You’re Going to Need a Helmet – Rock Climbing at Maple Canyon

Utah Adventures Part 1“You’re going to need a helmet if you climb at Maple Canyon,” my friend told me as he described Maple Canyon, a climbing area a couple of hours south of Salt Lake City, Utah. I had asked him  about potential day trips to climbing areas and he recommended Maple Canyon. He told us that this is a popular area and has a plethora of sport climbs in our skill range. Then, he described the rock as cemented cobbles, which small pieces of rock sometimes break off from the rock face. I had not heard or climbed on such rock before and I was intrigued. KC and I decided to climb at Maple Canyon the next day. We set off in the morning, when our friends were at work. The drive from Park City, where our friends live, to Maple Canyon, was beautiful.

A view of northern Utah from the road

A view on the way to Maple Canyon

We were amazed by the rock when we arrived. This was going to be a whole new rock climbing experience.

Our first view of the rock at Maple Canyon

Our first view of the rock at Maple Canyon

We hiked up to the Armory, a rock face in the Middle Fork area, to climb Slamfire, a four-pitch 5.9, recommended to us by our friends as a “must-climb route”. We started hiking up the trail to Armory.

KC hiking in Maple Canyon carrying the rope and his helmet

KC hiking on the Middle Fork Trail

We saw a few other cool looking rock faces along the way, like this one.

A view of one of the rock faces

One of the rock faces

We think we might have been one of the first climbers this season because the path from the middle fork trail to the Armory was completely overgrown.

A side view of the Armory Wall we climbed

The Armory… Slamfire follows to the right of the middle crack.

The rock was incredible to look at. It looks like someone threw cobbles at the rock faces and they stuck, like sprinkles on frosting. This was nature’s version of the gym’s rock climbing holds. All the cobbles were different colors, shapes, and sizes. The first pitch of this rock was a bit over-hung, but fun to climb.

The unique rock of Maple Canyon

Looking up from the base of Slamfire

I quickly realized that the bulging cobbles hid the bolts from view until you came across them. There were several times that I climbed upward, not seeing the bolt to suddenly spot it right next to a hand or foot hold. When the section became overhung, this became a little freaky, but I was always able to find the next bolt in time. I will say that my friend’s warning was right: smaller rocks or pieces of the cobbles would occasionally break off as I climbed. Except for one piece, those broken rock pieces didn’t change the climb. However, as I reached the over-hung crux of the first pitch, at a bolt five to seven feet above the previous bolt, my right foothold, where I putting most of my weight, suddenly broke off and I took an unexpected fall. The climb became a lot harder after the foothold broke off.

Unknown Rock Face Across from the Armory Wall

A view from the first pitch of Slamfire. The middle fork trail passes somewhere in the foreground. We made our way through all the brush from the trail to the Armory Trail.

After Slamfire, we headed back towards the parking lot, doing more exploring than climbing, but enjoying the area. We did another climb, not as memorable as Slamfire, before heading out. The view on the way back to Park City was also spectacular.

On the way back to Park City from Maple Canyon, we found this awesome view.

On the way back to Park City from Maple Canyon, we found this awesome view.

I would highly recommend Maple Canyon for rock climbing and look forward to the next time we can make it out there to climb.   If you want more climbing information about Maple Canyon, check out Mountain Project’s guide for this area here. You can also see more of our Utah adventures on our Utah Adventures Part 1 photo journal page!

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