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Jeff Baird in the Ice Tunnel

Joe's Valley

San Rafael Swell
Ice Climbing

          Joe's Valley is one of the better ice climbing areas in Utah and usually has the benefit of not being crowded. This beautiful valley on the edge of the San Rafael Swell has a multitude of good climbs within a short distance of a paved and plowed road. The striking sandstone provides a admirable back drop for the dozens of ice climbs in the area.

          Interested in viewing a short Ice Climbing video which was shot on Highway to Heaven, also known as Deadbolt?

*Highway to Heaven Video*

Click Here for MapGeneral Information:
          One experience I can pass along to you is during my first big fall while ice climbing the one thought that kept running through my head was "I sure am happy that I have all these razor blades strapped to my body". Fortunately, a crampon slice in my Gore-tex pants was the only casualty.

          The biggest fear an ice climber has is that their significant other will discover exactly how much money was spent on gear. Ice climbing is a sport that requires some expensive gear, so bring your VISA. You will require plastic boots, crampons, ice axes, ice screws and a weatherproof shell. This is in addition to much of the normal gear carried by a rock climber. Ice climbing takes place below freezing, sometimes well below, so dress accordingly.

          The ice climbing season in Joe's Valley is long by Utah standards and generally runs from mid November through late March. The sport of ice climbing is a challenge to rate because conditions can change by the hour, the day, and certainly by the year. When ice climbing, it is extremely important that you know how to read the ice because your safety depends on it.

          If you are interested in learning this sport it is probably best to find someone or hire a guide who knows what they are doing to take you out the first few times. Make sure that the "more experienced" people you go out with are experienced enough to know what they are doing. Ice has hazards like pillars and curtains collapsing that require knowledge to evaluate.

Pulling down some ice What's behind curtain number 3?

Trailhead Information:
          From Price, Utah travel south on State Road 10 for 22 miles to Huntington Utah. From Huntington continue south on State Road 10 for 6 miles to a sign on your right pointing the way to Joe's Valley and State Road 29. Follow State Road 29 east for 4 miles until it Tee's. Turn north (right) at the Tee and continue following State Road 29 east as is climbs it's way up Straight Canyon.

          The mileage markers along State Road 29 should be decreasing in value as you drive up Straight Canyon. All trailhead locations will be given in relation to the mileage markers along State Road 29.

Jeff Baird on Lead Your handsome tour guide

Route information:

Highway to Heaven
AKA: Deadbolt
3000 feet WI4+ III

          Park at the pullout at mile marker 7.4 (N39 16' 30", W111 13' 20"). The climb is the obvious gully across the creek to the south. The gully is noted as Cox Swale on the USGS 7.5' Map titled "Mahogany Point". Most of this climb is easy with a few difficult sections tossed in for fun. The highlight of this route might be the ice cave you pass through on the way to the 60-foot curtain at the headwall. It's possible to continue about the headwall over a few more interesting obstacles to a 30-foot column.

The Amphitheater

200 feet WI6 II

          Park at the pullout at mile marker 5.4 (N39 17' 21", W111 15' 20"). The climb is the distinct amphitheater easily visible to the North. The Amphitheater is shown but not noted on the USGS 7.5' Map titled "Joe's Valley Reservoir". Climb the 50-foot curtain and continue over two steps of less than 20-feet. The second pitch climbs two 30-foot curtains and ends at the third pitch, which is a hanging 60-foot icicle. The third pitch is the crux.

CCC Falls

450 feet WI4 II

          The route begins at the signed CCC Trailhead at mile marker 3.6 (N39 18' 11", W111 16' 20"). The CCC Falls trailhead is noted on the USGS 7.5' Map titled "Joe's Valley Reservoir". Park at the large pullout 100 yards south of the trailhead. From the trailhead, hike up the gully for several minutes to reach a 70-foot bulge. after the bulge follow the streambed east for 100 yards to a 30-foot curtain. This is one of the more popular climbs in the area and is often crowed on weekends.


140 feet WI5 II

          The route begins at the dirt road turnoff at mile marker 2.7 (N39 18' 56", W111 16' 34"). Usually you must hike east up the snowy or muddy road less than 1/2 mile to a small canyon hidden behind some large trees. The canyon is shown on the USGS 7.5' Map titled "Joe's Valley Reservoir", but the dirt road is not noted and the canyon is unnamed. The climb is in the obvious canyon just north of the Sportsman's lodge. The climb is located at (N39 18' 51", W111 16' 12") and consists of a a large 140-foot cone. It is possible to hike up the left of the climb and top rope it from some fixed anchors. This is one of the more popular climbs in the area and is often crowed on weekends.

Playing on the icicle Our coach Neil Baird - flick the wrist, heels down

Related Link:
Joe's Valley Ice Climbing Video

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