Inspired by some of the moderately technical summits in Zion’s more remote corners, my Zion “to do” list has been expanding lately to include a number of minor,non-technical summits. A couple of weeks ago, I scrambled to the top of the North Guardian Angel with Nick for a quick afternoon adventure; this weekend, the memory of adjacent Pine Valley Peak pulled me to return for another fun summit adventure. There is something freeing about standing on a summit and seeing the canyons and mesas stretching out across the horizon. It is a special sensation. To be unbound by canyon walls, to sense the vastness of the area, and to feel a lightness that technical climbing rarely allows.
I climb in approach shoes with sticky rubber, packing a rope, water, food, a harness, some carabiners, belay device, and webbing. There is evidence of past climbers on these routes, yet the slickrock encourages me strike out and find my own path up the meandering cracks and ledges. The Purcell guidebook has route and equipment information on Zion summits helpful in planning and executing a successful climb, but the descriptions are rough enough to maintain a good sense of adventure.
Back in Washington’s North Cascade mountains, I used to climb with a group of guys that would sign summit registries as “Mediocre Mountaineers”. I was impressed by the attitude and goal of climbing for fun and not taking themselves too seriously. I feel this attitude contrasts strongly with those “bagging peaks” and keeping tally of how many mountains they have conquered. By approaching the hills and mountains with humble, open hearts, we experience these wild and beautiful places better prepared to find freedom, inspiration, and wonder.
For moderate mountain adventures in Zion, I recommend Lady Mountain in the main canyon and North Guardian Angel on the Kolob Terrace. For technical but less-than-vertical climbing routes worth exploring in the area, try Aries Butte on the East Side, Mt Kinesava’s Cowboy Ridge (Springdale start), and/or The Watchman(another Springdale start). As for myself, I have Tabernacle Dome, Checkerboard Mesa, and the high,holy West Temple in my sights during the gorgeous fall season.
Now get out there for some mediocre mountaineering, and HAVE FUN!