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Dark Horse

5.11 R, Trad, 200 ft, 3 pitches,  Avg: 3.7 from 6 votes
FA: Mark Ward, Kim Miller: 1979
Utah > Wasatch Range > Little Cottonwo… > Fin
Access Issue: Gate Buttress Area Recreational Lease: Climbs on Church Buttress above vault remain closed Details

Approach

From the 4th bolt on The Fin Arete.

Route Description

Start on The Fin Arete.
Pitch 1: Branch right, toward the roof. I used a short runner on the bolt protecting the (physical crux) roof despite recieving rope drag. It was OK because the belay is right after you clear the lip.
Pitch 2: Climb straight up one of the most exposed hard slabs you may ever climb. Clip the lead rope through the belay anchor to prevent an FF2 fall on the hanging belay. This is the psychological crux. Belay at a 2-bolt station above a dike.
Pitch 3: Finish up a prow that joins The Fin Arete.

Protection

The scariest runout section is directly above the first belay station shown. I suggest a few quickdraws with locking carabiners.

Descent

Continue straight up The Fin Arete to a 2-bolt station directly above a large corner/crack. Rappel 80' to a low angle slab. Scramble down to Gargoyle Gully.

History

Some of the bolts were placed while rappelling.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

The bolt belay on top of pitch 2 - near the prow.  On this ascent, we broke off the chickenhead that was slung on the 1st ascent. Now the 3rd pitch has no protection (5.9).
[Hide Photo] The bolt belay on top of pitch 2 - near the prow. On this ascent, we broke off the chickenhead that was slung on the 1st ascent. Now the 3rd pitch has no protection (5.9).
Miller leads on the second pitch of Dark Horse.  2nd or 3rd ascent.   '80/81<br>
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Pic taken from the road - grossly foreshortened.
[Hide Photo] Miller leads on the second pitch of Dark Horse. 2nd or 3rd ascent. '80/81 Pic taken from the road - grossly foreshortened.
Bryce Thatcher follows the roof on pitch one of Dark Horse - probably 3rd ascent.  1980/81
[Hide Photo] Bryce Thatcher follows the roof on pitch one of Dark Horse - probably 3rd ascent. 1980/81
The prow on P3, just before joining the Fin Arete. Steeeeeep and runout due to the missing chickenhead.
[Hide Photo] The prow on P3, just before joining the Fin Arete. Steeeeeep and runout due to the missing chickenhead.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] This really is good beta - I'll be bringing a short draw with that in mind. This route has a serious rep. Last spring someone mentioned there was a horn in the crux that used to get slung but that's gone now. They said the FA's wanted to go and remedy this and make it safer. Anyone know if that happened.

I aspire to this one. Nov 14, 2007
[Hide Comment] Don't think it's happened yet. I'm hoping to get up there with Kim though.

Edit update: Thanks for the photos Kim! Nov 14, 2007
[Hide Comment] if the weather holds out this is on the list for tomorrow. No there are still the two bolts at the base of the ramp, none above it though. Apr 11, 2009
RKM
Alpine, Utah and Almo, Idaho
[Hide Comment] Just a little history about Dark Horse to go along with the old scanned pictures. I have climbed it five times. Twice with Mark Ward, once with Bryce Thatcher, once with Steve Bowen and once with Brandon Pack. I've worn EB's, PA's, Mekan two lace system high tops, and Moccasym's (with socks, of course). The last time was probably '91/92

Only one bolt was placed on rappel (the first or second bolt of pitch two). That was used during our rappel from the Fin Arete to get a closer look. Sep 10, 2011
[Hide Comment] One of the best routes I ever climbed in LCC. Did it with Lance Bateman about 25 years ago. The sequence over the first roof is absolutely amazing. Consistently good climbing. Heady, out there, awesome. Lance led the first pitch and I led the second and third as a combined pitch. One of the best days of climbing I ever had. Nov 7, 2013
Tim Wolfe
Salt Lake City, UT
  5.11 PG13
[Hide Comment] Despite many tries over 30 years I have yet to free that roof move. Tough route! Jan 11, 2016
RKM
Alpine, Utah and Almo, Idaho
[Hide Comment] Just saw in the brand new Granite Guide an odd description of pitch 2 on Dark Horse . . . . the roof is usually passed on the left, but it has been pulled going straight up and over on the chickenhead. Both variations . . . . .

To each their own, but if you are checking this route off in either your mind or the guide book, but missing one of the three distinct crux's of the three pitch route by pussy-footing left around the second of two roofs the route was created to go over - you might be cheating, or kidding, yourself. Sep 13, 2016
[Hide Comment] For sure classic, but unfortunately, one of those classics that I will only lead once:):)... I hear at least the 1/4" er has been retrofitted with more girth. Ranks way up there in one of the scarier and bolder leads in the Wasatch. And drilled on lead, very proud. Sep 14, 2016