Peak Climbed: Mount Kinesava

Peak Height: 7,285'

Route: Cowboy Ridge

Difficulty: 5.7

Location: Zion National Park, Utah

Trailhead: Chinle

Mileage & Gain: 8 mi & 3,500 ft RT

Date Climbed: April 19, 2018

Mount Kinesava was the first major peak I climbed in Zion National Park ten years ago. A bit of a panic set in when we began the descent and realized that we had no idea how to get off the summit plateau and onto the magic ramp system on the steep east face. We were only able to find our way down by studying pictures I’d taken on the way up. This served as an important lesson in the criticality of micro-routefinding and a good memory in the Zion backcountry.

According to Paiute legend, Kinesava was a mysterious deity with changeable moods, the god of trickery. It was believed that he would often roll rocks down the mountain or light fires on the tops of surrounding peaks. You never know what might happen here.

Extending south from Kinesava is a long, steepening ridge which has become known as Cowboy Ridge. The route is somewhat popular among climbers despite the fact that most of it is a scramble. Rope usage varies significantly between parties.

The technical crux, the final headwall sporting a solid 5.7 hand crack, does not feel like the overall crux of the route. Some of the loose, exposed, low 5th class scrambling is spicier. We roped up for three short pitches along the way, including the crack.

While I didn’t find this ridge quite as inspiring as it’s West Temple cousin, it is certainly a must do for any Zion aficionado. I’m glad I’d climbed the standard east face route beforehand, because it could be a tricky one to nail top down. It makes for a scenic, enjoyable, easy descent if you know what you’re doing.

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