City of Rocks

City from Graham Peak

City of Rocks is a climbing area full of mostly single-pitch granite climbs, similar to Joshua Tree. Fortunately it is located in rural southern Idaho instead of urban southern California, so while it has become somewhat crowded with hashtag-vanlife, it is not completely overrun. With the Tetons and much of the Rockies unseasonably wet, it seemed like a good time to head to a desert somewhere, and with a climbing partner, City of Rocks seemed like the best choice. In the interest of catching up, I will just list the climbs I did, along with some brief impressions.

Petrodactyl (5.8, lead)
A fine but unmemorable climb near the Flaming Rock trailhead. While supposedly a mixed sport/trad climb, the two cam placements I made seemed artificial and unnecessary.
Return of the Bumblie (5.10a/b, lead)
This climb starts with a hard overhang with bad feet, that took me a couple of tries to figure out, but fortunately that is the crux, and the rest is much more manageable.
Too Much Fun (5.8, lead)
A long, enjoyable moderate with another rounded start on Bumblie Wall. The rap off is a bit dicey: edge down an exposed ridge to your right from where you top out to find the chains for a climb on the other side of the formation.
Upper Cannibal right (5.8, follow)
Garbage. Avoid it.
Sinocranium (5.8, swap leads)
A long moderate route on Steinfell’s Dome, formerly named Chinaman’s Head (hence the route name). Most of the route is easy slab climbing, with the only real 5.8 being the vertical step near the top, which is thoroughly bolted. We scrambled the first pitch, and combined the fourth and fifth.
Rye Crisp (5.8, lead)
Super-fun route that follows a crack on Elephant Rock without too much actual painful crack climbing. My first trad lead in quite awhile.
Just Say No (5.9, follow)
A weird start through a turd-filled cave leads to a spitefully-placed first bolt that is just out of reach from the obvious stance. Above, thoughtful steep face climbing on sharp edges leads to the chains.
Wheat Thin (5.7, lead)
Another fun crack climb on Elephant Rock, which looks harder than Rye Crisp, but is significantly easier.
Strawberry Fields (5.9, lead)
A varied and well-bolted line on Elephant Rock, starting with some slab climbing, followed by some steeper face, finishing on big huecos and edges.
Lost Arrow (5.7, swap)
An intimidating spire with a surprisingly moderate old-school route to the top. The first pitch traverses left to gain a steep ramp, then follows that to a headwall, passing a few original pins. The second pitch turns the corner left, then runs it out up easier but unprotectable and very exposed terrain to the summit. The rappel is a wild partly free-hanging rappel off the other side.
Corridor Crack (5.8, lead)
This is the first pitch of the harder and sketchy-looking route to the top of Box Top. It can be climbed mostly by stemming if you are tall, or as a finger crack if you are not.
Tribal Boundaries (5.10a, lead)
An incredible climb on a steep face with small, sharp, balance-y holds. I was not quite good enough to lead it clean, but managed to figure out the crux after a couple of falls. The sharp holds give out near the top, forcing you to switch to more friction-based climbing on bulges and dishes.
Fred Rassmussen (5.8, lead)
Classic crack climbing, where pain is correlated with security. The start looks easy, but is surprisingly awkward.
Morning Glory Spire (Skyline, 5.8, lead)
While not as impressive to look at as Lost Arrow Spire, Morning Glory’s easiest route, Skyline, is probably more fun. A single pitch of varied and sometimes heady climbing leads to the summit, finishing on another long, moderate, but exposed and run-out face. I found a small nut placement between two plates on the face, but protection seemed sparse enough that a fall in several places would have been bad.
Lookout Ridge (5.5, solo)
A fun quick scramble out of the best campsite in the City (if you’re lucky enough to get it). Mostly moderate, with one thin part starting up on the left. As the name suggests, the summit view is panoramic.

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