last Edited On: May 9, 2017


4th Pitch, 5.10
Dow leading the Crux on the Crux Pitch, 5.10

The rock on this route is about as chossy as it gets but its relatively remote location near Canyonlands National Park as well as an incredulous 4th pitch, makes it a worthy objective. I say "near" Canyonlands because I can only assume with the 4x4 traffic and cattle guards that you end up driving out of Canyonlands National Park and into BLM land by the time you reach Lost World Butte, the name of the formation where the climb is located. A more popular landmark in this area is a large feature known as Tombstone. The route was established by Ross, Pheasant and Potter (not Dean) in 2011.
Interesting first Rap
Interesting first rap

This route is aptly named. You will not find any socialites from Indian Creek climbing a route that takes this much effort and/or courage for that matter. Most of the route is made up of long traverses. The first pitch is short and nondescript. Then you move the belay west along a ledge approximately 300’ to a fixed station. Follow that by a second pitch traversing back right (5.7) at 200’ to another fixed station (2nd rap anchor). The third pitch involves an easy squeeze chimney (5.8) up to a ledge that you traverse right yet again to the base of what this route is all about. The fourth pitch involves a sweeping C4 #6 wide crack that you ride like a horse until it steepens to pure vertical bellows a stout 5.10 off width exit. C4#5’s protect deeper in this crack, but basically how well you sow it up depends on how much wide gear you have. For the rap, you traverse yet again back west a couple of hundred feet. Crazy and unique route with a wild rap as well.

Head out to Canyonlands National Park by turning off of Highway 191 north of Moab onto Highway 313 (the road heading west into Canyonlands National Park). Between mile markers 15 and 14 (they descend in number), turn right on a gravel/dirt road. This road might have several names if even marked, Dudblinky Well, Spring Canyon Bottom, etc. Follow it for approximately six miles and you will spot a functioning (2017) windmill in the distance. Turn left prior to reaching the windmill and head for a formation they name Tombstone. There is BLM camping all around this area. After you pass Tombstone on the right (obvious formation), turn right down a soft sand road and take the 2nd road on the right that heads for the southeast face (photo) of Lost World Butte. You can easily match the route with my topo photo before you even make this last turn. At the end of the road, park on the slick rock. Makes for a great backcountry camping spot and even gets cell service (these dirt road are in 4x4 treking books so there is quite a bit of activity in season).

Route Description

1st Pitch- 60’- 5.7/ From atop a block in front of the wall and just left of a left facing corner, traverse in from the left to access a hand crack that leads to the expansive ledge above. Sling a block for the belay.

Move the belay over 200’ (along the wide ledge) to the left to a fixed station (not part of the rap). 

2nd Pitch- 200’- 5.7/ Start traversing and climbing back right initially through a wide section and then along ramps and edges. A lot of loose rock here of course, but the climbing is mellow. You have to make one down climb move at the end of the traverse. At the end of a 200’ rope, you will reach a fixed rap (part of your rap descent) at the base of a squeeze chimney.

3rd Pitch- 85’- 5.8/ Climb the squeeze chimney. There is a single pro bolt (of the entire route) you can see from the belay. Weird that they chose to put a bolt there and not at the end of pitch 4 which offers much harder climbing, worse rock and much more dangerous fall potential. In any regard, pretty short and simple squeeze and then up to yet another significant ledge. Sling a block.

4th Pitch- 180’- 5.10/ It is best to climb this route in the afternoon. I led this pitch with full sun and wore a huge blister in my left hand the rock was so hot. Move the belay right to the base of the obvious sweeping C4#6 crack. On first impressions the crack looks smaller, but it only takes #5’s deep or #6's along the edge, the entire length. You will need to save one #5 and #6 for the crux which is a steep off width exit (with a ledge below it). I took a single set which meant I had to walk them along so I had them for the end. The mistake in that is that the ropes will be flowing in the wind, not touching even an 1” of rock anywhere causing significant weight of the rope on your person. You should definitely carry double 5’s and 6’s at a minimum. Handrail or ride the sharp edge of the crack. It starts to steepen at a small rest. Sling a chock stone before a mantel. The next several meters are by far the crux of the route. Sink a #5 in the roof. Stem, then lie back off the left wall to enter the off width. Face the left wall and arm bar to some features inside. They are chossy and having another #6 would protect a ledge fall right here if a hold blew. It is still full on off width climbing to the top, the chossy hold or two does not change the dynamics of the climbing that much.  Eventually you get a great two handed edge on the left that allow a mantel up and out. Belay off of a small sandstone pedestal on the shoulder ledge above.

Climbing Sequence


This descent is only recommended for the experienced climber/alpinist. Scramble up, and then traverse left along the broad summit ledge system. At several hundred feet you will see a rap along the edge of the wall: two pitons and one bolt with replaced webbing in 2017. Make a long free hanging double rope rap back down to the base of the squeeze chimney. Tie knots in your ends. Build a few prussics in advance (I actually find it just as easy to do when I am ready to start ascending the rope but I am comfortable doing those sort of things on rappel). When you get down to the next rap (as before mentioned, at the base of the squeeze chimney) you will be too far from the wall to be able to even swing to it (dynamic ropes don’t have much swinging power when you are 180’ down them). What you have to do instead is to keep lowering until you can just touch the wall. Set up your prussics and free climb several meters back up via 5.9 edges. There will be no cracks to place gear to assist. If you fell while climbing, you would swing back out into space in a big way. Once back on that ledge with the second rap station, one more double rope rap gets you to the ground. If you are worried about pulling your ropes and them getting caught up on the lower ledge. Just rap back down to that ledge instead of the ground, traverse 300' back west and do a single rope rap back at the start of the 2nd pitch.

Essential Gear

Double ropes. Single rack from C4#.5 to C4#6. Double #5s and #6s. Triples in that range would make everything warm and fuzzy if that was your thing. 8 shoulder length slings. Replacement webbing for the top rap (creatures can get to it). Southeast facing climb, can be damn hot when it has sun. The whole wall gets good shade early afternoon in April.