Type: Trad, 600 ft, 6 pitches, Grade III
FA: Brian Smoot and Les Ellison, 1990
Page Views: 4,490 total · 35/month
Shared By: James Garrett on Jul 9, 2008
Admins: Andrew Gram, Nathan Fisher, Perin Blanchard, grk10vq

You & This Route

7 Opinions

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Access Issue: Private Property now at the entrance to Bells Canyon. Details


This audacious Bell's Canyon classic is a must do for those who love slab. Pat Maloney and I did it years ago and had to marvel at almost every bolt and position while climbing (getting ourselves up!) this amazing route that Ellison and Smoot created. It is stout and brilliant, yet rarely discussed compared to Arm And Hammer or other MidBells routes. As it is significantly harder than its neighboring Middle Bell routes and lacks the tension traverses, perhaps it has been ignored.

The Ruckman Guide topo is gospel for describing the pitch by pitch play by, but expect it to be about the only exclusively slab multi-pitch route up there....or maybe even in the Wasatch? The first pitch of the McQuarrie Route brings you to the business located just above the huge roofs.

Pitch #1: Climb the first pitch of the Ellsworth -McQuarrie to a chockstone belay in the dihedral which is approximately 20m below the bolted belay up higher for Arm and Hammer/Butcher Knife. 5.7.

Pitch #2: Traverse leftward on thin slab climbing moves out the blank granite face passing 3 bolts to a faint left facing dihedral (bolt protected) to a two-bolt belay. 5.11++, 30m.

Pitch #3: Continue straight up past a bolt to "The Crescent" (a prominent feature which is climbed on its right side for A&H and BK) passing some fixed protection on its left side. It also accepts small micro-Camalots. Join the other routes to pass two more bolts to "Pedestal Ledge". 5.9, 50m.

Pitch #4: The other two aforementioned routes go left or right at this point. Cymbals climbs directly above up amazingly thin slab climbing passing approx 6 bolts to a two-bolt belay. 5.11+, 40m.

Pitch #5: Continue straight up past the BK traverse passing 3 bolts, then trend left to the left side of a big roof (same roof tackled in the middle by BK. Belay under the roof with at least one bolt and gear. 5.9+, 30m.

Pitch #6: Surmount the roof to a bolt and more slab ( a thin crack is available for a short distance) to more bolt protected slab to a belay (shared with BK). 5.10d/5.11a, 30m.

Either continue to the exit pitches of Butcher Knife or rappel the route with two ropes.


Located kind of smack dab in the middle between Arm & Hammer and Butcher Knife, I guarantee you will be talking about the route long after you do it. Patrique and I certainly have.
We rapped the face with two ropes....walking off is a jungle experience....you may encounter lions and tigers and bears!


Lots of QDs and small micro-Camalots and a rack of Camalots and nuts for getting to the route.


This is for reals .11++ and bad to the bone. I used to think I was ok at slab climbing but seriously, I'm a bit rattled from my attempt. Hats off to Brian and Les. May 24, 2009
We originally rated pitch one 12a, but downgraded it because we were worried that Merrill B. would send it and then downgrade it, but after all these years he hasn't tried it. I'd say it's a little harder than All Chalk and No Action.

Note: The hard pitch off of Pedestal Ledge requires a few small & medium cams. May 24, 2009
Ben Folsom  
Stout, demanding, sustained... Hard route, don't expect mercy on any pitch. Great face and slab climbing on mostly excellent rock. I as well am quite rattled from my attempt. Jul 15, 2009
Bad Sock Puppet
Bad Sock Puppet  
Holy Shit this is HARD! You've got to have faith that you can walk on air. Unfortunately I did it in the middle of a hot summer day so everything was slicker than a minnow's dick. Jul 26, 2009
Tim Wolfe
Salt Lake City, UT
Tim Wolfe   Salt Lake City, UT  
Very thin and very sustained. I won't even try to rate it given all the falls and slips as well as not doing the entire route. In another league compared to most granite slabs I have done in the Wasatch. Cudos to the first ascentionists. Jun 8, 2011