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Little Cottonwood Canyon Rock Climbing cover

Little Cottonwood Canyon Rock Climbing

by Tony Calderone

Mountain Dreamer

Little Cottonwood Canyon is located within the Wasatch-Cache National Forest along the eastern border of the Salt Lake Valley, where the Rocky Mountains meet the Great Basin, roughly twenty miles southeast of Salt Lake City, Utah.

The canyon is a popular sightseeing destination and is a glacial trough carved by an alpine glacier during the last ice age, approximately 15,000 to 25,000 years ago.

The lower third of the canyon is strewn with quartz monzonite outcroppings, mostly consisting of smooth steep faces. Local climbers informally refer to the rock as granite, which is a close relative.

Approaches involve parking along the road and hiking up through scrub oak, talus fields and large boulders.

Face climbing is the predominant technique, typically using a mixture of pre-placed bolts and cracks for protection, but there are many notable pure crack climbs as well. Most routes are 200-600 feet long, but routes of over 2,000 feet in length exist.

Consider, as you climb, that the rock was not nearly so clean of vegetation, flakes, dirt or massive loose blocks. Many of the earliest ascents were done without the aid of topropes, power drills, spring-loaded cams, sticky rubber shoes or harnesses. And ropes and bolts were not infailable.

Some of the most tame approach trails we saunter up in a few minutes today used to be far more time-consuming and energy-draining just a few decades ago. Consider, also, that guidebooks were far less informative or did not exist at all.

One of the worst errors of the present - not just ours, but any present - is its tendency to condescend toward the past, which is much easier to do when one does not seek to grasp the nature of its challenges as they presented themselves at the time.

This small book is, in part, an effort to counteract that condescension and remind us of how remarkable were the achievements of those who came before us. May it lead you to reconsider what is routinely called “progress” and recognize that humility is more a byproduct of conscious living than a whole-cloth creation.

This work is offered as a contribution to the making of Wasatch Climbers. As such, it is a loving endeavor as well as a scholarly one, without losing sight of what there is to celebrate and cherish in your achievement.

With Sincerity,


Sectors in alphabetical order:

1 climbs
Albion Basin87 climbs in 5 sectors
Alpenbock Loop180 climbs in 15 sectors
Black Peeler Area89 climbs in 5 sectors
Gate A347 climbs in 9 sectors
Gate B104 climbs in 4 sectors
Gate E110 climbs in 6 sectors
Grit Mill71 climbs in 3 sectors
Introduction4 climbs
Temple Quarry34 climbs in 4 sectors
The Fin - East23 climbs
The Fin - South10 climbs
The Fin - West23 climbs


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