Utah's mountains are not known for great alpine climbs. There are, however, some good quality alpine routes. This page will outline some selected alpine climbs for those wanting to get out in their own backyard, training for bigger mountains, or just visiting Utah. For the most part this isn't going to be much more than a list of selected alpine climbs that are available in Utah. I thought that people looking for these types of climbs would appreciate not having to look through every mountain and route in Utah to find them.
This brings up the questions: "What is an alpine climb?" and "What climbs will be listed here?" Alpine climbing is a hard thing to define, but I will try. There are many activities that constitute "climbing," including rock climbing, ice climbing, aid climbing, snow/glacier climbing, etc. But are they all forms of alpine climbing? The answer is yes and no. In the strict sense an alpine climb is not any one of those activities, but rather requires a skill set that reflects a mix of many different climbing disciplines. Many of the routes that I will list may only require skills from one climbing discipline. In a loose sense, they are alpine climbs because they deal with exposure to the weather, avalanche danger, rock fall hazard, and route finding problems. They draw upon other disciplines that are required for all alpine climbs. The minimum criteria for a route will be a long 3rd class climb, 4th class or higher climb, a long moderate snow climb, or a steep snow or steeper climb.
I will group the routes by category so it is easier to compare similar routes. The routes with a harder overall difficulty will be listed at the top with the easier overall difficulty routes at the bottom of each group.
This is a big project and I will be adding to it slowly.
Thank you for the feedback, keep it coming. I will try to make this a useful page.
South Summit Couloir (II, 5.3, snow to 55 degrees) - Lone Peak - Summer
- A steep snow climb with sections of quality 4th class rock. North Ridge (III, 5.5, Steep Snow) - Pfeifferhorn - Winter, Spring
- A fun route with lots of 4th and easy 5th class climbing. South Ridge (II-III, 5.5, Steep Snow) - Mount Superior - Winter, Spring
- Mostly 4th class and lower. Suicide Chute (II, 5.4, Steep Snow) - Mount Superior - Spring
- An alternative start to the S. Ridge, combining a steep snow chute and the upper rock ridge to the summit. This chute is a classic backcountry ski route in winter. NW Face (IV, 5.6, WI3) - Storm Mountain - Winter, Spring
- This route doesn't seem to get done much anymore, but it was apparently a classic in the 1970's. There is a brief mention of it in the Ruckman guide "Rock climbing the Wasatch Range." Expect sustained rock climbing up high and true mixed climbing on the lower portion of the face.
Lone Peak Cirque (Open Book, etc) (III, 5.7+ - 5.12c, 3-5 pitches) - Lone Peak - Summer
- A variety of classic rock climbs, some of which lead directly to Lone Peak's summit. Open Book is the moderate classic, but there are 20+ climbs in the cirque in a variety of grade ranges (5.7-5.12c) Black Streak (II, 5.10B, 6 pitches) - Devil's Castle - Summer
- The most popular route on Devil's Castle's imposing North Face. It should be noted that there are at least 3 other routes on this face, ranging from 5.9+ to 5.11A. Information is scarce on anything but Black Streak, however. Abundant loose rock. Arm and Hammer (III, 5.10A, A0 or 5.11c, 4 pitches) - Middle Bell Tower - Spring, Summer
- Sometimes called the best multipitch route in the Wasatch, this one is a classic. Although it doesn't lead to a major summit, it does climb a prominent tower on the Bells Canyon-LCC ridgeline. Climbing the Bell Towers has a distinctly alpine flavor. Great Chimney (III, 5.7) - Mount Olympus - Spring, Summer
- Climbs the prominent chimney high on the north face of Mt. Olympus. Apparently a good early spring mixed route. SW of Corner (II-III, 5.7, 4 pitches) - Sundial Peak - Spring, Summer
- Mostly easier 4th and low 5th class climbing with 2 more difficult 5.7 sections. There are other routes on this beautiful peak, including Eleventh Hour (5.8) and numerous variations up to 5.10. Lines on the peak are indistinct, so make up your own variation. Kamps Ridge (III, 5.6) - Mount Olympus - Summer
- East ridge of the North Summit. Geurt's Ridge (III, 5.5) - Mount Olympus - Spring, Summer
- West ridge of the South Summit. West Slabs (II-III, 5.4) - Mount Olympus - Spring, Summer
- A giant 10-12 pitch slab. South Ridge (II-III, 5.5) - Mount Superior - Summer
- Mostly 4th class and lower. Forgotten Arete (III, 5.2) - Mount Olympus - Spring, Summer
- A fun little scramble. North Ridge (III, 4th) - Dromedary Peak - Summer
Sierra Club System and Yosemite Decimal System 1st - Mountain hiking, along a trail or easy off-trail travel. Generally hands are not needed. 2nd - Hiking over rough ground such as scree and talus. 3rd - Scrambling that requires the use of hands for balance and careful foot placement. 4th - Scrambling that requires the use of hands to make upward progress. A rope may be necessary. 5.0-5.10 - Technical climbing. Rope and climbing hardware are usually used to protect against a serious fall.
Time Commitment * I - Requires a few hours, of hiking and climbing. II - Requires a half-day, of hiking and climbing. III - Requires nearly a full day, of hiking and climbing. IV - Requires a full day or longer, of hiking and climbing. V - Requires more than a day of hiking and climbing. VI - Requires two or more days of hiking and climbing.
* Including approach and descent.
Snow and Ice Ratings Easy Snow - Up to 30 degrees. Beginners may want ice axe. Moderate Snow - 30 to 45 degrees. An ice axe is necessary and crampons may be wanted. Steep Snow - 45 to 60 degrees. An ice axe and crampons are necessary. Belays may be wanted. Very Steep Snow - 60 to 80 degrees. An ice axe and crampons are necessary. Belays may be required.
Vertical Ice Climbing AI - Alpine Ice. (Example: AI2) WI - Water Ice. (Example: WI4) 1 - Glacier walking requiring the use of crampons and an ice axe. 2 - Mountain routes for which basic knowledge of the use of ice tools and crampons is suggested. 3 - Most climbers would prefer to have two ice tools and place protection during the climb. 4 - Vertical ice climbing is likely to be encountered at the crux of the route. 5 - Significant sections of vertical ice climbing are to be expected on the route.
- An exceptional climb.
- A very good climb.
- A good climb.
- A worthwhile climb.
Mountain Project's Wasatch Alpine Areas Page A site similar to Summitpost, it details technical rock and some ice routes around the country. A specific section is dedicated to the Wasatch Range, and a subsection contains Wasatch Alpine Areas. These are typically more obscure or more difficult routes, with few ascents. The link included goes directly to the alpine areas section of the site. It is also a good place to meet climbing partners, even if you're just visiting SLC.
Rock Climbing.com A page similar to summitpost with a lot of firsthand information of various climbing routes in the state.
Exum Mountain Guides The Alpine guiding service for the state - ice and rock climbing seminars, as well as summit trips available.