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Rock Climb - Maple Canyon - Camp and Climb
By Kathleen Waller and Greg Baldacci
| We arrived in Maple Canyon Thursday afternoon (October 15). Fall is an amazing time to be in Maple Canyon. The leaves are changing into beautiful colors and are beginning to carpet the ground. The crowds are thinning but the climbing is still as good as ever.
Thursday afternoon, a few members climbed walls in Left Fork canyon before settling in early. The next couple of days would be filled with plenty of good climbing.
Friday morning, we emerged from our tents to a blue sky and the sun beginning to warm the rock. After breakfast, the group headed to Orangutan Wall in Left Fork Canyon. We climbed amazing routes with high star ratings and routes with fun names like "Don't touch the monkey" and "Don't feed the monkey". Early sun, a large belay area, short approach, long routes, and a wide variety of difficulty made this crag ideal and very enjoyable.
We walked back to camp to enjoy a late afternoon lunch and beverages. Friday evening (with the rock still warm from the sun) we climbed Rock Island directly across from our campsite. Some of us wanted to continue climbing with headlamps but we all knew we had more great climbing to do the next morning.
Saturday morning we again emerged from our tents to blue sky with a slight chill in the air. Two members headed to Tachycardia (The Heart Wall) for a three-pitch 4-star route of airy awesomeness. The rest of the group sought out another crag with high star ratings and choose Oxygen Wall in Right Fork Canyon. A short approach, a wide variety of difficulty, and one very long route (15 bolts) made this crag appealing. We climbed just about everything on the wall until the sky began to drizzle.
We headed back to camp for lunch and discussed options for enjoying the canyon in the rain. Maple Canyon is known for world class cobblestone climbing but is also known for challenging 5.13 and 5.14 routes protected from rain on overhanging cave routes (Pipe Dream, Standard Cave, Pipe Line). We decided to combine a hike with an opportunity to watch highly skilled climbers tackle challenging routes.
We first discovered the Standard Cave. This cave is right off the road and next to the upper bathrooms but hidden behind a group of trees. We stood dry inside the cave in awe of the routes above us. Some of us even contemplated attempting these overhung 5.12 routes topping out at the apex of the cave.
Our hike continued as we made our way up Middle Fork Canyon. We walked past wall after wall of cobblestone potential as we fantasized about future routes and first ascents (it is predicted although Maple Canyon has approximately 600 bolted routes, less than 6% of the area has been bolted and climbed).
As we ascended through the canyon, the maple trees gave way to evergreens and the sky began to clear up. About 1.5 miles up Middle Fork Canyon and we came upon an absolutely stunning view. We stood in awe of so much below us. We could see Maple Canyon in its entirety. For the view alone, I highly recommend this hike. After snacks, drinks, and photos, we continued along the ridge for a half mile before dropping into Right Fork Canyon.
The upper portion of Right Fork Canyon is very steep but is very well maintained with wooden steps and ladders. As we descended Right Fork Canyon, we came upon the world famous Pipe Dream. I will likely never be a 5.13 or 5.14 climber, but I can still enjoy watching. Our group looked on with quiet months and gaping eyes as we watched climbers from Canada tackle palmy holds (cobbles) and pinchy holds in the matrix (gaps and chips in the crystallized sandstone). It's crags like these that both humble and inspire me.
As we finished our descent of Right Fork Canyon and enjoyed dinner around the campfire, we joyously chatted about the glories of Maple Canyon and how the views were worth the drizzle of rain.
Sunday morning, we woke to wet tents and an unplanned day. Some departed for home while others debated crags with early sun and possibly dry rock. Greg and I decided to pack up and head to a full sun crag on the Nebo Loop Road. Choke Cherry Dike is an unlikely rock 1.8 miles up the south end of Nebo Loop Road. We would be driving past there on the way home, the approach is zero minutes, and the weather would be warmer. We backed up the truck to the belay station and finished our weekend with 6 short routes on a strange pile of lava rock.
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