Pine Valley Peak is only a 500’+/- net gain from the Wildcat Trailhead parking area with a insignificant loss in between as you cross Pine Valley. After Climbing Magazine did a spread (Earth, Wind and Rubble) on the alpine ridge climbs of Zion, I set out to pepper the featured climbs as breaks between the more technical cragging I was doing in the area. With West Temple, III, 5.8 and Cowboy Ridge, III, 5.7 completed the previous weeks, we set out to tag North Guardian Angel, II, 5.6 and combined it with this obscure objective, Pine Valley Peak, to make it a decent day out. Pine Valley Peak definitely catches one's eye as you drive along the Kolob Terrace Road heading north. I had noticed it several years before as it served as the backdrop for the reintroduced elk to this area. Despite its close proximately to the trailhead and thus road, there is little if any published beta on reaching its summit. Pine Valley Peak is obscure from the perspective that it is not much of a challenge for climbers and too difficult for most scramblers, not to mention that the risk via its loose and crumbly rock is not worth the reward typically. But to die hard peak baggers, don’t let that stand in your way.
From the Wildcat Trailhead, follow a somewhat non distinct (we had snow on the ground) trail south as it dips into Pine Valley and then bushwhack for all of one minute to the base of the north face of Pine Valley Peak. Scramble up easy terrain until you meet a steep wall. The easiest route up Pine Valley Peak is to circumvent this section to the east (left) until you reach a low angled slab. This is the first pitch of 5th class.
Route DescriptionThe crux of the slab is the start (run out). Several options exist, but if the rock is wet in the least bit, be careful on this section. Move left at the first opportunity via thin ledges and indentations until you are lined up with features above, including a decent crack, and head straight up for a full pitch 55-60 meters to a tree with a new sling (we placed in 2007). You can just drag the ropes up a scramble section above the tree until you reach the next pitch.
Turn left and face a steep north face section that follows a chimney of sorts to trees above. Most of this rock is really just compacted sand. Take a corner to the right, by protecting yourself with a bush at its base, and either move out on top of its exposed mini arête or pull yourself awkwardly up the corner with no option for real pro. This is a short step in any regard. Continue up easy ground protecting via another bush (I trust the bushes more than the rock here) and gain the left side of a chimney. Again, nothing but compacted sand, so be light footed as you ascend the left side of this chimney and then traverse back left across a slab and move up right past a large tree with a new rap sling (we placed in 2007). I knocked a sizable part of this chimney off without full body weight. Take care on this short section. Continue up to even a larger tree to bring up the 2nd on belay. Leave the ropes and continue on the left side of the ridge to the final summit block. Circumvent back right (west) until you can walk up to the final summit. There was no register in 2007 and very little evidence of any recent ascent. The two rap slings we found were quite ancient.
DescentJust two raps. We placed new webbing in 2007. The tree covering the steep north face section takes a one rope rap. The tree covering the slab on the east face takes a two rope rap. Return the same or continue northwest to intersect the Wildcat Trail which will take you to the North Guardian Angel.
Double ropes are preferred for the 2nd rappel. You could fix something half way down if you needed I would imagine. The tree versus the bush option takes two ropes. I only placed one piece of gear worth anything, a #4 Metolius cam in a crack on the first pitch. No need for taking much, the bushes are better than the compacted sand for pro. Climbing shoes help with the start of the slab, otherwise, boots would be adequate. If dry, I would just go with a light pair of boots. Half dozen runners, at least two long ones, should do the job. This is a short route, so you don’t need much water.