What to Know about Trail Work at the Gate Buttress this Fall

By: Lindsay Anderson, SLCA Field Coordinator

Work to rebuild and maintain trails at the Gate Buttress will resume on September 18th, 2019. The Gate Buttress is a 140 acres climbing area located in Little Cottonwood Canyon, owned by the Church of Latter-day Saints and leased by the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance and Access Fund. This lease provides the SLCA an opportunity to maintain access trails and fixed hardware. The trail crew has been hard at work since Spring 2018 and is just beginning to reach the final phases. The scope of work this Fall will include fortifying access to the Thumb, and opening up the connection trail between the 5 Mile boulders and the Fin. 


The Thumb

The Thumb is a prominent feature that towers over the Gate Buttress. This granite buttress houses multiple routes of high quality and one of the longest free routes in the Canyon, making it a popular site on the property. The trail to access these routes branches off near the top of the Green Adjective approach and follows the buttress west past the Waterfront and Plumb Line. The soil is composed primarily of granitic sand and the vegetation is mostly scrub oak. This is very common ecology in the Wasatch and is heavily impacted by foot traffic and water. Examples of this can be seen on many approaches.

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The primary goal for this work site is to harden the tread surface so that water can flow over our trail without causing the extreme erosion issues that are currently happening.

5 Mile to Fin

Transportation issues have become a major talking point for the Cottonwood Canyons.  The SLCA recognizes that roadside parking for climbing areas may not always be an option in the future and has deemed it a priority to make access available to those places through centralized parking lots. The 5 Mile boulders via the Gate Parking lot was completed last spring and now the SLCA will continue the trail from the 5 Mile Boulders to the start of the Fin trail that begins just above the Church vaults road. This will guarantee that access to the Fin, Lizard Head and Altered States will remain available despite what decisions are made regarding transportation infrastructure. 

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This Fall the crew will consist of our Field Coordinator: Lindsay, The Access Fund’s Conservation Team: Carolyn and Allan, and Dave from Single Track Trails. Lindsay and Dave have spent 4 seasons working on Climbing Access in Little Cottonwood Canyon and this will be the 2nd season for the Conservation Team. 

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Volunteer days 

The Crew will be hosting 5 Adopt-a-Crag’s this Fall. Starting September 21st and continuing every other weekend until November 16th from 9-2pm. Volunteer involvement has become paramount to the success of these projects. Climbing access demands technical building techniques that require lots of heavy lifting. “Many hands make light work” and when the average project contains over 100 stone steps, we will need all the help we can get. As the crew develops and consolidates the system of trails at the Gate Buttress, restoration projects will also be needed in order to fulfill our role as stewards. Not only does your involvement physically help the landscape but volunteer hours count as match funds for grants that help pay for this project. 

We can’t do this without your help. We look forward to seeing you out on the rock! And always say hi if you’re out climbing.  Registration for joining the trail crew at an Adopt-a-Crag is needed so be sure to sign up here: https://www.saltlakeclimbers.org/adopt-a-crag

Julia Geisler