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South Face 

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

Type:  Trad, Grade II
Original:  YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b [details]
FA: Bill Roos, Burnham Ardnt, and Denver Collins September, 1969
Page Views: 26,550
Submitted By: Andrew Gram on Mar 23, 2002

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BETA PHOTO: Sunrise ascent, first pitch with north shooter in ...

RAIN, WET ROCK and RAPTOR CLOSURES: The sandstone around Moab is fragile and is very easily damaged when it is wet. Also please ask and be aware of Raptor Closures in areas such as CAT WALL and RESERVOIR WALL in Indian Creek MORE INFO >>>


The route climbs the left side of the face first reached from the trail. The start begins where the ground starts sloping downhill sharply.

Pitch 1 - Climb broken rock to a fun chimney. Belay on the big ledge at the top of the chimney. No fixed anchors, but there is a good chockstone to sling and placements for large cams(watch for hollow and loose rock). 90 feet, 5.6

Pitch 2 - Climb the low angle slot to a ledge system. Walk along the ledge system, and climb up to a higher ledge with rappel slings around a block. An excellent harder variation is to climb the steep clean thin hands crack to the highest ledge system. 80 feet, 5.4

Pitch 3 - Continue on the ledge to a crack. Climb up to a hard for 5.6 mantle to a ledge. Clip the bolt and climb to the summit tower. 50 feet, 5.6

A single rope rap from the summit leads back to the top of pitch 2. A double rope rap from there gets to the ground. You may want to move the knot over the edge to help with pulling the rope.


A light rack of cams is all you need. A big cam is useful to back up the belay chockstone on pitch one, but not necessary.

Photos of South Face Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Great way to end the day.
Great way to end the day.
Rock Climbing Photo: view from the top
view from the top
Rock Climbing Photo: Variation to the first pitch on the South Face of ...
BETA PHOTO: Variation to the first pitch on the South Face of ...
Rock Climbing Photo: High over Canyonlands, wishing I hadn't worn the b...
High over Canyonlands, wishing I hadn't worn the b...
Rock Climbing Photo: Michael Trostrud pulling the crux 5.6d move with N...
Michael Trostrud pulling the crux 5.6d move with N...
Rock Climbing Photo: Sara and sixshooters.
Sara and sixshooters.
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down on the mantle from the top.
Looking down on the mantle from the top.
Rock Climbing Photo: North Six Shooter in the distance
North Six Shooter in the distance
Rock Climbing Photo: Getting ready to rap
Getting ready to rap
Rock Climbing Photo: Is.
Rock Climbing Photo: Jeff Crow relaxes on the summit of South Six Shoot...
Jeff Crow relaxes on the summit of South Six Shoot...
Rock Climbing Photo: Starting the First Pitch, look for the petroglyphs...
BETA PHOTO: Starting the First Pitch, look for the petroglyphs...
Rock Climbing Photo: Deb tops out on her 1st desert spire.
Deb tops out on her 1st desert spire.
Rock Climbing Photo: Sara and her dead pet cow on the way in to south s...
Sara and her dead pet cow on the way in to south s...
Rock Climbing Photo: South Six Shooter.  Directly below the apparent hi...
BETA PHOTO: South Six Shooter. Directly below the apparent hi...
Rock Climbing Photo: Standing on top of SSS
Standing on top of SSS
Rock Climbing Photo: The left-arching crack to Jason's left is 5.10b.  ...
The left-arching crack to Jason's left is 5.10b. ...
Rock Climbing Photo: This landmark feature is just left of the route's ...
This landmark feature is just left of the route's ...
Rock Climbing Photo: View of North Six Shooter from South Six Shooter 2...
View of North Six Shooter from South Six Shooter 2...
Rock Climbing Photo: Made a Tyrolian Traverse across the two summits!
Made a Tyrolian Traverse across the two summits!
Rock Climbing Photo: Was.
Rock Climbing Photo: 3rd pitch, and welcome bolt near the top
BETA PHOTO: 3rd pitch, and welcome bolt near the top
Rock Climbing Photo: K Dog finishing the second pitch of the South Face...
K Dog finishing the second pitch of the South Face...

Comments on South Face Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Oct 15, 2016
By M. Morley
From: Sacramento, CA
Apr 25, 2002

Fun route! An excellent first tower with superb rock, good exposure, spectacular views, and low commitment. The actual technical climbing only constitutes about 20 minutes; however, the drive and approach make it a fun half-day outing. This route is popular, so be prepared for crowds. Helmet recommended.
By Dave Jordan
May 7, 2002

Did this climb last month and it was a lot of fun. We took two ropes but found that one 60 Meter Rope will get you to the base of the climb from the 2nd Rappel. Just take one rope!
By Wes Allen
From: Lexington, KY
Jun 6, 2002

Attempted to find this route last week. I think we ended up doing some kind of varation. Started maybe a bit right of the broken rock, couple easy ledge moves to a hard move past a huge death flake with bad pro, and then a more or less direct line to the top, passing the rap staion. A fun route. The trail starts on the ridge line. It is kinda tricky to find the first marker, but worth it for sure. -Wes
By Charles Vernon
From: Tucson, AZ
Mar 28, 2003

The mantle on the last part of the climb is not only hard for 5.6 (call me crazy, but it felt more like 5.9!--there's no holds to reach up to at all, it's a pure mantle), but also very poorly protected--you will be injured if you fall (this is before you can clip the bolt). For comparison, I led nearly all of the Lightning Bolt Cracks on North Sixshooter, but I was actually more scared leading this "5.6" mantle than anywhere on that route! Maybe it feels so hard because the rest of the route leading up to it is so easy; however, I would not say that this is the easiest route in Indian Creek. It also looks as though you can climb to the right-hand summit with much better protection (there is a continuous crack), but I don't know how hard it is. Does anyone know which of these summits is higher?

One 200 foot rope works perfectly for the rappels--don't drag two ropes up here.
By Steve "Crusher" Bartlett
Apr 9, 2003

The other summit (the east one) is pretty cool. The climbing up the obvious south-face flake/rib felt about 5.8. High quality face moves, but with no gear until you reach the horizontal break near the top (by which time it's easy). Might as well do both at the same time. To be honest the "5.6" mantel on the other summit felt more like 5.8 too. Maybe I should have made better use of my knees.Not sure which summit is higher.
By Frances Fierst
May 7, 2003

We climbed the "other" summit (the one without the bolt). It protected well. From our vantage point, it looked a few feet higher than the other summit. If you have hiked that far, just do both. This was a great summit with incredible views!
By Anonymous Coward
May 8, 2004

If you have extra time after descending the attractive looking left-angling crack right of the standard start is quite good. It brings you to an anchor that puts you back on the ground with a single 60m. I felt it was in the 10a/b range.
By Anonymous Coward
May 8, 2004

Absolutely a three star route, everthing about it is good.
By John J. Glime
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 8, 2004

Definitely not a 3 star route, everything about it is good??? I think you were just psyched to get to the top of a tower, and for that I give it two stars... but in terms of quality climbing and moves? Give me a break. It is awesome for its location, beauty, and ease. Not a 3 star route. (For those who care.) Side note- Be sure to find the petroglyph...
By Rodrigo Cid
Oct 27, 2004

What a beautiful "little" climb. My friend and I did this route last week, right before the rain came to the Creek. Varied climbing (chimey/crack/face) and almost patagonian-like winds (my parter should know since he's a seasoned patagonian climber!) made this a great adventure. Very recommended!!

Do the variation second pitch (5.7), you only wish that crack was a little (or a lot!) longer!!

Just one comment on the descent. From the top of pitch 2, one single 60 meter rope will make it to the ground (it's probably around 95 feet to the ground). -Cheers!
By Brad Brandewie
Feb 15, 2006

A fun outing. More Pictures and a TR at
By Vince MacMillan
From: Dolores, CO
Apr 18, 2006

One-star climbing to a Four-star summit. Anybody else ever notice that Stewart Green's Climbing Utah topo shows an arrow urging you to traverse left around the north side of the summit block for the final pitch? Take a look. The first time I climbed this route I unfortunately over-adhered to this mistaken piece of graphical advice. Yeegads! It is a highly(and I mean highly) exposed, unprotectable dead-end that is full of shifting sand and cantilevered blocks. Rather less than "Fun" trying to "down" climb this section to get back on track to the real route. Caveat Emptor, indeed.
By Chris Perkins
From: Buena Vista, Colorado
Apr 22, 2006
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

The grade I gave is for one of the cracks to the right of the standard south face route. It is the striking left arching hand crack. It finishes at the top of pitch 2 on the standard route.
My partner, Turtle also lead a crack system to the right of this which went up at around 5.9 to the bottom of the second summit. Both routes better than standard route.
By Brad Schildt
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 23, 2006

The crack system to the right as described by Chris Perkins is about 100 feet right of the South Face route. I'd call it 5.7/8 with consistent, fun moves on the first pitch to a bolted belay/rap station. The second pitch ascends the south tower (which is the higher of the two summits!) via a chimney then face moves to the top. Great route!
By Dean Carpenter
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 28, 2007

The 5.7 lieback crack is alot of fun and shouldn't be missed. After doing the the standard route my partner led the left arching crack and it is a spectactular line. We both thought it felt hard for 5.10, but we're not very experienced crack climbers.
By Joe Stern
From: Moab, Utah
Dec 22, 2007

Posted a photo showing some of these variations to the standard South Face route. I climbed the striking left-arching crack and agree with the easy- to mid-5.10 rating. I'd go with 5.10b if I had to choose - and a really fun one at that. There are also a few variations to the right of this crack that apparently come in around 5.9. Lots of entertaining options for climbing in a spectacular setting!
By Tony Maul
Jan 11, 2008
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

A great route for relatively new trad leaders or for bringing friends who are new to climbing. It consists of fairly easy climbing, but offers big payoff in terms of view and overall experience. If you're with new climbers or groups of 3 or more, you could break pitch 2 (the traversing ledge system) into two quick half-rope pitches. That would minimize the out-of-sight/out-of-earshot climbing. Don't forget your camera!
By Sam Lightner, Jr.
From: Lander, WY
Mar 15, 2008

The rappels have been updated. The second one, from the top of the second pitch to the ground, is a true 31 meters. That is to say, your feet will be on the ground and the the rope will pull through the device when you are done. A true 60 meter rope is perfect... a rope that has a had a few meters cut off will leave you with a short drop.

This anchor WAS about 250 feet of tat, some of it probably 20 years old, strung around decaying boulders on a decaying ledge. Its now two half inch bolts in overhanging varnish. The new location means easy pulls and no stuckage, but make sure your ends are even.

The top anchor is updated as well and is simply two halfies in the summit by the old spinners. Chains for all.

For what its worth, the mantle is not 5.9... I think 5.7 is fair, its just that its a mantle and you can't practice it in the gym.
By Sam Lightner, Jr.
From: Lander, WY
Nov 19, 2008

OK Gang, Angie was there so we know how it is. The hole for one of the two half inch bolts was somehow compromized in the last few weeks. All I can figure is the the thunderstorms this summer let a huge amount of water into the hole and that maybe the anchor took a lightning strike... I can only tell you all was solid last spring (as numerous ascents since have proven).
This is to be expected sometimes in bolts placed vertically in sandstone. I am currently laid up and thus cannot get up there to fix it for at least a few weeks. If someone is going up there I will provide the equipment for replacement. Just get in touch with me
One other option is that there have been a couple people complaining about the upgraded anchors... maybe they tried to remove them.
By Ben Folsom
Nov 20, 2008

Yeah, it almost sounds like a case of sabotage to me. After about 175 desert tower ascents, I have never seen anything like this, and that is including hundreds of rappels off of 1" x 1/4" bolts. Pretty lame if people are messing around with belay/rappel anchors (messing with people's lives!!!).
I've seen a few of Sam's anchor replacements in the desert, and he does a great job, and is preserving these routes and making them better for everybody else. It is hard for me to see that it is from a bunch of rain or lightning, as I have used anchors on the summits of desert towers for the last 18 years, and have rarely worried about anchor failure.
I appreciate the work Sam has been doing. When you think about it, the first ascensionists of these routes are using brand new hardware, and there is no reason that everybody else should use 30 year old anchors when a perfectly safe alternative is available, especially when people are spending their money and time replacing old, unreliable hardware with new, safe anchors.
This opinion of mine has been formed by lots of experience and also many conversations with people who established these routes. The majority of these people want others to enjoy their routes with good belay and rappel stations.
By Brad Brandewie
Nov 21, 2008

First off... 175 tower routes Ben? Damn proud accomplishment!!! Nice work.

Secondly, I agree with what you said entirely. It seems pretty suspect that those anchors would be bad already. I have rapped off of many of Sam's bolts and they have all been bomber. If someone is out there messing with these anchors, please stop before you get someone hurt or killed.

By Josh Gross
Nov 21, 2008

I used these anchors less than 2 months ago and they where bomber, all bolts where tight and looked in good condition. I was on the tower well after summer rains/lighting strike potenial. Having placed many bolts in the desert this could be somebody screwing with the bolts. But I warn of to much talk/thread of such actions, sometimes it creates energy/motive by mentally off people to do disturbing vandalism when people give fuel to such actions. Moab area is lucky Sam came along to help preserve its climbing future!
By Sam Lightner, Jr.
From: Lander, WY
Nov 21, 2008

I agree with Josh on this on all points. I wonder more about lightning or some weakness geologically that was exacerbated in the two storm cycles we had this fall. There is a theory that the white lines we can see streaking haphazardly down the towers are from lightning running down the surface... its only a matter of time before an anchor gets hit... but this is just speculation. Whats important is that everyone get the word out. Also, unless someone wants to volunteer I will try and fix it when the wheel heals.
By Darren Knezek
Apr 30, 2009

FA: Bill Roos, Burnham Ardnt, and Denver Collins, September, 1969.
By chris kline
From: Boulder, Co / Jervis Bay , Aus
Jun 3, 2009
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Climbed this last week after all the rain. What a great climb - awesome summit, I'd call it a fair 5.7, the mantle makes the climb what it is - exciting! We walked from the main road as the washes had eaten the Davis Canyon road up badly. It took 1 hour to the lavender canyon turn and another 45 to the base of the climb. One 60 m rope gets you down to the base in two rappels using the anchors at the top and at the second belay - no need to use the webbing at the block or to carry an extra rope.
By Julius Beres
From: Boulder, CO
Mar 16, 2011
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

This is a fun, easy way to get to the top of a desert tower, but the climb is very short considering the approach. The mantle and the 10 feet of 5.7 variation crack on p2 is about the only thing beyond low 5th class scrambling.

I also do not understand the bolt on the last pitch. It is too high to protect the mantle, so you have to do the mantle unprotected. However, once you stand up on the mantle ledge so that you can clip the bolt, you can easily get in a cam about 6 inches above (and more in the horizontal crack below the top). It seems to me that the bolt should either be a foot lower to protect the mantle, or it isn't needed at all (probably the latter). I guess it is an artifact of the FA party not having cams?
By 303scott
Nov 1, 2011

The rack for this could easily consist of 2 .75s, 2 1's and a 2. There are only two or three moves of class 5 climbing, and one of them is bolt protected.
By mike bromberg
From: Revelstoke
Nov 14, 2011

Climbed both of the S Six Shooter summits last week. A cool tower, and nice wild feeling (compared to most Indian Creek cragging days).

It's true that not much gear is needed, just a handful of cams and a 60m rope for the rappel(s).
By Rhett Burroughs
From: Rock Springs, WY
Jun 4, 2012

Great video. I'm going out here in a few days and wanted to verify 1 60m rope will get me down. I don't want to lug another rope if I don't have to. I have heard 2 ropes, but I hope not :) I'm taking the wife and flying so less crap the better. This will probably be her 1st and last multi pitch climb, hah. I'm guess the 60m rope rap stations are self explanatory?

Thanks in advance folks!
By Ally Johnson
Apr 7, 2013
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

I lost a green .75 on an extended sling in the crack after the first traverse on the second pitch. It walked back into the crack and I couldn't reach the trigger.

If you're climbing it bring a coat hanger or two and you could probably reach it. You could booty it or get it back to me for some awesome karma, but it would be a shame to let good gear go to waste.

Otherwise I agree with previous reviewers, it's two star climbing in a four star location; a long approach and lots of scrambling to a few short but sweet cracks. Still, a perfect outing for people new to multipitch, desert rock, or with very basic racks.

Also, I the move directly after the mantle and bolt is as or more challenging for the follower because if you're being belayed from the anchors it and you missed the move you would take a tremendous swing. As a leader I would put a directional in that horizontal crack or belay from a gear anchor to protect the follower.
By Garret Nuzzo-Jones
From: Salt Lake City, UT
May 6, 2013
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

You don't need anything larger than a #2 Camalot for this climb. Probably nothing smaller than a .5. Again, one 60M rope is perfect from the bolts.

The second pitch is longer and more wandering than you might think. Don't be fooled by some of the rope marks, the pitch continues up another level after passing through a small slot on the ridge. Rather than climbing the south face with the nice handcrack (which my partner did following) I was more on the west ridge than anything. Don't drop down to the tat you can see near the top of the second pitch. Keep going along the arete and find the bolts.

Make sure to have a #2, it nicely protects the crux mantle on the third pitch. Bring a small cam (blue TCU) or a smallish nut to protect the traverse for your second on the third pitch.

The second, higher summit is very protectable with nuts and cams and has bolts/tat to get down. Easy climbing but pull gently on those death flakes!
By paul bucher
From: moab, utah
Jan 30, 2014
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

it's a mandatory must do. fun. the 5.6 is a sandbag though. i'm thinking of, and comparing it to, nutcracker on manure pile in yosemite (a consensus 5.8). the crux is similar but a tad bit easier. if your new to the sharp end, just expect a bit more than a walk up. the bolt and anchors were spinning. we snugged them up. looking good now.
we found some gear up there. ID it and i'll shoot it back to you.
By Zak Munro
From: VT,CO, Bar Harbor ME
Mar 16, 2014

fun route with good exposure and easy climbing. Saw what was the chockstone on p1 but ended up making a 3 piece bomber gear anchor just below the big fin on the right. We ended using a #3 for the p2 going up the layback section before the big ledge
By Optimistic
From: New Paltz
Mar 18, 2015

Really cool route but surprisingly short! As others have said it's really important to protect the second as they do the final move onto the summit, using something in the red C3 kind of size. It would not be at all good if your second took that swing.

I think some of the comments about the mantel are a little extreme. You can get several quite good cams which will be at your feet for the move. I think 7 is pretty fair.

People are quite right about needing a tiny rack. A long piece of cord is handy for the first belay. We did the low traverse, 7 layback variation. If I had it to do over I'd do the p2 traverse and belay at the base of the 7 layback, and go for the summit from there.

There is a big chalked "x" on the TOP of the block sitting on the top of p3. Pretty hard to see it there when you're pulling onto the summit, but presumably this means that the block moves! Nobody in our party or the several following used the block though, so that's lucky!
By Zacks
Apr 22, 2015

Hey all, It says you can back up the chock stone belay with a "large cam" anyone know what size large cam this is? I know some of you will likely say you don't need to back it up, but I'd at least like to know what it would take, I don't have a 5 or 6 :(

By Ryan202
From: West Jordan, UT
Feb 28, 2016

Easy tower to grab. Thought the last move to gain the top was the most difficult, and think it's definitely harder than 5.6; more like 5.9.
By Mike A. Lewis
From: Estes Park, CO
Oct 15, 2016
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

This is a very popular route and there are likely to be many people who want to climb this route on any given day, especially on the weekends. That means we should be considerate of other users...climbing efficiently, in small teams, maybe letting others go ahead that are more experienced and who are much faster, and so on. Cheers!

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