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Living On The Edge (II 5.10c) Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

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Doris Day parking, instant exposure, and red-desert aura

Just north of the Suburbs of Saint George, Utah, you’ll find Snow Canyon State Park. Named after the Mormon missionaries Lorenzo and Erastus Snow, this quiet zone has approximately 75 sport and trad climbs, from one to six pitches, on Navajo sandstone formations reminiscent of Zion. On the crown jewel, the 400-foot Aftershock Wall, you’ll find Living on the Edge, a four-pitch, mostly bolted crimping masterpiece that offers awesome exposure and killer desert rock sans Zion’s crowds, buses, or river crossings.

Aftershock’s distinctive left-arching dihedral, where lies the Edge, is easily visible from Snow Canyon Parkway, the park’s sole road. Driving in from the south, after a dip, you’ll see a break in the fence on your right: park here. Follow the rock-lined tourist trail for five minutes to a 50-yard slab scramble; the Edge begins where the arch’s right side meets the slab. The opening mantel offers instant exposure — from here to the top of P1, near the apex of the arch, a fall almost anywhere leaves you dangling

The Edge’s FA frontman Wayne Harding, a St. George local, took an adventuresome approach on this dramatic line, in an area once known as Utah’s “soft-rock crucible”: “I drilled by hand and on lead,” says Harding. “I’d use a Talon with a daisy. . . . It was the freakiest thing my belayers ever saw.”

Above the arch, two more wandering pitches of bolted face navigate mail slots, layback flakes, huecos, and moderate crack. The second pitch doesn’t require gear, though 2-to-3-inch pro in a brief hand crack/layback calms the nerves (it’s also the only gear you’ll need . . . unless you tackle P4). Above the cams, traverse left to an overhang (5.10c crux) ending in a body-sized hueco and bolted belay. The third pitch heads right, to surmount a giant, very detached flake.

Although many parties rap from P3’s end, you can continue via an awkward, knobby, fingers-to-hands crack (70 feet of 5.9; bring pro). Hauling cams for P4 vs. ticking the neighboring classic, Aftershock (5.11b)? No contest. Bo Beck, Harding’s partner for the Edge’s first pitch, agrees: “Most people . . . do the first pitch and are satisfied,” says Beck. “It’s what Living on the Edge is named after.”

Five More Classics Near Living On The Edge (II 5.10c) Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

By Chirs Van Leuven

Aftershock (5.11b) 4 pitchesAftershock is located on the same wall, climber’s right, as Living on the Edge; well two routes to the right actually, the line directly right of the Edge is an (open) project. (Truth be told, the project is void of usable holds.) Aftershock is incredible. The first pitch (10a; mixed pro and bolts) was established way-back-when by the desert-rat hardman (and prominent, albeit controversial, FA soloist) Ron Olevsky. The following pitches are 10c, 10c, (both bolted) and finishes with a steep, off-finger 11b crack. This line was taken to the rim by Jorge Viser, Bo Beck and Wayne Harding.

The Richness of it All (5.12a) 4 pitchesThe Richness of it All is protected in its entirety by bolts. Located on The Warzone (near the Aftershock Wall) this line starts right of a prominent, long alcove. Three pitches of crimping leads to the money pitch: an 11c twisting arete protected by 12 bolts. P2 is the crux.

Atomic Indian (5.11) 1 pitch — Located on the Enclosure, this steep, unrelenting wide hands to finger crack looks like something straight out of Indian Creek; climbs that way too. There’s not much else at the Enclosure worth doing, but it’s convenient to get to (a sub 10 minute walk from the parking lot). If crack is your game (climbing that is), Atomic Indian should not be missed.

The Doghouse Arete (5.11b) 1 pitch — This blunt arete is characterized by shallow pockets and flat edges. Some holds at the Dogwall look loose — sometimes looks are not deceiving. I’ve broken a few holds off on this wall (resulting in unexpected falls). That said, the climbing is stellar, and is choice for those with fingers of steel and bulging forearms.

Pierced Ear (5.10c) 1 pitch — Located on the Indian Wall, this slab is guaranteed to have even the seasoned slab climber crying for their momma. Bolts are spaced far apart to keep you engaged, while the hand and footholds are often just barely there. You won’t forget your experience on Pierced Ear.

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READ Saint Who? By David Schmidt for more information about climbing around Saint George, Utah.