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The Fin Arete 

YDS: 5.10b French: 6a+ Ewbanks: 19 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b R

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 400', Grade II
Original:  YDS: 5.10b French: 6a+ Ewbanks: 19 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b R [details]
FA: Smoot & Smoot '78
Page Views: 8,080
Submitted By: Peter Gram on Mar 19, 2005

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (47)
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Mark, following up high

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


The Fin Arete is a beautiful slab climb, with many good-sized runouts. At the base of The Fin, The Fin Arete starts on the left side. Scramble up a broken ramp to find a suitable belay stance.

P1 (5.10b) Climb through six bolts of rather runout friction climbing. A small leftward traverse is found at the fourth bolt, and is also the crux of the climb. Belay at a fixed anchor, bolts.

P2 (5.9) There are two ways to go on this pitch. We did the Dark Horse variation, so I can't vouch for the original route. Dark Horse is awesome—highly recommended. To do it, climb slightly right from the belay to a bolt. Another bolt is usable to the left a ways, and then do a big runout up through a small roof. One more bolt leads to an intermediate anchor. Continue up the exciting prow (one bolt, runout) to another bolt anchor in a dish.

Original route: Climb straight up from the anchor to a hard-to-see bolt a bit below the left side of the roof. Get over the left side of the roof into a leftward-trending flared crack. Follow this crack until it ends, and then follow another, rightward-trending flared crack that starts up and right a bit from the end of the previous crack. After the crack ends, spy a rusty bolt up and to the right a bit (1/4" with Leeper hanger). Climb past the bolt and up to an excellent stance with a single-bolt plus chickenhead belay.

P3 (5.7) Continue up the prow: thin and runout. Pass one bolt, then the climbing eases to 5.5 for a long run up to the anchors (this pitch is almost 200 feet). The anchors are to the left of the arete, and a bit hidden.


Slings for bolts, small nuts, and small though medium cams, but this climb is mostly widely-spaced bolt-protected slab climbing.


We had a 70m rope, but the rap should be possible with a 60m. Rap down to the left of The Fin to a sloping ledge system. Easily downclimb the ledge to another dropoff. There are some hidden anchors next to a tree. Rap one more time to the main gully between The Fin and Church Buttress. It is a hike out from here.

The rap puts you at the base of the Intensive Care Slab and Gargoyle Wall.

Photos of The Fin Arete Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Perin starts P1 while goat observes on 20100424.
Perin starts P1 while goat observes on 20100424.
Rock Climbing Photo: Original topo showing the route as done in 4 pitch...
BETA PHOTO: Original topo showing the route as done in 4 pitch...
Rock Climbing Photo: Terry leading the old pitch 3
Terry leading the old pitch 3
Rock Climbing Photo: Nico nearing the spine on P2
Nico nearing the spine on P2
Rock Climbing Photo: Nico making the crux look easy
Nico making the crux look easy
Rock Climbing Photo: The second pitch from the top.  Straight up from t...
BETA PHOTO: The second pitch from the top. Straight up from t...
Rock Climbing Photo: Christian Feinauer leading the 3rd pitch.  He's we...
BETA PHOTO: Christian Feinauer leading the 3rd pitch. He's we...
Rock Climbing Photo: wounds from the whipper... peeled two feet below t...
wounds from the whipper... peeled two feet below t...
Rock Climbing Photo: From the top of P1. Avoid the angle/rope drag at t...
From the top of P1. Avoid the angle/rope drag at t...
Rock Climbing Photo: Perin approaching the first bolt on P2.
Perin approaching the first bolt on P2.
Rock Climbing Photo: Perin belays Lee on P1. Lee is about to make the t...
Perin belays Lee on P1. Lee is about to make the t...
Rock Climbing Photo: Mark Rolofsen leading the first pitch.
Mark Rolofsen leading the first pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: Terry Lien on the 2nd pitch, late 70's...2nd ascen...
Terry Lien on the 2nd pitch, late 70's...2nd ascen...
Rock Climbing Photo: The amazing 2nd pitch!!
The amazing 2nd pitch!!
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 3
Pitch 3
Rock Climbing Photo: Nico at the Fin base
Nico at the Fin base

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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 31, 2015
By Gary Olsen
Apr 13, 2005

Hi,"sport climbing at its loosest?" Tell that to Brian and Jonathon Smoot who vetured up there on lead to drill those bolts not really knowing if there would be adequate stances, not knowing just how hard it could be. I may be too old school, but to me, sport climbs denote rappel and drill routes that are done that way primarily for safety sakes. This is what you call old school slab. The definitions of these may elude some people but it is very important to know. Gary
By Nathan Fisher
Sep 30, 2005
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

Excellent route. Finally got up there today, and climbed this. First pitch is THE pitch.Thin, continuous, thrilling. Second pitch has a bolt just after the first 5.9 move that is below the roof. Don't forget to angle right to the 2nd bolt on this pitch.
By tenesmus
May 7, 2007

Tack on the first pitch of Shock Trauma and you've got yourself a nice easier 5.10 slab day. The first pitch is fabulous and gives a great view of Dark Horse.
By Ben Folsom
Sep 30, 2008

As Gary Olsen said, this climb should not be classified as a sport climb. It could be very misleading to the unknowing. This route was established on the lead in traditional style, definitely not a sport route.
By bsmoot
Sep 30, 2008

Speaking of traditional style, if you bring .5, #1 & #3 camalots, you can place them on pitches 2 & 3.

Bolt 3 on the first pitch was not part of the first ascent. Same goes for the 2nd bolt on the 2nd pitch.
By Boissal
From: Small Lake, UT
Nov 24, 2008
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R

Another amazing Smoot & Smoot classic.
Easier but more heads up than the Dorsal... The main runouts are right off the belays, making for some nerve-wracking opening moves on each pitch.
On p1 clip the 1st and 5th bolt with extra long runners and you'll be fine. Fun meandering back and forth across the arete.
The Dark Horse variation is a bit more run that the regular route although a slung chicken-head at the roof will provide psychological pro. If it doesn't fall off as soon as you move above it :)
By CalmAdrenaline
From: SL,UT
Apr 11, 2009

go straight up past bolt 4 instead of traversing left for a good spicy variation.
By Perin Blanchard
From: Orem, UT
Apr 24, 2010

On the second pitch (not the Dark Horse variation) I placed (as Brian suggests) a #1 and #2 C4. I also placed a #0 C3, a #2 C3, a #7 DMM alloy offset, and slung several chickenheads. There were a couple of spots where I kinda wished I'd brought a #.5 and #.75 C4 as well.

FWIW, on pitch one I found moving from bolt 5 to 6 harder than the traverse after bolt 4.
By Greg Gavin
From: SLC, UT
Apr 25, 2010

So that was you up there yesterday! I viewed your ascent from schoolroom, and was extremely jealous.
By JoshuaP Parkinson
From: San Francisco, CA
May 28, 2010
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R

Got on this yesterday with perfectly cool spring weather-- billowy clouds overhead, intermittently crumbly granite underfoot, micro-holds that peal away a bit with every new use. Classic heady route... but run-outs aren't too much longer than S-Direct, just steeper and crumblier. It's all there... thank jah for chickenheads!

Found the "10a" section between bolts 5 and 6 to be the crux... and much bolder than the "10b/c" section below it.

Watch for Mt goats... yesterday the slabs were crawling with them!
By bheller
From: SL UT
May 29, 2010
rating: 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b R

Would the next kind soul to climb this please bring a knife, chain, and quicklinks? I am suprised no one has mentioned this before now. Cut the faded "manchor" webbing off that is threaded directly into those thin (sharp!) SMC hangers. Pitch one manchor needs it badly...this way if any cursed soul actually did whip climbing to the first chicken head directly above the pitch one belay, its man vs. steel, not man vs. 10 year old webbing.

P.S. Dont even bother with the cams, after pitch one if you still feel you need them for the easier climbing... just rap now.

P.P.S Not crumbly

+1 for long slings on bolts one and five
+1 for crux now lurking after bolt five
By mikewhite
May 29, 2010

This weekend anybody?

First belay and last bolt need some work.
By Perin Blanchard
From: Orem, UT
May 29, 2010

Hey Mike, I can't make it up this weekend, but the last bolt on the 2nd pitch (1/4" w/Leeper hanger) and the 2nd pitch belay bolt (1/4" w/SMC hanger) both could stand replacing if you get someone up there with you.
By Tim Wolfe
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 28, 2010
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13

The classic moderate 5.10 slab in the canyon.
By Jim D
Apr 11, 2012

This is one of my top 5 favorite routes in LCC. It is on par with Satan's Corner, Beckey's Wall, and Mexican Crack. Unfortunately, I let all the comments about it keep me off it for the last two decades. What a tragedy!

Yes, some of the runouts are long. But this route was clearly bolted on lead, which makes for a few unique characteristics. Every bolt is at a great stance as you might expect, and where there are more good stances (and reasonably hard climbing) there are more bolts. The protection is limited, but you'll also find that it is located EXACTLY where you want it.

In fact, the first traversing crux on the first pitch is practically done on top rope. The second crux on the first pitch is only 6-10 feet above the bolt. That's probably the psychological crux of the route. You can lower off the bolt below that crux to the ground with a 60m rope. Once above there though, you're pretty committed (which is fine since the climbing gets dramatically easier.) Bring your slabmeister ropegun to lead the first pitch. The cruxes are distinct, with far easier climbing between them. Be aware that the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th bolts are on the left side of the dike (the guidebook topo shows the 2nd and 3rd on the right side.)

The second pitch starts out hard (but not as hard as the cruxes on the first pitch) but it appears there have been two bolts added to it since the guidebook was printed. There is one bolt 20 feet up (not in guidebook), then you can place an orange TCU under the roof which is easily pulled on two chickenheads. You veer slightly left into an easy groove that takes #1 and #2 camalots and follow that for 30 feet. You'll notice a bolt 10 feet right of the groove, that I believe is on Dark Horse. You could cut across there to the two-bolt Dark Horse anchor if you want to climb directly up the 5.9 Prow. The standard route leaves the groove after 30 feet or so, then heads right toward the arete. You climb a short headwall (5.9, but easier than the other two 5.9 cruxes) with not one, but two bolts on it (only one in the guidebook)and then you're at another two bolt anchor you cannot see from below.

The third pitch is 5.7 for about 10 feet, then relaxes to 5.5, which is good, since the only bolt on the pitch is at least 50 feet up. Honestly, this doesn't feel too bad given what you've already climbed. We were perfectly comfortable doing this pitch with minimal gear. You could probably sling a chicken head 30 feet up if you really wanted to.

In short, this route isn't nearly as scary or as hard to find as I had been lead to believe by the guidebook and other comments on this site. I guess it gets an R rating, but if you can climb the cruxes which are well-protected, you're certainly not going to fall anywhere that it is R.

6 or 8 quickdraws, a few runners, a #3 TCU (orange), a #1 Camalot (red), and a #2 Camalot (yellow) are as much as you're going to get in. The areas of the route protected by cams are not hard, and many people would probably skip them quite comfortably.
By S.Cohen
Oct 22, 2014

One of the best slabs i've climbed in LCC. The Dark Horse arete 2nd pitch is epic. Airy and great moves. The traverse is thin but little edges are abundant. Climb S direct first.
By Mark Rolofson
Jun 3, 2015

Pretty cool seeing these old photos on MP of me & Terry Lien from February 1979 when we made the second ascent with Brian Smoot (the first ascentiinist). Thanks Brian for posting them. It was a very memorable route & day, plus a great intro to Little Cottonwood. Thanks for showing me around back then. Those were fun times.
By bsmoot
Jul 31, 2015

Thanks Mark, too bad you and Terry had to leave Salt Lake...miss you guys. Getting to bolt 6 on the first pitch always gets my blood pumping.

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