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Pygmy Alien 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

Type:  Trad, Sport, 2 pitches, 230'
Original:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: Olevsky
Page Views: 10,127
Submitted By: Guy H. on Oct 20, 2004

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Sometimes we like climbing on Mars


This is one of the best routes on the wall. It is very continuous at the grade. Follow a line of 12 pitons that are painted green to belay in a hole in the wall. The start climbs from a sandy fiction slab to steep edge climbing. The 4 or 5th ring piton is broken, so a long sling is useful for a tie off.

I have not climbed the 2nd pitch, but it leaves the hole passing a few pitons to a crack system to the top of the wall.

2 ropes are required for a rappel from P1.


Drilled pitons for P1 and trad gear for P2

Photos of Pygmy Alien Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Dede following the route, enjoying the great sands...
Dede following the route, enjoying the great sands...
Rock Climbing Photo: Enjoying the view from top!
Enjoying the view from top!
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing Pygmy Alien. Jimmy the Greek can be seen ...
Climbing Pygmy Alien. Jimmy the Greek can be seen ...
Rock Climbing Photo: The 3rd pitch chimney.  Short but fun.  note the b...
The 3rd pitch chimney. Short but fun. note the b...
Rock Climbing Photo: Heading out of the pod at the beginning of the sec...
Heading out of the pod at the beginning of the sec...
Rock Climbing Photo: Melissa Aldape 1/2 way up Pygmy Alien. Photo enhan...
BETA PHOTO: Melissa Aldape 1/2 way up Pygmy Alien. Photo enhan...
Rock Climbing Photo: Chris Parks follows 'Pygmy Alien, on a sunny, but ...
Chris Parks follows 'Pygmy Alien, on a sunny, but ...
Rock Climbing Photo: 10-year old Ethan on P1 of Pygmy Alien, Oct 22, 20...
10-year old Ethan on P1 of Pygmy Alien, Oct 22, 20...
Rock Climbing Photo: Gwen Blanchard following P1 of Pygmy Alien  Oct 22...
Gwen Blanchard following P1 of Pygmy Alien Oct 22...
Rock Climbing Photo: 3/4 up Pygmy Alien on Oct. 22, 2005
3/4 up Pygmy Alien on Oct. 22, 2005

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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Mar 16, 2016
By Ken Heiser
From: Boulder, CO
Feb 8, 2005
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

This is possibly the best 5.7 face/sport route I have ever done. Super pro, great moves, and great rock.
By Perin Blanchard
From: Orem, UT
Dec 2, 2005
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

I didn't find any green paint (nor any other color) on the pins at the bottom so I ended up starting on a line just to the left of the bottom of Pygmy Alien. However several pins up I noticed some green paint flakes on a pin and jogged right. I did miss the pin with the broken ring by doing so.

The anchor in the hole at the top of P1 is 3 drilled pins with webbing and screw links on the right side of the hole.
By Harvey Miller
Feb 13, 2006

A friend and I did both pitches of this route this past weekend (Feb 11, 2006). Fun route, but some comments:

i) Be careful to follow the LEFT crack after exiting the cave and traversing at the start of pitch 2. The right crack seems more obvious after traversing out of the cave, but the correct crack is around a corner from start of the obvious crack.

ii) Be careful about heinous rope drag on pitch 2.

iii) the SW Utah Guidebook says to simply work your way north at the top to a downclimb. Ummm...this downclimb is not trivial. There are two rap stations, but you need to downclimb after the second rap. It was not clear to us how to do this. Parts of the downclimb were quite sketchy, and we had to rap the last 20 feet anyway. Is there a third rap station? Or can some tell us how to downclimb safely?
By Tristan Higbee
From: Ogden, UT
Mar 7, 2010

Great first pitch, though it felt harder than 5.7. Also, it was hard to know where to go with so many freaking drilled pins on the wall.

For the second pitch, follow 5 drilled pins around the corner to the left from the belay. The crux of the pitch is between the pins after you turn the corner. 5.6 my butt. Felt like 5.9. Maybe the holds have fallen off... You'll see two cracks after that. The right (thinner) crack looks inviting but it peters off quickly. Traverse further to the left to the left crack. The rest of this pitch is ok (finger and hand cracks to a funky chimney; I used nothing larger than a #1 Camalot though I took a #2 and #3) but rope drag was absolutely heinous. I belayed in some finger cracks (save some pieces!). I ran out of gear on this pitch. Doing it again, I'd take two each from fingers to hands, plus a set of nuts.

From the big flat ledge above the belay, unrope and scramble up (belay not needed for most) through the narrow slot up and to the right. You'll eventually emerge on the top of the formation. Getting down from this thing is epic. We did some class 4 downclimbing (maybe even easy class 5?) to a small tree with slings around it. We did a single rope rap (we had a 60m and it was just long enough) down to a ledge, and then keep on going with the class 4 downclimbing.

I have the first edition of the SW Utah guidebook. It said that the first pitch is 140' and the second is 100'. Definitely not true. The second pitch is longer than the first, probably about 170'. Maybe this has been updated in the second edition, but I don't know...

Moral of the story: Do the first pitch. Don't do the second.
By Christian "crisco" Burrell
From: PG, Utah
Mar 7, 2010

I gave it two stars.
While I agree with Tristan that Pitch one felt harder than simple 5.7 it is still pretty good. Pitch two begins with a neat step around move followed by a high step on a steep slab(not as simple as you might think). The crack over too soon and the chimney is pretty mellow if you just climb it classic chimney style (I did left side in).
Everyone is right about the descent! Sucks beans! While pitch 2 is ok, it's not worth the hassle of getting off. Not sure why this is given classic ratings...
By Stan Pitcher
From: SLC, UT
May 24, 2010
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Did this route 5/22/10. The first pitch I believe has gotten harder and is pretty sustained - 5.7+ or 5.8-? The second pitch length is closer to 200 feet to where you can fourth class to the top. The start of this pitch is pretty thin for 5.7 but is well protected. We followed the right crack above the last pin to where it ended and then did an easy traverse to the left crack. The chimney above is quite easy and can be protected with small gear/nuts. The down climb is very tedious with lots of moss and questionable rock. There was a 20 foot fixed rope with knots in it at the top which was helpful for knowing we were on "route". We did not find any other rap stations but were able to pick our way down without any further rappels. Make sure you check out all the options at above each steep section and the trend seemed to be generally to the left as you headed down.
By Teleit
Mar 10, 2011

It's possible to lower from P1 with a 70M, and therefore the adjacent climbs can be toproped. You just have to belay on some ledges near the Pioneer Names.
By Caleb Padgett
From: Rockville, utah
Sep 19, 2011

After climbing this route a few times here are a few of my suggestions and thoughts.
I would highly recomend climbing this route to the top, it is one of the best in the canyon. I find it works best to climb the route in 3 pitches and not have the rope drag issues some of the other posters describe. For the second pitch I set a belay from a small stance right before the chimney, this also allows better communication with the second who is out of sight. From there it is one more short pitch to the large ledge below the summit. The scramble to the summit is 4 class but exposed and definitely worth it. I botched the descent my first time and ended up chopping my cordalette and leaving bail slings, I did not traverse far enough north or climbers left. From the top traverse climbers left, a rap station and/or fixed line will let you know you are on the right track. After this keep trending left and go through the "worm hole", this will deposit you onto the face you climbed with a view back towards the route and the parking area. Continue on the ridge heading north with more down climbing to the bottom. We did the descent with no rappels but I did short rope my partner in a few spots. Stick rubber shoes HIGHLY recommended.
By Gordon Larsen
From: St. George, Utah
Feb 26, 2013

The first pitch has seen a lot of traffic over the years and climbs a bit harder than it's original rating now days as the patina crimps become smooth and worn. A 70 meter rope can be used to get off the first pitch. Still a classic climb in Snow Canyon State Park and worth repeating at least once a year.
By Stan Pitcher
From: SLC, UT
Nov 24, 2014
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

An alternate second pitch finish is to do an easy traverse left starting about 20 feet or so below the big pod at the bottom of the chimney clipping 2 pins along the way and then finishing up on the last couple of bolts on the 5.6 climb on the left edge of the face. You can get down in 2 raps from there with a 70m or 3 with a 60m.
By Ari Lattanzi
From: Pittsburgh, PA
Mar 16, 2016

You CANNOT rappel from the top of Pygmy Alien (or anywhere from the top of Circus Wall, that we saw).
You need two ropes to rappel from P1 of Pygmy Alien (the cave) but if you plan to go all the way to the top, a second rope is just extra weight.
We did not find any fixed protection after the three pitons out of the cave (and the permanently stuck cam). Be prepared to build trad anchors.
Communication is very difficult! echoes, loud road artifact and wind make it very difficult to hear your partner.
The descent is tricky and requires some downclimbing, some scrambling, some squirming, rappelling, and a lot of routefinding. See below for our best attempt at a step by step guide.

Go to the park headquarters to check on closures for mating peregrine falcons - we had planned to do a few climbs in Sand Dunes, but the ranger informed us everything south of Circus Wall was closed.

We think we did Pygmy Alien... started up the line of pitons that seemed to head toward the alcove/cave/pit/pod described in previous comments. I led up a ways and found a set of chains to the left and didn't see any others nearby or on the topo map, so I belayed by partner up. he noticed another set of pitons that seemed to go directly up to the cave and to him seemed like an easier route.

He led the next pitch up into the alcove/cave/pit/pod (about 20-30 feet) and found a bolted anchor. (which I believe is the anchor for the official Pygmy Alien P1).

We debated rappelling from there, but decided to see what the next pitch looked like. He led left and out of the cave which is protected by a few pitons, then placed pro in the first crack and traversed left to the second, where there is a permanently placed camelot just for your protection :-D.

An oversight on quickdraw distribution (he had 6 instead of 10) forced him to build a trad anchor at a small ledge at the end of the crack. We believed there would be a bolted anchor at the end of P2, but we did not see any fixed protection past the abandoned cam.

He then led up another 40' or so to a very large ledge with a few trees (great view). We think this is the base of what is referred to as the fourth class pitch, which we did on belay just for kicks.


IMPORTANT: climbers left (looking into the park towards park headquarters) is NORTH. remember this.

Once we got to the top we circled left and up until we saw the fixed line going down towards the north. use this to lower about 70-100ft' and take a left at the ledge at the bottom of the rope.

Walk as far left as you can and you'll find sort of a chute with fallen rocks. you can drop down through these rocks and follow that line down. where it starts to get steep you will see a single shiny bolt on the left side. we sacrificed a carabiner to rappel down, but you might be able to downclimb.

then turn right and climb down to another ledgey area. We decided the middle water chute looked the safest to downclimb, and followed that for a ways. That should lead you down to a large rock that forks the watershoot. The left shoot looked more climbable and less mossy, so we took that one down to a ledge.

At this point it appears that there are no good options, but moving to the right lets you skirt around the rounded edge of a boulder onto another ledge. From here you should be able to see a clear, easy path to the ground. Once down, delay the temptation to remove your shoes until you're clear of the oak leaves - they're pointy! Continue on the path back around to the front of the formation.

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