Slick Rock

Slick Rock is an impressive rock wall along the Yellow Pine Road (See (B)(3) on page 136. The following information is not included in the book because it is not a peak. Nevertheless, the wall is a favorite for Idaho rock climbers and a great place to train for technical climbing.


This is a telephoto view of Slick Rock from Burnside Peak. It puts a whole new perspective on the formation.

This is a telephoto view of Slick Rock from Burnside Peak. It puts a whole new perspective on the formation.

Let’s start with some mid-70s photos supplied by Bob Boyles.

Slick Rock. Bob Boyles Photo

Slick Rock. Bob Boyles Photo

Slick Rock. Bob Boyles Photo

Slick Rock. Bob Boyles Photo

Mike Weber on belay and Frank Florence on lead. Slick Rock. Bob Boyles Photo

Mike Weber on belay and Frank Florence on lead. Slick Rock. Bob Boyles Photo

The classic route which climbs a series of three cracks in the middle of the face offers 8 or 9 pitches of sustained 5.4 to 5.6 climbing depending on your line of travel. I set out route information provided by climbers below as well as photos from the rock.

Jason Cronk reports the following new route on the face.

Slippery Slope Route.

“The climb is just to the left of the regular classic crack route. Due to the nature of the rock, we aptly named the route Slippery Slope. It’s a combination of traditional and bolted protection where no cracks were present. As far as we can tell, it’s the longest bolted route in the state. We placed all bolts on lead, with a hand drill and hammer. It’s 8 pitches of good slab/face climbing. The route’s overall rating would be Grade II, 5.9+ R. Since we bolted it on lead, it is a bit run_out on some pitches, but it is solidly bolted on the more difficult sections and should be no problem for solid 5.10 leaders. The route was put up during weekends from the ground up over the past couple summers by Jason Cronk, Bob Gentry, and Todd Chavez, all of Boise.”

Jason’s topo is below.

Jason's topo.

Jason’s topo.



The following comments have reached relating to climbing on Slick Rock Climbing: (1) Stephen Bartlett, (2) Bob Gentry and (3) Kevin Caudill. Please send your comments to me if you like to add to the data base on the routes.

(1)(A) Steve Bartlett:

Tom, thanks for the info on the web site about Slick Rock. My wife and I climbed this a couple weeks ago.

A few suggestions:

The regular route has no info. I bought your book, expecting some info on the 5.6, and there was no mention of it. I guess there is little beyond “head for the cracks on the upper face” to report. [Steve is correct, the book does not cover Slick Rock due to space considerations and the fact that the book deals with routes to summits. Hopefully, the web site will allow climbers to add more information on this great wall. –Tom]

1. The initial pitch [of the standard route] we did was a nice left-facing dihedral leading to the tree belay on the 5.10. A long pitch, and rather harder than 5.6. I guess there is an easier start somewhere?

2. The 5.10 route we did the next day, and it was excellent. However the topo which I hastily scribbled down from the web site topo was not entirely accurate. Pitch 2 has no bolts, yet the topo mentions a couple. Pitch 3 has one bolt, not two. Odd mistakes for a topo drawn by one of the first ascentionists. (Or am I just blind as a bat?) Pitch one, referred to as 5.9/5.10 is a bit of a sandbag. Not sure what it actually is, as I
traversed left about 15 feet at the third bolt, then up edges to some fist-sized holes, at 5.9+ish, very R. Then traversed right easily, above the last bolt, and did not clip it at all. Surely direct it must be 5.10. My partner came up more direct, about six feet right of the last bolt (again, there’s four bolts, not five) at about mid 5.10. Pitch six weighs in at about 5.10c. Thin friction moves, very cool, on sticky granite. A great

3. The bolts, though fine right now, are destined for a short life span, and are very disappointing for a modern route. Rawl Buttonheads (I wonder how long?) with what was referred to twenty years ago as “Death Hangers” where the leverage of a fall or hang pulls directly out on the bolt. A shame on such a fine route.

4. The first pitch ends at a small tree. Unfortunately this is probably also destined for a short life span due to the removal of dirt around its roots (hard to avoid) and, more seriously, some folks appear to have been rappelling (or even lowering?) directly off of the trunk. The bark looks pretty scarred from ropes being pulled. We left a sling and a leaver-biner here. Anyway, A fine route. The two climbers from Boise who climbed the 5.10 while we did the 5.6 must have gotten back to their car about midnight. Pretty funny for a “Grade II.”
I’d like to come back sometime, the cliff is huge! The drive from Colorado is pretty darn long though.

Thanks, Steve Bartlett


A new route from Stephen:

Last summer Fran Bagenal and I climbed a new route on the left side of the cliff. This takes the
clean face left of the large left-facing dihedral system just left of Slippery Slope.

Scenic Traction 5.9+, 1100 ft.
FA: Steve Bartlett, Fran Bagenal, July 15th 2004
This climb takes the face about 150′ left of Slippery Slope in seven pitches. We climbed this
onsight, with bolts placed on the lead. The rock is superb, and the climbing likewise.
Route-finding is tricky in places, and several pitches are runout. We tried another new route on
the same cliff a few days later, taking the face right of the original classic Triple Cracks,
and—surprise—we ran into a line of bolts about a couple hundred feet up—the line of Memorial. We
probably did the second ascent of this route. Fun climbing, but kinda close to Triple Cracks in

Scramble up a left-facing ramp/groove to a ledge. This is about 80′ left of Slippery Slope’s
start. There is a large rotten bulging right-facing dihedral above and left of this ledge. On the
face above are two major vertical crack systems, perhaps 100′ apart. The route stays between them,
then takes the clean face above, heading to a large dead tree at the summit.
1. Climb up cracks, then trend up and right to a ledge system and an old two-bolt anchor beneath a
long vertical crack (5.6, 180′).
2. Clip an old pin in the crack above, then angle up and left into the middle of the steeper face.
Climb straight up past two bolts, then run it out to a ledge. (5.9+R, 120′).
3. Continue straight up on easier terrain, then step right to another pair of older bolts (5.7,
4. Angle up and left into the middle of the face, then straight up, with occasional gear. Belay
after 180′, under a Cadillac size, two-foot thick, V-shaped flake. This is somewhat below, and 80
feet left of, a prominent left-facing dihedral with a large lone tree. You will be directly under
a large dead tree at the top of the cliff. (5.8R, 180′).
5. Layback up and left around the V-shaped flake, then gain a small ledge and left-facing
dihedral/flake. Up this, then run it out up a nice rippled face to a small ledge and two-bolt
anchor. (5.8R, 180′).
6. Continue straight up on never-ending dike ripples, passing occasional flakes for gear, and
belay at a fat right-facing flake, just before the angle eases, but right as the rope runs out
(5.8R, 205′)
7. Continue to the top (190′, 5.7)

Steve Bartlett

(2) Bob Gentry:

Hi Tom, thanks for your help with this and yes, it sounds like a good idea to post this message to help clarify the situation. I have read the comments that your site visitors have posted regarding our “Slippery Slope” route and I pretty much agree with most of those remarks. I would like to answer some of the questions that have been raised and to explain the situation a little better for those who would like to do the route.
First of all there has been some confusion as to the rating of the route: a general consensus seems to be emerging of Grade III, 5.10R. It is 8 pitches long but the climbing goes quickly, the approach is short, and the route can be rappelled which reduces commitment. Figure on a half day for an efficient party. (A light rack consisting of a single set of stoppers, TCU’s and Camalots to #2 should suffice). The R rating is because there are long runouts on easy ground. It is important to note that the more difficult sections have either natural pro or bolts nearby when the climbing gets harder. We assumed when placing the bolts that a competent 5.10 leader would have no problem running it out on low 5th class terrain. The line of the route is intended to go up the clean open face and the technical cruxes are pure friction technique. Easier climbing can be found in the crack systems to the left, but following them bypasses the quality face and friction sections to be found on the bolted line. This brings me to the issue of the bolts themselves; many of the original first ascent bolts were of the 1/4 inch Rawl split-nail buttonhead type with light Pika hangers. Modern sport climbers are accustomed to big beautiful 3/8 stainless bolts put in on rappel with a power drill. This is not how the route was put up; we drilled all the bolts by hand while on lead. At the time we saw it as more of a back-country trad-style route that was not likely to see a whole lot of traffic. So we went with a lighter and more minimalist approach, which we also felt would be more in keeping with the trad nature of the other routes on the formation.
Fast forward five or ten years and, as the route sees more traffic, it is becoming apparent that the hardware should be upgraded to a more modern standard. I agree with this view and am working to replace the old buttonheads, but progress is slow (too slow perhaps!). Someone with a power drill could go up and get the job done in one weekend and I would be delighted to see it done. In the meantime I’ll keep chipping away… If anyone would like to help I’d love to hear from them; I can be reached by email ( or at 208-884-8847. So thank you all for your thoughtful comments and I hope this will help make the trip a little better for us all! Best regards, bob
(3) Kevin Caudill:

Dear Tom:
I am contacting you about a new bolted route on Slick Rock. Alan Queen, Abbott King and I put up a fun bolted line right of the standard route that should be a nice addition to the area. The route is eight pitches ( the second being only a half rope length) and requires only a 60m rope( 50 meter ropes will be too short) and 13 quick draws to climb. We have a rated the pitches 1. 5.7, 2. 4th class, 3. 5.4, 4. 5.7, 5. 5.8, 6. 5.8+, 7. 5.8, and 8. 5.7 (5.9 if you follow the bolt over the overhang and do not go left). The bolts are 12mm 3 1/2″ stainless fixe bolts that should last a lifetime. Rap stations are double Metolius rap hangers. We agonized over run-out and decided to add several bolts to make it safe for beginning leaders. We didn’t want any climbing injuries on our conscious . I I have climbed the standard route several times and tried hard camouflage the bolts. Some of the bolts will be difficult to see on cloudy days. The bolts are not shiny and should not be to offensive to climbers on the standard route. Please give this climb a try and post a critique on your web site. Let me know what you think ( It was our the first attempt at putting up a bolted line ). If we knew how many times we would have to climb the rotten descent gully with 50# packs the route would definitely not exist.
How to get there: Follow approach trail almost to the wall where the large rocky ramp (starts left and diagonals down right) forces standard approach to go left and go right and up. Look for Rock cairn at base of wall just right of large nasty grungy crack. The first bolt is difficult to spot fifteen feet straight up from cairn. Follow bolt line. The second pitch only has two bolts and is short. The climbing is only fourth class.
Thanks for your interest,
Kevin Caudill
Meridian, ID

Mountain Range: Western Salmon River Mountains

Year Climbed: 2001


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