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Adventure Journal | Climbing the Trilogy Buttress

This week marks two years since we first climbed the Trilogy Buttress on our first date. We went back up Trilogy Buttress on Friday to commemorate the two years of fun we’ve had together. The climb is located up Rock Canyon, on the south end of the Wasatch near Provo, Utah.

The Trilogy Buttress is a 600-foot wall that can be done in three to five pitches. The routes are all wordplay of the Lord of the Rings, with names like “Gollum’s Column”, “Lord of the Slings”, and “My Precious”. Kalem, the nerd he is, was very excited to point that out on our first date. The approach is steep, about a 10-15 minute scramble up one of the first side-canyons you reach on the left hiking into Rock Canyon. If you haven’t climbed in Rock Canyon, it’s worth a day trip, with hundreds of climbs of all difficulties and lengths, from easy top ropes over on the Red Slab to the 22-pitch sport climb up to Squaw Peak, called Squawstruck.

Pre-Trip Planning

This trip did not require much planning for us. Rock Canyon is located 5 minutes from the campus where Kalem attends school, and we’d been up the route before so we knew what to expect. We did move the day we climbed around in our weekly schedule to accommodate some cold and rainy weather, but otherwise just showed up to climb the morning it was warmest and sunniest.

Once in the parking lot, Kalem took one more look on Mountain Project in order to determine the gear we would be taking. The route ended up taking us longer than we would have expected and we wished we had brought water up with us, but otherwise felt very well prepared with:

- 12 quick draws (3-4 should be alpine draws)

- quad for anchor building

- a 70 meter rope

- multi-pitch belay devices (always bring a back-up in case one is dropped)

- harnesses, shoes and chalk bags

- backpack for shoes (you walk-off the top, so you need to carry your shoes up with you)

The Route

There are a number of different climbs on the buttress. Route-finding is one of the more difficult aspects of this climb, so I’d encourage you to do additional research on the route before attempting. We did a variation that split the route to the summit into four pitches.

We started on Along Came a Strider, but we’d recommend climbing Nine in Black instead. It sets you up better for the second pitch of the Lord of the Slings route. Along Came A Strider is a great climb full of fun, easy moves up a couple of ledges, but puts you in an awkward place to start the next pitch.

From there, we did an awkward traverse and climbed Wizardly Way (not recommended).

Instead, climb the Pitch Two of Lord of the Slings. When belaying, at the top of the second pitch, you need to extend your anchor quite a bit in order to limit rope drag.

From there, we finished the climb by going up Shards of Narsil, which we would strongly recommend. It’s the easiest route on the last face and has cool rock formations that make great holds. Some people do this as one long pitch (you would need at least 14 draws), but there are anchors located 5 bolts up, and we’d recommend splitting the climb into two separate pitches in order to manage rope drag.

The rock is surprisingly solid quartzite, but there are lots of small rocks located along some of the ledges. While the risk of any rockfall larger than raining pebbles is small, we’d still recommend you wear a helmet.

Our Experience

I mentioned above that route-finding is one of the more difficult aspects of this climb. This was Kalem and I’s second time doing the same route on Trilogy Buttress and it still wasn’t easy for us to navigate. Kalem wishes he would’ve looked at the beta more before starting, as we didn’t mean to go up Wizardly Way for the second pitch (again, strongly do not recommend this route). However, the top of each pitch offers a safe ledge to establish your next moves. The climbing is fairly easy (5.8), with lots of holds.

We’d recommend this multi-pitch as a great half-day excursion for anyone looking to get a taste of what Rock Canyon has to offer.

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