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The Brass Monkey 

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

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 80'
Original:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: Greg Gavin and Tris Tarantino March 12th 2012
New Route: Yes
Season: All
Page Views: 1,796
Submitted By: Greg Gavin on Mar 15, 2012

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...That Funky Monkey!

Gate Buttress Area Recreational Lease: Climbs on Church Buttress above vault remain closed MORE INFO >>>


"In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon. However, how to prevent them from rolling about the deck? The best storage method devised was a square-based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one to prevent the bottom layer from sliding or rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate called a "Monkey" with 16 round indentations.
However, if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make "Brass Monkeys." Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannonballs would come right off the monkey. Thus, it was quite literally, "Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey."" - Albert Jack, "Red Herrings & White Elephants The Origins of the Phrases We Use Every Day" (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2004), page 12.

Start up the southeast corner of the buttress climbing great edges and patina past 2 bolts onto a stance. From this stance balance your way up the main face of the wall keeping your cool before clipping bolt 4. After bolt 4 the business hits as you step out right, and find a good crack that takes wires and cams. Be sure to take in the wonderful position in the canyon when you reach the anchors!

A good warm up or cool down if you're in the area. This route climbs the mottled face 100ft east of "Castaway". The crux seems to be at 3/4rd's height just past the last bolt.


100ft east of "Castaway". Directly after the 3rd class used to gain the ledges east of The Sail.


4 bolts protect the face while wires and a rack to 1.5" supplement the rest. Rappel the route.

Photos of The Brass Monkey Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Crude map of the climb. I'll try to get a better p...
BETA PHOTO: Crude map of the climb. I'll try to get a better p...
Rock Climbing Photo: Garret leading Brass Monkey
Garret leading Brass Monkey

Comments on The Brass Monkey Add Comment
Show which comments
By Fett
Mar 16, 2012

I always thought a brass monkey was a beer with a splash of orange juice.

By Perin Blanchard
From: Orem, UT
Mar 16, 2012

Alas! I really wanted to believe it.

Snopes on Brass Monkeys

"Somebody's fanciful imagination is at work cooking up spurious etymologies again. In short, this origin for the phrase 'cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey' is nonsense because..."
By Greg Gavin
From: SLC, UT
Mar 18, 2012

haha touche Perin! Better luck next time for the naming game I guess!

Regardless the route is a fun romp up surprisingly good stone. It was drilled on lead with bolts 1,3,4 drilled from free stances and bolt 2 from a hook. Trying to keep the ground up tradition alive in little cottonwood.

Have fun!
By Garret Nuzzo-Jones
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Jan 22, 2014

Heads up 5.7. More "honest" to the grade than some of it's neighbors on The Sail. I felt comfortable with 4 quickdraws for the bolts and a single #2 Camalot for the top section. Just extend it out.

Anchors are not easily visible from the ground, just head up after the fourth bolt and make for the arete. Bring runners for the anchors if you plan on toproping, they're set back a bit.

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