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The West Slabs
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West Slabs, The T 

The West Slabs 

YDS: 5.5 French: 4b Ewbanks: 13 UIAA: IV+ ZA: 11 British: MS 4a

Type:  Trad, 10 pitches, 1660', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.5 French: 4b Ewbanks: 13 UIAA: IV+ ZA: 11 British: MS 4a [details]
FA: Unknown
Page Views: 38,465
Submitted By: Peter Gram on May 8, 2004

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North summit - 11/3/2010


The face of the West Slabs can be climbed almost anywhere. The slab is extremely wide, allowing tons of variations to try. Although it doesn't matter which way you choose, I will describe my route as a rough idea of what to expect. Also included are rough estimates of the pitch lengths. All told, the slabs are probably close to 2000' feet of climbing. In early season, an ice axe (maybe crampons) may be helpful on the approach couloir. The snow isn't that steep and I was easily able to kick steps without crampons.

P1) Start at the low point of the slabs, where the couloir makes a V, heading both to the left and the right of the slabs. This pitch is mostly 3rd/4th class scrambling, with a few easy 5th class moves up to a tree with slings (190 feet).

P2) This and P3 are the two pitches that make up the 5.5 climbing on this route. I wandered up a beautiful slabby face placing gear in face features up to the start of a left facing dihedral. The belay was set using gear anchor on a nice flat spot in the dihedral (180 feet).

P3) Climb up the nice left facing dihedral until a huge tree on a big ledge. This is the most easily protected and one of the best pitches of the route. A walk off right is possible here on ledge systems. From here, the climbing eases to 5.4 or less (120 feet).

P4) A really cool pitch wanders up the juggy face. I set a gear anchor in a horizontal crack above a sloping shelf which took small cams well (160 feet).

P5) Head up unprotectable slabbier rock, trending slightly right, to a small roof system with a tree. Some slings are on this tree, and I backed it up with a cam in a nearby crack (150 feet).

P6) Wander up and over a small roof. Continue rambling up the face, passing a dead tree on the left. A rope stretcher with a bit of simul-climbing got me to a good sized pine tree just a few feet below an enormous dead tree (215 feet).

P7) Slightly to the left is a wavy right facing dihedral in light colored quartzite. I stretched this pitch to a sloping ledge with a few features for a gear anchor (200 feet).

P8) Another ramble up a right facing dihedral gains a big tree with a good ledge (110 feet).

P9) Wander up the well featured face for most of a rope length to another tree (slightly left) with slings (180 feet).

P10) One more really easy pitch gains a huge ledge system which goes straight across the face (150 feet).

Probably two more rope lengths would reach the top from here if still roped up. However, unroping for this easy climbing may be a good idea at this point, or even after the top of pitch 8 or 9 as described. For the most part, every pitch seems easier than the last, and the point to unrope is different depending on the party.

Descent) Ruckman describes a specific descent for this route. Since I did not take it, I am not familiar with where to go. Instead, I followed the ridge up towards the North summit. Eventually, I dropped off the ridge to the right and did a difficult traverse into the drainage between the two summits. From the saddle, a short steep climb (difficult when snowy) gains the real summit. After reaching the summit, the hiking trail can be taken down. Make sure to bum a ride or bring two cars if doing this loop (the trailheads are 3 miles apart from each other)


Small standard Rack. I found small cams to be more useful than anything else. I placed occasional nuts and up to a #3 camalot as well. Many trees can be used as quick belays or protection on pitches. Most pitches are run out, but the climbing is usually juggy.

Getting There 

Wasatch Blvd to 4280 S / Oakview Dr., right on Jupiter Dr., left on Adonis Dr., right on Thousand Oaks Dr. to the end of the road (traffic circle with a gate), then up the wooden stairs.

Stay on the trail through both switchbacks (don't go straight at the 2nd one); the trail dies down in a rocky gully which you follow to the base of the slabs.

45 min to an hour.


Photos of The West Slabs Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Hazy view of the valley from the top of the west s...
Hazy view of the valley from the top of the west s...
Rock Climbing Photo: This is the route I took to reach the south summit...
BETA PHOTO: This is the route I took to reach the south summit...
Rock Climbing Photo: 2007- ponytail intact and all. One of my earliest ...
2007- ponytail intact and all. One of my earliest ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Rattler on the summit.  Watch where you drop your ...
BETA PHOTO: Rattler on the summit. Watch where you drop your ...
Rock Climbing Photo: The third tree rappel down the gulley. Difficult t...
BETA PHOTO: The third tree rappel down the gulley. Difficult t...
Rock Climbing Photo: 2007- On the slabs--One of my earliest climbs (not...
2007- On the slabs--One of my earliest climbs (not...
Rock Climbing Photo: Ian and Greg
Ian and Greg
Rock Climbing Photo: The top of the West Slabs. This pic is looking up ...
BETA PHOTO: The top of the West Slabs. This pic is looking up ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Craig Gueck following pitch 2.  The tree in the ce...
Craig Gueck following pitch 2. The tree in the ce...
Rock Climbing Photo: The low point of the West Slabs where the climbing...
BETA PHOTO: The low point of the West Slabs where the climbing...
Rock Climbing Photo:  Shivers (Lucas Johnson) on the summit of Mt. Olym...
Shivers (Lucas Johnson) on the summit of Mt. Olym...
Rock Climbing Photo: Last stretch
Last stretch
Rock Climbing Photo: Belaying Amy from the top--the last pitch.
BETA PHOTO: Belaying Amy from the top--the last pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: the great view overlooking east side of SLC
the great view overlooking east side of SLC
Rock Climbing Photo: Tony Tuttle cruisin the West Slab, somewhere aroun...
Tony Tuttle cruisin the West Slab, somewhere aroun...
Rock Climbing Photo: The summit ridge leading up to Mount Olympus.  A r...
The summit ridge leading up to Mount Olympus. A r...
Rock Climbing Photo: Craig Gueck at the belay station on top of pitch 2...
Craig Gueck at the belay station on top of pitch 2...
Rock Climbing Photo: Half way up
Half way up
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up the descent gully. We descended the gul...
BETA PHOTO: Looking up the descent gully. We descended the gul...
Rock Climbing Photo: The descent: I found the gulley from the top of th...
BETA PHOTO: The descent: I found the gulley from the top of th...
Rock Climbing Photo: The view from a pitch up.  This is taken from the ...
The view from a pitch up. This is taken from the ...

Comments on The West Slabs Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 23, 2016
By Peter Gram
From: Cupertino, CA
May 9, 2004

I decided to give this 3 stars due to the overall experience of climbing this route. Cruising up the couloir is fun at the beginning of the day, and pitches 2, 3, and 4 are really good. The rest of the climbing is of lower quality, but the rock is generally really solid and the views of SLC are great.
By John J. Glime
From: Salt Lake City, UT
May 11, 2004

This really is a great climb... how many places can you move over good rock for 2000 ft. on 5.4 terrain (a few 5.5 moves) overlooking 2 million people with a 30-45 minute approach? The flatirons come to mind... redrocks come to mind, but either way, a unique opportunity.Many people solo this route (for my karma I will say, "please don't"), but simulclimbing is almost as fast and much more comforting. Don't let the snow fool you in the pictures... it is still spring in the Wasatch. Summer and fall are dry and the approach isn't as nice looking... however it still isn't a problem, just more boulder hopping, etc. The descent is another story... kind of a pain after such a nice climb. After topping out on the ridgeline, move down and to your right (West) and choose whatever 'gully' looks most appealing, eventually working your way back to the base of the route and back to the trailhead. Enjoy.
By Eric Jacobsen
Sep 11, 2004

We tried some simul-climbing this morning and found it a great option. We followed Peter's directions, stopping for a belay at the top of P3, P5, and the top, which we estimated as about pitch 12 based on your description. After pitch 6 or so it gets quite easy and we didn't need to stop to place gear as much.I found the most exposed pitch to be 5 but maybe it was just the line we chose. We descended the west ridge as described by Ruckman and chose a gully to scramble down. It was a bit dicey at times, but there were some trees with lots of slings if you wanted to do a few raps. Overall a very enjoyable morning!
By Creed Murdock
Oct 25, 2004

Great Climb! There are fixed anchors with small red ribbons for visibility on pitches 2,3,4. From Tree anchor on pitch 1 just continue straight up and slightly to the left. I've tried decending this slab several ways, none have proven enjoyable. Walking off the back and down to the main Mt. Olympus trial definately not reccomended-unless you like rattle snakes and bushwacking!
By John J. Glime
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 31, 2005

fixed anchors??? why??? i have heard that some of the guiding services in town take beginners up this route, is it to ease beginners' minds? it seems like a such a waste of 'good' bolts (oxymoron?), whoever placed them should have put them in the fishers instead. i guess my points are: 1- it is such an easy climb. 2- protection is easily had throughout the route (unless my memory is going.)
By Anonymous Coward
Jun 4, 2005

great rock! last time i did this route, i was soloing it with two friends at night. at one point i stopped to check out the view of the city and a transformer exploded, lighting up the entire valley. the rest of the night was dedicated to extensive trundling. good times
By Darryl Dobson
Jun 10, 2005

Highly recommend wearing a helmet , the mountain goats were roaming above us knocking off a considerable amount of good size head bangers. Also, an ice axe for the approach today would have been very handy (I used a tree branch today). Beautiful day, super fun climb. Crux for me today was the snow gully in tennies (no ice axe/crampons). Definitely stoked to finally do this route after looking up there so many years. This is a must do.
By Anonymous Coward
Sep 27, 2005

Does anyone know who added the needless bolts? I heard this a product of lazy Exum guides, wanting to make their lives easier by having fixed stations?....not sure if that's true...just curious if anyone knows the real story. Another loss to retrofitting.
By James Garrett
Jul 30, 2006

AC and John,
Sorry, you don't like the bolts. They are easy to avoid and easier not to clip. Of course the protection is easy, but would you just leave it all there if you chose to rappel the route, especially after the climbing lacks as much interest up high or a thundershower forces retreat? It also allows the avoidance of a car shuttle, but maybe you walk to Mt. Olympus because of the environmental impact of fossil fuel vehicles, I hope so, anyway.
On a fairly recent climb of Lotus Flower Tower in the remote NorthWest Territories of Canada, it sure felt nice to know that the fixed anchors allowed an EZ descent rather than the commitment of having to go up and over to a much more complicated descent. Those fixed anchors were bolts placed next to cracks...I suppose the better thing to have done is left a rack of camalots for the next person to take out and then replace as he /she chooses to descend that way. Alot of reasons that fixed anchors are convenient up in a place like that should be a bit more self evident.
They were also placed quite unobtrusively and they will last many many years. Other climbers have mentioned they are not even that easy to find unless you are looking for them...and when noticed, provide excellent stations. I have free soloed the route myself, yet realize that that is not the only way the climb will be attempted. And yes, they were expensive to install and Utah Exum Guide Service should be thanked for the community service. In addition, those particular types of bolts do not perform well in the Fishers....those on Olympus are more suited to hard rock.
And you said it yourself, "the descent is kind of a pain after such a fun climb"...why not rap it next time...I would speculate you already have!
By John J. Glime
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 16, 2006

I still call bullshite. No need to re-energize the bolt war debate, but what I am starting to ponder more is Mug's supposed comment to Gary. The "you only place bolts for yourself" remark. If guiding services start bolting for themselves, then every bolt they place is legitimate? The Northwest Territories comment is also lame James. You are comparing a 5.5 route looking over 2 million people with easy to see weather patterns forming to an isolated climb in the Northwest Territories??? Sounds more like you are bragging than making some point.

I know, I know... James Garrett is god-like here. He is the greatest guy that ever lived. It is heresy to speak against him. Well, I don't know James, but I know how his comment above came across to me, and just because he is James Garrett, I am not going to bow down.

However you want to rationalize it, those bolts on that face are NOT necessary. More convenient? Yes, all bolts make life more convenient.

So just because a few bolts in a sea of rock mean nothing (I agree, that ultimately, who cares.) But just because that is true does not make it a valid argument to put bolts on anything that you want to be more convenient. If that is the case, I am heading to Zion with my drill because there are a few places that could use some more "conveniences."
By T Roper
Oct 16, 2006

Anyone rapping this route on the anchors better have a football helmet with shoulder pads on and hope everyone down below does, too. Every spring there are new rocks perched all over that cliff. Throwing ropes down and then pulling them would be way more dangerous than just walking down the ridge to the west. It could EASILY kill someone walking up the gully.

There are two drainages to the right (west) of the slabs that you can see from anywhere downtown. Walk about 2 minutes to the west and look down. Go down either one to get back to the base of the climb. They are both steep and easy and full of snakes that bite.
By James Garrett
Oct 16, 2006

Hi John,
Not being one known to brag and hardly feeling like anybody special (my apologies if I have come off that way), I probably agree with you more than disagree with you. Despite the flattery, I have done at least 5 times as many 5.5 routes in my life than 5.10 routes or harder. The Olympus/LFT analogy still stands in my book, despite the view to a large still have to get down.

The whole bolting "discussion" that has gone down before this has made me reassess my own placement of bolts on older routes to improve or establish rap/belay stations. My international climbing experience did influence how and why I set up those and other stations (on mostly routes I was first climbing). With the case of the Olympus bolts, I was hired by Exum about 5 years ago to place those stations, fully aware that placing any bolt on older routes these days brings scrutiny and controversy. Would I do it today? Probably not and you are very correct, they are not necessary any more or any less than the bolted stations on LFT. And not to be accused of further bragging, but I did climb with Mugs Stump and he didn't have a problem with bolts per se...he clipped and placed them all the time. What seemed to sadden him was the seemingly indiscriminate rap bolting and lack of historical perspective in many climbers attitudes. I can't speak for him, but that was my impression at the time.

With that said, yes, I admit wholeheartedly that the rap/belay anchors on Olympus were placed for convenience. It would not affect my personal experience that much if they were there or not, but I did ultimately place them for myself because I have used them several times since for that very reason, (i.e., I did NOT want to hike around and I did NOT want to free solo down like Ben or down climb). I sense that others agree and they are being used more often than that justification? No, but it is somehow a reason to leave them be rather than chop them. I hope you agree.
By John J. Glime
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 16, 2006


You don't have to worry about me chopping anything. I have never, and can't imagine ever becoming a er... ehm... bolt remover (did I say chop? sorry.) Well, maybe I can imagine if someone added bolts to my own routes, I would be a tinge irked. Who is to say? But, I can say that I am not one of those people you need to fear. (So feel free to email me that 17 pitch Desert Beta!)

I am also not trying to say that you aren't a great guy. People do seem to never say anything negative about you though... which makes me suspicious. (kidding.)

I appreciate your comments on Mug's views. Bolts for yourself is a view that has been weighing on my mind a lot lately.

Of course I agree to the idea of leaving them now that they have been placed. But what bothered me was that the nature of the route was changed. I am not some ethical angel or anything. But I do feel strongly about leaving things alone unless it is an extenuating circumstance. It is not the purity of the West Slabs that bothers me so much as the slippery slope of convenience that seems to be infiltrating so many climbers minds as of late. Which is fine and great when you put up your own routes, but IMO a disappointing trend when done to previously established routes.
By triznuty
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 16, 2006

I will be very disappointed to see the bolts on this route. This route is one for people to learn the "mountaineer" ways. If people want to rap the route then bring slings or whatever. But I agree with Glime when he says -- "But I do feel strongly about leaving things alone unless it is an extenuating circumstance. It is not the purity of the West Slabs that bothers me so much as the slippery slope of convenience that seems to be infiltrating so many climbers minds as of late. Which is fine and great when you put up your own routes, but IMO a disappointing trend when done to previously established routes."

Just my 2 cents...
By Brad Brandewie
Oct 31, 2006

Well, it sure seems like some in the Salt Lake valley have lost their ethical compass when it comes to retro-bolting / bolting issues.

John and Triznuty's comments are right on the money.

By Tosh Peters
From: Park City, UT
Nov 25, 2007
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a R

this thing is fucking nuts compared to what ive heard and read. maybe doing it in late november had somthing to do with topping out at sundown and bushwacking down a gully towards petes rock. luckily we found a trail after cliffing out on a large waterfall and traversing north. we had a car at petes rock but forgot the keys. basically an epic. as for the climbing, it easy but very serious in places (you could probably sew it up with some wierd traverses). we started left of the ruckman guides line topo and ended right of it. did a about half and half simulclimbing and short pitches with 3 people on a sixty meter. it was fun but i am very surprised about some of the picture ive seen of gomers soloing this route. more mountaineering than a day of cragging.
By Tosh Peters
From: Park City, UT
Nov 25, 2007
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a R

oh and i didnt even see the bolts so you guys should definitly chill about them.
By Christian "crisco" Burrell
From: PG, Utah
Dec 27, 2008

We did this two years ago and were completely surprised by the bolts. We assumed that they were for guiding purposes. We also noticed that they were very hard to spot. We would occasionally spot one and then not see one for a long stretch. After scrambling down a somewhat sketchy descent dodging several rattlesnakes (they aren't kidding!), I began to wonder if rapping might have been a good idea.
Maybe there would be less of an issue if the rap line had been drilled at a different location.
Personally, in my mind, I would always go for safety, but I get the mountaineering angle too.
I wonder why the guides wouldn't want to use the route as a good anchor lesson? But oh well. Guiding companies always seem to just do whatever they do.
James: I understand why you did it and I got no beef with you bud! Keep doing all you do for our community!
By Brian B Ballard
From: Laramie, WY
Jun 24, 2009

Free Solo'd this as a second climb of this wonderful rock. At the last belay ledge you can traverse L for an exciting and harder finish on a slightly dirty variety of slabs, dihedrals or aretes.
By The Manly Nurse
Sep 14, 2009

My wife and I recently climbed this and did it in 6 pitches with some simul-climbing with a 60 mm rope. It was runout in some places, though we found a lot of good belaying ledges. I definitely used a lot of small to micro cams with only a couple stoppers, but was able place a couple larger cams. I felt the descent through the gulley was by far the trickiest part of the entire climb. We did a total of 4 single rope rappels off of trees and still did a tad bit of down climbing. (However, we tend to be safety conscious and chose to rap most of it, when I'm sure we would have been fine to down climb and limit the number of just gets your attention.) After some pondering whether to take the bushwacking drainage or head back the the base of the climb, we chose the latter and I'm glad we did; I didn't think it was too difficult, especially compared to the rapping/downclimbing the gulley.

If (or when) I could do this climb again I would bring a 70 mm rope if I had one--mainly for the rappels.

Saw a bunch of mountain goats, the view was tremendous, and the climbing fun! Life is good!
By oliver
Jul 1, 2010

Just got done doing this yesterday and I cant believe all the bolts that have been randomly added. Its now almost like a snake dike type bolt route. I saw three sets of bolts and chains all within 10 feet of each other. Just Stupid! But the climbing amazing!
By Ben Folsom
Jul 27, 2010

Every bolt and bolted anchor on this climb should be removed. The walk off/scramble down the gully to climbers left of the route is totally mellow. If that doesn't suite you, route find your way to the main trail to the South summit. This climb can be descended to the base of the route in less than 10 minutes via the shallow gully to climbers left of the route.
Mountain guides putting in anchors on previously established routes to make it more convenient for their business is crap.
By Craig Martin
From: Park City
Aug 6, 2010
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

In what way does it being a "beginner trad 5.4" have anything to do with the retro-bolting of a classic line?

Yes, I was a beginner once. I climbed the West Slabs as a beginner. There where no bolts at that time. I lived. We even rapped right down the route linking trees and downclimbing the sections that where to far to rap. That was the most exciting part.

I have grown tired of all the talk of beginner this and noob that. We where all beginners once and for those of us with a few years under our belts...well, when we started we didn't need all this route sanitization.

By Boissal
From: Small Lake, UT
Aug 6, 2010
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

The whole damn face is an obvious belay station!!
And as Craig points out, how did hundreds of climbers manage to make it past n00b stage without dying a gruesome death in the pre convenience anchors era? You've heard of many death on the West Slabs Taylor? Or on the many routes that JG has been revisiting over the years to fit the needs of the "community"? That's what I thought...

You've had problems with weather up there? Here's an idea: check in advance. We're not in the Winds, you can see storms coming from hours away.
You're too lazy to walk off? Start golfing. Rappels are NEVER safer when there's a good walk off. If you fall off on the hike, you roll an ankle. If you do it on rap, you spill your brains.

Where do you suggest energies be directed? The 5.4 rating has noting to do with the issue at hand. Should the West Slabs be turned into a bolt ladder so n00bish gym rats transitioning to the real stone can get a sanitized experience while more experienced people look the other way cause it's too lowly of a grade?
Shit, 5.7 is easy enough for beginners, why don't you go add bolts to Snake Dike. Wouldn't it be great for n00bs to be able to do it and not be scared?

Some guy is out there adding bolts to established lines. The justification is never the same but it's always hollow (it's for a guiding service, it's to save a shrub, it's not retrobolting if it's 5' to the right of the existing line or goes straighter, it's a forgotten line and nobody will notice, it's too hard for me and I have to aid through it but it's still my FA, it's to help people rap instead of walk off cause that's unsafe, it's for the community, it goes on and on, it's all bullshit).
You're fine with it? Keep sticking your head in the sand. Somebody else will go up there with a wrench.
By Daniel Winder
Sep 14, 2010

I free soloed this route twice this season and am certainly no dare-devil. Although you do enter a no-fall zone the climbing is very easy and secure. I made a game of counting the anchor stations as I passed: 19 by my count and I wasn't looking real hard for them. I downclimbed climber's right to a small saddle, avoiding the rap gully further right which looked tricky to get into and prone to rockfall. From here it is possible to walk down to the base of the route. Both outings were done in a leisurely 4 hours car to car, stopping to eat raspberries along the way.

An early season attempt was thwarted by snow in the approach gully. Large moats form between the snow and the gully's side walls. The snow was hard and steep and it felt dangerous to attempt without an ax or crampons.

Another Snake Dike comparison: WS isn't even in the same league of seriousness as SD!
By bsmoot
Sep 22, 2010

I made a game of counting the anchor stations as I passed: 19 by my count and I wasn't looking real hard for them.

19 belay stations! Sheeeesh!

What is going on! Who is doing this? How many bolts is enough on an old trad route? Ya know, if all of the present climbing community were moved back in time to the late 1980's or before, The West slabs would still get climbed a lot...climbers would just be using gear! What a concept, that's the way it was. ALL BEGINNERS LEARNED TO PLACE GEAR!!!

When I used to teach, beginners loved placing nuts & cams, it made climbing more interesting. The perception that the West Slabs, the Geezer Wall & others need to be sanitized, for beginners is a modern trend that's disturbing. The West Slabs is one of the ultimate all trad climbs for beginners. Sadly it sounds like this kind of learning and adventure has been taken away.

One misnomer is that pulled bolts always get replaced....not always. I've seen plenty of removed bolts that don't get replaced. It would be nice if the fellows who added all of these additional bolts (I'm not referring to James) could sac up and let us know who you are so a dialogue could take place...there are just too few all-trad routes of this kind left in the Wasatch.
By Stevie Nacho
From: Utah
Sep 22, 2010

Well said Mr. Smoot! I could not agree with you more. I learned to climb in the Wasatch and I also have witnessed a disturbing trend of bolt placement regardless of natural protection. It seems that setting up a gear belay is becoming extinct. On some of my first ascents, I've been guilty of having the tunnel vision of looking for a spot to drill a belay rather than looking at what the rock has to offer. Recently I've been changing my mindset and trying to only place bolts where absolutely mandatory. Hopefully other people can see this problem and can help others understand that we do not always need a bolt to be bomber.

I'll help with the removal party because these bolts should be yanked.

By Sam Grenlie
From: LCC, Utah
Oct 11, 2010

I second Ben's recommendation for a stroll to the South Summit. Staying on the ridge from the West Slabs and tagging mini-summits makes for a fun, longer scramble/hike thingy. The "climbing" up from notches along the way can be quite good - similar in character to the West Slabs themselves. There is one section in particular near the North Summit that stands out in my mind more so than any section on the West Slabs.

As far as the bolt discussion, I don't have much to add that hasn’t been said; but if I read "community service" as justification one more time I'm going to put my head through this desk.
By Asa King
From: Salt Lake City, Ut
Oct 19, 2010
rating: Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c

Fun climb, but really wasn't that difficult. Free climbed the whole way to the top. The crux was the snowfield right before the climb.
By Andrewprime1 Arredondo
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 12, 2011
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

I climbed the west slabs with a friend yesterday. It was pretty awesome, although, the crux was definitely the snowy approach. We trad climbed the first 3-4 pitches and then gave up and just free soloed the rest. We decided to rap down from the top, which was more tiring than the climb up was. We could have just walked down the other side I suppose, but the walk back to the car would have sucked. The man set anchors are pretty inconsistent and hard to find, (the slab is very wide) but there were plenty of trees with slings that you can rap off of. It took about 6 hours to do and overall it was a wicked fun day!
By Spencer Weiler
From: Salt Lake city
Jun 21, 2011

A great way to do this route with minimal schwaking pain is to descend the apollo couloir, the major eastern couloir seen on Olympus. Early spring allows for a fast glissade. From the top of the slabs hike up the ridge 200 yards to the obvious couloir on your left that descends east, hits a T intersection, continue east and then down the couloir north. Look for a fat cairn after you descend the river/gully at the bottom that will take you up,over, and back down into the zeus ascent couloir where you can then catch the trail back to the car. Jared Campbell recently did this route in 1:01 CTC. Amazingly fast.
By steven sadler
From: SLC, UT
Jun 26, 2011

Did this route today and it's amazing. Could really of used some crampons though. If you don't have any just stay to the left while hiking up the approach gulley and you can scramble up some rockie turrain. We did the climb in two long simul pitches with only stoppers. Gotta love 50-100 foot run outs. When coming down stay on the ridge line. We just took the first trail that looked the easiest and ended up in a gully that wasn't too bad except it was long and popped out on a road pretty far away from the approach. All around it was amazing.
By Jentry Miskin
Nov 14, 2011

Here's a video from a solo ascent in Oct 2011. It's a great solo climb as it is moderate, clean, and killer scenery. I didn't have a rope on the descent of the gully, but wish I would have brought a 50' for some sporty spots. It was about 5 hrs round trip to the car, with about an hour on summit enjoying the view. Thanks for the beta.

By Taylor Morgan
From: Draper, UT
Jun 11, 2012
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

If you plan to rappel the route, be aware that the bolts at the 3rd pitch belay have been chopped. Natural anchor options abound.
By Boissal
From: Small Lake, UT
Jun 11, 2012
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

At the risk of repeating what's been said a dozen times, plan on walking off, not rappelling. Unless you're fond of dealing with huge nests of knotted rope (good luck throwing 2 70m down a 45 degree slab and keeping that tangle-free). And choss you'll pull on your dome when your ropes comes down. Add the now missing belay stations and those raps are sounding more and more appealing... Hopefully gear anchors will be left behind soon, I could use some booty.

I walked off that thing twice last year taking my sweet time (summit beer on one occasion) and both times I beat sport rappellers to their packs.
By user id
Jun 11, 2012

Rappeling this route is in the poorest of taste.
By Taylor Morgan
From: Draper, UT
Jun 11, 2012
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

Agreed - unless you're a beginner or uncomfortable soloing multiple pitches of 5.4, it's best just to leave the rope at home and do the walk off.

I don't think it's "bad form" to rap the route using existing gear (unfortunately there's plenty of bolts), but please don't leave any more girth-hitched webbing, which already strangles every tree in sight (feel free, however, to leave lots of cams/nuts for Boissal).

If you must rap, learn how to rap on a single rope using a block, rather than wasting hours by tossing, and subsequently untangling, both of your lines.
By Ryan s Nelson
From: Salt Lake City, Ut
May 15, 2013

As Mr. Weiler has mentioned above the quickest (and easiest) route is to do this late spring (did it May 14 this year) when apollo couloir still has snow. I have done it both the long/miserable way (descent to west hiking trail) and this Apollo couloir descent and this IMO is the best route overall. Here is a video to humble most everybody looking to do the route:

Beta on west slab to apollo link up.
By Pink Thunder
From: Aurora
Jun 10, 2013
rating: 5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a

Fun route, but I wouldn't say it's any harder than 5.3 at any point. Maybe you can make it harder, but I went straight up the middle, passed a ton of bolted anchors, and it was like climbing a 1,600-foot ladder.

Also, for anyone planning on doing the slabs on a rope, more than one anchor is missing a hanger. A pitch or two up (I soloed the whole thing on June 8), I came upon two perfectly good bolts sticking out of the rock, sans hangers.

That said, I don't think there's any reason to use gear or a rope on this route at all. Way easy climbing, and trying to rap down would take forever and be a huge pain, since the slabs are covered in trees and bushes. Just scramble down the west ridge gully (which, admittedly, is really crappy and loose).

Also, still tons of snow in the approach gully. I didn't bring an axe, but one would've been useful. I wound up sliding 30 feet or so down the snow field on the descent after I slipped.
By EricV Volk
From: Woodbury, MN
Aug 18, 2013

Just got home from the West slabs. Took our group (4 ppl) 8 hours top to bottom with frequent breaks for a couple members. The climb was easy yet sustained, with frequent places for protection (we used a stopper set and a WC hexcentrics set). The bolted belays are really hard to find, but once you find one, you can usually find a few. We just used PRO to make a belay point anyways and skipped some of the belays which made the route only 8 pitches on a 60M rope.

The downclimb is sketchy. We followed the ridge to climbers right which goes down into the valley and it was quite slick, and didn't seem much better than what we had just climbed up, but we committed...

There are definitely still bees just above where the routes start, so be careful on the descent.

All in all definitely a worthwhile climb and easy to get to!
By mandomike
Sep 3, 2013

did it three times this year in Salomon trail shoes, always a fun climb! hike down the gully is harder than the climb! maybe...
By Mark Parrett
From: Salt Lake City, Utah
Sep 7, 2013

Did this today. Really fun but the descent was terrible. We went down the gully climbers right of the slabs and I don't recommend that. I will try the gully that leads to the start of the slab next time. No bees and only one rattler. Grading this is silly. We found a fun crack with some legit 5.7 moves and we saw a 5.3 route right next to us - so you can climb what you like here. It seems like the easy way up is left and the right is mostly 5.3 with some fun short sections if you want something up to 5.7.

We simulclimbed the first few hundred feet and solo'd the rest.
By Alex Peterson
From: Kamas, Utah
Sep 28, 2013
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a PG13

Trail to the start is fairly easy to find. We began at the Lake Bonnevile shore trail. Once you reach the bench and start up a boulder drainage, stay in the drainage it goes right to the base of the climb. (We made the mistake of leaving the drainage and suffered bushwhack hell to get back). Beehive is gone. Climbed this in an early season snow storm which made for a cold and wet climbing. Ran into a couple of mountain goats. Downclimbed back to the gear at the start trending along the edge of the drainage. There was no snow/ice pack left and a fairly good trail is there now.
By TimmDe
Apr 25, 2014

Hey does anyone know the access to the trail and climbs? Gonna be here early may and was wondering if i need to bring any ice gear?

also any camping near by?
By petegoodwin
Jun 15, 2014


I found an extendable sling atop of the West Slabs yesterday (6/14/14). If it's yours, send me a message with the biner brand and taping color and I'll get it back to you.

By Tommy Barker
Jul 12, 2014

I don't want to restart the bolting debate this comment section has become but, I need to know. Are the bolted anchors still there? I am a newer trad climber and am not yet comfortable setting gear anchors. However, I am very comfortable with two and three bolt anchors. Even though I know I am probably going to die according to everyone I want to know if I will die with or without bolted anchors.
By Boissal
From: Small Lake, UT
Jul 14, 2014
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

Hard to know. I was there a month ago and stumbled on a bunch of them. A couple hangers are missing. Some glue ins look like they were twisted. I have no idea if there's a continuous line of anchors to the top.
By Lea Fairbanks
From: Sandy, Utah
Jul 21, 2014

Tried to send it yesterday and got 4 pitches up before finding ourselves in a lightening storm so we rappelled down. No snow on the approach anymore, just scramble right up.

I agree with the others in saying that rappelling the route sucks. Ended up getting my rope tangled in a raspberry bush and perforated my legs getting it out. After rappelling 4 times in the storm we downclimbed the last 100' or so because I didn't want to do that anymore.

@Tommy I thought I saw a bolted station from the bottom, but once I got there I couldn't find it. Didn't see a single bolt the whole time, but I wasn't looking either.

The climbing was easy and I found myself not placing much gear anyways. I found good placements hard to come by, but I am a new trad climber just trying to learn by doing, so I don't have a great eye for it yet. Bolts would have given my partner some peace of mind - she's a stronger climber than me, but was way more sketched out about the elevation.

Was nice being able to sit down and chill just about anywhere on the wall.
By B Light
From: Salt Lake City, Utah
Jul 25, 2014

Rack Beta
  • Singles, BD C3 (Green, Red, Yellow),
  • SIngles BD #.3-#2
  • 15 Slings (3 extra long, 12 Shoulder Length)
  • Full Set of Nuts
  • FYI - Offsets were fun and useful on every pitch (BD size .3/.4, .4/.5, .5/.75)
  • 100' Rope
  • Did it in 4 pitches w/ Simil-Climbing

Didn't find all the bolted anchors, but many (At least 5)

We noticed a single glue in was "twisted"

Did "the goddess traverse today" as well. Really neat to wonder over the 5 different summits between the North and South Summit.
  • Didn't need a rope for this Section of the route, except for rappelling
  • 9 Hrs (Approx), Car in Olympus Cove to Pete's Rock Parking lot
  • 10 Liters of water and drank every last bit between two people
  • 3 rappels on the last summit of the North Summits Grouping (I down climbed with care and the occasional 5.8-ish move)
  • Used "mountain sense" to find the best way oer/around/down the 5 Mini-Summits

Could bring nuts/slings/RapRings to replace/create Anchors for the rappels on the traverse of the goddess... but you can also sling big rocks

Fun adventure and recommended at least once in your time in the Wasatch.
By Garrett C
From: SL,UT
Jun 7, 2015
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

Finally was able to knock this out. Ended up hiking all the way to the north summit and hiking down into the parking lot by Pete's rock. We free solo'd the slabs, never felt harder then 5.5, but you wouldn't want to fall. Traversing between the peaks felt the spiciest, with a few tricky down climbs and some harder "climbing". Again, I cant imagine using gear on this or why anyone would even attempt to rappel the slabs.
By vanman798
Aug 2, 2015
rating: 4th 1 2 I 2 M 1b

I can't understand how this gets a fifth class rating. Also it is not a grade III (I'd give it a grade II), after all the East Buttress route on Mt. Whitney is a grade III, and this isn't anywhere near the league of that. Don't get me wrong, it's a fun 4th class hike, and a Wasatch classic, so definitely check it out, but leave the rope and gear at home, the "climbing" section of the adventure with require about one hour. The Ruckman suggested walk-off sucks really bad, but as indicated on this page continuing on to the peaks (there are two, the south is higher than the north and will be the one with other people on it) and then following the main hiking trail down to a car shuttle is 1000% the way to do it. Rappelling it would be hard as the slabs are only around 45 degrees with lots of things to get the rope stuck on, not to mention it's a hazard to anyone coming up, so don't do it - then you don't need to carry up a rope, just to carry it down again. The Ruckman walk off, is full of rattlesnakes, and is a major bushwhack, don't use it - hit the peaks, and take the summer trail down - it will be faster and enjoyable.

Directions to the start of the climb:
The trailhead/parking is basically located at 4594 S Thousand Oaks Dr, Salt Lake City, UT 84124. Here is a map

From Wasatch Blvd., turn east onto Oakview Dr. (4275 South). This road is immediatly north of a pedestrian overpass that crosses Wasatch Blvd. Follow Oakview Dr. uphill and make a right turn on Jupiter Dr. (3735 East). Follow Jupiter Drive south and and turn left on Adonis Drive (4505 South). Drive a short distance to Thousand Oaks Drive (4500 South) and turn right. Continue up Thousand Oaks Drive.

The approach hike
There is a set of railroad tie stairs leading from the end of Thousand Oaks Drive up to the Bonneville Shoreline trail with a brown sign outlining trail hours and rules. At the top of the stairs, follow the main trail until you notice a black wrought iron fence perpendicular to the trail, which is "guarding" what appears to be an abandoned dirt road. At that point take the short cut trail on the right leading up. When the short cut connects back to the main Bonneville Shoreline trail, turn left (east), and walk a quarter mile or less on the main trail in a NE direction to a sort of lookout point on the trail (which on August 2, 2015 had a Bonneville Shoreline trail marker at the lookout), where you will see a well traveled, but unmaintained, trail branching off (to the right) and going up to the east and soon turning south. Once on that trail you are in the drainage that leads to the West Slabs. The walking is on small boulders and rocks, but doesn't involve bushwhacking. Plan on about one hour from car to base of the slabs.
By Tristan Mayfield
From: SLC, UT
Sep 6, 2015
rating: Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c

Did the route yesterday. Not much of a soloer and I need the practice plugging gear after a long sport climbing break, so we decided to simul the whole thing. We did the whole route in about 2 "simul pitches" and the climbing was so easy I only placed once or maybe twice every pitch (pseudo-soloing?).
I'd say the crux is the descent if you're not going over to the peak and down the trail. We just downclimbed the gully west of the slabs. If it starts raining though, watch out. You may have an unintended, long slip and slide ride like my friend.
Didn't see any bolts, just an old piton. But really? Are bolts needed? This isn't hard climbing at all.
Brought Camelot sizes #.5-#3 with doubles of #1 and #2, and a set of stoppers and didn't use everything.
Super fun route though! Not many places where you can cruise for that long! The climb was 2 hours and we ended up getting back to the car about 5 hours after we left. I'd agree with vanman that this definitely is not grade III. September approach=definitely no snow in the gully.
By skiandclimb
Sep 14, 2015


Someone took the slings off from the main rappel route (gully to the West down from ridge top). There use to be a safe set of sling anchors there, starting from the huge tree at the top of the gully. This rap route/descent is the best option in my opinion for both people who want to solo or use a rope, and it has been there for years. Whoever took all the slings off… I wish you bad karma! The small trees below that only have 1 cord and 1 quick link, so bring extra slings and links to supplement if you want to rap.
Also, someone stole my water bottle that I had left at the base of the slabs. Again, not cool…

The 2nd option for descending is to go up the ridge and East from the ridge top until you reach an obvious notch. Downclimb and scramble down this loose gully and stay left (west) at the bottom to reach the base of the slabs. I think this is steeper and looser than the West descent gully.

3rd option is to keep scrambling up to the Main Summit and go down the hiking trail. This is long and it will bring you back to Pete's rock / Olympus trailhead and you would have to hike back on the new Bonneville Shoreline section in order to reach the base of the slabs.

Everytime I'm up there people ask me where is the descent… So I hope this helps.
By ddriver
From: SLC
Sep 16, 2015

"The 2nd option for descending is to go up the ridge and East from the ridge top until you reach an obvious notch. Downclimb and scramble down this loose gully and stay left (west) at the bottom to reach the base of the slabs. I think this is steeper and looser than the West descent gully."

My understanding is that this is the descent from Ruckman (as mentioned above in the MP route description). It is the only one I have used and I see no reason to use any other. It is not at all loose if one stays generally right on the descent, but does involve some friction slabs near the bottom. It returns you very quickly to the base of the route, no rope required.
By David Mc
Jun 19, 2016

A friend and I climbed The West Slabs for the first time in mid June, 2016. Here are some of our thoughts to help other people thinking about trying it:

- Timing: We left the car at 6am to beat the heat. The ascent took us 3 hours and the descent (more on that later) took 3 hours.
- Temperature: The morning started delightfully cool, but got pretty hot after about 10am on a 95F forecast day in the valley.
- Water: I drank just over 2 liters
- Technique: we mostly simulclimbed
- Difficulty: 5.5 at the beginning, gradually getting easier.
- Bugs: I don't think they bit me, but there were so many swarming about that I accidentally bit a few. They didn't taste bad.
- Start: On Thousand Oaks Circle
- Route: Straight up the middle, but you could really go anywhere. It's maybe a 60 degree slope.
- Protection: Sparser early on, but definitely there if you look. We had a #4 Camalot along so we used it, but it wasn't required.
- Descent: We passed a few trees on the route that were slung with webbing and a rappel ring or link but since we walked off we have no idea how they are spaced. We chose to descend by the Apollo Couloir/Chute to the east of the top. To reach it we followed the ridge east to a point surrounded by cliffs. Backtracking 50 feet we were able to drop down into a saddle. The couloir had some loose rock and several short sections of down climbing. There were only a couple of snow patches left near the bottom, which we were glad we brought ice axe, crampons, and gloves for. I *think* we could have scrambled around the snow patches. I can see how the couloir would be a very long, fun glissade when full of snow. The chute drops into a creek bed, and a trail eventually splits off to the left/west steeply uphill to cross over back to the ascent drainage. I don't remember seeing any cairns on the descent.
- Snakes: Didn't see any thankfully
- Overall: I loved every bit of this super fun climb. My knees are telling me the descent was definitely the crux. Next time I will try descending to the west back down into the ascent drainage for comparison to Apollo Couloir. The view and feel good climbing were totally worth the effort. I can see how people free solo the route to save time.

We found a blog post with route pictures to be very helpful for the descent via Apollo Couloir (link below).
Jared Campbell's Blog on Olympus West Slabs
By Samuel Nichols
Jun 25, 2016
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

Solo'd this for my first time today. It took about 50 min to get to the base of the slabs, took about 90 min to reach the north summit ridge. I'd plan a good 20-30 min to down climb to the meadow you have to traverse (little bushwacking can go a long ways in that terrain, the trail is tough to follow but it's there if you're looking hard enough.) You'll cross the meadow if you are planning on descending on the Mt. Olympus peak trail, reach the base of the south summit wall and climb a 100' cliff that goes at maybe 5.5, with the occasional 5.7 move (did it in my Chacos). Traverse the ridge line east to reach the true summit of Mt. Olympus. Drink a beer, take in the view and get moving on the descent it took about 90 min to hike down. Park a second car to save yourself the 50 min walk back to the original trailhead.

This climb wasn't worth roping up on due to it's very easy rating and grade, I did see a few anchor stations on the way up, mostly glue-ins, and near very large ledges you can relax on. Awesome route, I'd recommend every trad climber give it a shot.
By Allison Moon
Jul 17, 2016

Today I did the recommended descent route of summiting first the north summit, then the south, then taking the hiking trail down. This route was a lot of fun, but it was also A LOT longer than the Ruckman descent. Be mentally prepared for a lot of climbing still ahead once you've gained the ridge at the top of the slabs. Also, the downclimbing off the north summit to the drainage was a little sketch. Maybe there was another way to do it, but if you're not comfortable downclimbing about 5.5/5.6 rock, I'd recommend bringing a rope and building a rappel anchor.
By Matthew Derrell Williams
From: Holladay, Utah
Jul 23, 2016

Used the hiking trail descent today and was a bit worried about the previous comment on down climbing a 5.6. Didn't run into anything nearly that intense, but we didn't go to the actual true summit of the north peak. Trended lower down on the south side of the north peak ridge for quite some time until we came to an obvious way to walk down to the main gulley between the peaks and then hiked up this area for about 5 ish minutes before finding a pretty good seam/ramp that was just about at the top of the gulley that we scrambled/climbed to the top of the south peak.

Going up to the south peak and down the main hiking trail definitely added bunch of time for us, some bushwhacking, and some more climbing similar to the slabs themselves but nothing sketchier than the slabs themselves in my opinion.

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