Type: Trad, 800 ft, 10 pitches, Grade IV
FA: burns, eng, garrett 1999
Page Views: 2,121 total · 12/month
Shared By: david goldstein on May 10, 2004
Admins: Andrew Gram, Nathan Fisher, Perin Blanchard, grk10vq

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closures ***** RAIN AND WET ROCK ***** The sandstone in Zion is fragile and is very easily damaged when it is wet. Holds rip off and climbs have been and will continue to be permanently damaged due to climbers not respecting this phenomenon. After a heavy storm the rock will remain wet, sometimes for several days. PLEASE DO NOT CLIMB IN ZION during or after rain. A good rule of thumb is that if the ground near your climb is at all damp (and not powdery dry sand), then do not climb. There are many alternatives (limestone, granite, basalt, and plastic) nearby. Seasonal Raptor Closures Details


This route has three lackluster pitches to start, five good pitches in the middle, and ends with two more weak pitches and a rap with high potential for snagging your rope. Really deserves 1.5 stars.

This climb is on the southwest buttress of Red Arch Mountain and consists primarily of a series of left-facing corners. It can be best seen from about half-way between the Zion Lodge bus stop and the Grotto bus stop.

P1 Climb the finger crack (5.8) then bushwhack up a ledgy area and establish a belay.

P2 Walk around bushes for about 50-100' until another rock step.

P3 Make a 5.7 move up a corner using pockets then follow a right-leaning ramp to a two-bolt belay at the base of the Afro cracks.

P4 (5.11, 130') Thin fingers (crux) up the cracks leads to a left-leaning corner system (mostly hands with a move or two of 5.10) which ends at a ledge below a wide, sandy 30' corner with anchors visible at its top.

Traverse straight right here (5.6 slabbing), past a pin, up a 3" corner then traverse back left to the previously-visible slings. Deft rope management is required during these traverses to avoid potentially killer rope drag which could prevent maintaining a tight rope as the second follows the crux (which is just off the previous belay ledge).

P5 (5.9, 100') Follow the chimney (bolt) up right, then left (bolt) to an interesting exit move. Belay at a ledge with bolts. Note that the original aid line is to the left of the free version described here; the two lines near each other at the chimney exit.

P6 (5.10, 100') Follow the bombay chimney whose continuous difficulty is mitigated by frequent opportunities to place non-wide gear. A wild exit move onto jugs leads to 5.8 face climbing past two bolts and a 10' 5.7 traverse right to a bolted anchor at the base of a long, clean corner.

P7 (5.10, 170') Follow the corner as it steepens (spooky 5.8 on friable flakes) until after about 80', before the corner becomes vertical and very clean, a finger crack diagonals onto the left face.

Follow the finger crack (~9+) with more snappy flake footholds until it becomes a vertical, wide, hand crack. Follow the hand crack (mainly 2.5 - 3.5 Friends) to a bolted anchor in an alcove. This is a classic pitch will get better as the breakable flakes are "consigned to the void."

P8 (5.9, 80') Follow a left-arching slot/chimney to easy face climbing which ends at another bolted anchor. The good climbing ends at this point.

P9 (5.8, 70') Up a mossy, barely-protected 5.7 corner to the base of a large pillar. Tunnel behind the pillar (challenging for the claustrophobic and/or wide bodied) then up another easy corner to a ledge with two bolts.

P10 (5.9R (5.5X), 80') Find a way over the short cliff above the anchor. We chose a spot about 25' right of the anchor where it was possible to get pro for the 5.9 move. Follow low-angled super choss until you reach a tree you can belay from. At this point you are on the shoulder of Red Arch Mountain; several hundred feet of class three from the summit.


  • One each 1-8 Rocks
  • Two each blue Alien - #2 Friend
  • Three each #2.5 - #3.5 Friend
  • One each #3.5, #4, #4.5 Camalot
  • Long slings and quickdraws


From the Zion Lodge bus stop walk north on the trail towards the Grotto picnic area for about a quarter of a mile, until below the route.

Bushwhack up to the base, switchbacking sharply left when a series of rock steps is encountered at the base of the buttress. The start is identified by a a sinuous 30' finger crack in a slab about 5' to the left of a narrow chimney.


If you climbed pitch 10, rap 120' from slings around a tree and boulders at the edge of the wall to the anchors at the end of pitch 8.

From the end of pitch 8 make a short (~30m) rap to the end of pitch 7.

From the end of pitch 7 rap 150' to the end of pitch 6. Cross your fingers when pulling the rope after this rap. Our rope snagged on something near the top of the pitch; we eventually chopped it. Note you can make it to the ground from the end of pitch 6 with a single 60m rope. The rest of this description is for rapping with a single 60m rope.

From the end of pitch 6 rap to the end of pitch 5.

From the end of pitch 5 rap to the end of pitch 4.

From the end of pitch 4 rap to a fixed a anchor on the original aid line, left of and midway up pitch 4.

From the pitch 4 midway aid anchor rap to the anchor at the end of pitch 3, the start of the afro cracks.

From the pitch 3 anchor, a 30M rap just makes it past the short 5th class crux of pitch 3. From here walk through the bushes to a tree with slings from which a 30m rap easily makes it to the ground.


Grade IV, not Grade VI. I think two stars is warranted for the middle 5 pitches, especially when more traffic cleans up the loose bits. The first three "pitches" are poor, but they go extremely quickly so I don't really count them against the route's quality. That said, Wigs is definitely in the second tier of long Zion free routes, below Monkeyfinger, Shunes, Moonlight, et al -- probably equivalent in quality to Iron Maiden or Northeast Buttress of Angels Landing, though I haven't done either of those. Good variety -- fingers, hands, chimneys and face -- and the bombay chimney is unique: very intimidating but well protected. May 15, 2004
I don't think the first ascentionists freed the route. Cameron Tague and Jeff Hollenbaugh did the FFA. Aug 20, 2004
Fakeville, USA
Tortilla   Fakeville, USA
The first .11 pitch is quite awsome. And the easy chimney above is fun too, but the bombay is really dirty and stupid. A bolted variation on the right would go at a moderate grade and really make this a worthy route. Apr 9, 2006
Andrew Gram
Salt Lake City, UT
Andrew Gram   Salt Lake City, UT  
I mistakenly climbed the wide sandy corner instead of traversing onto the slab on P4, and it was a very bad idea. Its probably a bit safer now that a few of the big death blocks are gone, but it is still loose, sandy, and doesn't protect very well until you get close to the belay. I had to aid the last 10 feet or so using 3.5 camalots. May 1, 2006
Hey Dougald!
Aren't you being a tad harsh? Or are you just talking smack? Who said it was a grade VI? Or maybe it was a dyslexic misprint? But you look in the photo more than a tad trashed for a grade IV or no? It is likened to two routes (in star quality) you haven't done and what is wrong with the first couple of pitches?...Are they worse than the early pitches on Space Shot now that that is considered a long Zion Free route? I loved leading the Bombay chimney, though one person thinks it is stupid and another thinks it is overprotected and unique. The bolt (drilled angle) was placed on an earlier attempt as a retreat move. Climbs are so many different things to different people. If I was repeating it today for the first time, I probably wouldn't get off on it so much either.

Would it be recommended by you and others to install more frequent and straight forward rappel anchors? I could be talked into that. Are other people sticking their ropes or having hard pulls?

What would people think of a bolted variation as a finale rather than crawling through the hole and doing the last "pitch"?

Would other people really prefer a bolted face pitch to the left of the bombay chimney pitch?

Are their any climbs in Zion where every pitch is 4 star? I haven't found one, but that's just me maybe.
I'm just giving you a hard time...actually, I appreciate your comments....thanks! Jan 18, 2007
Hey James,

Dave had mistakenly posted Grade VI, so I was correcting him; now it's corrected on the site, so my comment is unnecessary. As for the other comments, did you read my post? I actually quite liked the route; it was the other people who had negative remarks. It was a drag to have our rope caught and cut, but shit happens. I think a bolted variation to the last couple of pitches would be great, and definitely would add to the count of cool pitches, but don't mess with the bombay chimney: Dave and I both thought it was highly worthwhile, unique and intimidating, with a fantastic exit.

As for my appearance in the photo, I definitely was trashed, but not just because of this route. Dave and I had just done a 24-hour orienteering race a couple of days earlier, and I was well on my way to developing a mega-cold. If you think I look bad in this photo, you should have seen me the next day on Monkeyfinger!


Dougald Apr 3, 2007
Remember, these websites are about bitching, so if you're here to post something else....well, frankly, it's not needed..... Apr 7, 2008
I thought this route was a little dirty and loose but overall very fun. There are a couple of junk pitches for sure, p2 is pure crap after that fun and varied. All the anchors are GREAT thanks to whoever put in the work.The bombay pitch was way fun not near as hard as it looked. Bolting the face to avoid this great feature seems silly,climb the chimney itll be ok trust me... We had to bail midway on p7 lazy partner left the extra rope at the base of the bombay something about being too fat and a sissy i dont remember.I lowered on 2 nuts 100 ft into the 170ft pitch, sorry no topo and my guide book sucks.Anywho the anchors up to that pitch are 100ft or less apart if midway anchors were placed on p7 this route could be done with one 70m rope.Less rope less snagging less cluster less whining partners more fun for all!So, any objections to another set of rap anchors on p7? Dec 17, 2008
Go for it....sounds like you want to go back up and give it another go. I never have a problem with rap anchor installation/improvement. I know Cam doesn't either. Feb 22, 2009