Big Bend

Big Bend

Posted on 03. Dec, 2009 by in Big Bend

On my last day I drove down to Moab and climbed at The Big Bend Boulders, near Moab, UT. The area is small but the rock is very good and there are several amazing and difficult problems that I would love to do. It is surprising this area gets almost no attention but I find it to be a great destination. There is almost no approach, a nice campground on the Colorado River across the street, awesome rock, flat landings, the scenery is outstanding and there are endless non-climbing things to do in the Moab region.

IMG_1636Big Bend

The Big Bend Boulders are also notoriously sandbagged, and the classic example is Circus Trick V4. This would easily get V7 or V8 in almost any other area, and this is probably the hardest V4 in America. Brian Capps told me he was at the area on a hot day and tried the problem for 2 hours with Chris Sharma. He couldn’t remember if Chris did the problem or not. It’s hard to imagine there is a V4 that Chris couldn’t climb in a matter of tries, regardless of the conditions.

IMG_1644Circus Trick climbs the far left arete, Phantom Fighter climbs the right side of the shaded overhang

There are other classic problems as well, including Chaos V8,
IMG_1637Scoopula V10 climbs the scoop.

The Scoopula, The Phantom Fighter V9 and Hell Belly V11. I think Hell Belly is one of the coolest problems I have ever seen, and it epitomizes feature climbing, on very high quality rock with a nice flat landing. Fred Nicole made at least two trips to Utah to make one of the handful of ascents of this classic problem.
IMG_1642 Hell Belly V11

As the snow falls here in Boulder, it’s easy to dream about the warm sun and good rock in Moab.

17 Responses to “Big Bend”

  1. tommY caldwell

    03. Dec, 2009

    thats cuz fred nicole sux … ha ha ,, yeah …

  2. Timpson

    03. Dec, 2009

    I work out of state quite a bit, and Big Bend is a perfect stop-off on the way from the front range or on the way back, for all the reasons you mentioned. The only crag in the country that I have recieved as warm a welcome by the local climbers is Rumney, in New Hampshire. I’ve probably climbed at big bend a dozen times now, and for me it has proved a different climbing style from other areas I climb at, and I can certainly attest to the commensurate sandbagging. Finishing Circus Trick and Circus Trick Right, in 65 degrees and full sun certainly made me feel like I earned every bit of that V4 and V5. And Chaos, I think would be certainly V9 in many places and V10 in some. And Hell Belly? Stunning…I’ve never seen anyone do more than 3 consecutive moves on it. Props to Eric Decaria and crew for their development of some fine problems. I don’t think anyone could get bored trying to find things to do in Moab on a rest day. It is amazing that Big Bend doesn’t get much attention, and certainly that is part of it’s charm.


    03. Dec, 2009

    Wow! Hell Belly looks amazing. Chris Schulte would tear this one up!

  4. steven senger

    03. Dec, 2009

    I LOVE this area too. I am amazed at how often it’s empty, but I can’t say I mind. I typically run down here between crowded areas anyway.

  5. sidepull

    03. Dec, 2009

    If you’re going to rate areas on density of classic problems, Big Bend is up there. It’s small, but almost every line there is awesome.

    The sandbagging thing is interesting. I don’t think it’s sandbagged like Yosemite or Joshua Tree where everything is sandbagged consistently. I think Big Bend has some problems that really should go up a few grades. The others are pretty consistent. For instance, almost everything on the Flat Top boulder is accurate. Circus Trick is for sure super sandbagged. The Hueco Traverse also needs a grade or so added.

  6. punter

    03. Dec, 2009

    …..if chris climbs a problem in the woods, and no one is there to see him do it, did it really happen..?……well.

  7. Eric

    05. Dec, 2009

    Jamie I thought you had to have comments approved to be posted on your website. To see this sort of drivel degrades your website.

  8. B3

    06. Dec, 2009

    I do have the power to veto comments, but generally, as long as they are not really vulgar, I will approve as much as I can. I would prefer, and I try, to encourage thoughtful discussion, but that’s not always the case. I do want to give everyone who has something to say, even if it is mindless, the opportunity to say it. Anonymous internet slander is what it is and it is hard to take it seriously. It’s not my position however to censor it.

  9. slabdyno

    06. Dec, 2009

    jamie, please delete everything i don’t agree with.

  10. sammy d

    06. Dec, 2009

    so you’re pretty much saying the grading at big bend is as screwed as it is in flagstaff

  11. B3

    06. Dec, 2009

    I don’t know what the grades are like in Flagstaff, having never been there. I have spent some time in Hueco and it seems like things in Big Bend are not consistent with things in Hueco. The Scoopula seems much harder than Full Service, for example. I do like a more conservative approach, but calling Circus Trick V4 seems more than conservative. Again, I would love to come to Flagstaff when I get the chance and I will gladly give my opinion when I do!

  12. Pat

    07. Dec, 2009

    Grades essentially don’t exist in Flag, for all intents and purposes. The only place that has numbers is the Draw, really.

  13. Tye

    12. Dec, 2009

    I’m glad you did a post on Big Bend. I definitely agree that it is under appreciated as a (small) bouldering destination. The quality of some of the problems there is really amazing.

    Haha.. I’m also glad you think Circus Trick is super sandbagged. My friends told me to “just do it real quick” as part of the warm up. They laughed while I projected it for like 20 minutes…

  14. Sandbag Lover

    13. Dec, 2009

    “Grades essentially don’t exist in Flag, for all intents and purposes. The only place that has numbers is the Draw, really.” ~ wish this happened more often. Keeps the adventure factor high.

    Wild Iris, Baldwin, and Lander areas used to have a lot of sandbags… I think it was Piana, Skinner, and others style. How about a post on sandbags.

  15. Mathieu

    28. Dec, 2009

    I have a Poster of Dave Graham on Hell Belly. They put it as a V8…haha

  16. Tye

    30. Dec, 2009


    Hellbelly has a V8 standup that starts about half way up.

  17. Lewin

    06. Jan, 2012

    I just love bouldering. Whether is graded or not. It’s all about pushing ones self and most of all. Having fun. So relax people.

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