To cap our four day weekend off we stopped in Parowan to do an ice climb I’ve wanted to check out for a while. Parowan is on the road to Brian Head Ski Resort in southern Utah. The area is mainly arid and desert-ish, particularly in the summer time. However there’s an interesting slot canyon that freezes up regularly in the winter and makes for an interesting climb.
The route is four pitches up to WI4. The first is WI3 and about 30-40ft step. The climb then continues on frozen creek bed in the ever narrowing canyon. Along the way there are two short WI2 pitches before getting to the narrowest part of the canyon that holds the steepest pitch. The scenery is amazing, and being a Monday there were no other people in the canyon.
P1 turned out to be a running waterfall with very strange dendritic sort of ice features on the surface. Since the pitch wasn’t too hard I climbed it anyway clearing 8″ of these features off in places to get to the solid ice underneath. At the top of that pitch the creek was completely flat and smooth ice. The lack of snow in UT made the canyoneering aspect of the route very novel.
As the canyon narrows we went over a couple other small pitches, one featuring a similarly wet and featured ice as P1. The culmination of the canyon is a 70-80′ drop down a slot in the rock. Viewing it from the top in the summer must be interesting as the bottom probably can’t be seen. However approaching from the bottom and in the winter, the water is frozen and allow passage to the top of the slot. This pitch was steeper and longer than it appears in the photos because of the foreshortening and perspective of my wide angle lens, which I still needed to stitch a panorama of to get it all in.
The blobs of ice on the rock and the 3d texture made stemming possible and easy in spots. The ice wasn’t too hard to protect, but enough to make it interesting. All in all a very fun climb that I’ll plan to hit anytime I’m coming through the area with enough time.