Climbing Saved – For Now – After Quarry Operation Halted at Rock Canyon, UT

Date: 1/13/2011

Rock Canyon, one of Utah’s oldest climbing areas 40 miles south of Salt Lake City outside Provo, recently had a major success in a legal dispute over whether the canyon’s rock could be mined.

This popular climbing area hosts everything from classic 5.10's and 11's, to some of the hardest routes in Utah still yet to be repeated. Rock Canyon now boasts over 500 quality sport and trad lines on high quality quartzite and limestone, including the longest sport climbs in Utah (20+ pitches). However, over the last dozen years the partners owning the property fought over whether the landscape-quality rock could be quarried or whether Rock Canyon climbing and natural values should be preserved.

In 2003 one partner in the ownership group claimed mining rights to the mouth of the Canyon—which includes the area’s most popular and classic climbing routes—and attempted to turn the cliffs into a rock quarry operation. Meanwhile, the other partners granted a conservation easement to Provo City with restrictions on mining, and the dispute landed in court over land ownership. In November a court ruled that Provo City owned 50% of the property and halted the quarry operation. For the time being climbing remains protected.

“This is a major step forward,” says Tim Whipple from the Rock Canyon Preservation Alliance, a group of climbers and local citizens dedicated to protecting the Canyon. While this ruling is a great victory for climbers and others hoping to save the canyon, the threat of mining still exists since the ruling can be overturned on appeal and more legal battles are expected. Stay updated by checking out www.RockCanyonUtah.com.