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Areas in Hells Canyon

Big Dry Gulch 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
South Face of the Flatiron, The 0 / 4 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 4
War and Peace Cave 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Elevation: 1,746 ft
GPS: 45.129, -116.738 Google Map · Climbing Map
Page Views: 17,333 total, 120/month
Shared By: David Stephens on Feb 7, 2006
Admins: WAGbag, Mike Engle

Description

Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in US. The canyon has a very long history that goes back before history. Native Americas had long ago traveled in these hills, climbed into the caves and probably every other nook and cranny of this entire canyon. With respect, we now also travel in these hills.

The area around Hells Canyon Dam is covered with limestone walls of all sizes and shapes. Modern rock climbing in a place like Hells Canyon takes it to the top of any scale. A small group of climbers from Eastern Oregon and Idaho and did a lot of early routes just off the Allison Creek Trail. (Now, you could make 4 weekend trips in a row and not hike more than 15 minutes up this trail).

There are over 400 routes, so if you see a wall that looks good, take a hike. Climbs are from 5.7 to 5.13+ and are 40 feet to 300 feet long. Short jug halls, roofs of caves, monster clip-ups. The camping is great and free. Being only 90 minutes from the Interstate (I-84) makes this place one of the gems of Idaho!

Eckels Creek has a voluntary climbing closure. The USFS has asked not to climb in that drainage or on that formation at all. (Golden Eagles)

Getting There

Directions: From the east on I-84 at Fruitland, take U.S. route 95 north to Cambridge, Idaho, then left on SR 71 to Oxbow, OR. From the west, get off I-84 at exit 302 SR 86 to the town of Oxbow, Oregon.

Cross over the river to the Idaho side, then 15 miles to Big Bar. Camping is on the left; Allison Creek is on the right.

6 Total Climbs

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Old lady H
Boise, Idaho
Old lady H   Boise, Idaho
We visited in mid August this year. Yes, it was hot, but tolerable in the morning. If you want a weather forecast, go for Riggins, Idaho. Pretty close, and similar elevation and setting. Although it is a recreation area where you can drive right in, still remember you are in a really isolated area, adjacent to wilderness. We never saw any snakes, but bats and chipmunks on the tiny scale, on up to black bears on the other end of the scale. Pretty much everything central Idaho backcountry has is a possibility here for wildlife. Speaking of, those trees you are camping in are remnants of pioneer orchards. Stow the food in a closed vehicle, if you're camping at their farmers market!

Climbing was fun! This was the first time I've been on rock other than "slick" columnar basalt, or very sandy sandstone, so I finally found out what that black stuff on my shoes was for! Routewise,eyeball something that looks interesting, size up if you have the draws/gear and rope to do it, and just go! Sep 6, 2015
Let's not turn this into Supertaco, shall we? Oct 14, 2014
bheller
SL UT
bheller   SL UT
Not that anyone is asking, but my opinion is that it would be quite generous to even freely refer to Hells Canyon as a "regional" destination. Not that its not good or enjoyable, but most definitely not "world class". Oct 14, 2014
This is a world class destination. Solid rock of exceptional diversity and consistent grade, Yosemite-easy access, excellent position, and great weather in season. And hundreds of routes, as mentioned above, many atypically long

Oh and an empty campground on the river. Oct 12, 2014
Kev
Kev  
Thanks for all the hard work to all the developers. I am thinking of visiting this area the last week in May. Is the weather there hit or miss this time of year? Guide book information....is it available. I will purchase it.....how far is the camping from the climbing? Do you camp on the rim or in the canyon?

Thanks again.

Kevin Feb 9, 2012
I have heard that this area has been under development for some time (this is from a friend of the person who is developing the area). I think the assumption is a guide will follow when development is complete.

The same person told me the routes are of a higher grade mostly 5.11 and above.

I'm not sure where in Hells Canyon the area is being developed, however. Apr 21, 2011
J Jones  
Best time of the year for me... Spring, Late Winter. The grass is short and green, sunny faces feel good, trails are easy to hike... There is water seeps all over though, but you can find nice sunny dry faces regardless.

I think last time I went in the summer, I sat in the river with my chair and drank pop all day :) It's hot... but there are spots. Dec 3, 2010
David Stephens
Superior AZ
David Stephens   Superior AZ
Fall has to be the best time of year. All the seeps are dry, long warm days. I know a few Climbers that love the Summer. There are pockets of shade so deep, the sun never reaches. Mar 31, 2009
Djamer
Laramie, WY
Djamer   Laramie, WY
what is the best season? How about summer??? I heard it is too hot. Mar 21, 2009
Actually, I have a rudimentary guide to Hell's Canyon, but it is REALLY rudimentary. Hand drawn and hard to follow. The best thing to do is just go and hope you meet someone who actually knows the place. A guidebook would ruin this place. Just go and climb and enjoy the free camping while it lasts. Not knowing the ratings actually makes it exciting. Best of luck. Dec 2, 2007
David Stephens
Superior AZ
David Stephens   Superior AZ
There is not even a rudimentary guide,(maybe a little one is out there) but the routes are being tracked. We love the place so much and think that a guide might just be a waste of ink and paper. The place is Amazing! Sep 26, 2007
So does anyone have at least a rudimentary guide for Hell's Canyon? If there's so much development going on, someone has to be keeping track, eh? The place looks amazing. Sep 18, 2007
This is a great area with not many people. Watch for rattlesnakes and the ubiquitous poison ivy. Great multi-pitch adventure sport and single-pitch mostly moderate (5.9-5.11) sport climbs. Dec 12, 2006
David Stephens
Superior AZ
David Stephens   Superior AZ
If the route is over 100 ft than there is a lower off at some mid-point, so you can get off with a 60m rope.

Hope this helps more.
DRS Jun 25, 2006
mikec
Silver City, New Mexico
mikec   Silver City, New Mexico
Just for information most of the routes on South Flat Iron are more than 100'. Don't plan on getting down with one 60M rope. Mar 30, 2006

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