The West End routes of Snow Canyon rarely see any action due to Peregrine Falcon closures during a prime part of the climbing season, February 1 through June 1. This is no doubt one of the reasons it offers the most remote climbing in the park, not to mention the longer approach particularly in comparison to Island in the Sky. The West End routes include the most notable of all of Snow Canyon climbing, the seven pitch, 5.11b, “The Cheese Stands Alone”. The best route in which to scout the Cheese Stands Alone is the much tamer three pitch Wagassa route which runs up the right side of the perpendicular wall. Wagassa is a mixed route with fairly new bolts (2007) on the first two pitches, albeit a tad run out, and pure trad on the last pitch.
Snow Canyon State Park is a state park of 7100 acres just north of St. George, Utah. The West End has half a dozen published routes ranging from 5.8 to 5.11b and offers the most remote climbing in the park. It receives morning sun and afternoon shade.
Park on the left side (west) of the park road at the Three Ponds trail head. This location is right before you reach the campground on the right. The guidebook references parking further south (West End trail head) and accessing the area via the gated gravel road. However the Three Ponds trail is more scenic covering no more distance. You eventually cross the before mentioned gravel road. Continue following the trail markers. Before you descend into a broad wash, leave the trail to the left and make for a short scramble section up to the wall in front of you. You should easily identify the route via the photos provided. A dark crack on a significant roof towards the top makes up the third pitch. A left leaning crack on the wall below the roof makes up the first pitch. Scramble up right and then left to gain a belay ledge with a small tree. The first bolt is about 25’ off the deck to the left of the crack.
1st Pitch- (120’) 5.6/ This route is only 40’! longer than the guidebook suggests with four bolts instead of five. 90% of the time I vouch for Todd Goss and his guidebook efforts, but this is one route he obviously was not familiar with himself and received poor 3rd hand information. The grading in general on this route is fairly mellow. This pitch, although steep and run out in places, contains plenty of positive options. The first bolt is 25’ off of the deck. Midway up you can place a #2 Camelot. The third bolt is sort of hidden back into the corner. So the route varies right into the crack and then back left onto the face after this 3rd bolt. The bolt was so out of line, I used a long runner. There is no 5th bolt. Traverse left onto varnish edges and then up to the belay ledge. This station is fixed (2007) for your mid rappel station (using two ropes!).
2nd Pitch- (50’) 5.8/ As with the first pitch, this is a longer pitch than stated in the guide book. Traverse out left to a bolt that is kind of hard to see at first. Work straight up vertical on real positive varnish holds to the 2nd bolt. This route is not climbed that often, so use caution and check the holds for fractures, etc. Once you hit that 2nd bolt, start an angled traverse back right through yet another bolt. It is a little run out but you can clove hitch some larger acmes if concerned. Then it is quite run out from the 3rd bolt to the anchor.
3rd Pitch- (60’) 5.8/ The grade seems soft for me on this pitch compared to the older routes in Snow Canyon. This is an all trad pitch. Move out left over sloping ground to some positive varnish and proceed up into the crack that rides the left side of the huge corner below the roof above. Place #3’s and #4’s at will until you get to a small ledge that takes small gear to pull out left. I used a #3 TCU by reaching up and out left. After that it is a little anticlimactic as you reach the top of the chimney above the roof. Protect in a variety of cracks as you bring up the 2nd. Attention: I first climbed this route several times in 2007 and again in 2013. I just climbed it again in 2019. From the top of the 2nd pitch belay which is bolted, I keep traversing out left via a few chicken heads to a mossy and chossy closed left facing corner. This fragile rock has always had an epic feel about it. You can sling one of the chicken heads, but have little faith it will arrest a nasty pendulum swing if a foot hold breaks when your hands are on slopers trying to run up the moss covered shallow corner to find any pro at all. Finally (3rd time is a charm maybe) I see where going straight up from the bolted belay, vs trending left, to a mini roof with a relatively decent #.75 slot is no doubt the route and I have perhaps always traversed left to early. From there you enter the varnished right facing corner that is the finish regardless of which way you choose.
Down climb the chimney to the north and you will find (2007) (photo) a slung sandstone bolder used for rappel. In 2007 it had fairly new cordellete on it. Rappel back to the 1st pitch station and rappel to ground from there using double 50m ropes as a minimum. We had a single 60m rope, as per the guide book suggestion, and it does not do the rappel. I left a #11 hex 10 meters from the ground. I had to rap over a significant arch knowing the rope did not reach the ground and not knowing what options I would have to place gear. Luckily I found a nasty flaring crack that I just got by with (photo). Update: This was the old way. Goss had added a bolted route to the north (climbers right). Just burrow down through the hole atop the route. I do not use that slung ratty belay, just scramble down a low angled ramp to the north, descending to a tree and fixed rap atop that relatively new route. Two single 60m rope raps get you to the ground.
Single 60m rope. Single to #3. You need some smaller gear to build the gear anchor atop the route. Alpine draws as it zig zags quite a bit. Rarely climbed route, particularly the third pitch. Rock quality is suspect via mostly face climbing, not a candidate route to solo.