The Hellgate Cliffs sounds a little intimidating doesn’t it? The rock quality on Hellgate (or “Helmet’s Gate”) up Little Cottonwood Canyon is definitely a little unpredictable, and taking a little extra precaution while leading these climbs is a good idea. Be ready to yell “rock!” below to your belayer as there is a guarantee there will be some rockfall.
The routes are graded anywhere from a 5.7 to a 5.12b. There are both sport and trad routes on Hellgate. It consists of three towers and the Main Hellgate. Main Hellgate is home to some multi-pitch routes. The most difficult pitch is graded at 5.11b on Till Hell Freezes Over.
Fryable, graded at a 5.9, had some tricky parts to the climb, but there are some really nice finger holds and pockets. Fryable is on Tower Two. This climb had quite a bit of loose rock, so it’d be wise to make sure the rock you grab onto is stable and not about to pull out of the mountain. Some rock might look pretty stable but could loosen more as you cling onto it tighter.
Hell is for Children, graded at 5.7, is a good warm up on Hellgate. This climb is on Tower One. It’s a shorter route that’s a bit slabby, but the rock on this climb is good. There are five bolts for protection that lead to a chain anchor at the top.
A great climbing guide that has all of Hellgate Cliff’s routes is “Rock Climbing the Wasatch Range” by Stuart and Bret Ruckman. This is a Falcon Guide and can be found on their Web site as well as REI and IME (International Mountain Equipment, Inc.).
Approach: Head up Little Cottonwood Canyon about 7.35 miles from the neon sign. There is a pullout on the north side of the road just up from the Hellgate condos. You’ll see a dirt road that diagonals west across the hillside. Walk up the dirt road about 200 feet to a gully. The gully will lead you directly up to the Shooting Gallery between Tower Two and Tower Three.
Disclaimer: Climbing is a dangerous sport. Take all the necessary precautions and assess your climbing ability carefully. The difficulty ratings are entirely subjective, and this article is based solely on opinion. This is not meant for instruction and you should seek a professional climbing instructor if you question your climbing abilities.
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