Mountain Project Logo

Areas in The Fins

56 Wall, The 0 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 3
Discovery Wall, The 0 / 35 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 35
Head Wall, The 0 / 24 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 24
Honing Stone, The 0 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 3
Mortal Earth 0 / 85 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 85
Solstice 0 / 5 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 5
Yellow Cake 0 / 6 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 6

Description

Located at the southern end of the Lost River mountain range, the Fins offer climbing unlike any other in southeast Idaho. On vertical to slightly overhung walls of immaculate limestone, most routes here feature positive edges and secure pockets. The rock is somewhat sharp, but the texture is excellent. Chances are, your tips will wear out before your forearms.

Since around 2012, the walls at the Fins have seen significant new route development by Dave Bingham, Matt TeNgaio, Jonathan Siegrist  and others.  We all owe a huge thanks to these guys and the earlier developers for their hard work and vision.

Morning sun, afternoon shade. When it's too hot to climb elsewhere, excellent conditions can be found at the Fins in the afternoon and evening of even the hottest summer days.  Most walls are in full shade by 1 pm.

For more comprehensive information, purchase one of the excellent guides to The Fins, Sweet Spots, by Jerry Painter and Matt TeNgaio or . Underground Idaho, by Dave Bingham (one of Idaho's original hard men).

CAMPING INFO:  The Fins are getting more popular and camping and lack of facilities is becoming an issue. 
  • There is nice shaded camping at the Upper Fins Parking which is minutes from the Headwall.  Under normal conditions, the space would be comfortable for about 3 or 4 camping sites, however with increasing usage and popularity, these sites can have 8 to 10 parties crowding together to share the resource.  
  • There are no facilities and human waste is becoming a real issue. Please use WAG bags and pack it out.  
  • It is recommended to seek alternatives to camping at the Upper Parking at The Fins.  The best place to camp is the old corral at the mouth of the canyon (about 1.5 miles from the paved highway).  It is on BLM land, primitive camping is legal, it's flat and can hold several groups.  Before the corral there is a wide open bench area that is also BLM land with tons of primitive camping option - this would be considered the overlow option or for late night arrivals..  
  • With the exception of the premium spots at the top, shade is non-existent and bringing shade shelters is recommended to wait out the mornings for the walls to go into the shade.  
  • It is not recommended to camp at the two lower parking spots.  Parking is very limited and camping takes up valuable parking spaces for day parties.  
  • There is no water anywhere.  Bring plenty.
In the summer of 2017, significant new route activity started up in the area formerly known as "Burning Spear". "Burning Spear" had 6 seldom visited routes and no access trail. Now, there is a new access trail and several more large crags were developed. The new route count is around 80 and is increasing. Many of the newly developed crags are not quite as steep as the upper Fins and consequently the routes are of a more moderate nature - mostly in the 10 to 12 range. The stone is featured, high quality limestone with crimps, pockets, pinches, runnels and chert. The expanded area is renamed "Mortal Earth". There remain a ton of new route potential and it is likely there will be many more routes put in at Mortal Earth.

Getting There

South of Howe on Highway 33, turn west at a gravel pit into Eightmile Canyon. Keep right on the dirt road as it enters the canyon. It's about 5 miles to parking and camping near The Headwall.  The last mile of the road is steep and loose.  4WD strongly recommended.

ROAD INFO:  
  • The access road to The Fins is seasonally maintained by the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) for their access to communication towers on the top of Howe Peak.  This year the road was washed out near the mouth of the canyon.  Without their maintenance it would be long hike to the upper Fins.  The climbing community currently enjoys a good working relationship with the INL.  
  • 4WD with a true 4-low is recommended for road to the upper Fins.  The road gets very steep and loose.  The descent is probably more difficult than going up. There have been a number of accidents  associated with road including at least two roll overs off the road.  Be careful and use good judgement about whether your vehicle can make the trek.
  • 2WD vehicles can make it to the 2 lower parking areas.  The first lower parking (about 3 miles from the highway) is for Mortal Earth and there is about room for 10 cars.  The second lower parking is another 1/4 mile up the road and there is room for 6-8 cars.  From here the road gets steeper and looser and there are no opportunities to turn around.  Many a car have had to back down the road after failing to make it up..
  • Please don't camp at either of the lower parking spots as parking is becoming a premium at The Fins.

161 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

Location: The Fins Change
Type:  to 
Quality:
Pitches:
Sort by:   then:
 

Classic Climbing Routes at The Fins

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 59
Yellow Man
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 40
EBR-1
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 45
Hydroponics
Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 53
Ghost in the Shell
Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 59
Martini
Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 61
Shaken Not Stirred
Sport
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 29
Jet A
Sport
5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a
 28
Solstice
Sport
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
 37
Clips from the Bong
Sport
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b
 34
Bean Fiddler
Sport
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b
 22
Dinner Roll
Sport
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c
 27
Al's Diner
Sport
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c
 14
Make it a Double
Sport
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c
 13
Son of Discovery
Sport
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c
 12
Bushido
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Yellow Man Discovery Wall > Martini Sector
 59
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
EBR-1 Discovery Wall > Martini Sector
 40
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Hydroponics Head Wall
 45
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Ghost in the Shell Head Wall
 53
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
Martini Discovery Wall > Martini Sector
 59
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
Shaken Not Stirred Discovery Wall > Martini Sector
 61
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
Jet A Discovery Wall > Jet A Sector
 29
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
Solstice Solstice
 28
5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a Sport
Clips from the Bong Head Wall
 37
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b Sport
Bean Fiddler Head Wall
 34
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b Sport
Dinner Roll Discovery Wall > Martini Sector
 22
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b Sport
Al's Diner Head Wall
 27
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c Sport
Make it a Double Discovery Wall > Martini Sector
 14
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c Sport
Son of Discovery Discovery Wall > Martini Sector
 13
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c Sport
Bushido Discovery Wall > Mothership Sector
 12
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c Sport
More Classic Climbs in The Fins »

Weather Averages

High
 
Low
 
Precip
 
Days w Precip
 
Prime Climbing Season
J F M A M J J A S O N D
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Jaren Watson
Boise, Idaho
Jaren Watson   Boise, Idaho
Thank you, Dave. I've included this info in the description. Jun 5, 2013
Monty
Golden, CO
Monty   Golden, CO  
Some more approach beta can be found here. Aug 10, 2013
WAGbag
Denver, CO
WAGbag   Denver, CO
On the upper parking: Clearance isn't necessarily an issue as a reasonably skilled driver in a Subaru can make it. If you have low-range use it, if you have a transmission temp warning light, pay attention to it, if you don't, plan to take a rest or three on the way up to give your tranny a rest (automatics). Watch your engine temp too, mine was fine on the first run up, but was the limiting factor on the second time up (hotter day). My vehicle is an AWD Chevy Express. I know one Jeep Cherokee had to turn back due to tranny overheating.

Rattlesnakes: There is at least one in the rocks just above the camping; watch and listen when 'getting rid of your coffee'. Running on the dirt road, a climber on a rest day came very close to one. It's a good idea to keep a bite extractor kit with you. See photo - very center...

Jul 27, 2014
Dont attempt driving up the hill unless you have 4wheel drive and know how to drive a 4wheel vehicle. And old cars can easily overheat. Park at the low parking or hitch a ride. Jun 21, 2015
WAGbag
Denver, CO
WAGbag   Denver, CO
The upper part of the road has gotten worse in the last year. Fun fact: The steepest sections I measured at 19 degrees (or 34% grade). On the plus side the trails have gotten better - thanks to whoever is doing that. Sep 30, 2015
Old lady H
Boise, ID
Old lady H   Boise, ID
For out of state folks, if you've already driven this far, do make the drive up through Mackay to Mount Borah. The Lost River range is very little known, outside of Idaho, but is truly beautiful. The Sawtooths are the postcard mountains, but Leatherman, Borah, Church and the others are spit in your face bad boys.

Howe (King mountain) is a serious (world class) hang/para gliding/soaring town, with competitions, including ridiculously long flights. 180 miles! Feb 12, 2016
Adam Peters
Salt Lake City, Utah
Adam Peters   Salt Lake City, Utah
Would mid April be an acceptable time to take a trip to the Fins? Feb 16, 2016
Old lady H
Boise, ID
Old lady H   Boise, ID
Howe, Idaho is about 5,000 feet, so could be cold at night any time of year. That part of Idaho is very dry, maybe 9" precipitation, so not a giant snow pack. Check Arco, Idaho, maybe, for weather, maybe Howe. We did have a good snow year, so it might not be doable. Haven't been there, yet, only over to Borah. Feb 18, 2016
Will I be able to get my RAV4 to the upper parking this year? I took a Tacoma last year and thought 'fairly unlikely' but maybe conditions have changed? Also, where is the best place to tent camp if we can't get to the upper parking? Thanks! Jun 29, 2016
A 2016 version of the "Sweet Spots" guide exists. We found it to be pretty comprehensive for the Fins. It covers other areas and activities as well. Sep 11, 2016
Randall Stacy   Boise
Anyone know what road conditions are like or know when the road might come in given the above average snow year? Apr 27, 2017
Sam Thompson
Missoula, Montana
Sam Thompson   Missoula, Montana
Wife and I are looking to hit up the fins after July.
We've got an 05 Honda pilot with AWD and moderate/high clearance.
Any update of the road conditions this year? How accessible is the camping up high?

Cheers, May 22, 2017
Erez Shani
Boulder
Erez Shani   Boulder
The lower camping is located 1.5 miles off the highway.
If you don't have clearance or reliable car you better hitchhike from there..

If you still attempt to drive up for the lower parking climbing access at least stop 3.3 miles of the highway next to the "high voltage cable" sign and walk from there, the real steep part starts there and just get worst.

No toilet there, so bring a wagbag or at least a trowel to make a respectable hole.. Jun 21, 2017
Accidentally walked off with a draw that wasn't mine. Let me know if it's yours and what it looks like and I'd be happy to mail it to you. My number is 4159993570. Jun 28, 2017
Derek Hayton
Boise
Derek Hayton   Boise
Does anyone know what the bolt line between Martini and EBR-1 is? It looks like new hardware? Jul 6, 2017
Mikel Cronin
Rapid City, SD
Mikel Cronin   Rapid City, SD
would early Oct be good for the Fins? Aug 2, 2017
Mike Engle
Pocatello, Idaho
Mike Engle   Pocatello, Idaho  
Mikel - mostly still good in early Oct but with afternoon shade, it's not uncommon to need a puffy for belaying. Good sending temps! Give me a call if you plan to come. Aug 2, 2017
Dana Walters 1
Spokane, WA
Dana Walters 1   Spokane, WA
Is there an updated TOPO for the Fins? Aug 9, 2017
Does anyone know if dogs are permitted? Thanks in advance. Aug 14, 2017
Mike Engle
Pocatello, Idaho
Mike Engle   Pocatello, Idaho  
It's primitive Forest Service land. Your dog will be welcome by most climbers so long as it's well behaved and you pick up after it. Aug 15, 2017
karl vochatzer
Cedar City, UT
karl vochatzer   Cedar City, UT
Anyone considering this crag as a place to experience the total solar eclipse this coming Monday, the 21st? On camping, is there one spot 1.5 miles from lower parking or two as in the top of the 4x4 road? Driving in with a 2012 4Runner 4WD. Aug 15, 2017
I’m considering a trip to the fins around March 24th. Has anyone been there that early in the year? How’s the weather and the road? Feb 25, 2018
Chris Park
Sandpoint, ID
Chris Park   Sandpoint, ID
Sorry to report that the access road is completely washed out about one mile from highway. Mar 31, 2018
Matthew Feldman
Bozeman Montana
Matthew Feldman   Bozeman Montana
^Road is COMPLETELY washed away and makes for one long approach. Nice campsite just to the left as the road disappears and the conditions up were solid for a good weekend of climbing. Apr 3, 2018
anyone know if there is plans to repair the road? how bad is it? i.e. could some motivated workers fix the washed out sections or is it all gone? Apr 12, 2018
Kevin Macartney
Laramie, WY
Kevin Macartney   Laramie, WY
The road needs extensive work, I can post photos later tonight if you want to see. There are multiple spots washed out to around 6ft down from the road surface. In current conditions the hike in a little more than 2.5 miles, one way, and about 2200 vertical gain. Apr 12, 2018
Thanks for your response. I'd love to see pics if you have em. Is the road usually maintained by FS or BLM? Sorry, new to Idaho so i don't know the usual for that area. That sounds pretty intense for a shovel/pickaxe that i have... ha. Obviously can do the hike no problem as it sounds like the climbing is well worth the effort Apr 12, 2018
Kevin Macartney
Laramie, WY
Kevin Macartney   Laramie, WY
Sorry, it took me a long time to remember that I needed to upload one of the photos of the road conditions here. And now I forget how to embed photos in comments, so I added it to the photos on this page above the comments... ops hope that still helps. Apr 18, 2018
A new "Idaho Underground" guide is in the works! This one will include full updates plus Leslie Gulch, Teddy Bear Cove and the Boise Black Cliffs. Lots of good stuff! Apr 19, 2018
Are there any plans to repair the road, or anything climbers can do to help? Apr 26, 2018
Mike Engle
Pocatello, Idaho
Mike Engle   Pocatello, Idaho  
I was on the Fins road today (April 26). The road is currently being graded and bladed by the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) who maintain the road for access to the communications towers at the top of the mountain above the Fins.

The road was closed for the road work but we talked to the maintenance crew and they told us they plan to be finished by next Tuesday or Wednesday (May 1st or 2nd).

They also told us they would take down the road closed sign at the end of the day (today) when they left. We came back in the late afternoon and were able to easily drive up to the Mortal Earth (Burning Spear) parking in my Subaru. Up to that point they had graded the road but they still needed to blade the road to finish it. Not sure if they graded the road all the way to the Upper Fins since we didn't go past Mortal Earth parking.

Interestingly, they told us there were multiple wash outs including one that was 12 feet deep!!

We're not sure if they are working this weekend or will resume the work on Monday but sounds like the road will be open all the way by next Wednesday at the latest. Apr 26, 2018
Hey all,

Just a little warning. If you decide to finish your day of pocket pulling with a curry flavored with what appear to be wild onions in smell and appearance, they are probably a species called death camas. It can cause drastically lowered HR, BP, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and a few other nasty effects.

They’re easy to tell apart from onions if the flowers are out, but they’re quite similar in early season: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tox… May 10, 2018
climbup  
We spent couple days climbing at the Fins this weekend and it was very nice. What made it even nicer is a place we stayed at - I ran across it completely by random on airbnb site when Arco motel turned out to be booked. Check out this place facebook.com/champagnecreek… (or they go by Craters of the Moon Lodge in Airbnb) if you are considering something more luxurious than camping. Its 20 minutes drive from Arco but it is worth it - place is really amazing, fully stocked kitchen and common spaces with all the amusements one can desire for, just great as a basecamp. And you get fresh eggs for breakfast. We also got to see some of the livestock activities, was special. I am not affiliated with the owners in any way, just really stocked about the experience Jun 4, 2018
Road has been cleaned up really nicely by the INL crew. Even though it may look feasible to get your 2wd up the steep section PLEASE do not try. Park and hike or catch a ride. Multiple people tried this in the last couple weeks and have already deteriorated this section significantly by spinning their tires. We are lucky to have the huge washouts repaired and keeping a positive relationship with the INL/ land managers is very important here. Also, bring a means to pack out your shit. Wag Bag in the pack is a great start. This is becoming a very high traffic area and cannot support the volume of people currently digging sub par shitholes. If you do not have means to pack it out please dig a proper hole, nobody wants the dogs coming back to camp covered in human feces. Respect this very special place. Cheers and enjoy the world class limestone! Jun 13, 2018
The Fins have become an exceptionally popular area for good reason but parking is becoming an issue because people have begun taking parking spots mid way up the road to camp. Please be considerate when camping and don't camp at the two spots that are half way up the road. A lot of people can't drive to the top of the hill and when tents are set up in parking spots it's inconsiderate for those that have driven there. There is a great spot to camp called the coral that is 1.5 miles in off of the main road on the left. It's much flatter, larger, and all around a better place to camp. From there people could car pool to the mid parking areas.
Best,
John Jul 21, 2018
Cole Greenberg
Seattle, WA
Cole Greenberg   Seattle, WA
Please be aware of nesting falcons in the mortal earth area (just to the left of Thriller on Psychedelic rock). Multiple climbers spotted climbing first accidentally and then intentionally through this occupied flake. Jul 30, 2018 · Temporary Report
Mike Engle
Pocatello, Idaho
Mike Engle   Pocatello, Idaho  
On what formation did you see the nesting falcons? Jul 30, 2018
Mike Engle
Pocatello, Idaho
Mike Engle   Pocatello, Idaho  
Please comply with a voluntary closure of the routes, Total Eclipse, Thriller, and Jumping Jack Flash on Psychedelic Rock for the month of August due to reports of nesting falcons. Jul 30, 2018 · Temporary Report

More About The Fins

Printer-Friendly
What's New

All Photos Within The Fins (97)

Most Popular · Newest · Random