Lower Canyon Rock Climbing
|GPS:||35.715, -114.926 Google Map · Climbing Area Map|
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|Shared By:||DesertDan on Aug 21, 2015|
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DescriptionThe Lower Canyon has the highest concentration of climbs at Keyhole, with routes ranging from 5.0 to 5.13 and boulder problems up to V10. The rock throughout Keyhole Canyon is quartz monzonite with a lot of desert varnish on the faces outside the wash. It has the feel and flavor of the small-grained, heavily varnished areas of J-Tree, including the serious nature. Climbing has been done here regularly since the 60s, with the earliest known technical climbers being the Sierra Club.
Most of the petroglyphs at Keyhole reside in the Lower Canyon also. Some excellent pictographs can be found in the Indian cave under the boulders at the mouth of the canyon, and an eclipse on the backside of the fin rock to the right of the stairs under the big boulder choking the wash. BLM lists Keyhole as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), and requires climbing to be 100' from rock art here. Any routes described inside of this restricted area are for historical purposes only and every climber should respect rock art by staying off and not touching it in any way.
There are no sport climbs anywhere at Keyhole. The area is steeped in traditional climbing with old-school grading, and the handful of routes that protect entirely with bolts tend to be run out and committing. The routes that protect naturally or are mixed also tend to be run out and committing. Finding gear here can be tricky, with many obscure or technical placements. Bolts are used sparingly on lead and even less so for anchors. Only a couple of climbs have fixed anchors at the top, and those only because no natural gear was available. Please do not add top anchors or bolts to climbs.
Leading with a nut tool to clean out clogged seams can be useful as well as extra micro cams, and brass and ball nuts. That being said, Keyhole still has a bunch of climbs that are beginner-friendly and protect in a straightforward manner. AND everything can be top roped.
If you're looking for convenience, there's none to be found here. It's 25 miles from the nearest town, full of sharp plants, poisonous critters, and is hot six months out of the year (which only accentuates the balancy, slippery, insecure feeling known as Keyhole Weirdness). If you do make the effort to come here, you'll be rewarded with super fun climbing in an awesome, uncrowded, and remote setting.
Classic Climbing Routes at Lower Canyon
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season