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Rock Springs Buttress
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Exum Arete 

YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a

Type:  Trad, Sport, Alpine, 4 pitches, 400', Grade II
Original:  YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a [details]
FA: Tom Hargis, Bill Dyer
Page Views: 6,909
Submitted By: Andy Laakmann on Jun 17, 2006

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Looking down on the first belay ledge from atop th...


This route is reason enough to visit Rock Springs Buttress. The Exum Arete takes an improbable line up a stunning arete and does so a modest grade. The climbing is fun, rock quality superb, belays fixed, and the protection plentiful.

Pitch 1 (5.7) - A relatively junky approach pitch. Begin at a flat spot below a big tree, and yard away on roots and trees. Continue up the crack and make a 5.7 move up and right to gain a huge, dirty ledge system. Walk across this ledge system all the way to an obvious tower. Climb up the left corner of this tower, place some gear, and then traverse out to the right and flop onto the top of the tower. Fixed anchor on a big ledge. Full rope length pitch. Expect lots of rope drag.

Pitch 2 (5.9+) - Climb the thin crack directly above the belay (small gear, I placed a small nut and red alien) and work left to the first bolt. Good fun climbing. Continue up the bolts to a chain anchor at a semihanging stance. Short pitch.

Pitch 3 (5.9) - Bolts lead up to a ledge and another fixed anchor. Ignore this anchor and follow more bolts up the right arete. Great finishing moves with beautiful exposure! Another chain anchor. Another short pitch. This is a semihanging belay.

Pitch 4 (5.9+) - Take the left bolt line until the bolts run out. Work up the thin crack with good, thin gear until you reach an awkward roof. Reach high and right and clip a hidden bolt. Make the crux move (stemming and a right reach help) to clip another bolt below another roof. Good holds above the roof and a little more gear gets you to the final chain anchor. This pitch is awesome!

On a second trip up this climb, I comfortably linked pitches 2 and 3 listed above. To do this, you'll pass TWO sets of chain anchors on the 2nd pitch and belay at the anchors near a big flake. There was some rope drag, but nothing too serious.

Descent: Lots of bolted anchors makes for an easy rappel descent. There are a number of different anchors, so use whichever ones make sense for your rope length.


Continue on the approach trail as it passes by the first buttress, crosses a gully, and gains the next buttress. A huge gnarled tree sitting in the crack about 30 feet high marks the start of the first pitch of this route. The route begins to the left of the most obvious arete system on the 2nd buttress, and has a nice flat area below the root system of the tree mentioned above.


Many bolts. Take a small rack including nuts and a single set of camming devices from small TCUs to a #3 Camalot. Long slings will help with rope drag.

Photos of Exum Arete Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Party starting third pitch of XM Arete.
Party starting third pitch of XM Arete.
Rock Climbing Photo: A party is visible on the 2nd pitch.  The first pi...
A party is visible on the 2nd pitch. The first pi...

Comments on Exum Arete Add Comment
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By Toby
From: Jackson, WY
Jun 1, 2014

XM direct is a new 40m, 12 bolt route to access the big ledge for XM arête or Clowns and Jokers. Around the corner right towards Do It For Doug a bit down the hill. 5.10/10+ crux comes at mid way. Continue up XM or walk down the ledge system to use the standard rap anchor for the original start.

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