REI Community
Mt. Superior / Monte Cristo
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Cottonwood Traverse, The T 
South Ridge T 

South Ridge 

YDS: Easy 5th French: 1+ Ewbanks: 3 UIAA: I ZA: 5 British: M 1c

Type:  Trad, Alpine
Original:  YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c [details]
Page Views: 17,038
Submitted By: BCramer on Jun 27, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (91)
Your todo list:
Your stars:
Your rating: -none- [change]
Your ticklist: [add new tick]
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [1 person likes this page.]
Benny on the ridge


This classic alpine route follows a long, airy quartz and basalt ridge with a couple of knife edge sections and towers. In warmer weather this is an easy scramble/rockclimb, but with snow and ice it becomes a more challenging alpine climb. Start early as the route gets a lot of sun. Trend right after the largest tower (above Suicide Couloir) to avoid some loose slabs out left. A good view of the route can be seen from the Alta parking lot.


The route is obvious from the Snowbird and Alta ski areas. Park in the small lot just beyond the race shack at Snowbird, walk north across the road and head up a broad slope (several options) to gain the thinner ridge above. The route is obvious from here and ends at the summit of Mt. Superior. It is just a few minutes to get to the higher Monte Cristo summit to the west. Descend the east ridge down to Cardiff Pass and then down the obvious trails to Alta. Hike down the road back to the car.


Depends on conditions and experience. For a mild season ascent skip the tight climbing shoes as approach shoes should be all one needs, however check conditions to see how much snow might be up there and if more gear might be needed (ice axe, crampons). If needed, slings, a light rack and rope should suffice to get one over the few 5th class sections. Gear for a winter ascent would obvioulsy depend on conditions at the time.

Photos of South Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Knife Ridge section on 11.24.12
Knife Ridge section on 11.24.12
Rock Climbing Photo: View of one of the best sections of the ridge.
View of one of the best sections of the ridge.
Rock Climbing Photo: by moonlight
by moonlight
Rock Climbing Photo: Nearing the top of Superior
Nearing the top of Superior
Rock Climbing Photo: Mooner on one of the knife-edge sections
Mooner on one of the knife-edge sections
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down the ridge onto Snowbird.
Looking down the ridge onto Snowbird.
Rock Climbing Photo: From the ridge, looking toward Alta. The white cli...
From the ridge, looking toward Alta. The white cli...
Rock Climbing Photo: mark on an "exposed" move traversing sup...
mark on an "exposed" move traversing sup...
Rock Climbing Photo: One of the easy but exposed moves.
One of the easy but exposed moves.
Rock Climbing Photo: Up the ridge
Up the ridge
Rock Climbing Photo: On the South Ridge
BETA PHOTO: On the South Ridge
Rock Climbing Photo: Bottom of the South Ridge from Snowbird.
BETA PHOTO: Bottom of the South Ridge from Snowbird.
Rock Climbing Photo: South Ridge, Mt. Superior from near Alta ski area.
BETA PHOTO: South Ridge, Mt. Superior from near Alta ski area.

Comments on South Ridge Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 17, 2016
By David Shiembob
From: slc, ut
Aug 22, 2008
rating: Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c

I definitely recommend this route. It's a great exposed ridge scramble that keeps going for 3,000 vert, definitely unique for the Wasatch.
By bsmoot
Nov 27, 2008

This is a very good winter route. Thanks for posting up.
By hEatchel
From: Salt Lake City, Utah
Jul 13, 2009
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

Great hike ! Def one of my favorite Wasatch Hikes. Exposed as you want to be. If its to easy go to the side, or if your scared stiff straddle the ridge !! amazing
By ColinP
Aug 14, 2009

A really fun ridge scramble! I loved the variation from 3rd class to a 4th class knife-edge to a 5th class step and back to 3rd class, then repeat. Very interesting route. There's lots of exposure, and a fall would be very bad, but the climbing is mostly 4th class with a couple 5th class steps. If you're unsure, gain the knife-edge ridge just before suicide chute and see how that feels. If it's too much, just walk back down the 3rd class slope. If it makes you drool, keep climbing!
By Taylor Morgan
From: Draper, UT
Jan 11, 2011

Snowbird has proposed to build a roller coaster in Little Cottonwood Canyon, on the lower south face of Mt. Superior:>>>

I strongly oppose Snowbird's plans to build a roller coaster on the lower south face of Mt. Superior, across from and over Little Cottonwood Canyon Road.

Snowbird claims the proposed site is not used by hikers or backcountry skiers. This is not accurate. The area is on the southwest face of Mt. Superior, directly adjacent its summer trailhead/winter access points. This area is one of the most popular and treasured mountaineering, hiking, and backcountry skiing areas in Utah.

Furthermore, Mt. Superior is among the most beautiful and photographed areas in Utah, and the West. In fact, the 1976 Denver Olympic Bid Committee used a photo of Mt. Superior on its official bid packet.

While the proposed roller coaster will not directly inhibit mountaineering, hiking, or skiing, it will significantly diminish these pursuits and will be an embarrassing eyesore in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Utah residents and tourists visit our canyons to play in the mountains, not on amusement-park rides.

Please contact your member of the Salt Lake County Council to urge them to oppose Snowbird's plans.
By Tristan Higbee
From: Ogden, UT
Sep 14, 2011
rating: Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c

I just did this route yesterday for the first time. It's not very good as a rock climb, but it's a great mountain climb, if that makes sense.

I don't particularly feel comfortable soloing usually, but this was an easy and comfortable solo. The crux for me was a 5.4 or 5.5-ish step high on the ridge that was about 10 feet high, though it looked like you could do a 4th class-ish traverse around it to the right.

Approach beta: (This is how I approached it, anyway.) Drive up the canyon 7.1 or 7.2 miles from the neon sign and park in a large dirt pullout on the left (north) side of the road. The ridge is obvious and right above you. Follow an old doubletrack dirt road until it disappears after a hundred feet or so in a flat, open area. Keep going and you'll see a narrow strip of quartzite talus slope coming down from the direction of the ridge (your right) into the flat, open area. Head up the talus slope towards the right-most of two funky gas pipes coming out from the ridge. From the gas pipe, you'll have several options that all go up the ridge. Just go up, picking out the line that suits you (some are easier than others) and before too long the ridge becomes knife edgy. Follow it to the top.

The true summit of the mountain is west of the point where the south ridge meets the summit ridge, and it's obvious.

Descent: Follow the trail on the ridge to the east to Cardiff Pass, then down to Alta and the main canyon road. A 10 or 15 minute walk along the road takes you back to where you parked.

I've got some more pics and beta on my blog here.
By Spencer Weiler
From: Salt Lake city
Jul 6, 2012

Stellar ridge climb. Did this car to car in 1:56. If you aren't on the ridge proper the whole time you are cheating yourself of some awesome exposure and quality 5th class. The scariest part is the shale descent off the summit. Esch.
By Garret Nuzzo-Jones
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 9, 2013
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

This actually does go at 5.4 if you stay on the ridge and don't skip out on any of the cruxes. It can easily be 4th class if you want it to but it's more fun to not wander too much. Someone fixed a brand new Camalot X4 right at the upper crux. Bummer.
By zbishop
Jul 3, 2013

what are those pipes, other structures being added to the ridge?
By Jewell
Nov 30, 2013

I picked up a piece of gear that someone dropped on the descent from this route yesterday. If it's yours, message me!
By Jentry Miskin
Sep 24, 2014

I tried a combination of running shoes and climbing shoes. Bad idea. I would highly recommend approach shoes with potential addition of climbing shoes. I thought the running shoes would pay off on the trail decent but they only made the experience scarier.

@zbishop - The pipes are avalanche control devices used in conjunction with combustible gas. A bit of an eye sore but huge help for safety.

Gorgeous route in the fall. I would expect that to be a roaster in the summer as you are always on a direct southern exposure.
By Andrew Mayer
Jul 3, 2015
rating: Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c

For those without approach shoes (such as myself) - I did this route in trail running shoes and felt comfortable sticking to the knife-edge proper the entire time except for one short section - a short finger crack through a mini-bulge near the top of the exposed portion of the ridge. it looked like 2 moves with slabby feet (I bypassed on climber's L on comparably steep & exposed terrain but with better feet).

All the other 4th/low 5th class terrain on the ridge proper was very juggy and had good feet. No need to haul climbing shoes all the way up there or let the lack of approach shoes keep you from getting on this fun scramble!
By Nate Furman
From: Salt Lake City, Utah
Jun 17, 2016

Here's a short write up on an ascent of the South Ridge of Superior:

Mountain Project

The Definitive Climbing Resource

MTB Project

Next Generation MTB Trail Maps

Powder Project

Backcountry Ski Maps & Secret Stashes
FREE Stickers · Gyms · People · RSS · School of Rock · Contact · About