|***** RAIN AND WET ROCK ***** The sandstone in Zion is fragile and is very easily damaged when it is wet. Holds rip off and climbs have been and will continue to be permanently damaged due to climbers not respecting this phenomenon. After a heavy storm the rock will remain wet, sometimes for several days. PLEASE DO NOT CLIMB IN ZION during or after rain. A good rule of thumb is that if the ground near your climb is at all damp (and not powdery dry sand), then do not climb. There are many alternatives (limestone, granite, basalt, and plastic) nearby. Seasonal Raptor Closures MORE INFO >>>|
Cowboy Ridge is a long day, hiking, scrambling and climbing through some amazing terrain to a fantastic summit. Mostly easy roped scrambling. Great exposure and plenty of loose rock to help stay focused all day long.
From where you leave the Anasazi Plateau Subdivision and start on the Chinle Trail (marked), hike northwest on the Chinle Trail about 200-300 hundred yards and then turn north up an obvious wash. There should be flat desert to the left (west) and a low hill to the right (east) of you.
Follow this wash a long way, past many side branches, but it is pretty easy to follow the trail here. Early on the NPS park boundary barbed wire fence is passed. A while later spot high tension electric lines on top a split hill, power up this to an obvious break in the Springdale Band.
From the top of the break, hike west along the top of it to the deep cleft leading up to the southwest end of the ridge. Allow about 2-3 hours from car to the ridge crest.
From near the bottom of the ridge, head up into a recess located a short ways up the ridge. 2nd and 3rd class scrambling on blocks and ledges up to and along the ridge, passing any hard looking gendarmes on the right (east) sides.
At some point you will put on a rope, but likely stay in your approach shoes. A narrow passage with great exposure and a short gap will get your heart racing. 4th class up from the gap either straight up or instead head right and then up maybe easier and safer but less exposure. Head back left and up to a big dark chimney, the right one of two on a small buttress. This has a ramp in the back that is class 3 or 4 at the very end.
A great view of the upper ridge comes in view here. Head towards a prominent cleft, then up the fun 4th class ramp/flake in the cleft. A large shrubbery is at the end.
Technical climbing for the next two pitches. A low angled corner with a nice crack steepens and widens as you go up, move left just before the end to gain a flat ledge on top the block. Keep heading down and west to a ledge below the other side of the block. The 5.7 hand crack is right in front of you. Climb it (40') and then work up and left on pretty chossy rock to a big oak and a ledge like alcove.
Very loose, moderate 4th class scrambling for another rope length, then things ease to class 2 or 3 for 200 feet to the south summit marked with a distinctive cairn.
From the south summit, continue north descending on class 2 down to a large prickly pear filled meadow. On the east side of the meadow past a few notches is the top of the descent gully. On the opposite (west) side of the meadow, a short class 3 ascends Mt. Kinesava.
Descent is class 3 if you do it perfectly (and in the daylight). Expect some 4th class if you miss the optimal way, but if you are thinking about rappelling or doing something extreme, you are going the wrong way and should look around.
Scope out the descent before you pass through the Springdale Band on the approach, it is the blocky green slope and chute on the east face. The chute diagonals down from the summit to the southeast. You will definitely see signs of previous passage if you are going the right way and possibly a few cairns. Look for, but do not enter a very deep chimney about 3 feet wide between the rock face and the ramp near the start, see photo. Head down (south) and zig a little left (east) then zag back south to the end of the 3rd class along the wall and to the other side of a small E-W ravine.
Hike south along the wall for a few hundred yards then down the slope passing south around some large red boulders, head to a low notch in the ridge to the east and down a deep ravine to the top of the Springdale Band. Retrace your steps to car from here.
Plan 3 hours from the start of the descent back to the car, minimum not including time spent arguing about where you think the start of it is. This would be a real adventure in the dark.
There is a notch between Mt. Kinesava and West Temple, its about 400 feet, steep and loose. This should not be considered a descent option.
A helmet may be a good idea, a light rope that you don't mind getting sand and cactus spines in. About 4 double length runners and 4 shoulder length runners, a good, but light selection of stoppers and cams to 3" with a couple extra hand sized.
Headlamp, tweezers and cute power rangers bandaids?
Looking up the ridge from low on the route.
Her exalted highness demonstrates how the big horn...
BETA PHOTO: A photo of the approach. Pass the Springdale clif...
Mount Kinesava and "Cowboy Ridge" (the o...
BETA PHOTO: Looking east across the meadow, the top of the des...
BETA PHOTO: The top of the descent with the deep, 3 foot wide ...
BETA PHOTO: Picture of the descent from below.
Just as you get on the ridge with the entire climb...
BETA PHOTO: Leading the 5.7 hand crack, still in approach shoe...
BETA PHOTO: Start hike from Chinle TH in the Anasazi subdivisi...
Nov 14, 2009
We will see what Jersey thinks about this post, isn't there some access issues with the approach?
By Jason Nelson 1
From: Ouray, CO
Oct 25, 2014
The approach is very long and much of it is on trail-less loose desert terrain. You really have to look for footsteps in the dirt to stay on track for much of it. Once on the ridge crest, you are rewarded with great scrambling terrain. There were cairns marking the descent (fortunately), otherwise it would be difficult to find. I would describe the descent as being past the main summit a few hundred yards and you walk just beyond some rock hoodoos. At first it does not feel like a gully that you are dropping into. It would be really easy to loose the tracks in the dark. It's a great desert alpine climb, with wonder views.
By Dan L
12 hours ago
Ran to base from Chinle parking lot, 1:15. Free soloed route in 2:00, topped out in 1 foot of snow. Descended/ran back to parking lot in 1:45. Total time car to car, 5 hours. When you top out make sure you walk aprx .25 miles north and find the chute the is pointing SOUTH, this is your way down. There is a canyon that is tempting to go down before you get to the actual descent, do not take this, it will cliff out. I also would hate to descend this in the dark. On my way down the descent, I added more cairns for those people that might need it.
Overall a great adventure route. I would highly suggest leaving the ropes in the car and soloing it. Before I soloed this, I was curious about the last crux pitch, but it turns out to be a bomber hand crack and I felt it was a pretty soft 5.7. If you ever feel like it's too hard, there's usually something easier around the corner. I think I calculated it to be about 3 miles from TH to base. Add in the climb, the descent, and the hike back, you're looking at around 7 miles and 4,000 ft gain. Even though this route is easily rated, the approach and descent make it a route not to be taken lightly. Plan a Full day if your taking gear and hiking normal pace.