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Great White Icicle Area
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The Great White Icicle 


Type:  Ice, 4 pitches, 600', Grade II
Original: WI3 [details]
FA: Ted Wilson & Rick Reese 1960
Season: When its in.
Page Views: 8,793
Submitted By: Allen Sanderson on Oct 29, 2006

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FA of the GWI...these kids are still going strong ...

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


The Great White Icicle is one of the most popular climbs in the Salt Lake area due to the fact it's so close and has multiple pitches of ice that form up very regularly. It's a great lead and a fine climb for new ice climbers. Because of these reasons it's very often crowded, especially on weekends, so be prepared to wait and dodge ice. Always wear a helmet.


The climb is typically done in four pitches. The first pitch climbs a short moderate step (approximately 50') to the large boulder on the right side with a chain belay. From here wander up the snow slope until you reach the base of the ice at the start of the second pitch, a low angle (45-50 degree) 100 foot ramp that leads to the balcony. At the top there is a bolted belay on the left side and a rap anchor on the balcony proper.

The third pitch is known as the bulge and can be climbed on the far left (easiest), center (most common), or right side (infrequent). After approximately 160 feet there is a bolted belay on the left side. (Reaching it may require the belayer to simul climb up to the start of the ice). After approximately 120 feet there is also a belay on the right side. Reaching it can be tricky and is not recommended for the new ice climber. Using this belay will require that another belay be used also on the far right side at the top of the ramp that is below the last curtain.

If using the belay on the left the final pitch can be done from here. The last curtain can be climbed on the left or right. Each have their own mini cruxes. Originally one climbed up the curtain to a short pillar on the left side. With the change in the creek (circa 2000) the pillar is bigger but still requires a bit of careful climbing. From the top of the pillar continue up where one can belay from the trees. Climbing the right side will require one to climb up the curtain, step to the right and the continue up to the top where one can belay from the trees.

There is also a vertical 20 foot curtain that often forms below the step on the right side. Climbing it can be good fun. However, it is best to let it fully touch down before climbing it.


While it is possible to rappel the route, it is not advisable because of the number of other climbers that may be below. Instead, walk up the snow/creek approximate 100' to a level area where a well beaten path will cross the creek (climber's right) and traverse over into the next gully. Descend until well into the trees and it possible to leave the gully on the up canyon side (skier's right). Continue descending next to a slab which brings one back to the near the base.

Trivia: in the 90s Alex Lowe climbed the route car-to-car in 19 minutes while after a heavy snow fall Andrew McLean et. al. skied the route (albeit while belayed). After a heavy snow fall it is possible to bum slide the second pitch.

Edited Jan 2014 to reflect the current conditions.


Park about two miles up Little Cottonwood Canyon approximately 100 yards down canyon from the power plant. As of 2010 do not park at the Power Plant as there is no longer any public access. Park on the south side of the road well off of the white line.

There is usually a well worn trail in the snow from the parking that leads to Little Cottonwood Creek, cross the creek and the pipeline. Once you reach the main Little Cottonwood trail turn left and go up canyon. The climber's trail leading to the base will be on your right.

Edited Jan 2014 to reflect the current parking.


Screws, fixed gear, bolts. There are a few belay chains.

Photos of The Great White Icicle Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Great White on 11/13/2006.
BETA PHOTO: Great White on 11/13/2006.
Rock Climbing Photo: Great White on 11/13/2006.
BETA PHOTO: Great White on 11/13/2006.
Rock Climbing Photo: Great White on 11/13/2006.
BETA PHOTO: Great White on 11/13/2006.
Rock Climbing Photo: Tons of deep powpow in the gully that day!
Tons of deep powpow in the gully that day!
Rock Climbing Photo: A classic line!
A classic line!
Rock Climbing Photo: Last pitch of the GWI on Jan 2nd 2013.  Good climb...
BETA PHOTO: Last pitch of the GWI on Jan 2nd 2013. Good climb...
Rock Climbing Photo: Top of the great white icicle feb 2011 belay
Top of the great white icicle feb 2011 belay
Rock Climbing Photo: GWI after 1/23/09 collapse.
GWI after 1/23/09 collapse.
Rock Climbing Photo: Great White on 11/13/2006.
BETA PHOTO: Great White on 11/13/2006.

Comments on The Great White Icicle Add Comment
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By R T Titmus
Dec 8, 2006

This route gets a lot of traffic. On any weekend plan on plenty of climbers and lines. Everyone is tryin to get some climbing in and it gets packed. This year it seems that all the locals are pretty irritated w/all the crowds. It seems as if there is not enough room to satisfy all the needs of the growin ice hacker commun.

I would strongly suggest going @night or on a weekday, so that a full on, and true alpine experience is established. Also, many rappel/belay stations are found on the route, w/lots of new hardware and slings. glissade from the top for a beautiful Little experience.
By Eastvillage
From: New York, NY
Jan 3, 2007

I climbed this in 1973, what a fun adventure! We glissaded down afterward, it was really fun.
Great times.
By shawn Kenney
From: Draper,Utah
Nov 23, 2007

Went up to check on conditions today 11/23/2007. The ice is coming in and a party was climbing the last pitch as I left my car. The huge boulder at the top of the first pitch with the belay station is now gone. There has been a huge rock fall here.
By John J. Glime
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Jan 24, 2009

FYI, For those new to the climb, the "3 pitches" description is a bit misleading. For example, the last time I climbed it, I did it in 6 pitches. I think 4 is common. It depends if you want to use all of the fixed anchors. Or if you want to build anchors, etc. Either way, this route has a totally 'casual' reputation, which is deserving... but you should still take it seriously. Depending on conditions, it can turn into a nasty alpine affair. It can bite you.
By max huecksteadt
From: Boise ID
May 28, 2012
rating: WI3

Four pitches of ice this close to salt lake? Superb- but go on a weekday and forget the crowds
By Tyler Grundstrom
From: Salt Lake City, Utah
Jan 26, 2016

The pitches on this climb can be inconsistently formed and covered with snow making for attentive climbing when navigating the route. This is an easier ice climb but even when the formation is considered to be "in" there can be large hollow thin sections that make protecting/ascending difficult. This can make the climb more serious than the rating denotes.

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