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The Ice Couloir  

Mount Olympus
"West Slabs"
Wasatch Mountains
Technical Mountaineering

          We climbed the spectacular North Face of Salt Lake City's 9026' Mount Olympus as training for a climb on Grand Teton.

          Anyone who has stood and looked at this massive wall of rock known as the "West Slabs" has to be impressed. This is an 11-pitch technical climb requiring the use of ropes and climbing equipment.

          The Mount Olympus climb was very exciting since it contained a mix of rock and ice. The approach route includes a very steep, one-mile long snow and ice filled couloir. This required the use of an ice axe and crampons, which are metal spikes strapped to the bottom of your boots. This leads to the base of a massive crag where the rock climbing begins.

          The worst part of the climb was fighting off the viscous deer flies. If you stopped climbing they attacked in squadron strength.

General Information:
Click Here for Map          The route known as the "West Slabs" will require complete technical climbing equipment. The route will take 5 to 6 hours from trailhead to summit. The route is rated 5.5 PG III using the YDS rating and includes 11 pitches . The trip offers several variations including summiting the 8,959' North Summit and the 9,026' South Summit of Mount Olympus. A small standard rack should be all that is required for protection. Small cams seem to be the most useful. Several trees can be slung and used as protection.

          Spring climbs will involve the use of mountaineering skills including the use of ice axe and crampons to ascend the ice filled couloir. Navigation for this route is moderate. There is no reliable water available on the mountain.

          If you would like to try a traditional technical route and have little or no experience you might want to consider hiring a professional guide service. This route is guided by Exum Utah Mountain Adventures for a very reasonable rate.

Todd Burrows Climbing the West Slabs Roping up

Trailhead Information:
          From Wasatch Boulevard turn east on Oakview Drive (4275 South). Travel 0.6 miles and turn right on Jupiter Drive. Travel 0.3 miles and turn left on Adonis Drive. Travel 500 feet and turn right on Thousand Oaks Drive. Travel 0.26 miles and park at the gate to Skyline Hills (GPS N40 40' 14" W111 47' 28").

Climbing The route from the top.

Route Information:
         It is a good idea to inspect the route from Wasatch Boulevard. If there is snow in the couloir, and ice axe and crampons are recommended.

          The route begins to the east (left) of the Skyline Hills Gate. From the trailhead climb the railroad tie stairs up the dirt embankment on the south side of the road and intersect a pipeline trail 100 yards from the road, which runs behind the houses. There is a black metal fence blocking the trail, bushwhack around the fence to the east. After the bushwhack around the gate parallel a chain link fence until you intersect the pipeline trail. Follow the pipeline trail east until it intersects a dry stream bed. Follow the stream bed uphill to the base of the West Slabs, this should take about 2 hours. The first two pitches of the 11-pitch West Slab route are the most difficult.

Shane Burrows, Todd Burrows & Milo White

Related Link:
Hiking Mount Olympus

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