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?
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.