We left Alta on 2/27/16 and made our way to Fith Water Hotsprings. The road to the trailhead is closed during winter, adding another 4 miles to the hike in (6.5 miles total). We took our friend Lee’s advice and walked past the first hot pools and were able to find a small, private pool with a flat camp spot right next to it!
The next morning we hiked out and made our way to the Robber’s Roost area near Goblin Valley where we were meeting our friends Lee and Gavin at Bluejohn Canyon Granary Springs Trailhead. The trailhead is marked by a dilapidated ranch building spray painted “BJ’s Motel 6.”
Lee and Gavin arrived the morning of 2/29/16 and we decided to explore a small portion of Bluejohn Canyon. From Motel 6, we headed northeast to a wash and followed the drainage north to Bluejohn Canyon. While a rope is recommend, we were able to downclimb to the canyon floor.
We hiked to a fork in the canyon where we went left and explored until it things got steep and we turned back. We explored the main part of the canyon a little further before turning back for the day. Slithering up back up the mouth of the canyon definitely proved to be the crux of the day!
We had planned on hiking the entire length of the Bluejohn Canyon the following day, but we weren’t sure that we enough gas for the car shuttle, and we were all pretty wiped out from our explorations the day before. So we opted for a mellow 8 mile excursion and hiked Little Wild Horse Canyon to Bell Canyon. That evening we were able to find a nice free campground outside of Goblin Valley… but not before playing around on some nearby mud castles.
The next day (3/2/16), we said goodbye to our friends and continued on to Moab. We checked out the dinosaur fossils and tracks on Mill Canyon Road. These fossils are on BLM land, with several spots for free camping! This would be our base camp while we were in Moab.
Before picking a spot to camp, we decided to check out Wallstreet, the major roadside crag in Moab, located on Potash Road. Gabe led Stego Slab (5.9) and we top roped the crack to the right.
On 3/3/2016 we climbed Elephant Butte, the tallest point in Arches National Park. It was an interesting climb, involving a rappel and some canyon slithering on the way up! We brought our rock shoes, but were able to make the final scramble to the summit in our tennis shoes.
We made it back to the car pretty early and decided to climb a couple of the nearby desert towers. Gabe led the pitch to the summit of Owl Rock (5.8) and Melissa led the West Chimney (5.7) on Bullwinkle Tower.
3/4/2016 marked 6 months since we left Juneau, Ak. We celebrated by climbing Offbalanced Rock. We climbed the Northeast Chimney (5.8R). The chimney pitch was definitely Type II fun, but the views from the summit made the struggle up worth it. Afterward, we went for a short trail run around Thurret Arch, North and South Window, and Double Arch.
We finished off the day at Potash, where Gabe led Seibernetics (5.8+). We then decided to drive out to Sunshine Wall to camp and climb.
The Prius wasn’t able to make it all the way to the camp spots at the base of the climbs, so on 3/5/2016 we had to hike about 2.5 miles to Baker’s Slab at Sunshine Wall. We spent the day climbing slab. This was Melissa’s first time climbing slab rock and we both really enjoyed it. We started the day with Melissa leading Learning Curve (5.7). Gabe led the rest of climbs, including, Love Hurts (5.9), Lesson in Braille (5.10c), Mosquito Coast (5.8R) and Unknown (5.9+).
We knew rain was in the forecast and we would need to get up early to make sure we could get the Prius off the dirt roads or risk getting stuck. We decided to take a rest day and explore the north part of Canyonlands National Park, Island in the Sky. This section of Canyonlands is absolutely gorgeous. It sits high on a plateau and overlooks deep canyons carved by the Colorado and Green Rivers. Someday, we would love to come back with a 4WD vehicle and explore the White Rim Road.
On 3/7/2016 we decided to explore the rest of Arches National Park. We started our day by jogging out to Delicate Arch (3 miles). Then, we jogged the full Devil’s Garden loop, including Dark Angel and Private Arch. We got a little off route and ended up jogging a little over 9 miles. We finished up our arch tour by walking out to Broken Arch and Sand Dune Arch (2 miles).
We spent the next half day climbing at Potash Road. Melissa led Snake’s Slab (5.8), Brown Banana (5.9), and Gabe led 30 seconds over Potash (5.8), Nervous in Suburbia (5.10a), and Banana Peel (5.10a).
Afterward, we headed to the free campground at the trailhead for Castle Valley. We had plans to climb the Kor-Ingalls Route (5.9+) on Castleton Tower the next day.
On 3/9/2016, we got an early start and made it to the base of the Kor-Ingalls Route in an hour. We roped up for the 4th class scramble to the base of the first pitch. Melissa led the first pitch, a 5.7 chimney followed by a 5.4 chimney. Gabe led the next two pitches, a 5.8+ off-width and a 5.9 off-width and chimney. These pitches were a bit awkward and grunty, but protected well. Melissa attempted to lead the last pitch, which our guidebook said was a 5.7. However, we were off route, and on a 5.9 variation of the final pitch. Melissa ended up down climbing back from a very awkward overhanging off-width move to allow Gabe to finish the pitch. The top was spacious and had a fun summit registry.
We camped another night at the Castle Valley campground, and the next day drove up the road to Fisher Towers to climb the Stolen Chimney route on Ancient Art. We heard that this route can be quite popular and parties often have to wait in line to climb. Luckily, we were able to get an early start and were the 2nd party on the route! Gabe led all four pitches and we had a blast. The last pitch is a fun, airy experience to the summit of one the most bizarre rock formations we have ever seen.
After hiking around to see the rest of the Fisher Towers, we headed back to break down our camp and make our way south. We decided we would stop at Indian Creek on our way to the Needles District of Canyonlands. Indian Creek is a crack climbing destination known for needing LOTS of gear. We weren’t really planning on climbing here because we didn’t have enough gear for most of the routes. However, there was one slab wall with sport routes!
We found a free campspot outside Bridger Jacks campground and on 3/11/2016 we checked out the Friction Slab wall. Melissa led the bolted line on the far right of the wall and we top roped another route from that anchor. Gabe then led the bolted line to the left. We then found a mystery crack in a corner near a pullout on the east side of the highway just past Friction Slab. It was a fun 5.9-ish crack that varied in size from fingers to off-width. Afterward, we checked out two of the major walls at Indian Creek, Super Crack and Battle of the Bulge. We would definitely love to climb here someday with some friends so we can combine racks!
That evening we moved to another free camp spot on BLM land, located just past the Hamburger Campground outside the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park. The next day (3/12/2016) we jogged the 11 mile Chesler Park-Joint Loop Trail. This was a beautiful trail that provided breathtaking views of the towering pinnacles The Needles district is known for.
We had a great time during our three weeks in Utah. From the Wasatch Mountains to the desert of Moab, Utah has some beautiful landscapes. The desert was a wild change of scenery after spending most of our time in snow covered mountain-scapes since September. We will definitely be back to Moab in the future, and we recommend it as one of the best places to visit for easy living, and a wide variety of things to do, especially in the cooler temperatures of early March.
Until our next adventure,