Standard Thumb 5.7
Includes Indecent Exposure (5.7) to Standard Thumb finish (5.7)
The Thumb, Little Cottonwood Canyon
About the Climb
The Thumb is the biggest buttress in Little Cottonwood Canyon, and offers many possibilities and variations. The area gets its name from the obvious thumb-shaped block sitting on top of the long, clean slabs of perfect granite. The routes here get lots of sun and it can get very hot in the summer. Carry plenty of water if you'll be climbing here on a hot day..
The Thumb is a unique place where you can link up to 10 pitches of quality crack, slab, and face climbing ranging from 5.7 to 5.12. Most routes were established before 1970 but even these days, no matter which route you climb, getting to the top of The Thumb is a serious and committing affair. Still, reaching the summit is well worth the effort and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of Little Cottonwood Canyon.
The Thumb is characterized by two very different sections: the lower part of the buttress features various cracks and a chimney system, allowing access to Lunch Ledge. The upper section features a long chimney system, which avoids some exposed slabs, and eventually leads back to the summit block.
One of the most popular and moderate alternatives on this buttress is to climb the Indecent Exposure (5.7), and link it with the upper Standard Thumb (5.7) for a long and challenging linkup at the grade. The Indecent Exposure avoids the original route, which went up a large chimney system and is the best option to reach Lunch Ledge at a moderate grade. It also allow fast climbers to reach Lunch Ledge in no time. The Indecent Exposure features 2 great sections of climbing, but unfortunately they are divided by a tree-filled crack.
Once on Lunch Ledge, the route stays right and continues up the upper Standard Thumb 5.7. This upper section follows a chimney system and slabs all the way to the summit block. The “trough” pitch above Lunch Ledge and the chimney that follows are the highlights of the entire route. Although these wide sections are low angle and only 5.7, they will certainly test your wide crack climbing skills and grunting technique.
From Lunch Ledge, many other options are possible for the upper section. However, they all tackle the smooth slab section, and are generally more runout and more difficult. The most popular option is the clean, exposed and classic S-Direct (5.9+R), which is one of the best slab routes in Little Cottonwood Canyon, with tremendous exposure and memorable position on excellent rock. Other options up there include Spring Fever (5.10a), which is super fun and not too scary, and Nob Job (5.10d R) which is the scarier alternative.
Eventually, all these upper routes converge to a great summit block which can be accessed by either climbing Robbins Crack 5.10, a gritty, hand-chewing fist crack on the west face, or by following the more friendly ridge on easier ground (5.5). A 5.9 hands and finger crack also reaches the summit from the east face.
As mentioned above, many variations exist on this buttress, providing many possibilities if other parties are on the wall.
Another nice short route worth checking out in the area is Plumb Line (5.10a). You will pass right in front of it on the approach to The Thumb. It climbs a sweet finger and hand crack up a featured face and is a good way to extend your day after climbing The Thumb, if you still have some energy left.