Cowboy Traverse


This blog has been on hiatus for 1-2 years.  During that time I made a couple more very painful and expensive visits to the hospital, I built a house, and basically let go of ever doing anything worth writing about again.

But Colorado got really cold, I decided to visit relatives in California, it’s easiest to drive, and Zion NP happens to be on the way … which made me think of Jared … who jumped at the thought of meeting me there …

When one is going on a trip with the World’s Strongest Runner, it’s time to get in shape.  So starting Jan 1, I launched a last-minute, 30-day training plan.  I had run approximately 40 miles total in all of 2010, so on January 8th I matched that mileage in one day, and decided to keep working at it; my goal was to prevent Jared from taking naps while waiting up for me.

OK, enough shuck and jive, let’s look at a very cool linkup that I’ve never heard of being done before, but very well should be.

Mt Kinesava forms the western rampart of the spectacular entry into Zion National Park.  It’s south ridge constitutes literally the southernmost arm of the entire Zion uplift, and thus enjoys spectacular position, arching alone above the desert; it’s called the Cowboy Ridge.  (Which makes it even better, as cool names are important! 😉

Adjoining Kinesava, a continuation of the ridge really, is the imposing West Temple and it’s South Ridge.  At 7,810′ it’s the highest point in the park, yet requires a serious 4,400′ of climbing to reach the top.  All Zion summits are remarkably serious – there are no walkups – and remarkably undone – FAR more people climb Mt Everest than these bad little boys.

There’s good reasons for that, but to get back to the point, we started walking right out of Springdale last Saturday morning, heading to the base of Cowboy Ridge.  Jared, using Google Earth, and staying up way late at night, charted a superior route that entailed the usual brush and cactus, but no hand-over-hand up vertical dirt, so we made the foot of the ridge in one hour, and didn’t even have to stop and empty our shoes.

The Ridge was a delight.  Incredibly unstable, dead vertical on either side, full sun no water, what’s there not to like?  A Zion classic.  It’s 4th class the whole way until the top, which rears up imposingly.  Around to the left however, is a steep, clean headwall, with a 60′ splitter 5.7 hand crack down the middle.  (See photo; this time I’m not BS’ing you).

Jared led it wearing his La Sportiva Raptor running shoes, while I took more time following, happy to at least be wearing my Exum Ridge approach shoes.  Beta: we brought a 9mm 30M rope, CAMP and Petzl ultralight  harnesses, and a few BD Camelots. The crack takes 1″ – 3″; we placed 3; 5-6 would sew it up.  A heavy pack makes these projects MUCH harder.

From the top of the Ridge it was a pleasant hike (thru some snow) and then a scramble to the actual summit, reached after 3.25 hrs elapsed.  Then we messed around for :20 finding the entrance down the normal East Face route, partially because the logical and easiest thing would be to establish a rap route directly down into the notch at the start of West Temple’s South Ridge.  We were too lazy to do it, but here’s hoping someone else is not.

Partway down we picked up the approach for West Temp, and followed that back up to the notch.  We dropped our gear there; we’ve soloed the South Ridge before.  The crux is a slightly tricky 5.6, and I’d be happy to have a rope on it, but am way too lazy to schlep it up there.  As with Cowboy, the South Ridge is absolutely spectacular, unstable, dangerous, and fun, with the crux also rearing up at the top, ending with a hike/jog to the actual summit, reached at 5:35 elapsed.  Instead of bombing down I moved slowly, protecting my knees, and Jared was kind enough to wait (he could have read a book but didn’t have enough time for a nap).

This is an outstanding and logical link, as the two ridges are almost identical, requiring the same gear, technique, and frame of mind.  It’s not for everybody, for Zion is indeed the Place of Refuge for those of a certain ilk.

Jared’s photo’s here.

South Ridge, West Temple

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3 Responses to “Cowboy Traverse”

  1. Bryon Powell Says:

    Glad to see you’re back at it – both adventuring and blogging about it. I hope you have more more great adventures over the coming months and that we get to follow along.


  2. Prior 9 month re-cap « Jared Campbell's Blog Says:

    […] Great write-up from Buzz […]

  3. Interval training Says:

    I love your blog, so interesting.

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