To reach the Cedar Ridge Trailhead, take the Mona exit (exit 236), and drive west into Mona. Turn south (left) and Highway 91 and drive to Cemetary Lane. Turn east (left) on Cemetary Lane, follow it over the freeway, and proceed to Willow Creek. The dirt road follows Willow Creek. Park on the north side of the road right when the mouth of Willow Creek Canyon is reached. There is a large (~75 ft.) open area on the left (north) side of the dirt road which is a good parking spot to begin the hike. For those using a GPS, the UTM coordinates of this parking spot are 12S 0429882E 4405614N (NAD83).
Beyond the first clearing, there is also a second parking area. About 200 ft past the first large clearing on the north end of the road (1st parking area mentioned), there is a rutted road that heads north from the graded road (it is on the far side of a humped shoulder, so its easy to miss). This road takes you to a greener clearing.
The benefit of this parking area is that it is slightly shadier and more private than the other one. From here there is also less bushwacking to access Cedar Ridge.
The North (left) and Middle summits, seen during the descent of Cedar Ridge. Looking up Cedar Ridge at the Middle (far left) and South summits of Nebo.
Route DescriptionNote: I did this climb in March 1998 to the South Summit. Mark Thomas made several updates and added much information (marked with an *) from his climb in April 2005.
This is my favorite winter climbing route in the Wasatch. The Cedar Ridge Route is safer than any winter route on Timpanogos, for example, and is one of the most scenic winter routes in the Wasatch.
This route can be done in one very long day, but this is not recommended. The snow gets very soft after 11 AM, so get an early start or you may be limited to how high you can camp by soft snow. There are good campsites at 7725 feet elevation; 8,400 feet elevation; and 10,400 feet elevation.
I would not do this route in the summer. It would be a very hot, steep, and dry climb. There is no water other than snow-melt on the ridge. It's better to stick to one of the other routes in the summer. Climb this route anytime between mid October through May. Full winter gear is needed mid November to May, and sometimes later.
From the trailhead at about 5700 feet, climb up the steep ridge to the north. There is no trail. Once on the ridge, simply follow it east to the south summit of Mount Nebo. *The lower part of the ridge has a lot of cliffs that make gaining the ridge difficult, especially at night. The easiest way to gain the ridge is the following - from the second parking area, head due north across the Willow Creek bed. As you head slightly north west, a shallower drainage and a fence are reached. Follow these handrails to a saddle. From the saddle, follow game trails directly up the ridge, bypassing the first set of cliffs to the north. The later set of cliffs are bypassed to the south or climbing up between them. Soon after the cliffs, a level and exposed area on the ridge is reached (7,725 ft). You can camp here, but there is a better camping spot at 8,400 ft, protected from the wind and sheltered beneath pine trees. The area is just large enough for 2-3 tents and is sheltered from the wind on all fours sides, making for a great campsite. If you reach a rocky crest along the ridge, then you've gone about 100 yards too far.
After late November, the tough part may be between 8,400 feet and 10,800 feet because of soft snow. You may have to camp at 8,400 feet and get an early morning start when the snow is frozen. This varies from year to year.
*Beyond the flats the ridge narrows. At one point a rocky ridge crest is reached. This is best bypassed to the south. Soon you leave the brush behind and enter more mature groups of pine trees as you ascend parallel to a chute. Eventually the ridge merges with a smaller one on the far side of the chute. Make sure to take the right one back!
*Beyond the merger, the slope broadens again before reaching another flat area where camping is possible at 10,400 ft. From this point you'd better start watching out for cornices forming along the north side of the ridge. While the slopes along this ridge are moderate, cornices are numerous and hard to see, and a fall from them would likely be fatal. IF THERE ARE CORNICES ON THE RIDGE, STAY AWAY!!!
. Be especially careful surmounting the many rises in the ridge as it twists and turns. In some years, there may be many cornices, in other years, there can be few of them. Pay close attention to conditions. Make sure to read the trips reports from the links below.
The very last section is very steep and usually either has rock hard snow or much of it will be blown off the ridge. This also varies from year to year. This is where crampons are an absolute must in some years. The upper parts of this ridge are absolutley spectacular. Enjoy the incredible views, and spectacular ridge!
Traverse to North Summit, as per Mark Thomas
The traverse to Mt Nebo's north summit is a class 3 Steep snow climb and will likely take at least 2 hours to reach.
This entire ridgeline is heavily corniced on the east, while the slopes to the west are avalanche prone, so choose your route carefully! At one point a short class 3 step is reached before reaching the Middle Summit.
The most difficult portion of the ridge is the final ascent up the North Summit, where some near-vertical rock slabs force you onto some steep slopes on the east that reach angles of 50o-60o, but this section is only about 100 ft long. If snow stability is a concern, you can stay right on the crest of the knife-edge ridge to the summit.
*The South Summit is about 6.8 miles round trip with about 6200 feet altitude gain. The total round trip distance to the North Summit is 8.8 miles with about 7,100 feet elevation gain.
Mt Nebo's North Summit seen from Middle Summit.
Ice axe and crampons are an absolute must after early November. Beacons and a shovel should always be taken in winter and spring. Winter camping gear is also required in the winter season. Bring lots of fuel for melting snow.
WARNING!!!ON FEBRUARY 19, 2005, MARK THOMAS, AN EXPERIENCED SUMMITPOST MEMBER FELL 1,000 FEET AFTER BREAKING THROUGH A CORNICE ON THE CEDAR RIDGE. THIS HAPPENED AT ABOUT 11,100 FEET AND ABOUT .3 MILES FROM THE SUMMIT.
TRIP REPORT #1
TRIP REPORT #2
THIS ROUTE SHOULD NOT BE CLIMBED IN WINTER UNLESS YOU ARE SKILLED IN AVALANCHE RESCUE, ARE AN EXPERIENCED WINTER MOUNTAINEER, AND IF AVALANCHE AND WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE IDEAL
MY TRIP REPORT
We did the climb in March 1998, and found conditions to be realitively safe. Even though 1998 was a very heavy snow year, we found most of the snow blown off the ridge above timberline (with some icy sections), and found only one section of large cornices. This is not always the case, however, as conditions can change quickly due to wind direction, snow loading, weather, etc., and the ridge may have dangerous cornices. It is highly recommended that the climb not be continued if cornices are present. You should also have a good weather forecast to climb the ridge. Under the right conditions, and with the right experience, this is a great climb and very spectacular.
The largest known avalanche slab that Mark Thomas knocked loose on my fall down from Cedar Ridge.