Best Multi-Pitch 5.11 or 5.12 in Zion


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Trad climber
Mountain View
Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 24, 2014 - 01:32pm PT

I'm planning a trip to Zion this spring and was hoping to get some options on the best 5.11 and 5.12 multi-pitch routes. The longer the better as long as the rock quality is good.

In the vein of the other thread stories are better than just names and grades.

I've already done Shune's Buttress, Monkey Finger and Sheer Lunacy.


My plan is to climb Moonlight Buttress but want to have some other options.

I'm familiar with a few other cool sounding routes like:
Locksmith Dihedral
Plan B
The Silverback
Sunlight Buttress
Negative Ghostrider

I know there must be more amazing routes....

I would also love to hear any stories from the list above.

Brittany and Kate on The Silverback
Brittany and Kate on The Silverback
Credit: Mikey Schaefer


Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jan 24, 2014 - 01:36pm PT
Sunlight is fun. I just spoke to Steve Johnson and drove past Charlie's old place last week.

I recommend rapping the route.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Jan 24, 2014 - 01:37pm PT
What are some good 5.10+/5.11- long routes there? Not familiar with any. Thinking of a 10 day trip to RR (in late March/early April hopefully)and maybe Zion or IC for some variety.

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Jan 24, 2014 - 02:17pm PT
Vitaly, you can easily do something like Touchstone as 5.11 C1+, using aid only on the first couple of pitches. Basically aid from the ground to over the little roof , then french free a few moves off the belay (this section is about 5.12- fingers), then free climb to the top. Makes for a fun outing. At least that's how I recall it, it's been over 10 years.

Similarly, Spaceshot is a good "free as can be" outing. Most of the route is no harder than 10+.

Shune's is probably the best long all-free at 5.11 there.

Iron Messiah was a good time at 5.10-
More Air

Trad climber
Jan 24, 2014 - 02:50pm PT
A few more...

Tatoween on Mt. Kinesava
Tricks on Isaac
The Vigil on the Watchman
Rites of Passage next to Shunes
Voice from the Dust on Mt. Moroni
Golden Years in Kolob Canyon

Trad climber
Salt Lake City
Jan 24, 2014 - 03:02pm PT
Treehouse of horror is my favorite. Though it has only one .11 pitch. A kind of a long hike-in makes it even better.

Voice from the dust is good, too. A lot of people stop at the top of pitch 4, but I thought the rest of the climbing was fun and the view from the top is amazing.

Bits and pieces is decent. Not the best route out there, but two good crux pitches make it worthwhile.

Rites of passage can use more traffic. Bring a metal brush to scrap off lichens!

I heard that tatoween is really fun as well as megamahedral.

Edit to add: More Air beat me to it!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jan 24, 2014 - 03:23pm PT
30. Iron Messiah 5.10 ***
24. Tricks 5.10+ A2 ***
35. Angel's Landing - NE Buttress 5.11a *
79. Shune's Buttress 5.11c ***
80. Wigs in Space 5.11c *
62. Monkeyfinger 5.11+ or 5.10 C1 ***
94. Lovelace (The Fang Wall) 5.12c or 5.10 C2+ *
53. Moonlight Buttress 5.12d or 5.9 C1 ***
110. Golden Years 5.12+ or 5.11 A2 **
37. Angel's Landing - Lowe Route 5.13a R or 5.8 C2+ **
68. Spaceshot 5.13a or 5.10 C2 ***
71. Touchstone 5.13b or 5.9 C2 ***

(sorry, no stories; I've never climbed there)

Springdale, Utah
Jan 24, 2014 - 04:28pm PT
Tatoween is awesome!!!!
lots of 5.10 and 5.11 and the rock stays high quality the whole way..
for the grade maybe the best long free route in the park.

Trad climber
Mountain View
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 28, 2014 - 10:46am PT
Any more love for Zion?

Thanks for the comments thus far!


Trad climber
new york
Jan 29, 2014 - 12:14pm PT
The Headache was pretty awesome the whole way. At 3p it isn't super long, but packs a ton of climbing in at 5.10.

The Alpine

Jan 29, 2014 - 02:32pm PT
Tatoween is sweet. The approach makes you work for it though. Vertical Scree!

Tricks of the Trade on Isaac looks bad ass.

Trad climber
Talkeetna, Alaska
Feb 6, 2014 - 04:23pm PT
Smashmouth is also supposed to be fantastic. Hopefully going to get to check that out next weekend, looks SPLITTER

It's awesome and you'll love it. It's also not "11+", might be 11b at most.

Trad climber
Mountain View
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 19, 2014 - 04:49pm PT
Has anyone repeated Ball and Chain?

It's on Angel's Landing:

There are a bunch of cool TR's from the FA:

Looks Radical!!


Trad climber
Mountain View
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 19, 2014 - 04:55pm PT
Here is a blurb about Golden Years mentioned by Clint & "More Air" upthread:

Big Free Route in Zion

By Dougald MacDonald

Mike Anderson and Rob Pizem have freed Golden Years, an eight-pitch 5.12+ on Shuntavi Butte in the Kolob area of Zion National Park. The beautiful sandstone crack and corner line has had three pitches of aid since its 1983 first ascent by Dave Jones and Steve Chardon.

Anderson first tried the climb in July with Colby Wayment and onsighted the 5.12a third pitch before bailing in excess heat. He returned in September with Pizem, armed with a few bolts and permission from Jones to add them to protect the free climbing. Pizem led the first three pitches of strenuous crack climbing without falls, and then the two aided the crux fourth pitch and rapped down to place four bolts to protect bouldery face moves along the left wall of the corner system. (The two also added five anchor bolts to the climb.) By now it was 4 p.m. Both climbers toproped the pitch and figured they might be able to redpoint it. “We decided that if either of us sent the pitch, we would get to the top no matter how long it took,” Pizem said in an email. Fortunately, Pizem managed to redpoint the 5.12+ pitch first-try, and Anderson followed it free.

At 6:30 p.m., the two started the upper half of the climb, freeing the fifth pitch at 5.11. The rest of the route had already gone free, but the next pitch was no gimme: “Pitch 6 is the hardman pitch! It’s a slanting offwidth that you really have to commit to,” Anderson wrote in an email. “From correspondence with Dave [Jones], I knew what gear he had on the FA, so I was completely in awe of his send of that pitch. It just goes to show that even 20 years ago, in a virtual vacuum, there was some pretty impressive free climbing being done in Zion.” It took Anderson more than an hour to lead the run-out and physical pitch in the dark, and Pizem hung on to follow it free.

The two rappelled the line and returned to their car well after midnight. “It took us about 18 hours car to car,” Anderson said. “With all the hand hauling and drilling, we were pretty worked.”

Sounds cool!!


Feb 19, 2014 - 05:07pm PT
In your requested grade range, these are the best of the ones I've done in descending order of quality:

The Silverback
Sheer Lunacy
Shune's Buttress

The following two routes are shorter (2 long pitches each if you link), but excellent:

The Headache

But I say don't do any of those... do one of the less-popular ones and report back!

Since you requested a story:

On my onsight attempt of the first 5.12 - and namesake - pitch of The Silverback, with a great deal of struggle I made it all the way through the "OW" section, through the cruxy flare and pulled through the final roof with a last-ditch deadpoint for the anchor-clipping hold: A pod that accepted a single hand jam! Unfortunately I stabbed my right hand into this jam and the anchor bolts were on the right side of the crack. I spent a panic-filled minute trying to clip the anchor by reaching my left arm across my body, only to find it just inches out of reach. In desperation, I dropped the rope and then spent another full minute trying to figure out how to match my left hand into the jam occupied by my right hand. This didn't work either. Finally, I just stood there, alternately staring at the anchor and at my stupid hand jam and futilely wishing things were different. My panic had subsided; I embraced the inevitable; I glanced down at the tourists at the Temple of Sinewava shuttle stop, told my belayer what was coming (he knew: big air), took a deep breath, and then watched as my hand slowly oozed out of the jam. Thrilling!

Trad climber
Mountain View
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 19, 2014 - 07:01pm PT
Josh, it is exciting to hear The Silverback is so good! The photos make it look wild!

Did you really dislike Monkeyfinger? I though it was fun, but definitely character building; especially that last pitch! My main reason to do it again would be to replace some of the manky bolts and drilled angles.

I do agree that Shune's is much better. Sheer Lunacy does have some Zion adventure climbing on the last pitch.

One more for now from Clint's List.

Lovelace aka The Fang Wall

According to Supertopo:

FA: Dave Jones and Gary Gray, 5/26/83. FFA: Topher Donahue and Kennan Harvey 1995

This is a clean and striking line. Lovelace ascends a top-to-bottom crack system immediately left and behind the Fang Spire. The upper portion of the climb widens considerably and has a tendency to turn parties around. The only pitch of aid on the route has been freed at 5.12+

PS has anyone done Mojo Rising, 5.11, on Johnson Mountain?


Trad climber
Talkeetna, Alaska
Feb 19, 2014 - 08:48pm PT
A friend of mine did Mojo a year ago or so. He wasn't sure it had been repeated or at least not much. The route sounded good, but they decided to descend off instead of rapping the route and it sounded like a full on epic.

Trad climber
Feb 19, 2014 - 09:25pm PT
I've climbed Mojo on 1/5/12 and most all of the other routes mentioned above. Although Mojo is the most obvious line on Johnson, the rock quality throughout most of the route is pretty bad compared to others. Worth doing if you've done everything else I suppose. Treehouse on the south end was much better if you are up there. Long sandy hike. The Omen, which has not yet been mentioned is well worth doing- left of the Angelino Wall.
pic does not do justice for this 120' 5.11 finger crack on the omen.
pic does not do justice for this 120' 5.11 finger crack on the omen.
Credit: trevorl
Edit: Just checked my notes regarding Mojo and I have soft, poor, mossy, or terrible written down on 6 of the 8 pitches on the topo...lots of "missing" anchors etc. Enjoy!

Trad climber
Mountain View
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 20, 2014 - 01:17pm PT

Thanks for the comments. Sounds like Mojo might be more of an adventure than I'm looking for.

Any cool stories from some of the other routes?

I love finger Cracks, sounds like Omen should go on the list!


Trad climber
Mountain View
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 20, 2014 - 01:50pm PT
Here is a redux of the list:

The Silverback - 5.12+
Ball and Chain - 5.12+
Golden Years in Kolob Canyon - 5.12+

Silmaril - 5.12
Plan B - 5.12
Lovelace (The Fang Wall) - 5.12
Wind Sand and Stars in Kolob - 5.12

Locksmith Dihedral - 5.12-

Rites of Passage - 5.11+

The Omen - 5.11
Tatoween on Mt. Kinesava - 5.11
Sunlight Buttress - 5.11
The Vigil on the Watchman - 5.11
Voice from the Dust on Mt. Moroni - 5.11
Treehouse of Horror - 5.11
Smashmouth - 5.11
Bits and Pieces - 5.11
Wigs in Space - 5.11

Tricks on Isaac - 5.11- C2
Megamahedral - 5.11-
Negative Ghostrider - 5.11-

Iron Messiah - 5.10
The Headache - 5.10

Obvious Omissions (since I've been on them)
Moonlight Buttress
Sheer Lunacy
Shune's Buttress
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