Little Cottonwood rock climbing is northern Utah’s premier climbing venue, located within the Wasatch-Cache National Forest along the eastern border of the Salt Lake Valley where the Rocky Mountains meet the Great Basin, 15 miles from downtown Salt Lake City.
You won’t be doing the same move over and over again here. Low angle, high angle, overhangs, pockets, slabs and giant chimneys. Finger, hand and off-width cracks. Even the protection varies. Lube up the sliding nuts and 4” cams. Your micronuts and tube chocks will be shiny no more. This granite will eat them all up. Put your quickdraws on the same rack. There are over 200 sport routes here. Mostly limestone and quartzite. The list of 800, mostly granite, traditional routes is growing with constant updates to the app. The app includes closeup pitch by pitch photos of over 300 multi-pitch routes as high as 1,500 feet long. Over 1,000 routes in total, from 5.3 to 5.13. Check your ego at the trailhead. Little Cottonwood difficulty grades have a deserved reputation for being “full value”.
Plans to quickly bump your way up through the numbers will promptly be thwarted. But an apprenticeship here will hone every skill at every level. Hand jamming, stemming, smearing, edging, mantling, lay-backing and high-stepping.
Mastery of classic, so-called “beginner” routes will earn you the solid status of a true all-around rock climber.
Schoolroom (5.6) will prepare you for every size crack. Perhaps (5.7) will beat your lay-backing skills into submission. Crescent Crack (5.7) will teach you respect for chimneys. The lost art of nut placement will be within your grasp after a no cam redpoint of Pentapitch (5.8). The S-Direct (5.9) will test your mettle and give you pause to call yourself a 5.9 climber. Anyone who has climbed The Dorsal Fin (5.10+) comes away with a different perspective on the accomplishments of climbers throughout the ages.
These routes won’t just just force you to think. They constantly require you to re-think the way you climb. Routes are not simply sand-bagged. They just can’t be easily categorized by a number. The climbing is truly complex and frequently sustained at their grade. So-called “trick” maneuvers are commonplace. You won’t remember these routes by the number next to them. You will remember them by your experience. You will remember them by name.