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new route on Cathedral Mountain to add to traverse of Emerald Pools

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Dan, Sep 20, 2017.

  1. Dan


    FA, IRON CURTAIN, 5.10 A3+

    September 15-18, I put up a new route on the SE Face of Cathedral Mountain. The idea was that of C.P., author of “Zion National Park: Summit Routes”. Upon hearing of my traverse of the formations that surround the Emerald Pools (Castle Dome into Heaps Canyon, then up the North sides of Cliff Dwelling and Lady Mountain) he asked why I had not included Cathedral Mountain and Mt. Majestic. The reason was the most uncertain part was climbing in and out of the Gunsight and Heaps canyons in between climbs. I was focused on finding a way to navigate entering and exiting canyons, what I considered the crux of the traverse. The idea of adding the additional formations sounded logical, and being a climber, that’s what we do - create new adventures to entertain our spirits while we are here.

    The route C.P. suggested starts up a ridge on the East side of Cathedral Mountain. Beginning at the Grotto, I hiked the West Rim Trail, the trail people normally hike to get to Angel’s Landing. I left the trail at the start of Walter’s Wiggles, the switchbacks. I descended into Refrigerator Canyon and gained the ridge on the other side. The ridge diagonals back south up to the base of Cathedral Mountain. Getting on the ridge was difficult. While technically maybe a scramble, it’s loose, steep and somewhat treacherous. I followed the ridge to the base of my climb, the east face on the SE tip of Cathedral Mountain. From there one can look directly across at hikers at a lower elevation on the summit of Angel’s Landing.
    Approach .

    My route has two sections: The first climbs three long pitches of mixed free and aid, the most difficult being the third pitch (A3+). At the top of pitch three the ground levels and I bivied. From there I traversed to get to the final headwall. The final section is two pitches. The bottom is 5.10. I can’t remember the last time I drilled a bolt in zion and did so with regret. I drilled a few holes for pin placements which were used when I took a 50 fall above the second bolt (a drilled angle).
    Lower part of Iron rout Curtain. Upper part of Iron Curtain route.
    I bivied on the summit of Cathedral Mountain. In the morning I hiked to the summit of Mt. Majestic, then down-scrambled the ridge on the SW corner of Mt. Majestic into Behunin Canyon. In “Zion National Park: Summit Routes,” CP refers to this ridge as Behunin Ridge (class 4+). In Behunin I finally got to drink some water. I had not expected the climbing to take so long.

    Behunin Canyon is normally the start for the traverse I established around the Emerald Pools, starting with Castle Dome. I think starting with Castle Dome is a fun adventure requiring minimal rack. From the summit of Castle Dome you rappel north into Gunsight Canyon, pass through a section of Heaps Canyon, then climb out to the summit of Lady Mountain. Traverse Topo jpeg.

    Instead of repeating my route on Cathedral Mountain, future parties wishing to do the longer traverse may wish to start by descending Behunin Canyon and leaving their packs near Behunin Ridge. You can scramble up Behunin ridge without rope or rack to the summits of Mt. Majestic and Cathedral Mountain then return down the ridge into Behunin Canyon to do the rest of the traverse from Castle Dome. This way you don’t have to carry a large aid rack or worry about carrying enough water to climb the SE face of Cathedral Mountain. There’s always water in Behunin Canyon. Thanks for the suggestion CP.

    Dan Stih
    Ram, AW~, Yellow Dart and 5 others like this.
  2. Dan Ransom

    Dan Ransom Staff Member

    Salt Lake
    Wow. This blows my mind, incredible work!
    Ram likes this.
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