American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, Utah, Zion National Park, Zion Canyon, Cathedral Mountain, Various Activity

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2001

Cathedral Mountain, Various Activity. On April 1, Tom Jones and I established the nine-pitch Fool’s Buttress (III 5.8 A0), which ascends the northeast buttress of Cathedral Mountain. Two pitches of fourth-class friction on the left side of the sub-buttress led to the start of the main buttress. The third pitch required a move of aid at a bolt to gain moderate free climbing for three pitches on the left side of the crest of the buttress. The route crossed the crest of the buttress and exploited weaknesses until the manzanita veldt was reached. A short hike to the southeast revealed an easy fifth-class friction route up the final summit block. Most belay anchors consisted of a single bolt and shrubbery. We used a standard rack, with single cams to number 4, 200-foot ropes, and shallow angle pitons that provided some measure of security in the soft, white rock. We searched the summit block for a cairn but found no evidence of a prior ascent (odd!). We rappelled off a small shrub on the far side of the summit block and descended the “hook” canyon (four rappels) on the western side of the peak, eventually hiking out beneath the north face of Cathedral Mountain prior to reconnecting with the West Rim trail.

On October 17, we were primed for some tomfoolery exploration and ascended the “hook” canyon (III 5.8 A1) on the north and west side of Cathedral Mountain. We belayed a short pitch at the first pourover and another in a short chimney. The canyon splits in its upper end and we chose the west fork. Noting a couple of pitons from a previous attempt, we climbed a short head-wall (100 feet to the climber’s left of the watercourse) for two pitches (5.8 A1) to gain the Cathedral Mesa. After spending the night on the mesa, we descended the deep canyon that drains to the south behind the Spearhead. This descent required 17 rappels, many of which were high angle and from single anchors. While no evidence of a prior descent was noted in the upper canyon, fixed anchors appeared for the final drop out the snout of the canyon.

Brian Cabe, unaffiliated

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