Dixie Outdoors: Chuckwalla trail abundant with diverse climbing routes

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Chuckwalla trail is brimming with scenic hikes and picnic spots, but one element hikers might overlook is its 15 rock climbing routes.

These climbs aren’t meant for beginners, and Luke Wilkins, outdoor recreation coordinator, said it would be smart to climb with four to six people and someone who knows his or her way around the rocks.

The routes are meant for intermediate and advanced climbers because climbers need to set up their own top rope. Thus, someone needs enough knowledge to lead the climb and position the rope in the bolts so others can climb safely.

Another fact climbers need to keep in mind about the climbs at Chuckwalla is the sandstone rocks can cause blisters.

“It’s pretty rough on your fingers,” said Paul “PJ” Morris, a junior business major from South Jordan.

There are different levels of climbs for anyone interested in a challenge. The easiest climb is a 5.8, and other routes grow more difficult with each hold and angle. Those climbs are scattered along the trail, and it’s best to climb with someone who knows which route is suitable for specific skills.

If climbers decide to climb the 5.8, the beginning of the climb isn’t too difficult. Climbers can make the climb halfway with ease. Once they reach the halfway point, the climb gets more difficult with small holds where fingers can barely fit inside. There are also times when climbers need to stretch and reach for a better hold to keep them on the rock. If they aren’t able to get past the core of the route, climbers can ask the person on belay to help them swing to the right for an easier grip. Once they get past the challenging core, climbers need to keep their hips in and stay tight to the rock. The route becomes easier proceeding to the top.

If climbers decide to proceed with a more difficult route, they need to be careful not to take it when they have been climbing all day and their arms are sore and tired.

“PJ just saved my life last Saturday,” said Josh Chipman, a junior psychology major from St. George. “I took a 25-foot fall. I was at the top, slipped and fell all the way down. I brought PJ in the air about 4-5 feet. It riled me a bit. It was a good fall.”

Chipman decided to challenge the 10c climb after he had been climbing all day and his arms were weak.

“(He) fell a lot farther than I thought (he) would fall,” Morris said.

Chipman said whenever climbers are out on the routes, they are risking their lives.

“The typical [situation] is you pretty much just expect to die,” he said. “You just have to live with it.”

However, Wilkins said if climbers have someone with them who knows what he or she is doing, climbers don’t need to worry about death or injury. It is a sport no one should be afraid of.

“Typically in climbing, it’s the human error that kills you—not the climbing,” he said. “If everything is done properly, it is a safe sport.”

Essential supplies are climbing shoes, shorts or pants, a T-shirt, food and water.

The best time to climb during this time of year is any time when the sun is out. Chipman said it is not too hot, and it is not too cold. If climbers decide to go later in the year, they can’t forget to take a jacket.

If climbers aren’t as advanced, they can plan on climbing Chuckwalla in approximately two hours. If climbers are advanced, they can plan on climbing for about four to six hours.

Chuckwalla is on the left-hand side of Bluff Street, approximately one-half mile past the Snow Canyon Parkway intersection.

If climbers need a helping hand, the climbers at Dixie’s Outdoor Recreation Activities Center are there to help. They provide shoe and harness rentals, and they can help climbers with any advice or questions they may have. Climbers can contact the ORAC by phone at 435- 652-7986 or by email at [email protected].