The Arcane Crag

The Esoteric


known or understood by very few; mysterious; obscure; esoteric

Crag Info

The Arcane is the most unique crag in the South Fork Canyon of the Snake River. The volcanic basalt stone has sections of flow-stone on its surface; creating a limestone texture with stripes of black and blue on some of the routes. The climbing is steep, powerful, and difficult to read. Each route has its own distinct style of climbing and they vary from overhanging to radically steep!
Being composed of South Fork volcanic basalt, don't expect a world class experience; or even a third world experience. The routes are dirty and will take some time to clean up despite huge efforts to remove grit and choss. Loose and/or gritty holds will be common for some time to come, so treat the crag with respect and be suspicious of loose holds on any route. Some of the routes have copious amounts of epoxy holding things together and is quite visible in some instances. If visible epoxy upsets you... might want to find a different crag to climb at.

I am not suggesting route grades for any of the lines. The routes are hard. As an example; the easy routes at Arcane have sections that are more physically and technically demanding than what can be found on the difficult routes at South Park. The Arcane is a lead climbing crag and is not a realistic top rope location.
  • Morning sun/Afternoon shade
  • Stick clip (required for the upper ledge routes)
  • 60m Rope
  • 15 quickdraws


The Arcane is not a place for children without full time supervision. Steep hillsides leading to boulders and 40' cliffs guard the base of the crag. This is a very dangerous place; especially for small kids who are too young to follow instructions or recognize deadly hazards from climbers above or from obstacles along the base of the cliff... and this may also include some adults! Dogs may not be a great idea either given the near by nest of "hissers".

You WILL encounter loose rock and questionable bolt placements. Please don't treat this crag like a gym or another climbing location where you don't have to worry about falling rock. DO NOT STAND, WATCH, OR SOCIALIZE BELOW ANY CLIMBER ON ANY ROUTE. CLIMB AT YOUR OWN RISK...



The shortest way to access the Arcane Crag is by driving past Kelly Canyon Ski Resort and continue 7.6 miles from where the pavement ends at Lift 4. A little over a mile from where the pavement ends is the Y Junction; stay to the right and follow the road down past Table Rock Campground, eventually reaching the river. From here, continue up river to the Wolverine Creek trailhead and keep going for another 1.5 miles to reach the Arcane. A small camping/parking area is located between the road and the river on the south side of the road. The Arcane crag is directly across the road and up the hillside to the north. A faint climbers trail can be found on either side of the gully leading up to the cliff.

***The 7.6 miles from the end of the pavement is important to know! Several people have gone out to the crag with the idea of approximate distances thinking they will just see the cliff from the road. Don't count on it. The crag is not obvious from certain vantage points along the road and many folks have missed it all together. Best to set your odometer where the pavement ends at Kelly Canyon.

There are ample parking opportunities along side the road just before reaching the crag if the camping/parking spot is occupied. Please make sure your vehicle is not obstructing traffic and is completely off the road. This road has a lot of boat trailer and camper type traffic. Thanks!

The ladies of Arcane

The Routes

Lower Ledge

  • Project - needs bolts
  • Project - needs bolts
  • Proboscis - 11 bolts to sport anchors. Climb up a wide chimney system for 5 bolts then left through several tiers of an overhang and a powerful crux on crimps. Climb out the big nose and pull onto the "slab" for a rest, then big moves on the final overhang to the anchors.
Heather headed for the Proboscis

  • Naiad - Start on Proboscis then continue up and right after the 5th bolt by climbing a unique ramp/overhang to a good rest. Then pull a horizontal roof and powerful cruxy transition, another small bulge to a big move, and then a rest jug. Continue climbing overhanging terrain with a show stopper crux going to the anchors! 12 bolts. Get your burl and pump on!
Mythology on Naiad

  • The Esoteric - 13 bolts to sport anchors. Perma-draws. The king line of the crag. Steep and WILD! A couple of technical cruxes and massive pump to a big move near the end. An adventure of wander and wonder! Shares anchors with Margin Walker.
Crimpin' on the Esoteric

Upper Ledge

  • Margin Walker  - 10 bolts through the steepest part of the cave. Merges with the Esoteric after the 7th bolt. Perma-draws. A powerful start right off the deck to reach near horizontal jug hauling for a couple of bolts. Then begins the techy power climbing on smaller, but good holds to reach the Esoteric for the remainder of the route. 
Margin Walker

  • Occult - 8 bolts. Steep, powerful and hard to read. Basically a long boulder problem requiring lots of core strength and good body English. Powerful crux at the lip. Skip the 6th bolt on redpoint attempts. Needs top anchors. Lower from last bolt.
The Occult jug!

  • Bitty - 5 bolts to sport anchors. Hard second clip. Powerful and sequential steep climbing. The 4th bolt is used to assist figuring out the crux but then is usually skipped after learning the sequence and adds a bit of excitement! Make sure your belayer is fully in the game! 
Heather warming up on Bitty