West Face

Page Type
Utah, United States, North America
Route Type:
Technical Rock Climb
Time Required:
Half a day
II - III 5.11+ or 5.9+ C1 [5.8R]

Route Quality: 1 Votes

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West Face
Created On: Jan 3, 2006
Last Edited On: May 12, 2008


West FaceP3

Follow the directions on the main page under Getting There. Once on the nice low angle slabs between Argon Tower (its western base) and the parent cliff, look for an obvious, right (south) facing dihedral in the west face. Only the last pitch of the route is visible from the park road.

Route Description

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The rating of II - III reflects the discrepancy in the published information. I'd lean more towards III myself. Almost entire route can be aided at C1 with the exception of the last slabby and runout pitch which probably can go as low as 5.8 A0 (A0 being the liberal use of a single, crappy bolt). Burns' guidebook offers by far the most sandbagged description of this route (just plain wrong in many cases!) and the required gear.

Pitch 1: Burns: C1 or 5.11; Green: 5.11b/c. 50-60 feet. Climb up the crack in the right facing dihedral. The start (on aid) involves one placement in a flaring groove followed by many placements in a flaring thin groove (some pin scars?). Crack widens progressively into #0.5 then to #.75 Camalots. Short fist section is encountered right before the belay. Belay off of 2 bolts (no hangers) and/or #3 Camalots in the crack.

Pitch 2: Burns: 5.9 hands (no way!); Bjornstad: 5.11+ fists; Green: 5.11a/b. 70 feet. Hands it definitely isn’t (unless your idea of a hand crack is #4 Camalots!). As for the rating, it felt MUCH stiffer than “typical” Arches 5.9 in my opinion (felt C1 in fact). Move up the wide crack in the dihedral. Crack will take one #3 Camalot down low; one #3.5 10 feet up and the remainder will eat up as many #4’s as you can carry with you. Difficult exit mantle move onto a small stance at the mouth of a short squeeze chimney finishes off the pitch. Belay from fixed anchor (2 drilled angles and an ancient bolt).

Pitch 3: Burns: 5.9+; Bjornstad: 5.10b; Green: 5.10. 70 feet. Move up the short squeeze chimney (~10 feet). Place a cam and work back toward the outside of the chimney. Short fist crack above quickly turns into good hands (#3 Camalot) for about 15 feet (the only enjoyable climbing on this route IMHO). Burns and Bjornstad both suggest that the exit move from the chimney is the crux of the pitch. I think I’d disagree. Above, climb through a bulge and progressively worsening rock quality. Burns gives this section 5.8-5.9. This section felt like the crux of the pitch (can aid at C1). One more mantle move on poor rock brings you to a slot between the “false summit” and the true summit block on the right. Belay off of fixed gear (drilled angles and old bolt) in this slot.

Pitch 4: Burns: 5.8 (no way!); Green: 5.10c. I’d say 5.8 A0. 30 feet. Look up at the ancient, halfway out “bolt” 10 feet above the belay. This is your only piece of pro (even though Burns shows 2 and Green shows 3 pieces of fixed pro) on this severely (again IMHO) sandbagged face climbing pitch. Climb the face to the summit. I aided using both the belay pitons (foot holds) and the above-mentioned peg (mantling onto a single peg is 5.hard). Even with this assistance, the pitch felt harder than 5.8 (using the last pitch of Jah Man route as reference – similar in nature but much easier though rated 5.10-). Above the “bolt” you mantle onto a lower angle band. Attack the last 12 feet to the summit using holds on right-hand side. No pro. Belay from fixed anchor on top (3 ancient “bolts” and one new one).

Descent: Given the absence of hangers on pitch 1 bolts, two ropes are mandatory to get off this spire.
Option 1. Rap (single rope) down to top of pitch 3. Rap (single rope) down to top of pitch 2. Rap (double ropes) to the ground (first hand experience).
Option 2. Rap (double ropes) down to top of pitch 2. Rap (double ropes) to the ground (evidence in the rock on summit of people doing it this way too but no first hand experience).

Essential Gear

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Helmets. Two ropes. Some rap webbing.
Rack (for aiding w/o backcleaning):
Good number of small to mid-sized nuts (2 sets or so)
1 each purple Alien (used only on pitch 1 since I was out of nuts)
2 yellow Aliens
3-4 red Aliens (or #0.5 Camalots)
3 #0.75 Camalots
2 each #1 and #2 Camalots
3 #3 Camalots (this is assuming you’ll use 2 for top of pitch 1 belay)
1 #3.5 Camalot
Many #4 Camalots (I had two to walk with me on the 50+ feet of pitch 2 wide crack)
Optional 1 red/yellow and 1 yellow/green hybrid Aliens were very nice but probably not mandatory.
Whatever else you deem necessary for C1 (aiders, fifis etc..)

Route Overview

Approximate line of West Face...West Face (II 5.9+ C1)