If you’re a long-time rock climbing enthusiast, we’ve no doubt you’ve probably been to Zion National Park in southwest Utah. Some of the most world-famous rock-climbing in the world can be found here. In fact, it’s so good that Alex Honnold, renowned free-solo climber, trained in Zion for an even greater challenge; in 2017, Honnold was the first free-soloist to ever ascend El Capitan – a 3,200 ft. tall granite rock face in Yosemite National Park (see 2018 documentary, Free Solo). Whether you’re an expert looking to train for their own major climb, or totally green and looking for something a little more feasible, here are six recommended climbing routes various skillset levels can enjoy:
This giant buttress sports a number of routes which each feature varying numbers of pitches. For those unfamiliar, the term “pitch”, when used in regard to rock climbing, refers to “a steep section of rock that requires rope between two belays, or between the belay and an anchor.” –Outside Magazine. To further iterate, a single pitch route can be completed with only one belay needed – much like climbing at a rock climbing gym, minus the being outdoors versus indoors part. More pitches equal more belays. Not sure which route would be right for your skill level? Mountain Project, an online resource containing info. on climbs all over the world, has a nifty little Route Finder tool. This tool helps filter through all the climbs at locations like Angel’s Landing so that you can find which are best, safest, or most fun while assuring your welfare remains priority one. For some seriously incredible views, Angel’s Landing makes a great choice. Make the memories of your landing on Angel’s Landing last forever by snapping a few pics of the breathtaking surroundings visible from the top.
Just south of Angel’s Landing and very near Ponderosa Ranch, this historic 2,300 ft. tall sandstone formation features just one climbing route, South Face Diagonal. This route makes an awesome choice for the more intermediate climbers, due to the fact that park service recently fixed all existing anchors deemed insecure. In 2019, all of those loosey-goosey bolts were replaced and remain safe and secure to this day. It also makes for a good mid-level climb due to the fact that ascending happens by trekking over a zig-zag of rocky ribs and ramps which protrude from the slab face. Follow the sandstone ramp road, and you’ll be seated upon the White Throne in just a few hours.
Like the Great White Throne, Mt. Isaac also features only one route. Tricks of the Trade, sometimes called Tricks of the Tramp, has 19 pitches and is definitely a challenge only more advanced climbers should attempt. The short and sweet way of describing this climb is as follows: there’s a four inch crack that travels from bottom to top of the buttress face, and that’s what you use to reach the summit. This climb calls for some in depth research done prior to attempting it. Each of those 19 pitches vary greatly in nature as well as best and safest strategical approach. Mountain Project again makes a great resource for detailed information you’ll want on the overall route, and about each individual pitch.
This is one of the most sizeable peaks in Zion, and features several ways of ascending via routes with some rather comedic nomenclature. Examples include Altered Boobage, Eek-A-Mouse, and Hand Drills or Hand Grenade among others. Nearly all of the routes are trad climbs which is climber lingo short for “traditional climbing”. All that means is the climbing involves gear being placed by a lead climber who will later remove that gear from the climbing route. This is in opposition to sport climbing which entails the gear gets placed on the route, and it doesn’t get removed later on. Sport climbing is definitely the better choice for beginner and intermediate level climbers. Despite their being a little more on the advanced end of the skill spectrum, routes you’ll find on The Sentinel are frequently reviewed as funclimbs. So, if you’re looking for an especially fun day of climbing, you now know where to go!
The East Face route of this mountain makes a perfect choice for beginners looking less for challenge and more for a stunning day spent outdoors in the backcountry of Zion. Like the Great White Throne, ramps jut out from the face providing a means to almost hike rather than climb up the route. Advanced climbers like Honnold would likely view this climb as more of casual stroll, but for those of us who aren’t nearly as advanced, this route still presents more than enough challenge to make it worthy of pursuit.
This wall features a nice variety of both trad and sport climbing. With eight routes altogether, all varying greatly in rating and number of pitches, East Temple is an excellent pick for nearly any skill level. The most important note to make, no matter which of the Temple’s routes you opt for, is that this face is exposed to a ton of sun. So, be sure to stock up on a ton of water, and wear a ton of sunscreen when attempting any of these climbs. Especially during the hottest summer months.
The number of climbing opportunities in Zion Park are near endless. And climbing massive rock faces is not the only type of climbing available there. The Park has heaps of opportunity for bouldering – which is exactly what it sounds like it is – and even more opportunity for hiking. No matter what your fancy be in terms of outdoor fun, doing it in Zion National Park is an incomparable experience full of incredible scenery unlike anywhere else in the world.