Adventure Projects is hiring a web engineer to join us in Boulder, CO
Mountain Project Logo

Routes in Moss Canyon

Island in the Sky Traverse T Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c
Order Wrong? Sort Routes
Type: Trad, Grade II
FA: unknown
Page Views: 1,098 total · 31/month
Shared By: fossana on Jan 2, 2016
Admins: Andrew Gram, Nathan Fisher, Perin Blanchard, grk10vq

You & This Route

4 Opinions

Your To-Do List:

Add To-Do · View List

Your Star Rating:

     Clear Rating

Your Difficulty Rating:

-none- Change

Your Ticks:

Add New Tick


There was not much actual climbing on the route, but it was an interesting mix of ridge scrambling and canyoneering with great views of the park. I didn't use the raps, so the hardest part was a bombay chimney boulder problem with a squeeze exit, which I think may be optional.

Paragon Adventures, a local guiding company, rates this route as 5.6, perhaps to justify their services. Courtney Purcell's 5.2 rating is more like it.

Red Tape
You'll need to pick up a permit for the traverse from the park.

Starting from Moss Canyon take the ledge system up, trending toward the toe of the buttress and following the path of least resistance. If you have basic mountaineering skills you'll have no problem routefinding. Someone (not mentioning names here) has kindly left tick marks indicating the route, along with unnecessary fixed lines.

Once you gain the ridgeline the route alternates back and forth between a ridge scramble and a canyoneering adventure. I didn't bother to look at the beta, but it wasn't that difficult to figure it out. You're never that deep in the gullies, so just pop out onto one of the ridge domes if you need some navigational assistance. Basically you're heading for the south end of the formation where you'll find an optional rap anchor.

Drop down to the lower tier on the formation and head back toward the north for quite a ways until you can drop down one of the gullies to the base and your car. There are moki steps and a chain 'hand hold' once you get to the correct gully.


It's easiest to leave a car at the West Canyon parking area and walk to the north end of the Island in the Sky formation. Take the Pioneer Names trail along the way if you want to check out the pioneer graffiti on the lower part of Island in the Sky.

A short distance up Moss Canyon you'll notice a worn trail leading through the scrub oak leading to a series of mossy ledges. The route starts here.


Alpine rack and 120' rope for those roping up. Bolted rap anchors present.
Cool route. I could see hitting this one a few times and finding a different line each time.
The first third is pretty straight forward. The second third requires thought as to which side of the formation to stick to, and the last third mainly involved canyoneering style downclimbing to the SW tip. We ran into one single bolt 20 ft rap about halfway that was downclimbed by shooting through a hole and a couple two bolt raps near the S end that were fairly easy to find a downclimbable line. All in all, difficulty shouldn't exceed the 5.easy and no raps with careful route finding. N Wash style canyoneering skills definitely a plus. Apr 4, 2016
John Sirois
Bozeman, MT
John Sirois   Bozeman, MT
Thanks for writing this up fossana. This was really fun and the perfect outing for a tight time window. The middle section on top of the formation is a wonderland of oasis connected by fun scrambling and downclimbing the raps is great fun. Mar 25, 2017
Scrambled it again today and yeah, definitely took a few different lines than last time. I think a GPS and route map might spoil some of the fun.

At the optional rappel/bombay DC to a grotto on the west side around halfway, I instead took a short chimney to squeeze exit on the ledge saddle further east. This was after backing off a 20-ft wide hands/fist crack next to it.

Descending the south side - before, we took the slot all the way to the SW tip. This time, I took the midway west-side ledge (where a number of climbing routes are) north to the social trail down scramble and sand dunes parking. This wasn't as fun, but reached the car faster.

Time planning: 1.5-2.5 hrs RT moving consistently with good route finding. 2-4 hours likely for the average party. 4+ hours for the less-experienced party and using ropes. Feb 25, 2018

More About Island in the Sky Traverse