City of Rocks Climbing

The Land of the Flintstones

Rainy, cold weather pushed us away the Yellowstone and Grand Teton area, so we brainstormed where to head next. Originally, we were considering visiting Colorado at this point, but given that all of San Juan National Forest was shut down from fires, we dropped that idea. We thought that Salt Lake City might offer some baby alpine climbs to get ready for the bigger climbs later in the summer. We knew there was some crag in southern Idaho along the way, City of Rocks or something?

The drive to the City of Rocks goes through lots of nothing and then suddenly, enters this magical Flintstone-like literal City of Rocks. There are hundreds of rocks sticking out of the ground, from just a few feet tall to hundreds of feet tall. The rock is both knobby and cracky granite because of the effects of blown salt from the Great Salt Lake. With minimal approaches and a variety of difficulties, this was a moderate trad climber’s paradise! We honestly had a great time here and would love to come back some day.

Atop City of Rocks
Overlooking the City of Rocks from Elephant’s Rock.
Evening at the City
A calm evening in southern Idaho.

The first afternoon we climbed:

  • Elephant Rock: These climbs were all over 30 m, so we had to walk off the back each time. With a 70 m rope you could rap, but there’s only really one rap spot, so you still have to make gear anchors up top.
    • Colombian Crack (5.7): A fun, sustained, low angle crack that had everything from fingers to off-width. Long!
    • Wheat Thins (5.7): An easy classic line on the face. One little tricky section. Kylie led this one.
    • Rye Flakes (5.8): An awesome, intimidating series of gigantic flakes. A little run out through the first half if you lack a #5 or #6.
    • Just Say No (5.9): Fun sport climb. Only 6 bolts through a solid 100+ ft of climbing.

The second day we climbed:

  • Breadloaves:
    • Bloody Fingers (5.10a): The crux of this classic was a little in-my-face for 7am in the morning and I whipped the first time, but the second time I committed to the strenuous hand jams and pulled it pretty easily. Incredible route!
  • Morning Glory Spire:
    • Skyline (5.8): This fun route took us to the top of an awesome spire with great views of the City.
  • Steinfell’s Dome:
    • Theater of Shadows (5.6): We climbed this four pitch bolted sport route in a single simul pitch with Kylie on lead in just 30 minutes! It was fast, fun, and super windy. We had some issues getting our rope stuck on the rappel with all the wind. We learned that tying knots in the end of the rope is not always the way to go.
Bloody Fingers
On lead high on Bloody Fingers (10a).
Morning Glory Spire
Kylie sits atop Morning Glory Spire after climbing Skyline (5.8).

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