Looking down Shafer Canyon at Bird's View Butte an...
Tucked away on the northeast edge of Canyonlands National Park, this collection of spires, buttes and rimrock is somewhat off the beaten path. If you’re looking for some adventurous climbing though, this place is worth a visit.
The obvious objectives here are Bird’s View Butte and its semi-detached Satellite Spire, or the Crow’s Head Spires which are known individually as Don Juan and Luminous Being spires. Several lines have also been established on the 400 ft Rim Wall which must be rappelled to reach the base of the routes. Of course this also means that if you don’t climb a rim route back out, you have a 400 foot jug at the end of your day.
If you plan to jug back out you will need two ropes for fixing. We fixed one rope from the rim down into the chimney and the second rope from there to the next anchor and from that anchor to the ground. I was happy to have a helmet for the jug back to the rim.
The Wingate in this area is often of excellent but loose rock is encountered at some point on most routes. Bring and knife and some replacement webbing for the anchors.
From Moab, take 191 north out of town to its junction with 313. Follow 313 to the turnoff for Dead Horse Point State Park but do not turn. Continue straight on Island in the Sky road for just over a mile and turn left on a dirt road that heads out across the mesa. Once on the dirt road, continue for just over 2 miles to a fork in the road. Take the right fork and continue for another 2 miles to the end of the road. The road gets rough near the end but it’s a short hike to the edge of the mesa.
Finding the anchors to rappel from the rim can be tricky and involves some exposed scrambling. Basically you are aiming for the point on the rim that is closest to the Crow’s Head Spires. When you’re getting close you will have to chimney down behind a giant boulder and work down and around to the left on a ledge system always trying to get to the point closest to the spires. The anchor itself is on a vertical surface and will likely require some searching. Be careful!
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Bird's View Butte / Crow's Head Spires:
Pitch 1:We climbed up the first pitch of Crow's Beak. Starting on the northwest side of the tower locate a large chimney, climb cracks inside the chimney and loose rock to the ledge where the black line starts in the photograph. -There are other variations to this first pitch, you can climb up the north face to the ledge, or climb just north of the northern prow to the ledge. Whatever looks good to you just get to were the black line starts. 5.10, 120'.Pitch 2:Follow cracks up and left to loos...[more]Browse More Classics in UT
Photos of Bird's View Butte / Crow's Head Spires Slideshow
Keep an eye out for free soloing movie stars if you're heading to this area.
By Allen Hill From: FIve Points, Colorado and Pine May 29, 2008
There is a way to get in without the rappels and long jug out. It's been years but one can access the spire fairly easily via Shafer Canyon. There use to be a great camp site in the mouth of the canyon but the bearded Toyota truck fanatic desert sage Pete G. recently told me it's been blocked off and is way off limits. Look at the topo and you'll see it's a fairly obvious approach.
Allen's right, there must be a practical approach from the Potash/White Rim/Shafer Trail area. The first ascent of the spire was done before the rap route was in. We put the rap in and were pretty surprised to find we'd been scooped on the FA... We were very motivated to complete the jugs by the strategically placed beverage cooler.
By Allen Hill From: FIve Points, Colorado and Pine May 30, 2008
I sure remember Steve, Jeff, and Robert coming back from that block break at CC after they climbed the thing! They where so excited. The rest of us had just wasted the four days out at Indian Creek with the crowds (maybe six people!)
Nice to see you posting Bryan. I have some great old slides of you from the Valley in 1981. How's Jay?
Years?? back I established two 3-pitch routes on the rim to climb back out and up to the car. These routes are high quality adventure climbs...(varying crack sizes). These are described in the Bjornstadt book with the picture of the Crow heads and the Bird's View Butte on the Cover. Over the coarse of 4-5 years with an assortment of friends, we established 17 new pitches in this area. The Rim routes... Two 3-pitch routes, Think Ya Should-5.11c and the Lazer Crack-5.11aC1. Also The Titanic Corner 2-pitches 5.11a. If you are facing the obvious prow of the rim, these routes are located to the left between 300'-400' from the prow. A great alternative to jugging out... today I don't have the time to post all this info but will try to post it soon....
Hi Drew, The routes you describe sound great – stiff, as one might expect! We had often wondered about the climbing potential around there. We especially wondered if the rap route might go. Have you heard if it has been climbed?