Classic Climbing in Big Cottonwood: Outside Corner

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When I finished leading all three pitches of Steort’s Ridge in Big Cottonwood I wrote a post about it. I have now led all three pitches of Outside Corner and feel like I can present my full opinion of the route. I feel that it isn’t until you have led the pitches of a route that you truly know it. It is hard to explain to someone who doesn’t lead on gear, but when you lead a route you experience it fully. You feel every option for a hold. You search the cracks meticulously for the best gear placements.

Outside corner has been a climb that I have been afraid of for a very long time. Exposure is something that I am the most afraid of and so I have been working hard to deal with it. I now seek out routes that have it and make sure I lead the scariest pitch. This is why I recently led the all the pitches on outside corner.

The first pitch of this climb starts up a smooth face with a splitter crack. This vertical crack meets a horizontal crack about 20 feet up. It is here where I cut right and step around the arete to the north facing side of the wall. You pull a few insecure moves and end up in a dihedral crack. The crack is good hands and requires a committing move to get into it. Once in it, you follow it for about 15 feet to a big block on the right. You can go left of the block up easy climbing for about 50 more feet to the large ledge at the top of the pitch or cut right around the block and climb a bit more difficult ledges with some mild exposure.

From the large ledge, climb just right of the arete on the north face to start pitch two. This is definitely the hardest move of the route. There are limited feet placements and the crack is about fist size. Once you pull it, you climb the fun face to a large crack with holds inside and pull over it to a “cave” ledge. This is the shortest pitch.

The third pitch is where this route gets exciting. You step out to the right from the cave to a full vertical wall. There is nothing below you. The exposure is full on right away. You follow the face and some vertical cracks that slant very slightly to the right. The crack system becomes two parallel cracks that hit a small awkward bulge into a flakey single crack. This crack leads vertically to a larger roof with good holds and gear. Once you pull the roof the climb leads to some ledges on the right and eases up slightly. Climb the dihedral, over some bulges and ledges and you are on top of the wall.

I thought this route was amazing. It is sustained climbing all the way up the third pitch. Pitches one and two have some really great sections of climbing, but the exposure and consistency of the third pitch is what makes this route such a classic.

I recommend this route to anyone who want a fun, few hours of great Big Cottonwood gear climbing!

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