“North Cathedral” is a beautiful peak in the Uinta Mountains of Utah. It is usually known as North Cathedral because it is located to the north of The Cathedral
. North Cathedral is actually slightly higher than The Cathedral, but it isn't as rugged or as well known and has no official name. North Cathedral is slightly easier to climb than The Cathedral as well.
The Priord Lake Basin on the west side of North Cathedral and the Allsop Lake Basin on the east side are some of the most beautiful in the Uinta Mountains. Many of the peaks are very rugged and North Cathedral is one of the less rugged peaks, though it is still beautiful.
There are a few cliffs scattered about the mountain, but the rock is loose and fractured here and technical climbing is risky. The peak can be reached by several non-technical routes of class 2+ and 3.
None of the peaks in the area see many ascents and North Cathedral probably sees even less than The Cathedral to the south. Don't expect to run into anyone on this summit!
Like all peaks in the Uinta Mountains, except for Bald Mountain, North Cathedral has no trail to the summit. It is a long way from the nearest road and the area is surrounded by many nice backcountry campsites in the basins. Most people need to take several days (at least two) to climb this peak. Because there are so many peaks in the immediate area to climb, it is easy to stretch a climbing trip out into several days here.
The Uinta Mountains are one of the few mountain ranges in North America that run east to west rather than north to south. Within the Uinta Mountains are about 2000 lakes, and some 900-1000 are full of trout. Along with the San Juan Mountains in Colorado, the Uinta Mountains have more contiguous area above timberline than any other area in the Continental United States. This is a beautiful area with many lakes, meadows, wildflowers, and some rugged peaks. Solitude is usually easy to come by once you leave the popular fishing holes behind.
The Uinta Mountains are very rugged in the northeast section. Beginning at Hayden Peak and east to Mount Lovenia, the Uinta Mountains are not unlike the Tetons or other ranges. East of Lovenia, the peaks are more gentle, with a few rugged peaks (i.e. Red Castle and Henrys Fork Peak) scattered about until you are as far east as the Henrys Fork/Kings Peak area. East of Kings Peak, the Uinta Mountains become very gentle and the peaks are very rounded with only a few scattered cliffs about.
One thing that makes Utah's 12'ers different, then say most of the Colorado 12'ers (for example), is that the distances from the nearest roads are usually much greater for the Utah 12'ers.
Utah's 12,000+ Foot Peaks With 200+ Feet Prominence
Utah's 12,000+ Foot Peaks With 300+ Feet Prominence
North Cathedral is in the foreground. As seen from Lamotte Peak on April 30 2009.
First you must drive Highway 150 south from Evanston Wyoming, or east and then north from Kamas Utah. The North Slope (gravel) road heads east from Highway 150 either just south of the Bear River Lodge, or two miles north of the Bear River Visitor Center. After following the North Slope Road for two miles, turn right and follow the main road all the way (don’t turn right and into the scout camp) to the trailhead. The road is usually a washboard, but any car should be able to make it.
E. FK. B. R. TR. HD. = East Fork Bear River Trailhead!
Routes OverviewSouth Ridge
The South Ridge Route (class 2+) is probably the easiest route up North Cathedral. The south ridge, which begins at the saddle between North Cathedral and The Cathedral can be approached from either the Right Hand Fork Bear River (west route) or the Left Hand Fork (east), but it is easier to reach the saddle from the Right Hand Fork. This route usually takes two days or more.
See the route page for details.
South aspect of North Cathedral and perhaps the easiest route to the summit.
The South Ridge is the only route I've climbed on this mountain and this mountain is not covered in any guidebooks or other websites.
The North Ridge of North Cathedral
certainly appears to be a viable route, though thick timber at the north end of the ridge might be tedious. The most practical way to approach this ridge would be from the Left Hand Fork not far above the Right Hand Fork/Left Hand Fork junction and above and near the waterfalls. You could also approach the ridge from a few miles south of the waterfalls as well.
North aspect of North Cathedral and the long north ridge.
The West Face
of North Cathedral also appears to be quite climbable and would make the most direct route up the peak.
West aspect of North Cathedral.
The East Face
of North Cathedral is steep and undoubtedly loose. There would almost certainly be some interesting late spring/early summer snow routes on the face and in the shallow gullies, but climbing the East Face would probably be a rather unpleasant and perhaps even risky venture after the snow has melted.
East aspect of North Cathedral.
No permits are required. Normal wilderness rules apply.
No permits are required to hike and climb in this beautiful region. This photo of North Cathedral (center) is one I took from near the summit of Allsop Peak while climbing the peaks in the area. I did so at age 16 and 17, mostly alone, and didn't have a fancy camera, so my photos are not as high quality as my recent ones. This was was taken in late August 1990 about two months after I turned 16.
There is a very small campground with no facilities at the trailhead. Backcountry campsites are plentiful (and scenic) all along both approaches to the peak. Only the area around Allsop Lake usually has some company.
Allsop Lake along the Left Hand Fork East Fork Bear River (yes, that is the real name!) is one of the scenic campsites in the area of the mountain.
When to Climb
Mid-July through mid-September is the normal climbing season. This peak would be very challenging in winter, and would be a multi-day trip. I know of no winter ascents of the peak, but if you do please, please post any info.
North Cathedral would probably offer many fine spring snow routes as well. The winter Road closure is just north of the turnoff to the North Slope Road on Highway 150.
North Cathedral (right) as seen from N Allsop Peak in late August 2007 (a very dry year).
Contact the ranger station in Kamas for current road and trail conditions. Their phone number is 801-783-4338.
Weather Forecast for Central Uinta Mountains
Here are some average highs and lows from the 12,139 foot elevation (3700 meters) in the Uintas (about the same altitude as the summit):