A Climber's Guide to Ogden: What to Know Where to Go

Ogden recently claimed a spot in Rock & Ice Magazine’s list of top 10 climbing towns in the country.
Ogden recently claimed a spot in Rock & Ice Magazine’s list of top 10 climbing towns in the country. Bear House Mountain Guides/ Visit Ogden
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Ogden, Utah is set at the edge of the Salt Lake Valley, where the mountains of the Wasatch Crest tumble down into the Great Salt Lake, unearthing many tiers of cliff bands and rocky ridges. This abundance has attracted climbers for decades, and Ogden has been a hotspot for the sport since the ‘60s, when many cutting-edge athletes chose this arena as their proving ground to push the grade. The legacy continues today, with Ogden having recently claimed a spot in Rock & Ice Magazine’s list of top 10 climbing towns in the country. From backyard crags to alpine walls high in the Wasatch, Ogden deals quite the variety of stone.

Here is an overview of the best areas, followed by specific suggestions of where to go based on abilities and interests.

Climbing Areas

The Schoolroom is a popular crag with something for every climber, and views overlooking the boulderfield and all of Ogden are pretty prime. Easy sport climbs can be found at Ramp Routes, and moderate trad routes at Sunday Wall. Get to these by parking at 22nd St. trailhead then hoofing it uphill and slightly south, following signs to the climbing area. Tree Crack Area is the most classic wall around, especially for trad. Get to it by parking at the end of 27th St. and working up switchbacks and eventually a talus field to Utahnics Wall, which has worthwhile climbing of its own. The Tree Crack Area is one ledge higher, so you will have to top out a route at Utahnics or do a 4th-class scramble to reach it.

For quick sessions, the best place to go is 9th Street Crag, a low wall very close to town with good rock and a plethora of bolted routes, nearly all of which can also be top-roped. A short approach doesn’t mean it’s short on scenery, though. This hillside gives excellent vantage over Ogden and rest of the valley. Get here by parking at the east end of 9th street then following the dirt road and obvious trails uphill.

Another crag that is easy to access but still surprisingly fun is 29th Street. Park at the end of the street of the same name and head uphill to the crag in a small canyon that is easily visible from the car. A nice little variety of sport and top-rope makes this a good alternative to the more-crowded 9th Street and Schoolroom crags nearby.

From backyard crags to alpine walls high in the Wasatch, Ogden features quite the variety of stone.
From backyard crags to alpine walls high in the Wasatch, Ogden features quite the variety of stone. Visit Ogden

Ogden Canyon may not be home to Ogden’s most stellar routes, but it’s hard to beat the variety and accessibility of these roadside climbs close to town, some which offer wild exposure over the highway. Places for sport climbers to check out are The Ice Wall, located a short hike east along the trail from Ogden Canyon Waterfall’s pullout parking area, and The Diamond, which is 0.2 miles further up the road and just uphill from a pullout on the right. Sport and trad climbers both will find good routes at Hole in the Rock, 0.8 miles further up the road from the waterfall. Trad climbers should make a quick hike back down the road from this spot and up to Utah Wall.

For bouldering, the place to go is the Ogden Boulder Field. It’s easy to find, easy to navigate, and has a high concentration of problems, many of which are not easy! Signs on the trails point out certain areas and problems, so you don’t necessarily need a topo to get around. Some problems not to be missed are: Disorder (V1), South Face of The Arrowhead (V1 highball), Patriot Crack (V2), Suicide Crack (V3), The Mule (V3), and Mecham (V4). Problems up to V9 and harder can be found here, so anyone should be able to find something to work on. To get there, park at the end of 27th or a nearby street and head up one of many trails to the obvious boulders on the hillside.

For mountaineers with sights set high, the peaks of the Wasatch offer an abundance of alpine adventures to get after. One spot that is relatively accessible to those with proper experience is Snowbasin Resort during the summer, where you can take Needles Gondola from the ski area to access high-quality multi-pitch routes near the top of Mount Ogden.

Where to Go

Ogden encompasses a large area full of climbing options from beginner to advanced.
Ogden encompasses a large area full of climbing options from beginner to advanced. Dan Fell

Beginner climbers and newbies to the area should check out Utahnics (5.9+ sport) or Diamondback (5.9 trad) at Utahnics Wall, or Phantasmagorical (5.7 sport) at Ramp Routes at The Schoolroom. After getting a feel for the slick quartzite, maybe step over to the pumpier routes of 9th Street Crag, like Shino (5.8+ sport) in particular. If you want to venture into Ogden Canyon, try Shotgun (5.6 trad) at Utah Wall. Intermediate climbers will want to hop on 9th Street Crag first, then explore some less-traveled terrain at 29th Street, The Schoolroom’s upper ledges, or over in Ogden Canyon. A classic but somewhat nerve-racking pitch in the canyon is If the Fall Doesn’t Kill You a Car Will *(5.10a sport) at Hole in the Wall pullout. Advanced climbers need to do *Tree Crack (5.11a trad) or Rocketsauce (5.11c sport) at Tree Crack Area. Walk of the Wild Child (5.12b sport) is a short but challenging pitch on The Ice Wall in Ogden Canyon.

Seasonality

Spring and fall are by far the best times to climb most of the rock around Ogden, when weather is mild. Most of the crags next to town are west or south facing, so they get full sun most of the day, and summer heat makes the slick quartzite feel even slicker. Do your best to chase the shade or seek more comfortable conditions in Ogden Canyon. In winter, when cold winds blow and snow lingers on the ground, your best bet is the south-facing 9th street crag or other sunny, low-elevation spots.

Originally written for Utah Office of Tourism.

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