Type: Trad, 1200 ft, 10 pitches, Grade III
FA: James Garrett, Patrique Maloney, and Blake Summers, September 2012
Page Views: 3,347 total · 51/month
Shared By: James Garrett on Jul 25, 2013
Admins: Andrew Gram, Nathan Fisher, Perin Blanchard, grk10vq

You & This Route

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This excellent, fun, and well protected Wasatch alpine climb is worth doing now before the hordes find out about it! Though by nature of the intricate slab layout there are some broken up sections, many stand out alone pitches make the whole endeavor well worth your while.

All pitches assume a natural belay stance on good ledges and though it is possible to link pitches, doing so might create enough rope drag to bust your fun meter.

Look for the beginning of the route at almost the lowest point of the Face on the Left (south and closer to Needles Gondola) side.

Pitch #1: Climb beautiful pockets and bullet proof edges trending right to some fixed pitons and more bolts to a great ledge and two-bolt belay. 9 bolts. 5.9, 35m.

Pitch #2: Continue up right of the arête trending again right to a weakness through a roof. Climb past several bolts straight up to a ledge and two-bolt belay. 6 bolts. 5.8, 33m.

Pitch #3: Now scramble/walk up and around to an unpleasant and brushy, jumbled, and blocky section mostly in a left facing dihedral. A tag line (definately NOT to be blindly trusted!!) has been left here to facilitate passage and speed, but may later be removed. Simul-climbing this together with P4 really speeds things and gets you quicker to better things. 4th Class, 35m.

 Pitch #4
: Continue following the "ridge", which goes down, then back up and climb through an easy roof (bolt) to the arête which culminates with a two-bolt belay. 3 bolts. 5.4, 50m.

Pitch #5: Climb a right trending hand crack to a "step across" 1m wide loose "gully" to a compact face. Bolts protect these brilliant face moves to a roof, with a right-facing dihedral. Continue up a few moves until possible to move back out above the roof and reach a two-bolt belay ledge. 7 bolts, 5.9, 35m.

Pitch #6: From the ledge, move right over some blocks to a short smooth section to another ledge. Move right again on the ledge to where more face climbing following nice features lead to a piton/bolt belay ledge under an overhang. 5 bolts. 5.7, 25m.

Pitch #7: Go right around a corner and climb to a fixed piton (marked with webbing) and continue straight up passing 5 bolts to the left of a skeletal dead snag to a ledge and two-bolt belay. 5.7, 35m.

Pitch #8: A steep brief step (5.5) leads to an easy arête and more low angle scrambling. An escape gully is just around the corner to the left. Stay right on the ridge crest here to reach a two-bolt belay on the ridge. Simul-climbing here can buy you time. 4th Class, 80m.

Pitch #9: Follow the most compact rock trending right and then climb straight up to a nice ledge and two-bolt belay. Wall register here. 6 bolts. 5.7, 35m.

 Pitch #10
: Climb out above the belay and pass 1 bolt (marked with webbing) following the somewhat loose (take care) arête to where it finally deteriorates to the point you can place a directional and traverse 2m to the right to a piton/bolt belay. 2 bolts. 5.6, 20m.

P10 may be contrived for some and may be avoided entirely by going out left into a loose low angle gully that also leads to the summit antennas.

Pitch #11 (Optional): With the prominent Mt. Ogden summit antennae clearly in view, climb the final short Gray Slab to the top.

Walk off to the south via the hiking trail.


Many previous traditional routes have been no doubt climbed up the numerous corners and dirty crack systems by Ogden locals in years past. The southern most Gray Slabs seem to follow the longest line linking the many intricate slabs together. Once the first pitch is located, the route seems fairly intuitive and the presence of the "tag line" navigates the climber through the unpleasantness to more memorable pitches.

Though the route is equipped for rappel, up and over would appear to be the safer and more logical choice. If nothing is left at the base of the route, the fastest and easiest way back to the Needles Gondola top station is hiking on the ridge line trail south over the backside of the Needles and staying on the trail to the Lodge.

With the laid back convenience of the Gondola Approach at very reasonable prices, Snowbasin is a great option for alpine rock climbing tourism.

The Needles Gondola at Snowbasin is unfortunately only open on weekends at this time. Mountain hiking and biking, an array of mountain flowers, great diversity of summer music concerts, and fine dining are other attractions in the cool mountain air.


Most climbers will be comfortable just carrying 12 QDs and some shoulder runners. A small assortment of Camalots with emphasis on the C3 size should be sufficient if supplemental protection is desired....in this manner, you can climb fast and make it back to the gondola in time to avoid the hike down!

All belays (with the exception of the optional Pitch #11) are bolted. In the case of thunderstorms, retreat is possible by rappelling the route, however, after P6, escape may be best via the easy scree gullies to the left (South) and up and over the top.

As you are climbing above 9000 feet, don't forget a warm layer, rain jacket, and helmet on your equipment list. Generally, the rock is much more stable and solid than LCC alpine limestone.
Fun alpine outing for a hot summer day. Cool and breezy when it is hot in the valley, the gondola approach eliminates the drudgery of a lot of hiking, and it is scenic and secluded even though you are in the middle of a ski resort. There is some real climbing on this. The first pitch right off the ground woke me up and caught my attention. WARNING-Do not Batman your way up the tag line on the 3rd and 4th pitch fourth class sections; that rope has suffered major damage (probably an avalanche). A twenty foot section is missing the sheath and has core strands cut. There was not enough rope to tie off the damaged section, so it remains as we found it. That tag line is useful for guiding the way through not so obvious terrain. I may do the route again in the next few weeks; if so I will bring rope to repair the damage. And thanks for the 7 Crown; it was appreciated! Jul 30, 2014
Sam Cannon
Salt Lake City, UT
Sam Cannon   Salt Lake City, UT
Had a great time climbing this route (another JG gem) yesterday, and wanted to leave a few comments:

While it's not bad, the approach, at least how we did it with just the beta listed here, was more like 20 min or so. Not a biggie, but it's listed as 5. We took the gondola up which puts you above the start of the route and you have to hike the mountainbiking trails down and then bushwhack over to the base.

Also, the route does not start at the lowest point on the slabs; you'll find the route on one of the gray, recessed plates above and (climber's) left of the lowest point.

Also, the route goes very fast, at least if you're simulclimbing or solo'ing the easier stuff. This route as a whole is more of a ridge scramble with 2-3 technical pitches of climbing. Super fun, definitely worth getting on, just clarifying what the route actually entails. The first two pitches are the "business," and the 5th pitch 5.9 felt more like 5.fun. Maybe 5.7 or so (and I followed the bolts, so I was on route). If you tackle the overhang straight on, perhaps it goes at 5.9. Aug 3, 2015
The piton at the final belay is no longer any good, so it's now just a single bolt belay (see photo: mountainproject.com/v/11197… Jul 6, 2016
Seth Reelitz   Utah
Derek, your link has a ")" at end so it doesn't link to the photo, easy fix. Thanks for the heads up :) Aug 15, 2016
Taylor Gemperline
St. Louis
Taylor Gemperline   St. Louis
Anyone have a Needles Lodge to Needles Lodge time estimate for the route? Jul 6, 2017
Logan, UT
NathanC   Logan, UT
We ran this route yesterday, back to the gondola at ~4pm after snagging the first ride up at 10am. Relaxed but intent pace on route, with ~20min lounging on the summit.

Route is extremely well protected and the pitches go by quick. I second the notion that pitches 1&2 are the meat of the route, with a lot of 4th/5.easy to follow (it still has moments of 5.fun though). Tag lines were in a state of disrepair, I did what I could on the ends, but DO NOT trust them to yard on or as fall protection.

12 QD's and an alpine draw or two are adequate for the route proper, but highly recommend bringing a single rack and exploring the side alternatives. There are ample opportunities to spice up the climb along the way, with a relatively insignificant weight penalty considering the gondola approach. Jul 10, 2017
James Garrett
James Garrett  
Yes, I agree with previous statements about the tag lines. Although they are hardly as bad as I expected. Please just use them for a point of reference only. Do NOT trust them.

I recently climbed those pitches and found the left facing dihedral hand crack on the second tier of jumbledness to be really fun and solid 5.4 or 5.5 fun. I never once even came close to following the tag line...it was well to my left (south).

That said, the route is seeing some traffic and I hope to do Full Battle Rattle (if Derek's crew finishes it up) especially if the next time we visit Gray Slabs is occupied.

Franziska and I basically belayed all the pitches to avoid rope drag and we really enjoyed having a few small Camalots to lessen the run out portions. Wonderful day, but we were too slow to catch the last tunes played by the great band playing at Blues and Brews down at the base of the mountain. This is pure SLAC (ski lift assisted climbing) alpine rock climbing at its best. What a great summer venue. Jul 17, 2017
Greg Gavin
Greg Gavin   SLC, UT
Here's some good info on climbing the route quickly with a belay for all the crux pitches.

Pitches 1 and 2 link easily with a 60m.

Kiwi coil the line, and start simuling up through the pitch 5 crux (easier than the stated 5.9).

Once through pitch 5 one can take off their climbing shoes, and put on their approach shoes as the climbing is no harder than 5.6 to the top.

We did the route in just over 3.5 hours base area of the gondola to base area using this style. It would take a pretty long time to pitch it all out if using the 10 belay stations.

The route is a like a mix of the SE Ridge of Superior mixed with the West Slabs of Olympus. Not as good as either of those routes in terms of climbing, but the overall experience adds the extra star because it summits Mt. Ogden (9579') with gorgeous 360 degree views.

To descend walk down the ridge to the south. Follow the hiking trail on the Ogden side to the west instead of taking the service roads back into the ski area. There will be one fork in the trail where the Mt Ogden trail intersects. At this junction keep left ascending slightly and contouring back to the ridgeline accessing the saddle just below De Moisy Peak. From the saddle follow signage back to the top of the gondy. Summit to gondy time estimate is roughly 45min. Jun 18, 2018
James Garrett
James Garrett  
Seriously:)? I have climbed the SE Ridge of Superior at least a dozen times and never with the comfort of a rope and 90% of the time with skis on my back. Doubt if I would ever or ever want to climb Gray Slabs that way.
Cool, it is now a 2 pitch route! And the Salathe after Honnold is a one pitch route. Jun 18, 2018
Greg Gavin
Greg Gavin   SLC, UT
James I should add to the line "Once through pitch 5 one can take off their..." for the climbers to keep simuling with a rope (we did), but as always the choice is yours. Jun 18, 2018
James Garrett
James Garrett  
Greg....My apologies for words that came off my iphone as way too harsh.....I agree, for good competent climbers such as yourselves, it is all pretty cruiser and you can do it fast and efficient. Glad you like the climb:)! I have been back again and again and will try to hit it up again this summer and if lucky enough to move faster, will not miss the music and band playing at the base!! Jun 19, 2018
Did this route today, awesome. A few things... not sure why anyone would take the gondola, we hiked straight up Wildcat. Also, tag lines are completely useless. Lastly, I pulled the second fixed pin on pitch 1. It pulled out without force while cleaning the route on second. Jul 29, 2018
James Garrett
James Garrett  
You are just hardcore:)! And also by hiking up or riding up on a mountain bike you are not restricted to climbing it during the weekends. Strong work!
I hiked down after being too late for gondola once and my knees were aching for a week:)!!
BTW, thanks for the Equip. Update.... I have always been leery of fixed pitons in limestone and quartzite anyway, so thanks for the Beta update. All the other fixed hardware in OK shape?
Thanks for the trip report! Aug 26, 2018
Craig Pierson
Salt Lake City, UT
Craig Pierson   Salt Lake City, UT
Comparing to Outside Corner in BCC, I'd rate P1 and P2 at 5.7, and P5 at 5.6. All other pitches are scrambling or 5.fun. A fun day out and the gondola makes it vaguely reminiscent of climbing in the Dolomites with vastly superior rock quality. Sep 10, 2018