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Butcher Knife 

YDS: 5.10d French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 21 British: E3 5b

Type:  Trad, 4 pitches, 400', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.10d French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 21 British: E3 5b [details]
FA: Les Ellison and Rick Wyatt, 1982
Season: Spring through Fall
Page Views: 4,027
Submitted By: ldsclimber on Nov 23, 2008

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (7)
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The hand crack/flake after the slab traverse

Private Property now at the entrance to Bells Canyon. MORE INFO >>>


P1 Climb same 5.7 start as A&H
P2 Do the traverse to the crescent ledge
P3 Head right and down climb a bit to make upward progress passed two bolts. Then head right to a right facing corner and up to a third bolt. Make some dicey slab moves and up to the anchors.
P4 Long pitch with a lot of rope drag so use slings. Traverse 30' left to a ledge where a crack splits the face and turns right under a roof. Follow the crack to a belay station and head for the wild roof split by a finger crack. Pull the roof and head to a bolt and pull the second roof. Follow the crack up to a left angling crack and on to the top anchors.


3 60m rappels to reach your packs. 1st rap strait down to the top of the Zion Curtain. Then angle right to the top of the 1st P and last on to the ground.


Green BD TCU to #3
Doubles in everything.
Lots of long slings
six QDs for the few bolts on each pitch

Photos of Butcher Knife Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Les, at 64 on his route following on the crux of p...
Les, at 64 on his route following on the crux of p...
Rock Climbing Photo: Original hand drawn topo of Butcher Knife from Les...
Original hand drawn topo of Butcher Knife from Les...
Rock Climbing Photo: On the first roof of pitch 3. Eight feet to the le...
On the first roof of pitch 3. Eight feet to the le...
Rock Climbing Photo: Following the fist crack on pitch 2
Following the fist crack on pitch 2
Rock Climbing Photo: Start of the classic pitch 1...don't fall here!
Start of the classic pitch 1...don't fall here!

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By ldsclimber
From: Santan Valley, AZ
Dec 15, 2008

We did Butcher Knife late in Nov 2008. There was snow all around and a blue 45 degree sky. We did the route with two parties and with both leaders climbing at the same time. I'd never done anything like that before. It did make for a good times though and probably more heckling than climbing. I do think it caused me to get a bit off route on the third pitch.

After passing two manky 1/4" bolts on 5.9+ slab my head was not doing so well. I kept heading strait up to a little roof where I sunk a #1 BD and a yellow Metolius. I pulled the roof after being assured that that I was going the right way, climbing to where, I had no idea. I told Jared (the other leader)to hang back till I was good.

Each move I made got me further and further into the blank wall. Not being able to repeat the dicey slab moves, I had to keep moving up. After a bit I saw a bolt 15 feet to my right. I knew I was off route, and I was looking at a 50'er. As the lyrics of Don McLean's American Pie raced through my mind, all I could think was "PLEASE GOD! Don't let me fall! but, if I do, it couldn't be a better place, It was beautiful out and I had two of my best friends there to watch". I was all in.

Once I hit a seem, and as soon as I felt my right ring finger sink to my first knuckle, I quickly moved my finger and slammed in a green BD C3. I sprinted to the belay hooting and hollering all the way, thankful that I was able to keep my head and that didn't fall.

I watched as Jared, the other leader follow where I had just been. Right before the green C3, his foot slipped which caused him to grab my rope and let out a few explicits. He had not clipped in yet. Upon reaching the belay he said that I had just cauterized my mangina.WHOOT!! WOOT!! I'd been waiting for those words for years.

After finishing the forth pitch, we rapped to the starting anchors of the Zion Curtain and blitzed that as well. We all got down just before dark. I wouldn't do it any other way, It was an awesome day, two classics on a short sunny winter day. Next time I will just stay on route.
By bsmoot
Dec 15, 2008
rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b R

If you choose to free the first tension traverse of Arm & Hammer, then you'll need to climb 11c to get to Butcher Knife.

Thanks for the write up!

Edit: Pitch 4 is usually done in 2 pitches. This route offers sustained and varied climbing.

This route is a forgotten classic, put up in impeccable style. The first 3 pitches offer continuous, varied climbing that is both mental and physical.
By Tim Wolfe
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 28, 2010
rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b R

This is the hardmans 5.10d slab. Do all the fin and thumb routes then hike up here for more of an alpine feel to mixed climbing with a nice run out 5.10d slab crux.
By Tim Wolfe
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 8, 2011
rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b R

Went up yesterday and did this and other routes. Last visit to Butcher knife was 1986 when it was in better shape. Unfortunately this wonderful route has significant gear deterioration - ancient bolts and no piton left. Great climbing but forgotten and probably a bit dangerous now until it gets fixed.
By bsmoot
May 31, 2015
rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b R

ALL of the old 1/4" rawl bolts have been replaced with new stainless steel 3/8" bolts!

9 protection have been replaced, using the same holes.
1 new added on the runout last pitch,
5 new belay bolts

Thanks to the ASCA & Mike White for the bolts and removal gear.
By kalockwood
From: SLC, UT
May 1, 2016
rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b R

Climbed this route on 4/30/16. New bolts are awesome. Thanks again to the ASCA. This is a true Wasatch test piece and in my opinion, ever better than Arm and Hammer.

Route description:
Pitch 1 (off of Pedestal Ledge):
Climb off the right side of the ledge. You may need to down-climb slightly to begin with. Keep a cool head and work your way up to the first bolt. Continue climbing some thin slab to the second bolt. Work your way up to the triangular shaped roof. After placing gear in the roof, move out right to a lie-back flake. This flake takes some good gear. Move up the flake and clip the third bolt. Climb some thin slab to access another corner and the anchor. 5.10d R
Hint: you may want to clip the first bolt on Cymbals to make the traverse off pedestal ledge a bit safer.

Pitch 2:
Down-climb from the anchor slightly and begin traversing left across the face. There is a thin crack that takes a couple small cams. Climb to the lower of the two bolts (the higher bolt is for Cymbals), clip it and keep traversing left to the ledge (further left on this same ledge are the anchors at the top of the Zion Curtain pitch of Arm and Hammer). Climb a fun wide-hands crack to a small roof. Work your way up under the roof, traverse right, and follow the nice wide-hands crack up to a set of anchors and a fixed pin. 5.10b

Pitch 3:
Climb a thin-hands crack up and establish yourself underneath the first roof. A finger crack takes gear nicely before pulling the roof (5.10c). Continue up the face on good edges, some thin cracks here could take some small stoppers or cams. Clip a bolt below the second roof, pull the lip, and then jam or lie-back the wide crack up to the anchor. The wide crack can take a #4 Camalot, but it's a bit tipped out. A #5 may work but I didn't have one. 5.10d

Pitch 4:
Climb up and right off the belay towards the first bolt. There is a little gear here and there on this pitch so take it when you find it. Shortly after clipping the first bolt, you get to a right-facing corner. Climb the shallow corner up to another bolt. At the roof move left around a small tree and follow the hands/wide-hands crack up the anchors. 5.8 R

Descent with double 70m ropes:
Rappel 1:
From the top of the climb, you can reach the Cymbals of the Sun anchors that are right in the middle of the big shield of granite. Two 60m ropes probably won't make it. Tie knots in the ends of your ropes.
Rappel 2:
A short rappel will put you back on Pedestal Ledge. If you have time, climb the Zion Curtain pitch.
Rappel 3:
From Pedestal Ledge you can reach the approach gully.

3-4 quickdraws
6-8 shoulder slings w/biners
Double rack of Camalots from 0.3 to #3, with 1 #4 (or #5?).
Bring one or two Metolius purple TCUs or Master Cams (size 0).
A handful of stoppers (small to medium).

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