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Climbing Photography

First Time to Maple Canyon

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Matt Oakley staring up at the impressive route called The Dagger (WI5 A1).

February 2, 2013

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to head down to Maple Canyon here in Utah.  Maple is about 2 hours south of Salt Lake City and is a popular sport climbing destination during the spring through fall.  In the winter snow melt forms steep single pitch routes in the narrow canyons.  Maple is quite and interesting place, it doesn’t have the soaring vistas of Provo, but the landscape is quite interesting.  The canyon is a conglomerate which has large cobbles cemented together with mud.  While this might not sound like good climbing it is quite solid, especially in winter.  The canyon is very narrow as well, less than 50 yards in most places.

Being both Matt and I’s first time to Maple we solicited some advice from a couple of other BD folks who were gearing up in the parking lot.  George and Andreas pointed us over to the Box Canyon a little walk down the road.  The Box is very small, in some spots only a couple of yards across and walls up to perhaps 150ft tall.  Walking down the canyon we saw lots of interesting lines, most of which were too steep and/or thin for my tastes.

We found a good wide flow which didn’t look too bad, called Cobble Crusher (WI4).  We racked up and I got the first lead.  The first third of the route was relatively moderate, WI3 or so.  Getting higher the route narrowed and steepened.  Luckily there was good rests and places for pro.  Unfortunately I brought mostly stubbies up with me for some reason which aren’t super confidence inspiring.  As I got to the top I hooked the last bit of ice I could see from my steep vantage point.  The hook was good so I yarded up and could see that I was at the top.  Unfortunately I could also see as I peered over the hook, that there wasn’t much ice above the bulge.  There also wasn’t any ice between my hook placement and the rock.  Yikes!  Looking down around the lip the stream feeding for the route had caused the ice not to form against the rock.  It also formed as tube down about 20 or more feet.

The move to make it onto the rock was a little precarious.  I mantled on the ice lip and matched hand and crampon, quite an uncommon ice move, exciting too.  Scratching through the thin snow at the top I stepped over to the rock and clipped the chains.  Not exactly the warm up I was hoping for but certainly exciting.

The rest of the climbs that day weren’t quite as exciting but all were good.  We hit another lower angle climb in the Box and then headed to the road for two more routes that could be belayed from the car.  Heading up canyon we took a trip down a left fork of the canyon and saw a beautiful line of a hanging dagger, perhaps WI6 or so.  It was far from touching so half the route would be mixed if it went at all.  We decided to move onto a little easier route called Bowling Ball Head (WI4-).  We climbed here until it started to get dark and headed out.  Seven pitches for the day in total.

Maple is a pretty awesome place both in landscape and in the climbing.  I am looking forward to my next trip.