I have made it a policy for myself that I cannot write about a climb unless I lead it. So, I am happy to finally get to post about an amazing classic climb in Little Cottonwood called “The Coffin.” Anyone that climbs trad in the Salt Lake area knows or has at least heard of this route.
It is rated 5.9 and in Little Cottonwood, the grading is stout. The rock face is the shape of a coffin (hence the name) and a perfect, single crack system splits it in two. The crack begins shallow and right-trending and puts you right out over the exposure of the cliffs that make up the right side of the small belay ledge.
With gear that isn’t as confidence inspiring as you would like, you make your way up the slab for a few moves, making the most of small ledges and sloping bulges for your feet. About 30 feet up, you hit the true splitter crack, now left trending, and get a few solid hand jams. “Larger gear” is eaten up by this portion (Black Diamond 0.5 and 0.75 Camelots)…
Just when you start to feel a little more secure, the crack widens to ring-locks, steepens, and the feet disappear. You are now in the physical crux of the route. You must pull over the small bulge to a sloping ledge using a solid hand jam.
After standing up on the ledge, the fun isn’t over yet. The crack continues, slightly too large for a solid finger jam and sustained, quick climbing is a must. Fingers, shuffle feet, gear, repeat.
The left trend turns vertical with a chicken head knob that requires a delicate, balancey move to get on top of. Here you have solid hand jams and a #3 sized BD camelot makes you feel warm and fuzzy for a minute.
Moving up provides solid foot jams and for a few moves you actually get some finger locks. Decent stopper placements protect well as you leave the system and pull a layback around the large roof to the right. High feet get you up onto a small “ledge” and you can shuffle right to the chains. I placed a #1 BD cam in the horizontal flaring crack to protect my second.
This climb is a great lead for people starting to push away from a lot of the inconsistent 5.7 routes that Little Cottonwood provides. The gear is good all the way up, even though the start feels somewhat sparse.