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E Crags (DBC Canyon)
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Death by Chocolate 

YDS: 5.8+ French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad, 9 pitches, 1700', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: Paul Ross, Layne Potter 13th Sept 2003
New Route: Yes
Page Views: 12,529
Submitted By: USBRIT Ross on Sep 13, 2003

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Looking across the canyon.


Location: From I.70 entrance drive about 2.1 miles to pull off on right a few yards north of a prominent wash that crosses the road.The chocolate stripped peak is easily visible from here. Follow the wash until the slot canyon below DBC is reached. Enter the slot canyon on its left side. After two scrambling sections the canyon flattens and leads to the foot of the large chocolate slab. A double anchor is located about 70' up the slab,reached by easy scramble on the right. About 35 mins walk from pull off.

P1) From the double anchors head up towards the white rock on the edge. Continue to double anchors. 2 pro bolts.190'.5.6R

P2) Continue up the junction of the chocolate and white rock to anchors on a large ledge.3 pro bolts 2 cams. 180'. 5.6R .RAP from the anchors 80'down to the right of the ledge to reach anchors at the start of P3.

P3) Climb diagonally up right passing a hollow flake(new pro bolt above flake) to another pro bolt and then up right to anchors . 100' 5.8.

P4) Easy slab up into the great red trough to some large boulders.200'5.0

P5) Straight up the big scoop to visible anchors above two small bushes. 200' 5.3.

P6) Follow the excellent chocolate rock band via a flake, the first bolt is at 30'. To anchors . 2 pro bolts. 200' 5.5R.

P7) Another nice pitch up the chocolate band to anchors . 2 pro bolts . 200' 5.4R.

P8) Straight up easy slab to anchors . 1 pro bolt . 200' 5.2R. P9 . More easy slab to Summit anchors. 200' 5.2R.. Scramble up left for about 40'to cairn and register.......

Descent: One can rap to the top of pitch 3 then a 200' rap into the descent canyon. OR 4th class slabs to the south .A little difficult to find,best to rap..

Description to hike as follows: Walk south from the finish of the climb down a ridge then couple of boulder moves up a red step,continue until passed a step across a gap then start descending slabs and shallow grooves.Start trending left(N)to a large clean slab with two long grooved cracks . Slide these continue down through bushes,then move left by a prominent flake .From here leftwards down many slabs and groove scrambles to the start to the start slot canyon. About one hour.


Friends One of each .5 to 21/2 A few quick draws, slings . Two 9mm x 200' ropes

Photos of Death by Chocolate Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Cool piece of petrified wood - look for this on th...
Cool piece of petrified wood - look for this on th...
Rock Climbing Photo: register.  These things are fun!
register. These things are fun!
Rock Climbing Photo: Summit views
Summit views
Rock Climbing Photo: Rope up here, next to the ecstatic juniper. The br...
BETA PHOTO: Rope up here, next to the ecstatic juniper. The br...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking back down the crux pitch
Looking back down the crux pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Kimberly belaying me on the crux
Kimberly belaying me on the crux
Rock Climbing Photo: The slot on the approach
The slot on the approach
Rock Climbing Photo: Andy Ross on P2. 2nd Ascent of D by C
Andy Ross on P2. 2nd Ascent of D by C
Rock Climbing Photo: Camp for the Spotted Wolf Canyon area . In the bac...
Camp for the Spotted Wolf Canyon area . In the bac...
Rock Climbing Photo: Andy and Gene at the start of P4
Andy and Gene at the start of P4
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbers on Endless Journey . This climb links wit...
Climbers on Endless Journey . This climb links wit...
Rock Climbing Photo: Layne Potter nearing the top of pitch 3 . Death By...
Layne Potter nearing the top of pitch 3 . Death By...
Rock Climbing Photo: The routes. Death By Chocolate and Day of Atonemen...
The routes. Death By Chocolate and Day of Atonemen...
Rock Climbing Photo: Approach to DBC
Approach to DBC
Rock Climbing Photo: THe Figure on the Skyline is the photographer taki...
BETA PHOTO: THe Figure on the Skyline is the photographer taki...
Rock Climbing Photo: A photo of climbers on Day of Atonement . View pho...
A photo of climbers on Day of Atonement . View pho...
Rock Climbing Photo: Low angle slabs start the route
Low angle slabs start the route
Rock Climbing Photo: You'll find the register tucked in a small alcove
You'll find the register tucked in a small alcove
Rock Climbing Photo: Bruce Normand, 2005.
Bruce Normand, 2005.
Rock Climbing Photo: Belay Pitch 3 . Death by Chocolate.
Belay Pitch 3 . Death by Chocolate.

Comments on Death by Chocolate Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Feb 29, 2016
By Frosty Weller
From: Colorado
Nov 11, 2004
rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c R

Excellent job by Paul & Layne on this. It's fun, mostly easy, runout, and fairly adventurous... and what views! Wowza, purty dang fun! DBC seems to be the best looking and most prominent line of all the Reef climbs. If approaching from the East on I-70, you can see DBC before you even get to Green River.

The hike in is cool with some short narrows in the bottom of the approach canyon. After recent rains you may even have a couple of wades here though the pools should only be waste deep max. The route has been bolted well. Even though you may only encounter 1 bolt per pitch (or none), most of the climbing is pretty moderate. Natural pro is rare so the runout nature will keep your attention. Doing the 100'+ runouts on 5.6 or so keeps things interesting during your cardio workout on the slabs.

Please, do not add any more bolts on this climb. At the time of this writing all the belay/rap stations are nice double bolt anchors placed in the best solid rock available. Most anchors are right at 200'. Note that the webbing on these will need to be replaced soon as they are already aging.... bring extra and remove the old stuff. It doesn't take long out there in the desert for webbing to fry. So, no hammer or drill necessary on DBC.

For pro, there aint much. I placed a 1.5 & 2 Tricam and #1 Camalot in the flake about 15' below the crux on pitch 3. The Tricams seemed more bomber than a cam in this flake with the rock quality. Still, if you blew the crux moves, whether or not those pieces would hold is a bit questionable. (When we were there the rock was still a little moist from recent heavy rains.) If they did fail, you will be going past and onto the belay anchors. Kind of exciting as this is the steepest part of the whole climb. To me the crux moves felt like 5.9 and pretty "R"ish. Although following, Kat walked it making it look more like 5.8. Maybe it just felt harder on lead with the potential consequences... The only other piece of pro placed on this was a #2 Camalot on pitch 5.

From the looks of the summit register this was the 4th ascent of DBC (10/23/04). Pauls route description is a good one... Enjoy!
By Steve "Crusher" Bartlett
Mar 18, 2005

Rappel webbing appeared in fine shape as of March 15th. Approach was dry. Paul's description, and rack suggestions seemed about perfect (ratings seem pretty subjective on these slabs, except the final pitches are lower angled). Pitch 6 was my favorite. Worth scrambling to the higher west summit for the best lunch spot. The climbing is swell, and the views are as well.
By John J. Glime
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 23, 2005

Fantastic line. The rock on the first two pitches and on the fifth pitch is pretty sketchy... I kept thinking that the route name was given because if you stay on the chocolate rock "death" awaits. Either way, it is a great day out... thanks Paul and Layne. For the record, we were forced to wade through two waist deep potholes on the approach. But it adds to the ambiance... enjoy.
By Jeff Stephens
From: Carbondale, CO
Nov 19, 2008

Climbed on November 10. Fantastic, weird climb. Feels kind of hairball for the leader at times, but is just a hike, sometimes literally, for the follower. We simulclimbed the route in 4 blocks, in about two hours. Seems like the sensible way. Rappelling takes as long as climbing this one, as the ropes don't toss very far on the slab. We didn't find any anchors on top of the formation (but did find Paul's little summit register), so we downclimbed top pitch. How did we miss them??? Beautiful area, spectacular geology on display. Admire the rocks in the approach wash. Needs some more ascents to clean this line up. Rap webbing was suspiciously bleached at certain anchors. We left some cordelette behind, and backed everything up. Take a camera - fabulous vista on top.
By John Peterson
Nov 30, 2008

If you don't consider wading through the pools in the approach slot canyon part of the experience, you can work up gullies immediately right of the slot and find a bolted anchor that lets you rap into the slot just above the pools. I assume you can leave a fixed rope there for the return.
From: Keswick Cumbria.UK
Nov 30, 2008

Not sure if the rain yesterday (Sat) did cause any pools on D by C approach but last week was very dry. The rap in way does not require to leave a rope as to climb back up this section is about 5.4. Of course less problem to continue down the canyon after the climb. Worst would be wet socks..
By John Peterson
Apr 8, 2009

April 2009: rap stations need some more attention. We didn't have enough webbing to deal with all of them. Adding a second ring to these would make them even more friendly. Some of the hangers were loose.

A great route. The crux was the easiest part - right at the nice shiny bolts. The long runouts on 5.6 were the real crux - takes a little nerve! We didn't use any wires. No cams bigger that #2 camalot. I'd go for about 6 camalots (a couple of small ones, .5, .75, 1, 2). Tricams .5 - 1.5 help too.

Watch the end of the rope on the raps - everything is set right at 60m.

The rock was mostly good - the last part of #5 and first part of #6 were the only bad bits. #6 was probably the headiest lead.
By Tristan Higbee
From: Ogden, UT
Apr 21, 2010
rating: 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c X

I did this route a couple weeks ago and enjoyed it, but felt like the bolting was... how should I put this... suboptimal. I'm not saying to make the thing a clip up, but zero bolts on a 200 foot pitch? Come on. Yeah, 5.0 is easy, but holds break, birds crap on you, rocks fall from above, you get a charlie horse... Stuff happens. Two or three bolts per pitch? Fine. Zero? Hmmm... A potential 400 foot death fall on 5.0 just seems a bit ludicrous.

Yeah yeah, "if you don't like it, climb somewhere else or put up your own route." Whatever. This is public land and this is a public forum I'll say whatever I damn well please about it. And I WOULD put up my own routes there to suit my tastes if I knew what's what and what's where. +1 vote for cleaning up the eastern reef slab section here on MP and organizing it by the three trailheads. Or I'd happily buy the guidebook (or pay you $30 for copies of your organized notes!) if it comes out anytime soon.

I thought the crux pitch was easy 5.8. My second thought it was 5.7. We saw potential cam placements on pitches 2, 3, and 6. I'd take purple, green, red, and yellow Camalots (#.5 through 2) in the future. The webbing on the anchors as of April 2010 was good enough to rap from.

One thing I'd add to the route description: On pitch 5, instead of going "Straight up the big scoop," go up and right. That's where the bushes and anchors are.

More beta, lots of pics, and a TR are on my blog here. According to the summit register, our ascent was the 14th of DBC.
By Ben Folsom
Apr 22, 2010
rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c R


We've gone over this argument plenty of times in the past. If birds crap on you, or you happen to get a charlie horse when you are way run out, man up and deal with it! If you think DBC is scary, you should try some of the R or X routes!!
From: Keswick Cumbria.UK
Apr 22, 2010

Hi Tristen..As Ben says we have been through this debate quite a few times. First I would be delighted to see you put up routes on the Reef that suit your taste and protection comfort level.However you must admit its rare "5.11+ climbers" get a thrill out of 5.0 pitches! Regarding the crux of Death by Chocolate (named after a favorite cheese cake ..not death), about a year ago we added that pro bolt next to the 5.8 move,as prior to that the only pro (15' below) was a cam behind a hollow flake which I felt sure would pull ... See comment above by Frosty.. So you got lucky .Prior to that new bolt it may have felt like 5.9 with a steep potential fall of about 70'onto one's second. If you cannot find unclimbed rock for your new routing in the 6 miles let us know and we will give you some clues. Believe me its easy to find unclimbed (most routes are marked on the topo photos) rock both steep and slab.I myself use grade R for a long fall but in my opinion not fatal. and the X careful. To sum up I would suggest that climbers that claim their grade to be 5.11 or higher at places for example like Indian Creek or sport climbs confine themselves here to climbs no harder than 5.7 or 8 until they become familiar with this area,as this is rock climbing how it used to be!
By apross
Apr 22, 2010

Tristan, can we not have to talk about reducing routes to the lowest common denominator, its insulting to the first ascensionists who do routes like this in good style.
It also robs other climbers who want to challenge themselves not just physically but mentally.

I've walked under routes like the Bachar-Yerian and do I wish there were a few more bolts on it, sure. I would love to do the route and I am capable of climbing that grade but I don't have the mental fortitude to try it, so I just leave it be.
I would be very disappointed if someone did add bolts to it and I would hope you would feel the same.

All this coming from someone who says they like putting up FAs is strange as I would think you would have more respect for the way these type of routes are put up.

I would also like to remind you that these routes are being put up ON SIGHT by an elderly gentleman carrying both a drill and rack on his back.

By Frosty Weller
From: Colorado
May 13, 2010
rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c R

Come on… is that just a troll Tristin? Well, at least you actually use your real name to troll and flame. But please, next time read MtnProj Guideline #1: don't be a jerk?

Does this really sound like a good way start a productive conversation on the number of bolts on a “5.0 pitch”?
“Whatever. This is public land and this is a public forum I'll say whatever I damn well please about it.” So… so there!

Not long ago Tristen you complained about too many bolts on Pygmy Alien, a 5.7. And now you come back a month later whining that there are not enough bolts on DBC… and that a bird might poop on your head and cause you to fall and get hurt?

Pygmy Alien 5.7
Mar 5 - Too many bolts on the wall ruin it.

Maybe you’re just confused. After looking at your blog it's obvious that you are. You knew the DBC was runout, but yet you went and did it anyway.

It’s great that you are such an amazing climber that you can rave about your ticks and solo’s on MtnProj and your blog, boast about downgrading the DBC moves with a spankin’ new bolt at the crux... that‘s so very impressive.

Seriously though? Until you grow a sack and/or some manners, it may be best for everyone if you just stay out of The Swell. Stay on Wall Street, or in IC where you can plug and hang on your cams at will.

If someday you do decide you might like to try adventure climbing again, be a man and don’t go home crying to mommy (and everyone else) that the badass senior citizen who did the proud FA didn’t make it safe enough for young Tristen.

But gee, now that I think about it... yeah, I really want to climb the Bachar-Yarian too. Shouldn't there really be more bolts in that? I mean really, it's dangerous for gosh sakes... and, and a bird might crap on my head. Someone could get hurt!

If you somehow want to read more of Tristen's flaming and confusing rhetoric about this bolt/no-bolt issue go here (and thanks to Ben and Andy for helping to try and wrestle the tar baby that Tristen seems to have enjoyed creating):
By Craig Martin
From: Park City
May 21, 2010
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a X

Sounds like the new bolt is gonna get some climbers into trouble on the upper pitches. Maybe it should get removed to return the route to its original condition. Most climbers able to safely negotiate the crux pitch in its original condition would have had very little problem on the upper pitches.
From: Keswick Cumbria.UK
May 22, 2010

Hi Craig ..Sounds like you have not done this climb ? Well I guess if we remove the pin ( as I did the FA ) and the next person does take a possible 70+ whipper directly onto his second,he will probably be in no condition to climb the other pitches !!!. Actually if you do this route the pitches above are a piece of cake and just fun.Of course some climbers are a bit paranoid about pro ,more so if they mostly climb sport routes.
By Craig Martin
From: Park City
May 22, 2010
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a X

Actually Paul, I have done the climb, and before the addition of the new bolt. I would not have chimed in otherwise. You and I communicated via email about it afterwards, it was a few years ago, I don't expect you to remember. I risked the 70' fall you are talking about. It was the most memorable moment of the climb for me. The rest was no big deal, and that is my point.

Most of the comments post bolt addition say something to the effect that the crux was easy and the hard part was the runout 5.6 pitches. That was not the case when I did it. The addition of the bolt at the crux has changed the nature of the climb and made it more appealing to certain climbers who think they are ready for runout 5.6. When I climbed it you had to be ready for runout 5.9, or at least have confidence in gear in a hollow flake, get past that and you would have no problem on the upper pitches.
From: Keswick Cumbria.UK
May 23, 2010

Sorry Craig ..A senior moment on my part. I mainly placed that extra bolt on this climb as this and another route 1000' of Fun have become the trade routes of the slabs,so thought it might help first timers get a easier introduction to one of the longer climbs,and it would be a very nasty fall in those cams pulled. As I am sure you are aware there are now plenty of routes in this area that will give you a few heart in the mouth moments.I guess if climbers want the original commitment on D by C they can skip clipping that bolt ... All the Best.. Paul
By notmyname
From: Sandy, UT
Apr 9, 2012

Thanks for the unique experience! Definitely some bold pitches!
As of today, the road is easy 2wd under the highway, but the anchors need new webbing. I'd have brought some if I knew they were all equalized webbing.
By Eric Odenthal
Nov 8, 2014
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a X

Thanks to the first ascent crew! What a route! I climbed this route on November 7th, it had been on my list for a few years and am glad to have busted it out with my friend Nikki.
Trip report: From the parking at 2.1 miles past the gate on the south side of the road (about 200 yards further than the black dragon turnoff if heading west). Cross the highway there. At 2.1 there is a great campsite. Hike to the drainage, follow it up until a cairn marks the right split. Follow across to the slot canyon below the wall. There are many boulder moves, and if you pass the massive recent rockfall you are in the right canyon. The pools were dry. the approach to the base of the route took around 30 minutes or a little more with route finding. You can't see the wall from the slot, until you move up, out and into the flat drainage as described. I would say to rope up at the anchor instead of the tree. The pitches are found on the right edge of the chocolate rock and white powder rock. The first pitch had three bolts and with some serious commitment, a fall could be potentially fatal (as with almost all of the pitches). Bolts are there to guide you up, not really protect anything except a fall at the crux. I placed gear from .3-#2 camalots. A single set will work along with two anchor setups with double length slings and around 10 slings. I backed up the rappel at the top of pitch 2, before rapping to pitch 3. Knot your ropes! The views are sick! The line is creative. Walk off! Bring a 70 meter rope because a 60 barely works with stretch and I mean barely. If using a 60, belayer should use daisy chains and not the rope, when climber is near the anchor, belayer should stand tall to allow the climber to clip daisy into the bolt. Hard to put the belayer on, but this system works.

We didn't rap, anchors all need to be replaced at this time. We walked off.
Walk off beta: From the top of the route, which is not the top of the formation, walk south to the red step (as in description), a move harder than any move on the route is encountered, follow the spine south to a small catwalk, walk the catwalk with exposure to the step across, down climb move, across the gap. Walk to the toadstool with a passage on right, down climb grooves. Head left and look up at the incredible arch formation. Follow water gully down drainage down with some exposed slabs encountered making your way eventually to the pass on the left and down to the base of the canyon. This took about an hour, then 30-40 minutes to the car. Would rather walk off with one rope than have an epic rapping and pulling on the low angle slab. If you rap, make sure again to tie knots in your rope because I'm sure the 60 will be maxed. 6:1 or 1/2 dozen of the other.

I dug the route, it was an adventure and being from Moab, it is different than most climbing in the desert. trust the dust!
By Sam Cannon
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Dec 10, 2014
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c X

This climb is not for moderate leaders. The runouts are, and feel, quite serious on nearly every pitch *except* the short moves for the crux on P3. On the 5.0 pitch there is no pro and the rock quality is the worst on the route...moving to the anchors on the 5.0 pitch was easily the mental crux of the route with no pro below me.

That being said, if you have slab experience and a solid lead-head, the runouts are what make the route (not to mention it's gorgeous, and on one of the more unique looking lines I've ever climbed). I gave it 4 stars even though some of the rock is total shit, and some of the runout sections dangerously committing, but because I won't have to rely on pictures to remember this day. Superb route, put up in an awesome style. Resepct!

GEAR - I brought from purple metolius up to a #2 camelot. I placed every piece I brought at least once, and even found a good nut placement or two. The 5.5R pitch you can actually get good-great gear all the way up, which is a nice respite.
From: Keswick Cumbria.UK
Dec 10, 2014

Hi Eric and Sam glad you enjoyed the experience.Do not forget there are at least 200 other climbs here on the Reef for your pleasure. One is not enough!Day of Atonement for example is as good if not better climb .. All The Best from the UK. PS I do consider myself a moderate leader.
By Sam Cannon
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Dec 10, 2014
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c X

Fair enough! I don't lead harder than 5.10c on gear (still moderate, I know), guess I was thinking of someone who normally seeks out 8s and 9s but isn't a 10 leader. My buddy who is an 11 climber with little slab experience backed off P2 after a fall and I led the rest of the route.

This definitely wet my appetite and I'll be back for sure. What a place! Thanks again for the rad day.
By brat
Feb 28, 2016
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c X

Went up 2/28/2016. Tat on rap anchors was in a pretty bad way, really sun-bleached, except the station on top of p3 which looked fine. I replaced cord on one bolt of each anchor and trimmed off the really bad stuff. Next party to head up will probably want to bring more cord and a knife.
From: Keswick Cumbria.UK
Feb 29, 2016

Thanks for renewing some of the rap tape .... Bringing spare tape always should be mentioned when doing these route on the Swell as it does get a lot of sun ... and not too much traffic .. Cheers

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