This is one of the more unique southern Utah desert climbs I’ve done.
Jeff and I drove down from Salt Lake on Friday night and spent the night at his in-laws’ house near St. George. We woke up at 6, drove into Zion National Park, and were hiking by 7:50.
The approach up Petroglyph Canyon wasn’t too bad. You just head up the canyon until you feel comfortable cutting up and right to the obvious saddle/pass between Aries Butte and the white, domed formation to the south of it.
We found the start of the route pretty easily and started on up. I thought the first pitch was actually the hardest because of how sandy the rock was. I climbed in my approach shoes and was second-guessing my decision on the pitch. But then the other pitches weren’t as sandy and I was glad that I wore the approach shoes. There’s nothing like rock climbing and not having your feet hurt.
Every belay on the route is at a good ledge. The second and third pitches were the best. The last one starts out just fine but then you get into some loose rocks that aren’t very fun. From the top of the last pitch it’s a short, easy scramble up to the top. We wandered around on top for a bit and saw mountain goat or bighorn sheep prints, which is ridiculous because they would have had to do fifth class climbing to get up there. But that’s apparently why the route is called Led By Sheep…
Overall, I really liked the route. It was fun and easy. I didn’t bring any trad gear and didn’t need any. I brought 7 or 8 slings, including 2 long (48”) ones that were great for tying off the small bushes between the widely-spaced bolts. I guess because of the long distances between bolts (up to 50’ in some places) it might be R rated, but it doesn’t really feel like it. I always felt pretty secure.
Here are our times:
- 6:00 – Woke up
- 6:45 – Left the house
- 7:50 – Started hiking
- 8:30 – Got to the start of the route
- 8:50 – Started climbing
- 10:40 – Made it to the top
- 11:40 – Got back to the base of the route
- 12:30 – Got back to the car
So it took 1 hour 50 minutes to climb the thing. Our car-to-car time was 4 hours 40 minutes. I’m really happy with that, especially considering that we took our time and enjoyed ourselves.