Salt Lake locals know Ferguson Canyon has a niche following in the area’s well-deserved reputation for quality crags. The climbing is on granite, but is uniquely different than the glacier-polished slabs of nearby Little Cottonwood. Typically steep cracks and seams are often horizontal, and large crystal holds are common. The canyon is a favorite with dog owners who are not allowed to bring their pups into the Cottonwood Canyons.
Trying to escape the heat? Another reason climbers love Ferguson. Nearly all the routes are shaded for most of the day. And the swamp cooling effect of the nearby stream is an ever-present pleasure when temps soar. Climbing here is a pleasurable outing, rather than an adventurous commitment. Some of the best routes in the canyon include: Monogamy (5.7), Crystal Healing (5.8+), Imperial (5.9), Extreme Unction (5.10-), Delirium Tremens (5.11-), and Fuego (5.12a). Vertical finger and hand cracks may show up for a move or two, but they are, strangely, the exception. Chimneys abound.
Routes didn’t start going up here until the 1980s. Many of the originals were free-soloed or led using micro-nuts in flaring seams. The early pioneers included Les Ellison, Brian Smoot, and Drew Bedford. The 1990s saw slightly better protected routes going up with hand-drilled bolt placement by Hank Armantrout. The turn of the century brought a radically different approach from Greg Martinez. His routes provide the majority of sport climbing in the canyon.
Long-time local guide, Tony Calderone, provides excellent, up-to-date information on the most comprehensive compilation of over 150 Ferguson Canyon rock climbing routes.