Mountain Project Logo
To save paper & ink, use the [Hide] controls next to photos and comments so you only print what you need.

Arch Tower: Knot in My Backyard

5.9, Trad, 250 ft (76 m), 3 pitches, Grade III,  Avg: 3 from 3 votes
FA: Steve Bartlett, Paul Ross (alt leads) Layne Potter. 03/01/06
Utah > S Central Utah > San Rafael Swell > San Rafael Swel… > Smith Cabin


The Arch Tower has a detached arch on its west side, and was named in the hiking guide book by Allen.

"Knot in My Backyard" III 5.9. The route takes the obvious line of deep grooves and cracks on the east end of the tower. Start around the right corner (left end of the north face) up a right-facing flake/chimney.

P1) One move of aid on a 3.5 camalot leads to an awkward entry into the chimney. Continue up a nice hand crack over a bulge, then angle left and up easier terrain to a two bolt belay.130' C0 5.9

P2) Up the groove on the right to easier climbing and a two bolt belay. 80' 5.8.

P3). Scramble 4th class to the summit 40'

Rap the route, two ropes.


Northern Reef, Smith Cabin Area. From the parking area, walk west and in 5 minutes enter an open canyon with a stream. Continue and in 10 minutes the canyon narrows with rock walls and trees. Keep left and after 15 minutes pass large potholes. At 24 minutes go up the canyon on the right. At 30 minutes reach 4 way canyons, go left up slabs, and at about 45 minutes Arch Tower comes into view. Do not take the canyon on the right, but instead go around the rocky mesa to the left, and then diagonal up to the base of the tower. Total time from the parking area is about one hour and ten minutes.


One set of cams from 0.75" to 2.5" Four 3.0", One 3.5" and One #5 Camalot

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

On The Summit First Ascent Arch Tower
[Hide Photo] On The Summit First Ascent Arch Tower
Paul Ross.
[Hide Photo] Paul Ross.
Layne Potter and Paul Ross on summit of Arch Tower
[Hide Photo] Layne Potter and Paul Ross on summit of Arch Tower
Crusher and Layne on the Summit
[Hide Photo] Crusher and Layne on the Summit
Paul topping out on pitch 2
[Hide Photo] Paul topping out on pitch 2
Crusher on First Pitch of Arch Tower
[Hide Photo] Crusher on First Pitch of Arch Tower

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Paul S
Fruita, CO
[Hide Comment] Beautiful adventure tower. Two rappels with a single 70 m rope will get you down. I believe I did the 1st pitch slightly different than what's described here. I started on the east face, rather than around the corner. There wasn't a need to do a move of aid to get into the chimney, just some lie backing. Also, up towards the top of P1 I continued straight up instead of heading left after the bulge. P2 had some heads up climbing avoiding some death blocks, besides that the rock was surprisingly good! Sep 7, 2014
Keswick Cumbria.UK
[Hide Comment] Glad you had fun and it was worth the hike. Cheers Sep 8, 2014
B.J. Cassell
[Hide Comment] Worth your time if you're up for the adventure- type 1 fun. A solid hour drive from I-70 (with high clearance for the last few miles). Another hour+ each way for the approach. Though the approach beta seems a little vague, it's actually spot on.
Parking lot GPS: 38.98275, -110.39575
Middle of approach GPS point: 38.99020, -110.41660
Base of climb GPS: 38.99481, -110.42599
We started in the chimney with the chockstone at arm's reach, just to climber's right of the small detached leaning pillar at the base.
P1- Great climbing deep in the chimney (#2 hand crack) to a 5.9/5.10 single move through a small roof/bulge (it would be possible to pull/stand on gear through). We never found the advertised C1 #3.5 move.
P2 - Fun yet thoughtful moves on 'interesting' rock. 5.8-?
P3 - Unroped short scramble
A generous rack would be: 1 #1, 2 or 3 each #2s and #3s, and one either #3.5 or #4. We brought smaller and bigger gear we weren't able to use.
Rapping the route was...adequate, but if I were to go back, I'd bring a couple bolts and some chain to put in a new rap station to go through the arch- this would really class up the descent. If rapping the route, a single 70 works if you make two raps (one from each belay station). Additional anchor webbing recommended- this route gets a lot more UV than climbers to replace the tat. Oct 26, 2019