Elevation: 4,917 ft
GPS: 40.619, -111.789 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 972,926 total · 5,032/month
Shared By: Eric Jacobsen on May 6, 2003 with updates from jawshoe uhh
Admins: Andrew Gram, Nathan Fisher, Perin Blanchard, grk10vq


Of the two Cottonwood canyons, BCC is the lesser-known, despite its amazing climbing. There are hundreds of routes on dozens of crags scattered throughout the length and on either side of the canyon.

Climbing is primarily on quartzite, which tends to be slippery and hard; however, the quartzite also offers numerous holds jutting out at all angles. Because protection may be more difficult in quartzite than in the granite of LCC, BCC has more sport routes than LCC, but the majority of BCC routes are trad climbs.

Some of the picnic areas have entrance fees.

SLCA Annual Fundraiser

Ice Climbing

There are a handful of ice routes in Big Cottonwood. Almost all of them are on the north side of the canyon and receive a lot of sunlight so they don't often come in really fat.

When the lines do come in, however, it makes for some enjoyable climbing. Probably not recommended for beginners because the routes are mostly thin, but during a fat year one can find an occasional short climb with top rope potential.

BCC ice generally comes in late and leaves early.

Getting There

Big Cottonwood Canyon climbs east out of Salt Lake City at about 7200 South. From the north, take the I-215 loop to Exit 6, the 6200 South exit.

Head east on Hwy 190, following signs to the ski areas of BCC (Solitude and Brighton). Turn left on Fort Union Blvd, which heads up into the canyon.

From the west, 7200 South becomes Fort Union. From the south, follow Wasatch Blvd and turn right on Fort Union.

763 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

Location: Big Cottonwood Canyon Change
Type:  to 
Sort by:   then:

Classic Climbing Routes at Big Cottonwood Canyon

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Steorts' Ridge
Trad 3 pitches
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Jig's Up
Trad 3 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Outside Corner
Trad 3 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Eleventh Hour
Trad 4 pitches
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Glass Ocean
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Hollow Man
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
High Dive
Trad 2 pitches
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Dream Slate
Trad, TR
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Battalion of Saints
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Better than Bitter
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Goodro's Wall
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Touch of Teflon
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Black Monday
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
Right Pile
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Steorts' Ridge Dead Snag
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad 3 pitches
Jig's Up Dead Snag
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad 3 pitches
Outside Corner JHCOB Wall
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 3 pitches
Eleventh Hour Sundial
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad 4 pitches
Glass Ocean Glass Ocean & Environs
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
Hollow Man Challenge Buttress > N & W Faces
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
High Dive Glass Ocean & Environs
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Trad 2 pitches
Dream Slate Narcolepsy Area
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad, TR
Battalion of Saints Battalion of Saints Wall
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
cTr Challenge Buttress > N & W Faces
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Better than Bitter Challenge Buttress > N & W Faces
5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
Goodro's Wall Storm Mtn Picni… > Storm Mtn Island
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad
Touch of Teflon Challenge Buttress > E Face
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad
Black Monday S-Curves > S-Curve - Lower
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Right Pile S-Curves > S-Curve - The Pile
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a Sport
More Classic Climbs in Big Cottonwood Canyon »

Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season
I explored and climbed most of the crags from 5-3 to 5-11 + in Salt Lake for a full 10 years. During that time I had the best climbing days of my life in Big Cottonwood Canyon, meeting and climbing with some of the great old timers like Jerry Stovall, Stan Cantrell, Merrill Bitter, Gordon Douglass, Bobbie Bensmen and others.

They were great times, and the routes are some of the best juggy nobby quartzite sport and trad routes you can imagine, all in a beautiful accessible location.

You can't beat Big Cottonwood in this lowly climbers opinion. Mar 4, 2006
park city
willsnow   park city
NO DOGS IN BCC!! its salt lake city watershed and i guess the water treatment plants cant handle dog pee. leave the pooch at home or in the car Aug 5, 2010
Fast Eddie McBradish
Salt Lake City, UT
Fast Eddie McBradish   Salt Lake City, UT
Its not the dog pee, but the crypto that some dog/human crap carries--Dog in watershed=class B misdemeanor citation=$1850.00. Aug 23, 2010
steve edwards
steve edwards   SLC, UT
Apparently they'll cite dogs in the car, too, though it would be hard to stick in the summer when BCC is a through road to Park City. But in winter they do look for dogs sitting in cars and ticket because, again apparently, they have been able to get away with it. The entire situation in these canyons is horseshit. “Keep it pure”?! Are they out of their fucking minds or just trying to jack off the community so they can continually develop?

Let's be honest, a dog creates about a million times less pollutants than any single car and/or construction project in BCC. The treatment plant doesn't account for dog shit? Umm, yeah.... It appears some of you are drinking the Kool-Aid. It's all a bunch of ridiculous low hanging fruit BS that comes about because it's a lot easier to get people to banish dogs than confine construction, commuting, and/or recreation. And it doesn't do a damn thing for the environment.

All you dipshits who support this should consider that the very next piece of low hanging fruit is climbers. Sure, you say, how much damage could we be doing compared to, oh, say cars or developers or picnickers throwing trash all over and cleaning diapers in the creek et al? And the answer is absolutely none. But that is not the issue in who gets restricted next. The issue is funds, or funding, and we are next in line because, well, Jackie Treehorn draws a lot of water in this community and you don’t draw shit. So before you acquiesce to some sort of “environmental” mandate consider the actual facts (crypto?!!, what in God’s name are you blathering about? Yeah, none of those picnicker/skier/hikers are dishing out any of that.) and then contemplate why, in fact, this is happening. Then perform you activist duty accordingly.

I’m from California where, in many instances where I’ve worked on access far too late, we’ve lost it because of some bullshit reason where every single amount of scientific evidence points in our direction but we simply had the least influence. Conversely, I’ve been on the winning side in many situations where I’ve approached land use management earlier enough to get the rules written in our favor. The latter situations are not necessarily better for anything—especially environmental—than the former; I’ve simply been there first and held my ground as opposed to situations where they’ve pointed fingers at a group with little money and influence (think Cave Rock).

If you want to continue to climb in these canyons I suggest that you stop behaving like spineless dweebs. Get aggro and stand your ground. We have rights to recreate in the open space that we pay for and don’t need to act like schmucks who are willing to be pushed around. Nov 8, 2010
I've noticed while perusing for sport routes in BCC that the search for "sport routes" turn up a lot of routes whose description says certain trad gear is needed.

Some say optional, but a surprising number just list gear. Why is that classified as a sport route?

Is it possible to climb these with draws only? Is it run out without gear? A more thorough explanation would help.

Thanks Jun 11, 2011
When a new route is entered, you can check off TRAD/SPORT/TOPROPE or any combination of the three. Chances are, which ever routes you selected may not have been checked off as TRAD/SPORT when entered. That being said, if they were properly checked off as TRAD/SPORT, when you do a search for SPORT, all routes checked off as SPORT or TRAD/SPORT come up in the search.

Too many routes come to mind, but most of the mixed routes in BCC will require gear if listed. Jun 11, 2011
Chad H  
Quick question. I saw a climb today just to the right (West) of narcolepsy at the top of the the loose rock that goes down to the road. Anyone know what the name of that climb is? I added a photo if that helps.
Jun 14, 2012
Boissal .
Small Lake, UT
Boissal .   Small Lake, UT
JHCOB Wall - Outside Corner Jun 14, 2012
Another route in the area, Steort's Ridge, is one of the premiere multi-pitch climbs in Big Cottonwood Canyon, and it is popular because of the terrific exposure, the variety of skills called upon and the excellent protection...it is THE stand-out route on the crag. Consequently, many parties are forced to retreat when weather comes in, or when one in the party is over their head. Currently, there are no fixed rap stations (paired bolts with chains) on the route itself, forcing a retreat from webbing (which becomes crispy and unsightly tat) or sacrificed gear. I have a suggestion: erect quality rap stations at the top of pitch one and two. There is a single Leeper-Z and a single ring-less pin at each of these stations, and that fixed gear has been there for decades: fixed gear at these belays is nothing new. In most of the areas I have climbed (Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Tahquitz, Suicide Rock) popular moderates are all outfitted with rap anchors. It's a public service, and it eliminates the need to leave unsightly tat, or ones own gear in a forced retreat. I thought of going up there and simply putting this in, but I wanted to avoid any sort of bolt chopping issue. I think the raps could be positioned away, to climber's left, from where the anchors would routinely be erected, which would allow retreating parties to not interfere with those who choose to remain on the climb. Jul 28, 2012
Mark SLC
Salt Lake City, UT
Mark SLC   Salt Lake City, UT
Steort's ridge is fine just the way it is. No rap anchors needed for convenience in my opinion. If someone gets in over their head and has to bail off gear that's unfortunately part of the learning curve. Climb long enough and you will soon collect more booty gear than you bail off of. As for the weather, if you can't trust the forecast wake up earlier or get better at placing gear so you can top out faster. It's 3 pitches, or 2 with a 70. And this classic sees enough traffic as it is. Jul 29, 2012
SMH Climber
Midvale, UT
SMH Climber   Midvale, UT
What is going on with all this bolting of existing trad or mixed climbs. I just went to the Creak side wall yesterday and there were bolts all over 3 existing trad/mixed climbs. Why? They were all so much fun just the way they were. This has got to stop or some day all trad lines will be bolted. I never minded to much when the Geezer wall was bolted since I have never seen a climber on it until they were bolted but that does not mean some one can start bolting all of our fun trad lines in the canyon. Jul 10, 2014
Erik Kowalczyk
Fort Collins, CO
Erik Kowalczyk   Fort Collins, CO
Does anyone know of any Camping that costs less than $10 in the area? Apr 28, 2016
Kevin MP
Redmond, OR
Kevin MP   Redmond, OR
Just spent some time in the Wasatch after moving away from SLC a year ago, and I am stoked. Having climbed hundreds of days here and many of those in Big Cottonwood, I am amazed to always discover new routes that match or exceed the quality of anything I have done here before. An example is the 4 newer parallel routes on the north face of the Dead Snag Buttress, the highlight being Force of Nature. This features sustained thin and technical face climbing for 60+ feet then a great finger crack and roof pull to finish, all on beautiful rock. Another stellar newly found route for me was Up a Cliff Without a Ladder at Narcolepsy Wall, also .11a with tons of great movement on holds that lean and slope in every direction, but flow very nicely with good body position. Both of these walls are shaded all day for good summer climbing and feature excellent 5.9/5.10 routes with mixed protection as well. Enjoy! Jun 17, 2016
Matt Olson
Salt Lake City
Matt Olson   Salt Lake City
Found some abandoned shoes today. If you are looking for them pm me with the size, model, and where you think you left them. Jul 31, 2016
Heads up, there is at least one smash-and-grab operation working the canyons. About 6:20 last night (Friday, May 12) someone broke my passenger-side window and stole some gear (Katanas, Anasazis, harness, etc.) from the Higher Education parking lot in BCC. The police officer that responded said that they are getting at least one smash-and-grab a day reported from BCC, LCC, or Mill Creek, and that it is much worse than it was last year. He said they are targeting climbing area parking lots because they know the vehicle owners are away from their cars. My suggestion is to park only in well used lots and do not leave anything in sight that might entice the perps. Still might not save you--apparently the LCC park-n-ride at the bottom of the canyon was hit yesterday too. Spread the word. May 13, 2017
Thanks for the heads up about the break ins. Do you know how long you'd beeen parked before they broke in? I wonder if they are just watching people walk away from their car then breaking in. If you have a third person, maybe have them hide in the brush for a few minutes while the other two people in your party start leading the first pitch.

Climbers are crafty. It would be cool if we could collectively catch a few of these guys at the climbing lots. I had a bike stolen out of my car once in BCC. May 14, 2017