September 15, 2020

Bouldering Near Salt Lake City: Little Cottonwood Canyon

Bouldering at 5 Mile area in LCC
Bouldering in the 5 Mile area, Little Cottonwood Canyon

Salt Lake City: US Climbing's Early Hotbed

While today the bouldering near Salt Lake City is world renowned, the Wasatch Range first came into relevance in the US rock climbing scene 40 years ago. This boon began in the 80's and 90's with the sport climbing development at areas such as American Fork Canyon, Maple Canyon, and Logan Canyon. It was led by outdoor junkies with a counter-cultural streak such as Boone Speed and Jeff Pedersen, who flocked to the Wasatch Range to revel in the bounty of untapped rock.

Sport Climbing in American Fork, UT
Jacinda Hunter climbing Malvado, 5.13a, American Fork Canyon UT

A New Generation of Bouldering

Later, at the turn of the 21st Century, a new generation of local men and women including Steven Jeffrey, Mike Beck, and Justin Wood, turned their attention to the ample abundance of boulders the nearby canyons had to offer. Thanks to their countless hours of hiking hillsides, scrubbing lichen, and building landings, several thousand new boulder problems were established.

Steven Jeffrey bouldering in LCC
Steven Jeffrey making the first ascent of Sunset Arete V11, Secret Garden Boulders, LCC

Little Cottonwood Canyon: Local Bouldering Mecca

The vast majority of this bouldering development happened among the roadside boulders of Little Cottonwood Canyon, a mere 20 minutes southeast of downtown Salt Lake City. Today, with its short approaches and ease of access, LCC's collection of bullet-hard quartz monzonite boulders have become one of the most popular bouldering areas in the United States.

Map of bouldering in LCC
Mountain Project map of bouldering in Little Cottonwood Canyon

Something For Everyone

Whether you're a fledgling pebble-wrestler who caught the bug at the local climbing gym, or a seasoned hard-man willing to shiver for hours under your project in the dead of winter, LCC has something for everyone. Among the popular sectors within the canyon, the Secret Garden (0.2 miles up canyon), the 5 Mile Boulders (1.0 miles up canyon), and the White Pine Boulders (4.9 miles up canyon) stand out as having a great variety of high quality classics.

Hour of Power V13, LCC
Max Zolotukhin projecting Hour of Power V13, Upper Gate Boulders, LCC

Bouldering Season

The best months to boulder in Little Cottonwood Canyon are September - December and March - June.

The Big Guy V3, LCC
Chris Watts climbing The Big Guy V3, Swamp Boulders, LCC

Must-Do Boulder Problems

The following is a list of must-do boulder problems in Little Cottonwood Canyon:

  • Fudge Ripple V1
  • Double Dyno V2
  • The Big Guy V3
  • Tequila Sunset V4
  • Ring Toss V5
  • Prowler V6
  • Shivers V7
  • Blue Steel V8
  • Wrist Rocket V9
  • Red Letter Day V10
  • Bully V11
  • Eclipse V12
  • Hour of Power V13
  • The Grand Illusion V16

More Resources For LCC Bouldering:

Check out Tommy Rigby's video series Little Things: LCC Bouldering on Vimeo

If bouldering seems a little adventurous for you, Utah has something to offer everyone that feels the call of the wild, from gentle hikes to getting out on mountain bikes to scaling our most popular peaks.
https://www.sevenslopes.com/easy-hike-to-utah-waterfall/
https://www.sevenslopes.com/5-best-bike-trails-in-salt-lake-city/
https://www.sevenslopes.com/mount-timpanogos/

For more information on bouldering in Little Cottonwood Canyon, check out Mountain Project or download the LCC Bouldering app on your mobile device!

Seven Slopes

Seven Slopes in a local's guide to what to do in Salt Lake City and the Wasatch Mountains.  The articles on this site were written by students from the University of Utah as part of a digital marketing curriculum.
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