Elevation: 5,554 ft
GPS: 40.622, -111.763 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 15,089 total · 72/month
Shared By: Adam Broadbent on Dec 29, 2001
Admins: Andrew Gram, Nathan Fisher, Perin Blanchard, grk10vq
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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.

Getting There

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.

17 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Penitentiary Wall

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c
Climb and Punishment
Trad, TR
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a R
Jack the Ripper
Trad, TR
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Climb and Punishment
5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c Trad, TR
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Trad
Jack the Ripper
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a R Trad, TR
More Classic Climbs in Penitentiary Wall »

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Nathan Fisher
St George
Nathan Fisher   St George  
Actually, camping is permitted as long as it is "more" than "1/2" mile from the road. Jun 27, 2004
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. Jun 3, 2016
Seth Reelitz   Utah
My buddy and I collected a ton of trash on the approach today, mostly beer cans (coors light, that great American brew). I highly doubt this trail of trash is from climbers that are using the crag. Unfortunately a lot of this refuse is up the hill from the picnic areas and it could easily associated with climbers. If you can, do everyone a favor and pack out what the ignorant picnic warriors find impossible to do. Jun 30, 2016
Crag Turkey
Holladay, UT
Crag Turkey   Holladay, UT
Great area, especially so for those wanting to get better at plugging gear! Stacks of splitters that are very inviting. I also find it fairly unique in comparison to other areas up BCC. stomach the short but not so memorable approach, as it is worth the solitude. Jul 11, 2016
Salt Lake City, Ut
rging   Salt Lake City, Ut
I would like to thank the arrogant elitist ass who saw fit to chop all of the bolts on the first two routes up there. You just couldn't leave others to their fun without imposing your sense of justice on the climbing world. Next time I go up there I will chop all the anchor chains and you can do all the climbs as a down climb walk off. Aug 31, 2016
It's been a long time since I've been there but I don't recall any routes with bolts. Were the bolts new? Aug 31, 2016
This topic was discussed Here.

I believe Allen Sanderson gives an accurate description of why this action was taken.

RGING, I hope this helps you understand. Aug 31, 2016
Tofu Brain
Tofu Brain   Denver
I was going to post that topic but got distracted, thanks for that John. RGING, its ok, you always have dogwood. Aug 31, 2016