Penitentiary Wall Rock Climbing
BETA PHOTO: 1) Rehabilitation 2) Deception 3) Life Sentence...
All routes are trad and are on the finest quartzite rock. There are many moderate routes that are fantastic for the beginner to intermediate climber (5.7-5.9+), all offer protection that is superb and plentiful. On the more demanding routes (5.10R and above) the protection is small and a little tricky to place, but secure once fitted correctly. Most routes follow obvious cracks and all have some sort of rappel at the top (bring some ditch webbing in case the old rap anchors are crusty). The area is best in the summer, but can be climbed in fall (snow permitting). Not much for camping offered nearby, but for the truly determined camping is allowed anywhere within a quarter mile from Big Cottonwood river, no fires.
This crag lies on the south side of Big Cottonwood Canyon, above the Ledgemere Picnic area. Drive 1.4 miles past the neon sign at the mouth of the canyon, park at the camp or along the road to avoide paying a $2 fee that is enforced during the summer. To get to the crag, walk across the bridge into Ledgemere camp and head east (left) until an obvious high traffic talus slope presents itself wandering up the south side of the canyon. Follow the loose talus for two hundred yards or so, then break left (east) into a gully, (blue spray paint marks the mouth of the gully thanks to some obvious losers) . The routes are on the north facing wall, spread along it for a hundred yards or so.
Weather station 1.1 miles from here
17 Total Climbing Routes
['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',3],['2 Stars',10],['1 Star',3],['Bomb',0]
Classic Climbing Routes in Penitentiary Wall
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Penitentiary Wall
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Penitentiary Wall:
Jailbait 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Trad, 1 pitch, 90'
Featured Route For Penitentiary Wall
Minimum Security 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
: Wasatch Range
: ... : Penitentiary Wall
Minimum Security starts up the thin crack/seam just left of a tree. This is the first climb just right of the really wide crack called "Speed is of the Essence". The initial crack doesn't take any pro, so it would be a dangerous lead. Above, a flake affords small nut placements. The wall above has a bolt (1/4 incher) and a piton which climb through the crux. Apparently, the left arete is off route, which makes the route much harder....[more] Browse More Classics in UT
BETA PHOTO: Left to Right Sticky Zipper 5.9+ Climb and Punishm...
BETA PHOTO: newer bolt anchors
BETA PHOTO: Penitentiary Wall w/o lines
By Nathan Fisher
Jun 27, 2004
Actually, camping is permitted as long as it is "more" than "1/2" mile from the road.
By Charlie S
From: Ogden, UT
Aug 27, 2012
Note that there are two bridges! If you park across from the picnic area and cross the bridge there (up canyon), this is the WRONG BRIDGE. It's apparent that many a climber has taken the talus field behind it and ended up wandering around for nothing.
Use the down canyon bridge, next to the pit toilets (where the regular parking is on the south side of the road). After crossing the down canyon bridge, go left, and follow that obvious talus field.
If you take the up canyon bridge, go right after crossing, not straight across to the slope.
May 17, 2013
Latitude: 40 37 19.7 N
Longitude: 111 45 48.7 W
By Garrett C
May 15, 2014
Honestly, we struggled finding this wall even with Charlie S's description. He is partially correct - cross the lower (more west bridge) and you will pass straight through campsite #5. Continue directly straight past the site and up the talus field directly behind it. It's a pretty steep trail, and took us about 15 minutes to get up it. We just kept going straight and eventually hit the wall (never found any graffiti or blue paint). If anything, the wall was more on the right side (west). Nice wall away from all the crowds. Seemed to be several mixed routes, but mostly trad.
Jun 3, 2016
Garret C. is spot on. Find site #5 and go up the hill. There isn't a defined trail until you're almost at the wall.