Lady Mountain-Old Cable Route

Lady Mountain-Old Cable Route

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Mar 24, 2006
Activities Activities: Trad Climbing, Mixed, Scrambling
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

Lady Mountain- Old Cable Route

Lady Mountain Scramble

We got the idea to try this route after reading about it's historical significance to Zion.  The Lady Mountain Cable Route was one of the first trails in the park and consisted of nearly 2000 feet of cable strung through iron bolts, 1400 carved steps, and at least two ladders.  The trail was also marked with yellow, red, or white highway paint to mark the way.  Often there are very large arrows painted on the rock.  These methods are widely considered unethical today in much of the United States, but given the fact that the cable is gone, the ladders are gone, and the paint is faded, the route beckoned to be done. Even if all these items still existed, this would be a fabulous route, albeit more crowded.

Lady Mountain NE Side

Looking up from parking area at the Emerald Pools area, across from the Zion Lodge, it was unclear as to just how this route navigated the southeast face with just 2 short technical sections.  It seemed improbable, but as I've learned over the years, most peaks and towers that don't look probable have some type of weakness that can be exploited to gain the summits(with minimal technical efforts). This is particularly true in the Zion area, as we learned on The Watchman, just the previous day.

After making our way up the paved trail,  near a metal warning sign, we followed a faint climbers trail up toward the base of the first cliff band. We spotted the historic paint marking and made our way up the first set of etched stairs onto the next level of the cliff terrace.  The point of entry is best described as the southeast point of the cliffs above, when viewed from the parking area.  From this point we made our way southwest following a typical Zion shelf, climbing up small ledges and ramps with intermittent steps carved into the rock and paint markings. I must admit, after a day on The Watchman of serious route finding, it was relaxing to follow the marks.

Lady Mountain Offwidth Chimney-Crux #1

The first area of technical climbing was a small chimney that had a slight overhang move. This was an area where one of the original ladders was located and without it, the short section is probably rated 5.5-5.7.  There was a new bolt at the base of this section that provided an easy anchor for the belayer. Just above the climbing an ancient, but bomber cable bolt made for an easy clip in.  From this point we traversed west, then south, continually climbing. A few patches of snow were on the ground near the second and last section of technical climbing.  This very short section was more to the 5.6-5.7 rating as the move is awkward, but not as exposed as the first section.  Above this, a section of the route called the staircase ascends a narrow and exposed ramp back toward the northwest for about 100 yards.  From down below, near some horse corrals, we heard the micro phoned bantering of some horse packer. The tiny hikers on the Emerald Pool trail below, passed below by the hundreds. We relished in the fact that we were above all that, and had Lady Mountain to ourselves.

Lady Mountain Staircase

After the staircase, we encountered a snow filled couloir (Mid March) that require kicking steps for about 100 feet and post- holing up to our waist in other spots. This stinging cold felt particularly nice on the dozens of scratches that I had acquired on from the Yucca, Manzanita, and other prickly desert plants.  Just above the snow, there was a section that was altered by snowmelt.  Normally this section would be easily navigated, but running water down the rock made a friction area a bit more challenging, especially with the snow chute looming just below. My partner had fewer issues in his sticky soled approach shoes, but my plain trail shoes did a poor job of purchase here.  Above this section we picked our way back east a bit toward the summit ridge.

Lady Mountain Summit Looking South

From the summit ridge, we could see the true summit just to the north of us as we made our way around an easy path through foot deep snow and onto the summit. Remarkable, a metal plaque is bolted on the summit with arrowheads pointing to the various landmarks.  Our partly sunny day gave way to threatening clouds and an approaching wind storm from the west, hastened out descent.  The upper portion of the descent require intense concentration not to trip or forget about the water laden rock.  The descent down the snow couloir proved easy, as did the staircase and the two technical sections.  We approached our vehicle just as major gusts of winds whipped up. Lady Mountain proved to be an excellent scramble.


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csmcgranahan - Mar 28, 2006 4:43 am - Voted 10/10

Nice Overview

I noticed this area when I summited Observatory Point a few years ago.


cp0915 - Mar 28, 2006 4:05 pm - Voted 10/10

Excellent TR!

Great write-up. That lower bolt on the first tech. section must be new - I only remember the higher bolt.


SawtoothSean - Mar 28, 2006 9:39 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Excellent TR!

Yes- the bolt looked new. Not necessary, but nice. Saves putting some nuts or cams in I guess.

Matthew Holliman

Matthew Holliman - Mar 30, 2006 8:22 am - Hasn't voted

Nice TR...

...and awesome pictures.

But there's no way that first technical section can be any more than class 4--there are absolutely *huge* holds there. (They're a very pleasant surprise, because the overhang looks intimidating at first). And the second has so little exposure that to even call it 5th class is a bit of a stretch. It's kind of a bouldering move. IMO, that move itself couldn't be any more than 5.4 or so, at most... a bit awkward, but there are decent holds, and the downclimb is even easier than the climb up.


tanya - Nov 24, 2007 2:18 pm - Voted 10/10

Best View in Zion!

Very nice trip report and photos!

Mrjohn2u - Jul 18, 2009 12:32 am - Hasn't voted

Old timer

I climbed Lady Mountain in 1969 in a t-shirt, shorts and some worn out tennis shoes. I remember that there were still some chains and at least one ladder. Coming down was a challenge even then since the markings were only designed to going up. Enjoyed your current description. Too bad it is not maintained, it reduces those who can see the full beauty of Zion


klimbien - May 7, 2017 12:09 am - Hasn't voted

A few thoughts.

A few thoughts, just to clarify any confusion if your researching the route on other websites.
-Get off shuttle or park at the Lodge. Head slightly south to bridge over the river.
-Once across the bridge, the trail comes to a "T", Head south (Go Left). Other sites say follow signs to the middle Emerald pool Trail (which goes Right), I do not recommend this way.
-Follow the horse trail a few minutes and you'll come to a trail that as of 5/2017 has a sign that says the trail is closed branching off to the Right. Go up this trail. It has been washed out. many trees have fallen over the trail.
-Continue on the trail until you come to the sign warning of "DO NOT ROLL ROCKS", pass sign as many descriptions advise, look for an "obvious" climber trail going up hill (Left).
-Trail was fairly straight forward. We moved thru the various obstacles with little trouble. A 70 foot rope is plenty long. After passing 1 or 2 steep section and had moved to the far southern point of the trail, mid way up the trail we got lost and had to back track just prior to the last and most committing climbing section, just before the "endless staircase".
-The trail goes up a gully and amidst our conversation we followed the gully to the top, passing the appropriate turn towards the endless staircase. See Picture marked "Don't go this way" Instead head West (Right) uphill out of the gully and in 50 yards or so you'll come to the final steep obstacle. Many painted (though faded) arrows, cairns, and carved foot steps will lead the way.

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