Graveside Matter is the first crag area you come to in Cedar Canyon east of Cedar City (9 miles) and is on one of two access roads (High 14) used for the extensive Brian Head climbing/ski area. There are eight published routes at Graveside Matter and an additional six routes I counted in 2007 for a total of at least 14, the most unique of which is the arête (The Adventure Climb, 5.10-photo) towering over the left side pullout on Highway 14.
The majority of these routes are slab routes on compressed, but soft, (won’t find many trad features) limestone which forms many of the vertical surfaces of Cedar Canyon Crags. The whole area has an alpine flare, with large conifers, running water and lush forest growth. Graveside Matter itself was actually named after a rappelling death in 1996 during the time this climbing area was developed. Quite a few routes were added since Todd Goss published his most recent guide book in 2006, thus this area is still being developed. There is one aid route believe it or not, that turns into a decent trad crack, so bring your gear.
Cedar Canyon Crags offer the same respite that West Cedar Crags offers, cooler temperatures at 6200’ versus the searing heat that can exist in Saint George an hour to the south. The rock however, ten miles east of Cedar City (fresh water limestone) versus 10 miles west of Cedar City (rapidly cooled volcanic ash), is completely different.
However, both are somewhat soft in texture.
Cedar Canyon is located on the “Hurricane Fault” line. The Hurricane fault extends from Cedar City, Utah, to south of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and is the longest and most active of several large earthquake faults along the boundary between the Colorado Plateau and Great Basin Desert. The Utah Geological Survey considers the Hurricane fault active and capable of generating earthquakes in excess of magnitude seven. The history of the Cedar Breaks area is quite immense, it is said that you can drive through a hundred million years of rock history during the course of five miles.
Route Description(s)The Routes are Listed as you approach them on a well Defined Trail
- Not Free Yet - 65’- 5.10, A0/ Aid through two bolts, but bottom bolt is missing hanger (2007), and then good limestone crack to tree anchor below The Adventure Climb arete. (photo)
- The Adventure Climb - 70’- 5.10a/ A fun and very aesthetic line. Take a right turn off the trail onto a short switchback trail that takes you up to the left end of the arête. Start here and take 8 bolts to anchor. The 5.10 move comes about 2/3rd of the way up where it gets blank for your hands and you have to do an exposed move with your right foot out onto the face and then raise your left foot up to waist to catch a sloping stance. Hands will only be good for balance as you stand to clip the next bolt. One more 5.10 move should get you past the next bolt and onto easier ground. Chains are at the top, but if you are going to top rope, leave your gear in and clip through on rappel for directional. They have bolted another section of the arête further along, but this is not a published route as of 2007. It looks to be on suspect overhanging clayish rock. Go for it if you wish but it did not look appetizing to me. There are also several unpublished routes up the south face of the arête. These do look like well placed routes with unique features.
- Gotta Have Nuts - 5.10c/ Separate Feature.
- Fallout - 50’- 5.11c/ Separate Feature (photo)
Graveside Matter Wall
The Routes are Left to Right, South to North
Continue along the trail from the Adventure Climb, cross the creek to the left, back to the right and then back left again and you will be facing the Graveside slab. Follow this side trail as it meanders its way to the base of the routes.
- Too Much Chalk, Not Enough Lycra – 65’- 5.12a/ Way off to the left of the slab.
- Ghost Rider – 50’- 5.6/ Real good trainer lead. There is at least one more unpublished line to the left. Look for my marked up route photo for identification. Ghost rider starts to the left of a tree on the left side of the slab. Four bolts arching right to a common anchor. A little flake action in the middle. Fun beginner lead route.
- Faceplant – 50’- 5.10a/ Five bolts to same anchor. I did two routes here, Faceplant and one between Faceplant and Ghost Rider that is not published, both are 5.10a types. Typical slab with some fun features to make use of, uneventful and not overly challenging.
- Widowmaker – 50’- 5.10d/ Todd has this as an “R” “X” route, but it is now well bolted to anchor. The crux is early on. You have this fine little short crack on the left you must parlay into quite a distance to the next feature. It was a joy. Now next to it, on the right side of a large tree, is a bastard of a 5.11-12. A new route, still quite mossy and loose in places, offers a really tough start and then a fun small roof to pull on slabby conditions. Well bolted to its own anchor on the overhang above. Worth doing, but you might want to top rope it the first time, this limestone is quite slippery in nature to begin with compared with most. Add moss to the equation and it can be a pain.
You need a 60m rope if you want to do those unpublished face climbs on the arête. Otherwise a 50m will do. You have one cool aid/trad climb right by the road, might be worth bringing your gear, looks fun, but one hanger is missing,
would be cool if you had an extra on you. Probably do not need to pull on it though, might have been why someone removed it. Looks like you can get to the 2nd bolt no worries. I obviously did not climb it though. Draws are fine for all the slab routes, but bring a few runners for the arête route. The anchors are all bomber (2007). Remember, you are over 3000’ higher than Saint George, so if you are visiting Cedar Canyon in the early spring or late fall, bring a decent jacket. This is not a winter crag, there more than likely will be snow in this area.
Graveside Matter is located just beyond the 9 mile marker on the left side of Highway 14 east of downtown Cedar City on your way to Cedar Breaks National Monument and/or Brian Head. There is a pull off on the left and “The Adventure Climb” is the obvious arête (photo) looming over the highway on the left.
The BLM manages nearly 22.9 million acres of public lands in Utah, representing about 42 percent of the state. The regulations regarding most BLM land are fairly wide open compared to State and Federal parks. It appears you can camp and climb in this area at will. Pit fires are highly discouraged if not illegal but you see one right at the pullout.
When to Climb
At 6000’+, climbing in the winter can definitely be too cold in this region. But of course that means that Cedar Canyon and even further up the road, Brian Head, serve as great escapes from the searing heat in the spring and summer if you are camping out in southwestern Utah.
The National Forest Service maintains a campground 12 miles up Highway 14 from Cedar City. Cedar City has several private campgrounds and quite a few newer hotels. Country Aire RV Park Campground is located at 1700 North Main. They are open all year and have 18 tent sites, a ton of trailer sites, flush toilets, showers, etc. Cedar City KOA claims to be the #1 KOA rated campground in Utah and is located at 1121 North Main. The National Forest Service operates several campgrounds in the Markagunt Plateau area, but they are only open during the summer.
Other useful sites beside the BLM
site include the weather forecast
- Graveside Matter Wall