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West Desert

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West Desert Rock Climbing 

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Location: 39.24013, -113.39378 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Andrew Gram, Perin Blanchard, grk10vq, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Andrew Gram on Dec 27, 2016

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Valley of Zion climbing view


The West Desert is the vast empty basin and range area of western Utah. The area is starkly beautiful with very few people. The climbing is definitely on the adventurous side - even sport crags are way out in the middle of nowhere, loose and/or sharp rock is common, road conditions vary wildly, and target shooters have been known to shoot at bolt hangers and on a few occasions climbers(this hazard is particularly acute at The Valley of Zion and especially Lone Rock - make your presence known).

The West Desert has a huge variety of rock types, quality, style, and stages of development. Ibex has wonderful and uniquely textured quartzite at the edge of a salt pan. The House Range is home to an intriguing mix of granite crags and domes and enormous alpine limestone walls on Notch Peak. South Willow Canyon - Narrows has hard limestone sport climbing in a lovely mountain canyon. There are many other areas that are sparsely or completely undocumented, and lots of untouched rock to explore.

The few people in the area have had a big impact on the environment. Mining has a long history here, and mining activities threaten areas like Ibex. Nuclear waste as well as chemical and biological weapons are stored, tested, and dismantled in the area. Huge sections are off limits due to military activities at the Dugway Proving Grounds and the Utah Test and Training Range. Many places in the West Desert have been trashed by visitors without much respect for leave no trace ethics. Please consider packing out some trash and shell casings, bring your own firewood, and in general leave the place cleaner than you found it.

Weather can be extreme here - most climbing is best in the spring and fall, though some high elevation areas in the Stansbury and Oquirrh ranges are pleasant in the summer. Roads and salt pan crossings become impassable after rains, and self rescue is generally the only option. Cell phone reception is rare.

There are very limited services other than free camping in the West Desert - bring lots of water, keep a full tank of gas, and consider bringing a full gas can and an extra spare tire when visiting the most remote areas.

Hiking, gem and fossil hunting, and visiting ghost towns are good rest day activities.

Utah's West Desert by James Garrett is the excellent guidebook to the area - it is well worth picking up.

Getting There 

The West Desert is a massive area west of the Wasatch mountains. The climbing areas are spread out and approaches and driving directions will be posted in the individual areas.

Climbing Season

Weather station 41.0 miles from here

378 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',29],['3 Stars',140],['2 Stars',127],['1 Star',64],['Bomb',1]

Classic Climbing Routes in West Desert

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for West Desert:
Topus Arete   V5 6C     Boulder   Topus Mountain : Topus Boulder
Ju   V7 7A+     Boulder   Red Monster Area : The Red Monster
Elysian Fields   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 4 pitches, 300'   The Valley of Zion : Blob's Your Uncle
Rattler’s Arête   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Ibex : Snakeskin Buttress
Aurora Borealis/Lunar Power   5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b     Trad, 6 pitches, 450'   Quartermoon Tower : East Face
Rivers Edge   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch   South Willow Canyon - Narro... : Narrows - South
Western Hardman   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, 12 pitches   House Range : Notch Peak
Book of Saturday   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R     Trad, Sport, 12 pitches, 1500'   House Range : Notch Peak
Walk the Plank   5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   South Willow Canyon - Narro... : Narrows - South
Ewe.F.O   5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 60'   Corral Crags : Ewe For Real Wall
Ride the Wave   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Sport, 60'   South Corridor : Holey Moley Wall
Anti-Crack   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   West Sawtooth Canyon : Snake Dike Wall
Teflon Guerrilla   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 50'   South Willow Canyon - Narro... : Narrows - North
Refiner   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   South Willow Canyon - Narro... : Narrows - North
Black Sails   5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a     Sport, 50'   South Willow Canyon - Narro... : Narrows - North
Narrowpathic   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   South Willow Canyon - Narro... : Narrows - North
Nose Shadow    5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 4 pitches, 300'   Ibex : Shadow Buttress
Slim Shady   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 45'   South Willow Canyon - Narro... : Narrows - South
TKO   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 50'   South Willow Canyon - Narro... : Narrows - North
Narrow Minded   5.13- 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E7 6c     Sport, 45'   South Willow Canyon - Narro... : Narrows - South
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in West Desert

Featured Route For West Desert
Rock Climbing Photo: Start in front of tree. Head up to grey streaks

Summary Judgement 5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c  Utah : West Desert : ... : Suicide
Pretty hard opening moves, so keep the belayer attentive. Great technical movement with small holds. A must do, even for this canyon....[more]   Browse More Classics in Utah

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